Amateur Radio Parity Act

How to buy online the WRONG way

I should have known better.

I am a very experienced online shopper. I’ve never had any problems buying things online — and I buy a lot — until this past week. Here is how I broke every rule imaginable during one quick purchase.

First and foremost I was in a hurry. Christmas just around the corner and I had waited dangerously late to get my wife a very special present. She is a chef, cookbook author, blogger and food photographer. I was going to surprise her with a new lens for her Nikon DSLR — quite an expensive lens.

Prices were all over the map. I’d normally buy from Amazon, but it’s just not competitive when it comes to lenses or even cameras for that matter. My next go-to site would have been 42nd Street Photo, but they have a sneaky way of holding up your online order by requiring you to call them to verify something…it’s actually a ruse for a salesman to try to upsell you. I didn’t have time for the delay this could cause.

So I tried something new. I recently began using a Chrome browser extension called PriceBlink. Whenever you come across an item you’re thinking about buying from any website, it pops up with price comparison information. From Amazon’s Nikon lens webpage it gave me a list of several other companies selling the same lens at various prices. I immediately noticed a great price from eglobalcentral.com — hundreds less than Amazon. I went to its website to make sure it was the same lens. It was. Though I’d never heard of this company before, it seemed to be a U.S. website heavy into photography. I also checked for hidden charges and/or prohibitively high shipping charges. None found. Went to a company review website to check them out too. No immediate red flags.

I was soooo out of time. I went ahead and placed the order with eglobalcentral.com. I was led to believe the lens was in stock and would ship literally next day. I was so happy! Click. Done. Order on its way…or so I thought…

Here’s what happened to me with eglobalcentral after I placed my order:

  • About an hour later I received a canned email. My lens WAS not in stock, but new inventory was due in 2-3 days. Yes, I was furious. I’d have never placed the order if their system didn’t tell me it WAS in stock when I was placing the order.
  • I went back to the website with the intention of cancelling the order. I clicked on the ‘Contact Us’ telephone icon. Guess what. There is NO way to call them. They say to save money they don’t have call centers. BUT they do have online chat. Okay…that made me feel better. Chatting with a human is close to talking to one, so I open chat on their website. But chat was not manned. Hmmm? I tried a bit later. Chat still down. Tried that evening. Chat still down. Tried to “chat” morning, mid day, night…chat was always closed.
  • Looked for another way to contact them. There is a contact form available, but it only leads you to an automated way to get an RMA to return a product you’ve already received.
  • I’m now beginning to wonder if I need to contact my credit card company. But I wait a while longer.
  • I then received an order confirmation email. Though eglobalcentral.com has the look of a U.S. website, their operation is out of Hong Kong. My lens will ship in a few days from Hong Kong and it may or may not get to me by Christmas.
  • I am really disappointed — with myself.

I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

Update. I took a chance and replied to the order confirmation email hoping someone would read it in time…I politely complained about being incorrectly lead to believe the lens was in stock and would ship quickly. Two days later I received a reply — English was not the first language of the person replying to me, but I could understand him. He had upgraded my shipping to 2-3 days for free. This meant I would indeed get the lens prior to Christmas. This expedited shipping probably cost them a bundle. But they were trying…I do appreciate that.

Will I ever do business with them again? No. Here’s why:

  • Their website is deceptively designed (including that cute little American flag on the home page) to hide the fact that you’re ordering from a business in Hong Kong that ships from Hong Kong. You only find this out once you’ve placed an order and receive an order confirmation email.
  • They do not have a published telephone number.
  • Their online chat facility never works.
  • There is no convenient and quick way to contact them concerning order problems.
  • The packaging was woefully inadequate for such a sensitive item, an expensive camera lens.

I, post purchase, did a lot more research on this company. I should have done this research BEFORE I placed my order….but I WAS IN A HURRY. I’m such an idiot. My research tells me that eglobalcentral is indeed a real company. Some folks rate their experiences with eglobalcentral as being great, very good, good or at least satisfactory. Then there are folks like me. And there are despicable reviews too. But good/bad reviews for companies are common online. Even Amazon lets its customers down sometimes.

My wife’s Christmas is saved though (I sincerely hope the lens works — not damaged during shipping due to inadequate packaging). They finally did come through time line-wise. They undoubtedly lost money on my purchase. It must have cost them mucho dollars to ship two-day from Hong Kong to the U.S.

But from now on, I’ll only do business with companies I know and trust — eglobalcentral  is just a bit too dodgy for me…

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