FRAUD CASE AGAINST FOTOCONNECTION.COM

I’ve had some problems with this online photography supply company. They are clearly guilty of fraud, deceit, overcharging me for equipment, and charging me for items I never purchased. Here’s my history of transactions with the company, listed in chronological order:
March 5th 2007 (Monday): My wife and I purchased a Nikon D2Xs camera ‘package’ online at http://www.fotoconnection.com. . I purchased this package for $3,179, "Nikon D2Xs Secondary Package (28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 + much more)" plus a lens for $299, "Nikon 50mm f/1.4D Normal AF Autofocus Nikkor Lens". After placing the order, they called and left a message to return their call. When I contacted them, I was informed that the lens that came with the camera was manual focus and that I should have an auto focus lens with this camera. I reluctantly upgraded to a Proline 28-300mm auto focus lens for an additional $500.

March 6th 2007 (Tuesday AM): After considering the upgrade, I thought that the lens upgrade shouldn’t have cost that much because I thought I should have received some credit for the manual lens that I didn't get with the package deal, so called and clarified the order and lens type. I decided to go ahead with the purchase. After researching the lens type on the fotoconnection.com website, I decided the Proline lens I bought was too heavy so I upgraded to a lighter, smaller lens for another $200, a 28-300 Sigma Hyperzoom lens. After some hesitation, I was also talked into a service warranty for $300. Total for camera package now was $4597.98 shipped next day air.

March 8th 2007 (Thursday): Received the camera package minus one lens. I didn't receive the 50mm f/1.4 lens that was supposed to be in stock according to the website. We took some pictures and found that photos were out of focus. The flash we received was not a bounce flash, and did not work with the camera. Needless to say, I was very upset.

March 9th 2007 (Friday): I called fotoconnection.com about the flash and fotoconnection.com refused to send the correct flash. I had purchased a ‘bounce’ flash but the flash they sent was not a bounce flash. A sticker on the side of the flash box (which looked like it was printed on a ink jet printer) said “Digital Concepts DC736A” which did not match the product in the box. The flash we received was not the correct flash (the flash part does not rotate as is required for a ‘bounce’ flash). They said I could return the flash and that they would credit my account $40 and that I had to spend an additional $260 for a better flash.

I registered my camera warranty online at the website on the card and after registration found a list of service centers in the Denver area. After trying to call the service centers, none of them had valid phone numbers or addresses except one. The one place that did have a valid phone number said that they did not service Nikon cameras. However, I researched this company and found that they are registered with the NJ Department of State and the NJ Better Business Bureau report states: "Based on BBB files, this company (RepairTech Inc.) has a satisfactory record with the Bureau".

I took my camera into a local camera service center to have the clarity of photos checked and the flash checked. They said since I had a Sigma lens and a Nikon camera that they may be incompatible and throwing off the focus. They said the flash should have worked and that it would take 24-48 hours to check out the camera.

I searched the NY Department of State at this web site:

http://appsext8.dos.state.ny.us/corp_public/corpsearch.entity_search_entry

and found that ‘Fotoconnection’ is not a registered business name. The address on the invoice was just a PO Box number in Brooklyn NY.

My wife sent an e-mail to fotoconnection.com to speed things up. The e-mail said the following:

My husband has called several times concerning my order. On my online order and on my invoice it is specified that I ordered a bounce flash (bounce = a flash with a movable light source). The flash that you sent me is not a bounce flash. (It is a Digital Concepts DC528AF flash). The computer printed sticker on the side of the box indicating that it is a 'Digital Concepts DC736AF Bounce Flash' does not match the product you sent.

Secondly, I requested and paid for next day delivery. When I submitted my order online, it stated that the 50mm f/1.4 lens I was ordering was in-stock. It did not arrive with my order.

Please send me a real 'Digital Concepts DC736A' bounce flash (or a better bounce flash). and my 50mm f/1.4 lens by the end of the day next Wednesday, March 14, 2007. If you can't find this flash, Wal-mart sells them here for $129:

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=5030898

If you refuse to send me the flash and lens I will contact the credit card companies that I used for the purchase and start the refund / fraud process. Thank you for your prompt attention in this matter.


March 13th, 2007

The Denver camera service center where I took the camera said they were not trained to diagnose this model of camera so I took camera to the Camera Trader in Denver and tried several different types of lens. After taking several photos and looking at them on a computer, they determined that the camera needed adjustment and needed to be sent back to Nikon for repairs.

I received a phone message from fotoconnection.com requesting that I call them and not to call credit card companies. I called them back and they said they would send a flash and the lens and it should be here by Friday, March 16, 2007.

March 14th, 2007

I found out that the $699 lens that we bought with the camera can be purchased just about anywhere for $300. Decided to call fotoconnection.com for a refund on the lens. I contacted customer service and they said I couldn’t return it because it was part of the package deal. I asked for an itemized invoice. The customer service representative went down the invoice and realized that there was a $500 charge unaccounted for and that they only charged me $200 for the lens. Also, there was a $60 tripod upgrade fee that I didn’t know about. I did not specify an upgrade to the tripod and the tripod received was flimsy. Customer service contacted sales and they said their system was down and couldn’t talk to me.

I called back and talked to the manager. He informed me that I actually paid $3,500 for the camera body (instead of the advertised $3,179 on the website) and $200 for the lens (instead of $699) and that the guy I talked to earlier is a new guy and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I now realize I should have researched the company before buying and should have added up the total item by item when I purchased it to be sure it added up.

March 16th, 2007

I didn't get the lens and flash today like they said I would.

