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Fraud alert

Consumer Alert: Prestige Camera generates customer complaints from questionable business practices

Monday, October 16, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: fraud alert, consumer electronics, digital cameras


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(NewsTarget) Complaints against Prestige Camera are cropping up all over the internet at sites such as the Better Business Bureau, Digital Photography Review, and RipOff.com. Customers allege shady practices such as trying to up-sell substandard warranties, chargers and camera cases for more than their standard market price. A UV filter, for example, was offered to one customer for $29 when it is available at BHPhotoVideo.com for just $8.95. The company has also allegedly removed included parts from cameras and tried to sell them to customers. Consumer advocate Mike Adams placed an order with Prestige Camera, and said that when he tried to cancel the order, the staff hung up on him.

According to one review by Matt Knowles, a Prestige Camera customer reporting at Aesthetic Design and Photography, the company has a host of techniques they use to squeeze money out of consumers. Knowles himself came across Prestige Camera while looking for a Pentax Optio W10 digital camera. He ordered the model from a seemingly unattached site called DigitalSaver.com, and soon received an email asking him to call them and verify his address.

When Knowles called the number, he quickly realized that it was just a technique for the company to up-sell when the man on the other end of the line offered him an extra battery. The man claimed it was a Pentex brand battery with twice the life of the battery that came standard with the camera, at a seemingly bargain price.

The camera arrived with a non-Pentex battery that was rated with less life than the battery included with his camera, and cost more than three times for what it should have retailed. Knowles contacted Prestige Camera and discovered he could only return the battery for a fee that totaled slightly less than what he had paid for the battery in the first place.

For all the complaints against Prestige Camera, their ratings at consumer sites such as ePinions, Shopper.com and DigitalSaver.com are stellar. Their entry at Reseller Ratings, however, suggests that the company is padding their reputation through false positive reviews. A note on the site says that reviews for Prestige Camera have been disabled because more than 50 false positive reviews from the company had been detected and repeatedly submitted.

Knowles noted that DigitalSaver.com gave the company a five star rating, but further research revealed no way to actually participate in the rating system, nor any explanation as to how they were compiled. Additionally, all the listed businesses were owned by the same company, suggesting the web site is not an independent reseller.

Adams and Knowles agree that it pays to be skeptical of a company's ratings and search the internet for real-world experiences with a company before purchasing consumer electronics. If you feel you have been the victim of fraudulent practices of Prestige Camera or any other business, contact the FTC and the Better Business Bureau to register a complaint.

Be aware that Prestige Camera may also does business under the following names:
A&M Photo World
Broadway Photo
Cameratopia
Digital Liquidators LLC
Ghu, LLC
Preferred Photo
Regal Camera
Tronicity

Adams recommends consumers consider J & R electronics at www.JandR.com and www.BHPhotoVideo.com as reputable and safe sources for consumer electronics.

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