Monday, October 6, 2008

A tale of two cameras

Or "How Jaime Was Struck with Impulsive Stupidity"

Status: Already feeling my million lunges this morning
Today's Song: "Black Gloves" by TS Hartley

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. ..
It was my birthday. And thanks to all of you who wished me a Happy Birthday *sniffle* I'm now divisible by 11, and you can't say that every year :)

In an effort to help my family figure out what to get me, I decided to buy myself a new camera. And they could all just contribute to the cause. As so often happens (at least with me), it turned into a bit of a saga.

My desires were simple. 1) I wanted something with a few more megapixels (we were working with 4.0) and 2) with more zoom. As my kids get older and the sports fields get bigger, many of the soccer pics this year include 5 fuzzy kids in blue shirts, and I have to specify that the blue-shirted athlete the third from the left is mine, etc. So those were my two requirements. Oh, and 3) I didn't want to have to take out a home equity line to buy it.

A friend of mine got a pretty good camera for a screaming deal at some electronics store in California. After research I determined that yes, it was a pretty good camera. More than sufficient for my needs. Unfortunately, the closest one of said electronics stores is in Las Vegas, and they won't ship. Tartar Sauce!

But you can find anything you want (and everything you don't) online, right? So I found some good deals. In fact, some jaw-dropping good deals. Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age, but I decided that I should check out these businesses some more. I found a website called where you can type in the name of the site offering you the jaw-dropping deal, and see customer reviews. It turns out that my great deals really were too good to be true. :( They were borderline scams (I won't tell you which side of the scam border), with abysmal customer ratings below 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.

I was so ticked that I wouldn't get my great deal. I did find a legitimate merchant that was selling the camera for about $100 more than the price I was wanting to pay, and even more than the price my friend got. But I just couldn't quite make myself pay that.

Next step, of course = ebay. So I scoured the auctions and the camera manufacturer actually sells new cameras with scuffed or slightly smooshed packaging. I bid on a few auctions, and lost. One just barely. Jason told me to quit with the hair-pulling and just go pay the higher price for the camera. So I swallowed my penny-nazi, bargain-hunting pride and bought it.

A few days later I got an email from ebay. An auction on the camera was ending soon, and it was priced significantly lower than what I had finally paid. My vision got hazy, my fingers started to tingle--bargain mania took over. With about one minute to go, I became the high bidder.

Common sense finally burst on the scene and I realized that I really, really didn't need TWO cameras. Could I even return one of them? Would I save money after I paid for shipping to me and then back to the merchant?? Were there restocking fees???

What was I thinking?! Stop! Cancel! *click, click, click* Cancel bid!

"Congratulations, you won!" Noooo! I was the not-very-proud owner of two of the same camera.

The first one came and sat unopened in my bedroom for a while. I had to return one of the cameras, but I wasn't sure which one yet. Finally I caved and opened that one so I could use it. When, on my birthday, the second camera hadn't shown up (despite them having my money for a couple weeks) I emailed the ebay seller. It turns out they didn't have any more of those in stock (how you sell something you don't have, I don't know...) but they could replace it with a refurbished camera.

I sent back an email sufficiently dissatisfied and requesting a full refund, the whole time dancing inside and chanting, "Yes. Yes. Yes." So I didn't buy two cameras after all. Whew!

Moral of the story: Think before you bid.

Doesn't it take pretty pictures? Now I just have to plow through the textbook-size manual...

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