Friday, May 13, 2016

Burned: Fake SD card from B & H

We've been striking out in some new direction here as Hurricane Images Inc., including expanding into video production-- and I'll be posting new material soon.  This one is a quickie because of the alignment of stars.  B&H is offering some sweet deals on SD cards, including the SanDisk Extreme Pro, a 95MB/s powerhouse.  Coincidentally, I was in NY last week and needed to purchase a new card, so I popped into their store.  I put it in my Sony a7Sii, watched it format, snapped a couple of photos and set off.  Later that afternoon I spotted a man selling books out a colorful van.  On top of the vehicle was an old boot.  I switched over to video, but it wouldn't record.  The card wasn't capable of capturing HD.  It wasn't fast enough.  But as a Class 10, U-3 it had the right specs.

When I got home I used a speed test utility on the card.  Sure enough, it was only operating at 70MB/s.  I emailed B&H explaining how I was visiting, bought the card, and discovered it was a fake.  They emailed back to say I could bring it back to the store if it was "defective."  I wasn't in the area anymore and it wasn't defective, it was fake.  So I called.  The Rep apologized the suggestion that I bring it back to the store and said he'd issue an RMA.  But when pressed about the fake card he said he was sure it wasn't "intentional," and "we can't open up every card and check." In other words, B&H wasn't planning to do anything beyond replace my card.

Today, I got a form email from B&H, asking for my opinion on how they'd done.  This was my response:  "The counterfeit card was purchased in-store, handed from the rack to me by one of your salesmen.  Clearly, it is more likely than not that other SD cards on that rack are counterfeit, mislabeled, or whatever you choose to call them.  Based on the Rep's response, I fully expect that those cards are currently being sold to other customers, since he has no intention of checking them. Some cameras, like mine, immediately notify you when the card is not performing up to requirements; therefore I knew to return the card. Other cameras don't, so these customers have simply been cheated. I am a professional photographer and a member of PPA.  I am infuriated by this response because I cannot show up at a session and not produce.  Situations like this put my business at risk.  I know it is impossible to 100% insure the integrity of all your products, but your response to finding it has been compromised had better be at least as infuriated as mine."

So there's a few learnings to be had here.  First, when you buy something, check it.  Had I bought that card for my Nikon it might have been months before I discovered the problem.  Second, if you're a seller, you have responding poorly to complaints like this can harm your business.  I bought an Ikan micro spot light today.  It's a small purchase, but B&H had it for $10 cheaper than Amazon, with faster delivery.  I couldn't bring myself to click "Buy."  For two days.  Finally, I checked Adorama and found they had it for the same price, so I bought there.

If you'd like to check your cards, I used an app called h2testw.  Not a very pithy name but it worked and was virus/adware free.

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