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What they need’s a damn good whacking…

December 1, 2005

If the Sony Rootkit lesson wasn’t enough to show just how much leverage the online community can muster, Thomas Hawk’s adventure with trying to buy a discount camera from an NYC online camera shop might just do the trick…

In PriceRitePhoto: Abusive Bait and Switch Camera Store, Thomas tells a horrific story about how he’s treated to begin with, and then the threats they made after he told them that he was going to blog the whole story.

“I will make sure you will never be able to place an order on the internet again.” “I’m an attorney, I will sue you.” “I will call the CEO of your company and play him the tape of this phone call.” “I’m going to call your local police and have two officers come over and arrest you.” “You’d better get this through your thick skull.” “You have no idea who you are dealing with.”

These are all direct threats that I received today from an individual who identified himself as Steve Phillips, the manager of PriceRitePhoto in Brooklyn, New York when I called to inquire about my order with them. My crime? Telling him that I planned to write an article about my unfortunate experience with his company regarding the camera order I had placed with him yesterday.

Well, Thomas posted the whole sordid story regardless, and it got picked up on Digg, Boing Boing, and well, everywhere.

The story and the comments are a great read, and a cautionary tale for anyone tempted by a “too good to be true” offer.

I was really startled to see that many commenters that had similar experiences were asked to sign a waiver guaranteeing that they would not post negative feedback (or risk having their credit cards hit for $100) before the company would make right.

Today’s chapter in the saga starts with “An Apology Letter From Ed Lopez, Owner of PriceRitePhoto” where Ed calls and fesses up to having experienced the special kind of love only known to those hated by the online community, and certain prison inmates.

I received a call this morning from Ed Lopez, the owner of PriceRitePhoto. We spoke at length and he told me that the activity that has resulted from my post on my experience with his business has most certainly impacted his business. Mr. Lopez told me that he was calling to apologize and that Mr. Philips was going to be terminated at a company board meeting later on this morning. He confirmed to me that they do have the camera in question in stock and although I am not interested in purchasing it from them at this point indicated that he would sell it for me at the advertised price. Subsequently Ed sent me the following email…

Again, both the story and comments are a great read…

If that wasn’t enough, the latest chapter is “PriceRitePhoto: Shut Down“, which starts out:

PriceRitePhoto is, at least for now, off the internet. I received another call this afternoon from the Ed Lopez, the alleged owner of PriceRitePhoto. Ed has said that hackers have taken his site down off the internet. I assume he has been subjected to denial of service attacks that may have been inspired in part by my post on my horrible treatment that I received at his camera store.

Well, maybe. If that’s not the case, they certainly wouldn’t be the first group of slimeballs to take their own site offline and then cry that the nasty hackers got them in order to get some sympathy.

In any event, I’m guessing that once they’re able to sit down again without wincing, there just might be a new policy in place on what to do the next time a disgruntled customer tells them that they’re going to be posting about the experience…

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