and some funny e-tailers

I was attempting to purchase a camera over the Internet. There seems to be a stock issue with this so some of the major e-tailers have already sold out. So I decided to take a look at some of the other offerings out there. In the past, I have encountered after I have made a purchase and thought this would be a reasonably reliable way to determine if some e-companies were trustworthy. I was a little disconcerted when I tried to find a source for this camera:

Working from the search results :

I then checked out This was a little shakier since I found nothing on them with the bbb and I found some conflicting reports about them in the newsgroups. I eventually decided to go ahead with them but they didn’t do SSL. This doesn’t bode well for an Internet storefront – it means they either couldn’t get a certificate from verisign – a bad sign that – or they are too cheap/naïve to get a certificate which means they don’t have any concern about my data. Sending my credit card info through in the clear just isn’t a good idea. Further checking their site I can see that they have a “VeriSign Secured” logo. This shows that their SSL certificate is supposed to be valid from Nov/03 through Nov/05. But try to access their site via https and you’ll find the connection is refused.

Then I decided to check out . I immediately noticed that, while the site is laid out slightly differently (graphics are modified), the actual deal for the camera was identical, right down to the confusing accessory kit offerings (though the price was different by $1). A quick “WhoIs” check shows that both and are owned by the same company. Further, even though also displays the “Verisign Secured” logo, it is also incapable of accepting https connections.

Next,, surprise! same deal again as the previous two, no https ability (even though it also purports to have a valid verisign certificate. This time the WhoIs search yielded a different owner name (though with the same city / zip code) and the price was once again slightly different but the product offerings (the packages and the accessories) were all similar again to the previous two. The difference being that the price now ended in 77 cents.

Then came which I didn’t even bother to check using WhoIs since that was listed in the administrative contact information section for the site. At least this site didn’t claim to be “Verisign Certified” as the previous ones did.

Checked out At least in WhoIs it purports to have a slightly different owner (still in Brooklyn, NY with a zip of 11223 instead of 11231), but the offerings on that page still look eerily similar to all of those above. No “Verisign Secured” logo here either and SSL connections were refused. For smiles’n’giggles I went as far into the checkout process here as to create my account and saw that the form is IDENTICAL to the one on

Checked out and though they had more notes indicating that “Store Pickup Available” as well as being “In Stock” well… they were out of stock..

Finally, with I was able to find a seller with both stock and SSL support. But a quick scan of the newsgroups and checking and curbed my enthusiasm for this retailer.

As an aside this has greatly reduced my opinion of Having so many storefronts for a single retailer represented in their results greatly reduced my confidence in using them as a search vehicle for products.

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