Suspicious about my "new" camera
September 16, 2012 9:12 PM   Subscribe

I bought a Panasonic Lumix FZ150 camera from 42photo.com. It arrived last week. It's supposed to be new, but I think it's previously-owned.

There are a few reasons I think this. First, the camera and accessories were loosely packed in the box, rattling around. Second, there is a rattle in the camera itself when I turn it upside down. Third, the camera doesn't have that new-gadget smell (seriously, I have learned to expect new gadgets to have a certain smell).

The camera does seem to be in working condition, and it's under warranty. But I paid for a new camera. I could have paid less if I wanted a used one. I contacted 42photo.com and they said the rattle in the camera is normal and insisted that everything they sell is new. They have lied to me before, though, so I don't trust anything they say. (They called me after I placed the order online and told me the FZ150 requires a "proprietary" memory card, which is not true, and tried to get me to add that card to my order. I'm not the first person to have this experience with them.)

The site's return policy requires a 20% restocking fee. Is there any way to determine for sure if the camera has been used? I would love to be proven wrong. If I'm not convinced I'm wrong, though, should I threaten to dispute the charge on my credit card if they don't take the camera back for a full refund? I don't want to threaten that lightly.
posted by Dec One to Shopping (13 answers total)
 
when you unpacked your camera, did it look like this unboxing video?
posted by quince at 9:21 PM on September 16, 2012


Check the shutter count - it should be zero assuming this is a brand new camera (subtracting the count of however many pics you took yourself, of course).

It could still be a second-hand camera that was never used even if the shutter count is zero. OTOH, if the shutter count is high then it's obviously been used before you got it.
posted by jpeacock at 9:30 PM on September 16, 2012


I think your options, whether or not it's used, are to send it back and dispute the charge and keep your fingers crossed your credit card company stands behind you or keep it and chalk it up as a lesson learned never to order from some obscure site with a spammy URL and an F rating with the Better Business Bureau.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:35 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would also contact Panasonic and tell them what a bad experience you are having with a vendor. Suggest maybe they do the exchange for a new one.

I assume the reason you purchased this from a vendor that lied to you before and that has a shitty reputation is because you got an amazing price. Well, sometimes cheap is the most expensive thing you can buy in the long run. Look at it as scam insurance to pay a little more with a reputable dealer. Or, what is the old saying, "if it looks to good to be true it probably is"?
posted by AugustWest at 9:43 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I contacted 42photo.com and they said the rattle in the camera is normal and insisted that everything they sell is new.
That is straight up bullshit. There shouldn't be any rattle in your camera.
I would also contact Panasonic and tell them what a bad experience you are having with a vendor. Suggest maybe they do the exchange for a new one.
You might also ask Panasonic if they can replace your rattling camera under warranty. Unfortunately, you will probably find that it is a gray-market camera and the warranty is not valid.

In the future, buy from B&H, Adorama, or Amazon.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:52 PM on September 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure my LX5 records how many exposures have been taken and I don't think it can be reset (though I may be wrong about this). Can you check yours?

If you paid by credit card you should involve your credit card company.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:28 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's a video of a FZ-150 being opened up. As for buying from random stores in New York, my God. This has been going on for at least 10 years. I remember they used to sell fake Canon bodies at discounted prices, I almost fell for that one. (Seconding B&H and Adorama, and make sure with Amazon you are buying from them directly or from reputable third-party dealers.)

I'm not familiar with the product you purchased. On the off chance this is not a scam, I used to have a video recorder that had a very distinctive rattle when turned upside down in the off position. This was an internal stabilizer clicking on and off. No other DSLR or point-and-shoot I've owned makes this noise.

Also, someone on dpreview has had the same problem. There's some debate about whether or not the FZ-150 actually has a shutter, and then links to a possible way to check the shutter count.
posted by phaedon at 11:53 PM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is straight up bullshit. There shouldn't be any rattle in your camera.
Not necessarily true. Image stabilization often involves some rattle in a lens mechanism, and most cameras have tilt sensors that rattle (they're more or less a ball bearing in a box).
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:36 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not necessarily true. Image stabilization often involves some rattle in a lens mechanism, and most cameras have tilt sensors that rattle (they're more or less a ball bearing in a box).
I'm still extremely skeptical, but page 200 of the FZ-150 manual says that a bit of rattling is normal. Not something that I'd tolerate, but maybe I'm too intolerant.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:45 AM on September 17, 2012


jpeacock and phaedon: Thanks for the shutter count suggestion. Here are the stats from the camera:
PWRCNT: 10 (power cycle count)
SHTCONT: 35 (shutter count)
STBCNT: 0 (strobe count)
PSVCNT: 1 (auto-off count)

This is after I turned the camera on once and took one test shot. I assume that PWRCNT and SHTCNT should both be 1.

AugustWest: they lied only after I had placed my order. In retrospect, I should have tried to cancel the order as soon as they did that. The camera was $440 on 42photo.com; $450 on Amazon. I did not consider that "too good to be true". In addition, they do have high ratings here and here.

I have already taken the camera and accessories out of the box, so unfortunately I don't have anything to compare to the unboxing videos.

b1tr0t: Thanks for pointing that out in the manual. It says rattle is normal in playback and off modes. This rattle persists in picture-taking mode.
posted by Dec One at 6:59 AM on September 17, 2012


Yes, both your power count and shutter count should be one. That said, your options depend on how much of a tempest you want to create. If it's only had thirty-something pictures, it's about as new as a non-new camera can get. Sorry, but unless you're willing to put in the time and effort to rectify it, you're putting principle ahead of those two. You *might* be able to get the camera used a few bucks cheaper, but frankly you're better off leaving accurate feedback warning others.
posted by chrisinseoul at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The shutter counter could be non zero if there is a testing step during the manufacturing process where someone takes a picture. Remember the iPhone Girl? That kind of testing is fairly normal I think, though perhaps not 34 shots worth of normal.
posted by haykinson at 9:57 AM on September 17, 2012


If the rattle is from image stabilizing, you should here it rattle then lock when you are actually pressing the shutter.
posted by Goofyy at 1:59 PM on September 17, 2012


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