beware

All posts tagged beware

It caught my eye the very first time we passed these signs.
Two signs following each other, both warning for wildlife crossing the street.
The combination of these two in such short proximity leaves you wondering. It did me, in any case. I found it strangely hilarious. But then again… My sense of humor is at times strange.

Anyway… Be warned if you come along this stretch of road, it’s between Tampere and Jyväskylä in Finland, just after you come off the motorway after Tampere.
There’s possibility of some wild life crossing the street 😀

Traffic sign warning for crossing wildlife

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 70-200mm

A while back I wrote a few posts about scam sites popping up all the time all around.
Yesterday I got a mail from a mate (he probably doesn’t even know he sent it, I’m gonna have to let him know still) saying he bought some stuff from a website called elesales.com. I tell you now to beware and do not approach. Don’t touch even with a stick! If you feel like you want to go have a look, do just that: only have a look.
And, before everyone runs there to check it out, let me emphasize that alarm bells should start ringing instantly if you see the following, on ANY website:

1) a page redirect upon load
2) super low prices, up to 80% cheaper than your regular retail prices
3) payment options only by money transfer or Western Union (DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING!!!!)
4) a Chinese store with a web page completely in (faulty) English (only, and not in Chinese) and currency in €
And for the more advanced among you:
5) they claim to be around since many years and the web domain is registered just a few months or even just a few days ago.

This elesales is your typical example of a scam site, just like the Alihashop and Admreshop I wrote about in the other posts.
Prices are way way down (€1380 for a Nikon D3?? Yeah, right!).
The store is said to be Chinese (with 50 staffs 😀 ) and one of the first e-commerce stores in China (Yeah, Right!!) and in business since 2008 (one of the first, eh?). The domain elesales.com is registered on December 6th 2010, the redirect vigorg.com was registered on June 7th 2010. Website’s only in English, default currency is in Euros (but you can actually change that, wow!).
Payment is only via bank transfer or Western Union. They say they accept PayPal, but conveniently, that’s only for VIP customers, which I can assure you, is very hard to become and not as they say by just contacting them. So DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING!!!!

Once again: if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
Better pay a bit more and be assured you get your stuff than paying a lot less and not getting anything.

Beware, always!

Dang! I feel sorry for myself…

Last week I attended a seminar at Epson. Very interesting, but the content of that seminar isn’t the point right now. As a by the way (a very by the way by the way) buying a new camera body came up and I heard only half of the story, except for the price.
Being Dutch (yeah, I know!) that got stuck like a little splinter in my brain.

So… Little background info: I’m in the market for a new camera body. Or rather, an extra, because I don’t have a spare. So I was looking to replace my D200 with a D700 body as a main camera.

The D700 (body only) goes for around $3,000. That’s an average price. The splinter which was pushing in my brain had a price tag of €1.280, which is about $1,650.
So I googled D700 and 1280. Lo and behold… A website came up advertising for a Nikon D700. For €1.280. Wow!

Very tempting, very tempting. However, since I’m not the type of person to blindly trust anything good the moment I see it, I looked around for a bit. The site itself looks very professional and very reliable, advertising with the AMEX, VISA, Mastercard and the PayPal logo.
I asked a friend who has lived in those parts of the woods for awhile to put out some flags. My better half has a couple of colleagues who come from those areas and she would ask them.
That all came up empty. No one’d heard of the place.
In the mean time the price went down from €1.280 to €1.120.
I decided to go for it. Just order it. I’d be insured through my credit card company, so this was all covered.
Added a D700 body to my shopping cart and went for check-out.
But then… Hmmm…
Where is the credit card payment option? Only Western Union, MoneyGram or bank transfer?
And PayPal payment option grayed out, because it’s only for VIP customers?
Hmmmm…

*alarm bells*

So I wrote the good people an email.

Dear Sir, Madam,

I was going to order the D700 body from your store.
Seeing all the symbols at the bottom of your website, I assumed I would be able to pay by credit card, but when I got to the payment part, there’s no option for paying by credit card.

How does this work exactly?

Looking forward to your response.

It took them only 1,5 hours to reply (considering the time difference I thought that was quite good). The answer was… well… polite but dubious:

Dear Arno.
Thanks for your enquiry,
For the strict chinese foreign exchange system, the company can not accept payment directly by foreign credit card. You can pay via bank transfer or westernunion by your Mastercard. We are sorry for the inconvenice.
Hope you a gald shipping.
Best regards

(typos are copied as-is)
I mean… Because of the strict Chinese foreign Exchange system, they can’t accept payment directly from foreign credit cards? I don’t know really how the system works in China, but this sounds like a very lame excuse.

Anyway… It was late and I decided to go sleep on it, and maybe go down town the next day to check from Western Union if a payment could be insured somehow.
But the next day (yeah, I know… should’ve done it first thing) I decided to google the name of this shop. And WHAM… Long list of “is this a scam?”, “can we trust this?”, “anyone any experience with this shop?” came up.
A lot of good points in a lot of threads in the search results.
Chinese site with only English and no Chinese?
No credit card payments possible and only money wiring?
Domain name of the shop was registered only in mid-March, which is kind of weird. This shop claims copyright on their website for their stuff from 2005-2009. Wouldn’t an electronics shop in today’s digital era have a website up and running longer than mid-March 2009?
So all in all…
Very dubious, very dodgy. Needless to say that I’m going to check elsewhere. Probably have to pay a bit more, but be sure to get it instead of being out a bag full of money.

As goes the saying:

If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is