Date of ripoff - 22 September 2006
While in NY for a 2 day visit I bought 2 lenses from Fontana Gallery in 5th Ave. Believing stores in the particular area to be trustworthy I asked to be shown the Panasonic Lumix range of cameras. The salesman assisting me convinced me that the camera I currently have is a better option and given the fact that I enjoy photography it is a better option to rather invest in extra lenses.
I do not have proper knowledge of lenses and the salesman assured me that the particular lens that he showed me is the best and latest. When I asked about image stabilizing the salesman assured me that this was the lens with the image stabilizer.
I asked what in case the lens gives problems and was assured it can be returned within a reasonable period.
SIGMA 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG MACRO
Marked - $599
After discount - $389.
Credit card receipt - $589 (tax given as reason for amount)
Price on internet - $139 (researched after being conned)
We completed the transaction and as I was signing the credit card receipt the salesman distracted me by saying that he wanted to show me something else. He showed me the TITANIUM lens, demonstrating what it can do. He also showed me the Ten year International Guarantee' and once again explained that it can be returned if it gives problems. He also explained how expensive Macro lenses are and what a good price thit is.
Marked - $899
After discount - $340.
Credit card receipt - $474 (tax given as reason for amount)
Price on internet - $89.99 (researched after being conned)
I have no idea what the tax in NY is and I wasn't handed a detailed receipt for either of the products. When I asked about it I was told that they do not give other receipts than the credit card receipt.
Upon arrival at the hotel and telling a friend about my purchases, I found I've been conned with the pricing. I returned immediately and on my way there stopped at another store to find out what they charge for the same lenses. Just to get a fair picture of my actual situation. At this shop, U.S Camera & Computers Inc, I was told that the SIGMA lens will cost me $190 and the TITANIUM lens $70.
Arriving at Fontana Gallery I asked to talk to the owner for an explanation wrt the huge discrepancy in the pricing. The salesman who originally helped me informed me that the owner will only be available the next morning and that I should return then.
Back at the hotel I tested the TITANIUM lens as I was starting to feel uncomfortable with the conduct of the salesman and the absence of the owner, only to find that it freezes my camera sporadically the camera has to be switched off and back on again to start functioning once more. This concerned me greatly and the next morning I changed my 10:00 AMTRAK ticket to Providence to a later train so I will be able to return the lens another $28 that I add to this horrible experience.
I returned to the shop at 08:30 and waited until after 09:30 for the doors to open. I was once again informed that the owner was not available, according to the salesman the owner is Jewish and the 23rd September a Jewish holiday. I was instructed to return on the 25th. I explained again that I'm only visiting NY, that I have to be in Milford for training on the 25th September and that I'm returning to South Africa on the 29th. The gentleman shrugged his shoulders, handed me another lens and rudely informed me that the lens HAS to work.
I insisted on a refund for the TITANIUM lens as I do not want to harm my camera and was shown a No Refund sign. That after the assurances of the previous evening that, in case the lenses cause troubles I can return them at any time. I am too scared of harming my computer to ever use the TITANIUM lens.
Not only was I conned out of a huge amount of money, my experience of NY and its people was seriously violated. I see no honor or integrity in the way I was conned or treated after I was conned. I admit I was an idiot to be conned but in stead of hiding the fact I hope that by making my experience public knowledge I may prevent similar exploitation of visitors to NY.