The Perils of internet….
The recent bad experience of one of my students made me reflect on problems when buying from the internet. Naturally, there are bargains to be had and many reputable buyers and, furthermore, at times we are forced to buy from internet as some products are not readily available from local distributors. Yet, I think we need to be aware of a few pointers which I would like to mention here when making online purchases:
• You are not seeing the product you are buying at point of purchase. This introduces the risk of being sold a damaged, shop-soiled or even counterfeit item, and the risk of damage during transit due to insufficient packing, rough handling or similar. Beware of deals that seem too good to be true – sometimes that cheap battery, lens or camera case will prove very expensive in the end.
• Products sold on EU websites are not necessarily tax-paid in the EU. This exposes you to the risk of having to pay an extra 5.1% duty and 18% VAT on the item you purchase upon clearance through Malta customs.
• Most manufacturers have different warranty schemes for world regions. A product marketed by a manufacturer for sale in the Far East or US is not normally covered by their EU-wide warranty. Internet sites are not obliged to specify where they buy their products from and don’t often specify whether the product they are selling is covered by the manufacturer’s EU warrenty scheme or not.
• Furthermore, claiming a repair or replacement under warranty requires a document, showing signature and stamp of the seller together with the serial number of the equipment being claimed and the date of sale. You don’t normally get this document when purchasing camera equipment on the internet unless you specifically ask for it. Local distributors in Malta will require this document to get reimbursed by the manufacturer for any warranty claim they honour, so it is understandable for them to insist on an original, signed document of sale as part of your warranty claim.
• Counterfeit goods. This is a growing problem globally. The selling of high cost counterfeit goods on the internet can be a costly exercise. Never buy cut price big name brands unless you are confident of the outlets authenticity. Rogue websites. As well as counterfeit goods there are criminal gangs out there who produce web sites which look like reputable retailers which are in fact designed to steal your payment details and or identity. They look just like the real thing and are often sites you have used before. Always make sure you type in the address yourself and never follow links from emails or even other web sites.
Naturally, I have researched the above information and I hope that this will enable you to better evaluate circumstances when you contemplate your next purchase. Good luck!