So we’ve been shopping for a camcorder. Having never owned one (unless that bulky VHS thing my parents owned counts), it’s been a slow process. We solicited advice from some filmmaker friends, and they told us that Mini DV is the format to use, so for the past couple of weeks, we have been assessing the pros and cons of what’s on the market (and in our price range).
We finally settled on the Sony DCR-HC21â€”it’s got 20x optical zoom and a shoe for a light source, plus the standard steady-shot/night vision accoutrements. The going rate is about $400, so we were excited to see it going for $289 at an online gizmo store called BestChoiceDigital.com. We ordered it up and waited for our new toy to arrive.
The next day, I got a call from someone at the company. He started off by verifying my address and congratulating me on my choice of camera, which, in retrospect, should have tipped me off. Then he got down to business:
“Do you want the three-hour battery or the six-hour battery?” he asked.
“What’s the difference in price?” I asked, assuming the camera came with the three-hour battery, and he was trying to get me to upgrade for, I don’t know, $30-$50.
But no. One battery was around $80 and the other, $140. And the battery the camera comes with only lasts fifteen minutes.
“I’m not buying a battery on the phone right now,” I said.
“Why not?” was his response, and by this point, I really should have figured out what was going on.
“Because I want to look at other prices.”
“You won’t find a better deal.”
“I’m sure I won’t.”
“If you don’t buy them today, the prices will go up.” And here’s where I started to get pissed off.
“I don’t care,” I said. “No batteries for me.”
But he wasn’t finished. Over the next few minutes, he tried to sell me a whole list of items, most of which I had assumed would come in the box.
“How about the cables and software?” he asked at one point.
“What’s the software?” was my response.
“It’s for the computer,” he said. I’m not kidding.
“See here,” I shot back, “I know software is for the computer. But which program are you trying to sell me?”
“I don’t know,” he answered. So on and so forth.
The high point was when he asked me if I wanted to buy the manual for the camera. I laughed in his ear. He tried to get me to buy the “US Package” for the camera, which I guess included a bunch of the stuff he had been trying to sell me during our conversation, and when I cut him off with a “no,” he said: “Wow. Okay. Well, enjoy your camera, I guess.”
Leah called later to cancel our orderâ€”something I should have done myself; I guess I was just dumbfoundedâ€”and got the same guy. He tried to sell her the same stuff, and then laughed when she went ahead and cancelled.
So here’s my first official Jefito Consumer Report: BestChoiceDigital.com gets a big, fat F. Don’t buy from those guys. They’re dicks.
UPDATE: Looks like I’m one of the last to know about thisâ€”and about NY-based online camera vendors in general. If you want to know more, check here.