“On Sunday December 7, after extensive price comparison among online companies, I ordered a Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ800U 50-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV from prestigecamera.com. Their price of $1411 was considerably cheaper than other online merchants including Panasonic-Direct, Amazon, Buy.com, and newegg.com. Prestigecamera fully disclosed, and I acknowledged, that shipping would be an additional $199, which did bring Prestige's price closer (but still less than) the other merchants whose prices already have shipping built in.
On Monday December 8, I received an email from prestigecamera.com (I can forward this to BBB upon request). The email stated: "We are required to speak to you in order to verify your billing information. You may also be eligible for discounts on additional accessories and packages which are available with your product. Please call in at your earliest convenience. Our friendly team is ready to assist you and provide you with a great shopping experience. Our phone number is 1-800-432-2186. Please choose Extension 285, when you call."
I made several attempts to call this number on Dec 8, between 9am and 2pm. Busy signals every time, until finally around 2:15pm, the call connected successfully and I was greeted by a customer service agent.
After asking for my order number, he congratulated me on my purchase, and then stated "You will need to buy 3 HDMI cables with that TV." I responded that I did not need any HDMI cables. He questioned how I would have cables without having a HDTV. I replied firmly that I did not need to purchase any HDMI cables. He then said "but you will need the power strip/surge protector." I stated I did not need this item either.
He then asked if I would be placing the TV on the wall or on a table. I replied "on a table". He responded that "You will need the pedestal; that's on sale for $199". I countered that it was my understanding that Panasonic includes a stand as part of this model. I recognized that any wall mounting equipment would be additional cost, but did not concur with his assessment that I needed to purchase a separate stand. I requested to decline the separate stand. He replied "You understand you won't be able to use the TV without the stand?". I countered that I fully expected a stand to be included by the manufacturer, and that Panasonic's website describes this model as being equipped with a swivel stand as standard equipment. He replied "not for $1400, it isn't". I commented that the photograph on prestige's website shows the Panasonic TV with a stand, and nowhere does it disclose that this base/stand is not included with the purchase (http://www.prestigecamera.com/viewproduct.aspx?id=%20%20%209972837)
He responded tersely with "I'll give you a cancellation number. You may re-order in two weeks". I said "thank-you" and the call terminated.
The cancellation was not initiated by me, and caught me a little off guard. After the call ended, it became apparent to me that Prestige was practicing bait-n-switch, or upsell practices. I believe he chose to cancel my order because I did not purchase certain "mandatory" accessories which would have dramatically increased their profit margin. I was extremely shocked, after the call, to go back to prestige's website and check their price for HDMI cables. They wanted over $127 to $233 each for HDMI cables. (this price was never disclosed to me on the phone). These prices are considerably higher than similar cables which can be purchased for under $20 at most retailers. Had I fallen for their tactic, my $1411 TV would have ballooned to $2190 ($1411 TV + $199 shipping + 3($127 cables) + $199 stand/pedestal), a price considerably higher than the other online merchants and a price which definitely would have precluded me from considering prestigecamera.com for this purchase. ”