Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.

We all love a bargain! If the video equipment we buy is exactly as expected, even better. What can a videographer do to make sure what is read, what sellers offer and what arrives at the front door are all on the same page? Is there a guaranteed way to get major purchases, the best video equipment, video software or accessories at the lowest possible price and not live to regret it?

Internet consumers are spending $186.2 billion a year. There’s a gold rush of bargains, cheap prices and great deals. The caveat is many have high disappointment potential. Gray area market goods, missing warranties, bait-and-switch and the take-your-money-and-run operations can ruin the euphoria experienced just after submitting your account number or sending that certified check. It isn’t always major purchases that take your money. The gold rush often is the seller’s, not yours.

It’s tempting to look for and grab the best price, to focus our search on consolidated websites consumer listings based on lowest price, and then to pull the trigger.

The plus side to all this? Along with the potential for rip-offs and dubious video equipment discounts, are a multitude of sites and ways to do the necessary research to at least hedge your bargain bet on major purchases. If you are looking for a search engine lookup for video equipment consumer complaints to see if the brand, product or seller listed is a good practice, the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Reports reviews can help save your money.

Internet bargain hunters for video equipment who love eBay, Amazon and countless other resources for all things affordable can find ratings and reviews listed for the item in question. It’s tempting, when the money is on hand, to look for and grab the best price, to focus our search on consolidated websites consumer listings based on lowest price, and then to pull the trigger. As videographers, we need a return on our investment. Impulse buying isn’t going to make that happen.

Impulse buying is best left to the magazines, candies, batteries and other items at the sides of your checkout counter at physical store locations, not the Internet. Major online sales resources usually have seller ratings or forums where you can search for the company or items you’re interested in or scan current postings to verify something negative you may have heard.

Nothing, however, beats information straight from the consumer. Check out the Videomaker forums, Videomaker articles, your local professional videographers association or others in the video business or who are making video as a hobby. Find out if any of them have heard of the company or product, have used it and the pros and cons discovered. Taking the time necessary researching reviews, comments and consumer/seller websites, especially for major purchases where you’re willing to spend thousands, if you can save hundreds, is the highest return on investment you’ll get.

Online Shopping
Online Shopping
That adage, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, is just as applicable today as when it was first shared. Video equipment shoppers, especially those with hard-fought minimum budgets for major purchases, can easily fall prey to unscrupulous knock-off, inferior merchandise or illegal/gray area pricing and jump the gun before that delicious bargain goes away. It is, however, better to have researched and lost the opportunity than to replace money you worked hard for after spending it on a company or individual that doesn’t exist or for equipment that falls apart. Or, worse yet, never arrives.

Most bargains are reasonable bargains, not give aways, so the next time you see something you’ve been desperate for at a price you can’t believe, from a business you’ve never heard of, keep your head about you and do your research first, even if the deal of the century is only for the next two hours!


Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.

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