Several expensive cameras purchased on Amazon have magically turned into cat food, according to furious shoppers. And it’s not just cameras – it appears that some sellers have been scamming people for all kinds of expensive items, like smartphones and computer parts. According to dozens of furious shoppers, they’ve received stuff like pet food, cheap shoes, and surgical masks instead of the high-priced tech goods they’d ordered.
[Related reading: Buyer orders $6,000 camera from Amazon, receives a box of rocks. Twice]
Receiving cat food instead of camera gear
Speaking with the BBC, two photographers shared their experience with camera purchases. A UK-based man named Jonathan ordered a £900 Sony a6400 camera and a £520 Tamron telephoto lens on September 8, 2022. Jonathan said that the package “looked normal” at first sight, so he gave the driver a one-time code and accepted the box.
But instead of his pricey gear, there was an unpleasant surprise waiting for him when he opened the package. “When I opened the box, I was hit by a wave of panic, I was shocked to see Felix cat food,” Jonathan said. “I was very anxious, as I knew it was not going to be easy to get my money back.”
Since Jonathan had signed for the delivery and accepted the package, Amazon initially refused to issue a refund. However, after spending lots of time on the phone with different folks from the company’s complaints department, they eventually decided to refund him and send him a new lens. He says that the replacement lens arrived within a couple of weeks, but the camera was no longer in stock. So, he had to wait more than three weeks for the £900 refund.
After this case reached the public, an Amazon spokesman told the BBC: “We’re sorry that some customer experiences have fallen short of the high standards that we expect. We work hard to create a trustworthy shopping experience by protecting customers, selling partners and Amazon from abuse and we have systems in place to detect suspicious behaviour.” But hey, at least he got his money back eventually. Another scam victim wasn’t so lucky.
Receiving cheap shoes instead of camera gear
A 22-year-old Ethan Martin from Wednesbury is another photographer who vas a victim of a similar scam. According to the BBC, he ordered a Panasonic Lumix camera and lens for a total of £1,999. Instead of being delivered to his home address, the gear was sent to an Amazon hub counter inside a store. The package arrived on January 10, 2023, and Ethan collected it and opened it in front of the salesman.
Once again, no camera or lens inside. Rather than cat food, the box contained two pairs of cheap shoes. “It was horrible and disappointing,” Ethan told the BBC. “I was worried about getting a refund, as I had spent so much money.” The salesman gave Ethan a copy of the surveillance camera, so he hoped for a refund as he had proof of what had happened. The footage clearly showed Ethan opening the box and showing its content to the salesman. However, it didn’t turn out as he’d hoped.
Ethan claims that he complained to Amazon multiple times and told them that he had the video evidence of what had happened. However, he says that the company still hasn’t issued a refund, two months after receiving shoes instead of the camera gear. He had disputed the payment with his bank, adding that he feels robbed and that the bank is his last resort.
“We are investigating these specific cases and are in contact with the customers affected,” the Amazon spokesman said. But there’s still no closure on Ethan’s case, as well as several more cases of people who bought phones and computer parts and got some cheap, random items.
How to avoid these scams
Honestly, I’ve never shopped on Amazon because I live in Serbia, so shipping costs more than the items I’d buy. But the general rule when shopping online is to look for reputable sellers. Check their ratings, comments, and reviews from other buyers will give you an idea who you’re dealing with, but I’m sure you know that already.
Another solution is to buy directly from camera companies or from their certified dealers. You can order gear from them online or visit their physical stores if you have them in your city. Speaking of physical stores, you can always visit local camera shops and buy gear from them. This way, you know you’re not getting cat food instead of camera gear, and you also get a warranty for the stuff you buy.