Videocam cheaters & how they operate (Part 1)

Sim Lim Square in Singapore has long been known as an electronics shopping haven.  6 floors brimming with retail shops selling computer related products, audio/video equipment, cameras, TVs etc...  Paradise to many but unfortunately, nightmare to some who have fell for their convincing showmanship.

Very recently, a self recorded video was made to highlight the rude attitude displayed by the sales staff in one of the shops in Sim Lim Square (To be known threafter as SLS).  This video sparked a public outcry, both online & in the streets of Singapore.

See the video here

I have worked in SLS for more than 5 years before a life changing career opportunity came along in which I accepted and left the industry for good.  In SLS, there are 2 different types of pay packages for sales staff.  The conventional type which is paid a basic salary + a commission (Usually 10% of the profit for the item.  Example: You helped the company make $10 profit, you get $1 as commission).  The second type of sales people are what insiders term as 4/6 salespeople.  No basic salary, and you get to keep 40% of profit.  Needless to say, the second group are "hungrier" and are also more susceptible in resorting to trick would be customers.

Let's imagine that you wanted to buy a videocam, done one month's worth of research on finding the best videocam that will suit your budget and you have decided on XXX Brand, model number is ABC123.  You start the day going through numerous shops in SLS starting from 1st floor till 3rd floor to find out which shop has the best offer for your researched model.  Most shops offered $1000 but you came across some shops that had a special offer going at a few hundred dollars lesser.  Once you're convinced that you have found a fantastic shop with a great price, you go back there again and want to buy the videocam.  The sales person successfully dissuades you to buy your researched model and you end up with another brand/model.  Sounds familiar already?  Read on....

In SLS, there is a raging price war amongst each & every other shop.  You may not believe it but the profit margins of items are sometimes, ridiculously low.  Example: $3 profit per digital cam, $20-$40 per 32" LCD TV, $3-5 for MP3 players.  Such prices are kept competitive so that the consumers will return to their shop after comparing prices with other shops.

1) Lets get back to the scenario I put up in the earlier paragraph.  Let's assume the dealer's cost price for the camera is $950.  Most shops that are genuine in getting your business will quote you a price of between $980-$1000 (Excluding GST) but obviously, you think you are smarter than you really are and you will walk on to check with other shops.  You find an "honest" salesperson who is willing to sell it to you at $650!!!  What really happens is that he gave you a "monkey price".  "Monkey price" to insiders means an invalid price given to "monkeys" which are references to price comparing, shop hopping customers.  Greedy "monkeys" often fall for this trick and then return to the salesperson whom have apparently gained a little of their trust.

2)  Now that you trust them a little more since they have given you an "honest" price, you would expect them to sell you the videocam at that quoted price but soon, you'll be hearing their reviews of the product you wanted to buy.  From poor video quality, poor colouration, poor clarity, their claims of "returning customers" complaining that the product is user unfriendly, poor quality, faulty etc...  just be prepared for a barrage of convincing tales, lies & objections from them to sell it to you.

3)  Let the magic show begin!  After telling you why your chosen model is poor in quality, they will attempt to further convince you with some substantiation.  They will use a small TV and use both your chosen model videocam & a model that they highly recommend and perform an A to B product comparison.  When your chosen videocam is plugged in, the quality ranges from slightly blurrish to average quality picture.  Once they replace the videocam with their recommended model, the quality is exceptionally high (Compared to your chosen model).  How do they do this?  It could be the following (Or a combination):-

     a) If they are using a different AV input on the TV or a separate selector, the blur image is usually due to an added resistor in the circuit.
     b) If the AV input used is the same for both cameras, there is usually a hidden switch (Usually a foot step switch somewhere beneath the carpeted floor

Footnote: If you do feel that my article helped you save a few hundred dollars, strengthened your knowledge or if you just wanna motivate me to write more, a small donation is always welcome through PAYPAL or to POSB Savings Account 032-61998-3.  I thank you in advance for your generosity.

