Buying a camera in Hong Kong – Don’t! (Part 2)

On Tuesday I compared the prices in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The conclusion was that even though there are rumors that cameras are cheaper in Hong Kong, there’s no need to rush there to shop. In the comments Mike reminded us that there are cheap stores in Guangzhou too, but you just have to know what you’re buying and know about the different guarantees.

Today I’m going to tell you the first story of the camera shop that tried to trick me into buying something I didn’t want.


Scam number 1

It happened on the Peking road and you can see the shop in the picture above (from Google Maps). This is how it happened:

Me: I’m interested in buying a DSLR camera. Could you show me something cheap and good for beginners?

Salesman: Sure. Here’s the Canon Rebel XS (1000d).

Me: How much is it?

Salesman: That’s 3800HKD.

Me: In the other shop they said it’s about 3000HKD.

Salesman: Come sit here and take a look at the camera. I can give you a good deal.

Sitting with my Finnish friend in front of the salesman and trying the camera. Salesman doing some small talk.

Me in Finnish to my friend: I’m sure soon he’s saying how it’s a “special price for you my friend!”

Me in English to the salesman: I like it but it’s little bit over my budget.

Salesman: Don’t worry. I can give a special price for you my friend. And later on when you buy a new camera or your friend wants one, you can come back here.

Me: Okey, that’s good.

Salesman: Playing with his calculator. What about 3500HKD? It’s a very good price for a camera like this.

Me: I’m not so sure. But I could buy it right now for 3200HKD.

Salesman: No, that’s way too little. You see how good this camera is!

Me: I have a budget so there’s nothing I can do.

Salesman: Fine. I’ll ask me manager. Asking something from a other salesman in Cantonese. Okey, my manager said it’s okey.

Me: Good. Can I see the new camera?

Salesman: This is little bit older model so we have to get it from the storage. You pay first and then we go get the new camera for you.

Me: Okey. Here’s cash.

Salesman takes the cash, counts it and writes a receipt. We start waiting for the camera.

Salesman: While we are waiting I can show you a camera you should buy next time. It’s Fujifilm XXX (Can’t rememer the model) and you can see how much better it is compared the camera you are buying.

Salesman takes a picture with Canon and then with Fujifilm. The latter one looks much better but that’s because of the white balance setting in the Canon are the worst possible.

Me: Looking at the Canon. Where can I change the white balance?

Salesman: Takes the camera from my hands. I’ll show you. Oh, wait. I’m sorry the battery is dead.

Me: Oh, can you put a new battery?

Salesman: Sorry, that’s the only battery we have.

We continue waiting for the camera I bought. Me and my friend already understood that he want’s us to buy the Fujifilm camera that’s only slightly more expensive than the Canon, but perhaps in reality it’s not as good as the Canon. Salesman is trying all the tricks he knows to sell us something more expensive.

Salesman: You know, I’m already working over time and I have to go now. Here is my manager and he knows you are waiting for the camera and he will close the deal with you.

Salesman leaves and we still continue waiting for the camera.

Manager: I just got a call from the storage and the Canon Rebel XS is only in Japanese. Is this okey for you?

Me: What? Do I look like I understand Japanese?

Manager: It’s an older model so it’s only in Japanese. But we can give you the English manual.

Me: Are you kidding me?!

Manager: If you don’t want it you can buy something else or get your money back.

Me: You bet I’m getting my money back! Is this really the way you do business?!

I left the store with my money and kept cursing in Finnish all the way to the street.


What just happened

The salesmen in Hong Kong are clever. They know what to say to make you feel good and “become friends”. They know how to change the settings in the cameras in order to make you buy a more expensive camera. But in reality the more expensive one might not be better one.

At this point I thought that they really didn’t know that they don’t have the Canon in storage and had to come up with something so I would choose an other camera. In Guangzhou it’s normal that you pay first and then you get the product from the storage or warehouse. I thought that’s just normal.

I also thought that this particular store was just an isolated incident. I didn’t know that this is the way most of the small and cheap Camera stores in Hong Kong work.

Later this week I’ll tell you how naive I was and how I got fooled the second time. It’s even better!

Click here for part 3 and find out how the scam number 2 happened!