March 18th, 2007

Upon the advice of my attorney, we started the credit card fraud return process with both Visa and Discover. Will follow the advice of the credit card companies from here.

March 20th, 2007

Received the 50mm f/1.4 lens from fotoconnection.com. Still have not received the bounce flash they had promised I would receive with the lens.

April 18th, 2007

Still have not received the bounce flash from fotoconnection.com. I received a letter today from the credit card company advising us to return all of the equipment we received.

April 19th, 2007

I called fotoconnection.com customer service today and they said that since we were past the return date of 10 days that they wouldn't issue a Return Authorization number, and that if we tried to send it back to them without a number, they wouldn't accept it.

April 20th, 2007

Today we were informed by the credit card company to go ahead and attempt to return the package. They said the bank can't get involved unless we have proof that we tried to return it and that they refused it. They said that most likely once the bank gets involved that they will issue an RA number.

April 25th, 2007

Returned all photography equipment back to the shipping address. Used signature confirmation and insured the package for $4,500. Photographed all items as they were packed into the shipping box. Postage plus insurance cost me $71.40 via USPS.

April 25th, 2007

Tracked the package via USPS tracking and found that fotoconnection.com had received the package.

May 6th, 2007

Received an e-mail from fotoconnection.com stating that they have received our merchandise and that they have issued us a return authorization number. Tomorrow we will send the credit card companies the updated info via USPS mail and will work with them to get our money back.

STAY TUNED! MORE TO COME!

Now that I have had a chance to figure out my itemized invoice, it looks like this is how I was charged for the package deal:

$3,179 - "Nikon D2Xs Secondary Package (28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 + much more)"
$299 - "Nikon 50mm f/1.4D Normal AF Autofocus Nikkor Lens"
$699 - "Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DG Macro Compact Hyper Zoom Aspherical for Nikon AF-D"
$300 - "Service warranty for cameras under $3000"
$60 - "Tripod Upgrade"
$59 - "Next Day Air Delivery"

Total Invoice = $4,596.00. I paid $4597.98, so with a little change not accounted for, this sounds like the correct item by item invoice.

My main complaints right now are as follows:

So far I'm at a loss of $699 for the lens upgrade scam and $60 for the tripod upgrade that I didn't purchase. Also, if you include the cost of items not received such as the bounce flash (which is probably worth about $150), I'm out a total of $909 (plus a whole lot of grief and frustration).


Here's a couple photos of the cheap flash they sent me and where they put their own label on it. Can you imagine even putting this flash on Nikon's top of the line digital camera? Also, the flash either didn't work or didn't work with my camera because it would not flash when taking a photo (it was either defective or not compatible with my camera).








Here’s the latest report from the NY Better Business Bureau found at this website: http://www.newyork.bbb.org/reports/PrintReport.aspx?id=79450&lang=en

FOTO CONNECTION
1421 Sheepshead Bay Road, Suite #220
Brooklyn , NY 11235

Principal: David Feinsod, President

Additional Phone Numbers:

(718) 249-1204
(718) 724-1498
(800) 457-0889
(561) 673-0664
(516) 504-1192
(516) 504-0983

Email Address: customerservice@inoax.com

Website: www.fotoconnection.com

Type of Business: Photographic Equipment & Supplies-Retail, Electronic Equipment & Suppliers-Service/Repair, Computers-Dealers

Membership Status: This company is not a member.

The information in this report has either been provided by the company, or has been compiled by the Bureau from other sources.

Nature of Business

Complaints to the Bureau indicate that this company has a pattern of misleading and deceptive business practices. A majority of consumers report that this firm advertises low cost and new merchandise on its website but receive damaged or refurbished merchandise. In addition consumers are charged shipping insurance fees which change and raise the price of the item. Complaints also indicate that this firm uses high pressures sales tactics when consumers call customer service. Consumers report being pressured to make additional purchases along with their original orders, and if they decline and cancel their orders they are charged an arbitrary cancellation fee. Furthermore, consumers allege customer service representatives gave false shipping dates and tracking numbers.

Customer Experience

Based on BBB files, this business has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau, because there is a pattern of complaints, and the business has not corrected the underlying reason for the complaints.

The company's size, volume of business, and number of transactions may have a bearing on the number of complaints received by the BBB. The number of complaints filed against a company may not be as important as the type of complaints, and how the company handled them. The BBB generally does not pass judgment on the validity of complaints filed.

Additional Business Names

This firm also does business under the following names. This is not necessarily a complete list.

1 Stop Camera & Computers
1 Stop Camera & Electronics
4U Digital
Digital Net Shop
ePhoto Club
Inoax
One Stop Camera & Computers
Rite Buys
Superior Dealz
The New Connection
The Wiz Store

Additional Locations

This firm also does business at the following locations.

PO Box 4218
Great Neck, NY 11023

PO box 751
New Hyde Park, NY 11040

PO Box 300425
Brooklyn, NY 11230

21 South Middle Neck Road
Great Neck, NY 11021

1288 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230

902 Kings Highway
Brooklyn, NY 11223

1100 Coney Island Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11230

Report as of: 3/14/2007

Copyright © 2007 BBB of Metropolitan New York, Inc.

As a matter of policy, the Better Business Bureau does not endorse any product, service, or company. BBB reports generally cover a three-year reporting period, and are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information contained in this report is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy. Reports are subject to change at any time.

The Better Business Bureau reports on members and non-members. Membership in the BBB is voluntary, and members must meet and maintain BBB standards. If a company is a member of the BBB, it is stated in this report.