Amazon’s lying product listings

I bought some extension tubes from Cameta Camera, via Amazon, about two weeks ago.  The product page was titled:

Vivitar Professional Metal Macro Automatic Extension Tube Set of 3 for Nikon (13mm, 21mm &  31mm)

I suppose I should have caught on that something was wrong by the fact that the description for the same item stated that the tubes were actually 12mm, 20mm & 36mm.

When they arrived, I was surprised to find they were not metal at all.  Just plastic, like all other budget extension tubes (well, as I now know).  They were also broken.

I contacted the fulfilling company – Cameta Camera – and eventually ended up talking via phone to Rich, who was very east-coast – very aggressive, blunt, and more than once insisted on talking through some stream of conciousness even after I already told him I understood, or I agreed, or I just didn’t care.  The kind of person who’s not finished talking until they’re finished talking.

I’m not really inclined to that sort of personality, which I guess is why I much prefer the west coast.

Anyway, incompatible as our personalities are, he was mostly helpful and as I write the broken tubes are somewhere on their way back to him, to be replaced.  He even offered to pay the return shipping cost (albeit without  the California sales tax part).

It happens that things are broken from the manufacturer, so while it’s annoying I’m still reserving judgement.

But an interesting thing did come out of my discussion with him.  I had pointed out that the listing on Amazon was blatantly wrong, and I suggest deliberately misleading & misrepresentative.  He was lightning fast to point out that he doesn’t set the product descriptions, that they have no control over them, and that dealing with Amazon to try to get them fixed – despite the millions of dollars of business they do through Amazon every month – is “worse than dealing with the government”.  I assured him I understood, and would pursue the matter with Amazon separately.  He told me not to bother; that I’d be wasting my time.

Nonetheless, I did use Amazon’s website to issue a correction for the issue.  I included two photos of the box, as it requested.  I fixed the product title, fixed some grammatical errors in the description, and added in a bullet point describing them as “Plastic with metal bayonet mounts”.

A few days later I got an automated rejection notice from Amazon, stating that “The image provided does not appear to pertain to, or otherwise does not verify, the following suggestion(s).”.  They then quoted the entire description, without any indication of which specific changes they took issue with.

But nonetheless, now I go to the product page and the title has “mysteriously” been fixed to no longer make false representations:

Vivitar VIV-EXT-N 3 Set Extension Tubes for Nikon

They also rearranged the bullet points in the description, and oddly changed one that was actually accurate, from:

Extension tube set for Nikon AF digital SLR cameras


For use with Nikon F SLR cameras

So it appears that some reviewer at Amazon rejected my corrections – which were indeed 100% correct – and instead substituted their own, sight unseen of the actual product (besides the photos I sent, I suppose).  They also rejected my suggested title change (which was basically dropping the “Professional Metal” bullshit and fixing the quoted sizes), going instead with the slightly awkward one quoted above.

The whole experience has been kind of flabbergasting.  In a nutshell, Amazon used blatantly false advertising to push a product, and when called on it claimed that nothing was wrong, but then quietly tweaked the product listing anyway.  Ostensibly the point of buying from Amazon instead of eBay, Craigslist, etc, is that you can trust their listings.  Abjectly false.

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