Right before we traveled to France, I decided to buy a new camera.
I started with a basic point-and-shoot, a Kodak EasyShare C743 Zoom camera in 2006, then bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D60, in June 2009. I had always said I would eventually get a new DSLR but since the body matters less than the lenses you use (and your own skills), I decided to wait.
And I waited. The Nikon D60 traveled around the world—Australia, Malaysia, France, Singapore, the US, the UK, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua—and documented precious moments of our lives, including Mark’s birth.
The poor thing started to fall apart.
So I did some research. I wanted to stick with the brand since all my lenses are Nikon, and I had a $500 budget. I set my mind on the Nikon D3200, a newish model but still an affordable entry-level camera.
Unlike you buy a second-hand camera, prices are relatively similar across stores, so the place of purchase didn’t really matter.
I headed to Best Buy, conveniently located close to home. It was around 6 p.m. and the store was empty but it took me a while to find someone to help. I finally found an employee and we walked together to the camera section.
“So, you want a Nikon you said, right?”
I explained that my lenses were Nikon.
“Well, why don’t you buy another set of lenses?”
Once I convinced the employee that I wasn’t going to buy more lenses, that I really wanted a Nikon and if he could just hand me a D3200 that would be great, he paused.
“Oh, I have one left in stock.”
“And it’s a great deal…”
“… because it’s an open box.”
I paused. I had heard about the “open box” concept—basically, someone buys a product and returns it, and the store sells it again at a discounted price.
“So why was the camera returned?” I asked.
The employee shrugged. “Don’t know. Cosmetic damage? Missing parts? But it works, we tested it.”
“Yeah… well, I’d rather have a new item, especially considering the discount isn’t that enticing.”
I mean, I don’t mind saving $50, but it’s not really worth the headache of returning the camera if it doesn’t work properly or if something is missing.
“Why don’t you buy it anyway? If there is a problem, you can just return it!”
“Well, what if the previous customer did just that, returning it because it has a problem?”
The irony of the situation was lost on the employee and I decided to pass on the open box “deal”. I went to Future Shop, next door.
This time, an employee was available at the camera section. I noticed that the D3200 was $20 more than at Best Buy, so I asked if Future Shop was offering a price match guarantee.
“Sure we do! Let me just call Best Buy to double check their price.”
Twenty minutes later (apparently, Best Buy doesn’t pick up the phone very often), the employee announced that, lucky me, they could sell me the camera for the same price as Future Shop.
“Great!” I said. “Well, I’m buying it now. And I’m also going to grab a filter. Can you give me a minute?”
I walked to the camera accessory aisle, and when I returned to the camera section, the employee and the manager were unscrewing the D3200 display model from the table.
“Uh… excuse me,” I said. “I’d like a brand new camera, not the display model.”
“Oh, that’s the only one we have in stock.”
“Well, I’m not buying it,” I asserted.
Come on, seriously? I don’t mind buying the display model for chair, a desk, a toy… I don’t even mind second-hand clothes. But I draw the line at expensive electronic items that have been handled and abused by hundreds of people. The demo models in big box stores receive more wear than they would receive in a life time of handling from one owner.
The kicker? I wasn’t getting any discount whatsoever for a used product.
Thank but no thanks.
I was getting slightly annoyed. I mean, what’s a girl gotta do to buy a camera?
I headed to Henry’s, the camera specialists. Once again, I found an employee and once again, I explained I was shopping for a D3200.
“Is that for a gift?”
No, I explained, it was for myself.
“You might want to buy a point-and-shoot camera. DSLR are complicated.”
Yeah, well, while I’m not a professional photographer I know how to use them, thank you very much. This is what I told the employee, but he was still reluctant to hand me the goddamn box I was asking for.
“I know it’s wedding season and that you probably want to take picture of your friends,” he finally said. “But really, a pretty point-and-shoot camera will do the job.”
Really, I don’t take offense easily. But seriously, dude? Me no want a pretty pink toy camera to take picture of my airhead friends wearing fancy white dresses.
I stormed out.
I was about to give up when I noticed Staples, on the way home. The store was about to close.
“Hi,” I said. “Look, I just want one thing: the Nikon D3200. I’m ready to buy it right now if you have it in stock. No open box, no display model and yes, I’m 100% sure this is the camera I want.”
Turned out I was talking to the store manager and yes, he wanted my money.
Fifteen minutes later, I was opening the box of my new camera.
I rarely buy anything for myself, this was a real treat.
I used it for all the pictures we took in France. I love it.
Oh, and fuck you Best Buy, Future Shop and Henry’s.