Videocam cheaters & how they operate (Part 2)


4) Back to monkey price again.  If you are unimpressed with the "magic show" and insist on buying the model that you have chosen earlier, take note that you will NEVER be able to buy it at the price they quoted earlier.  Simple reason..... it is below their cost price!  Even if you insist, they will give you a plethora of excuses like.. no stock, export model (no warranty), display model is not for sale or usually $XXX is only for the video camera.  Bags, batteries, charger etc... are additional.  When everything is added up, you will get back to more or less, the same price as the other shops (But sometimes more).

5) Hierarchy - Thinking of making a complaint?  No use really.  The way these 4/6 shops operate is simple.  For the salespeople, you're a "partner" in this business.  You don't get a basic salary, every sale you make, you keep 40% of profit and company will take 60%.  If customer comes back to complain, ask for refund etc... you are SOLELY responsible to clear your own mess.  There will not be a manager, colleague or shop owner to clear it for you because you are drawing high commissions from the company.  Once the sale is registered, if customer comes back for a refund and you agree to it, money will come from YOUR pocket, not the company's.  That's also why you don't hear many successful cases of refund and you can be sure that they defend their earnings to the very end, resorting to gangster mannerisms, if needed.

6) Billing style - If the price is legitimate, they will have no problems giving a breakdown of price on the invoice/bill.  If a company issues an invoice with itemised billing with at least one item listed above the local RRP/RCP (Recommended Retail Price or Recommended Consumer Price), the consumer will have evidence to dispute.

7) Several different shops, same management - Enough said.

8) Ever wondered why a high end videocam will have poorer performance compared to their recommendation?  The videocam settings may already be tampered with, in the first place.

9) When doing due diligence of pricing checks, do EVERYTHING.  I came across a very nice Australian couple once who walked into the store I was working for and they bought a DVD recorder from me.  When I asked them if they wanted to buy some spare empty DVD-RAM discs for their recorder, they said they had already bought it earlier together with their videocam from another shop before coming over.  Out of curiousity, they asked how much was I selling mine for and I replied S$29.90 which was RCP at that time.  Their faces turned pale immediately.  They paid $150 each and had bought 3-4 pieces!

10) DO NOT EVER ask for prices from another store AFTER you had bought your items.  These are "worms inside the can" question.  Don't expect to find anything inside the can but worms!  Few reasons:-

      a) "There's nothing in for me".  Even if the competitor gave you a lower price, you are still not going to buy another set from him.  So why bother?  Most of the time, they will want to have fun instead.... they'll give you a monkey price so that you'll go back to the shop you bought your videocam from and see you start a war with your them or just simply to make you angry you didn't buy from them in the first place.

      b) Even if you bought your product(s) at a genuinely good price (Cheaper than RRP/RCP), it will not do your ego any good if you found out that you should have walked a few more steps and gotten it for an even cheaper price.

In short, once you've paid for it.  Case closed.  Nothing is going to change anything even if you find out a lower price.

Footnote: If you do feel that my article helped you save a few hundred dollars, strengthened your knowledge or if you just wanna motivate me to write more, a small donation is always welcome through PAYPAL or to POSB Savings Account 032-61998-3.  I thank you in advance for your generosity.

Videocam cheaters & how they operate (Part 3)


By the way, my article written in parts 1 & 2 does also apply in other electronic products (Example: Cameras).

To further elaborate on point 8 in part 2 of this same article.  My former colleague, a specialist in handheld cameras had all the popular brands & models of cameras already "adjusted for poor performance" via the settings menu, so that he can sell his desired brands/models better.

So why do they NOT wan to sell you what you want to buy?  Simple....

A) Some brands are trying to control market prices.  The profit margins of some of these brands are so thin that you cannot give any discount otherwise there is nothing left to profit!  As such the profit margins of some other brands are bigger than the rest.   If each salesperson takes 20 minutes to sell an item, would they rather they sell something that earns $5, $30 or $300?

B) Key dealership.  Some retail outlets are the "key dealers" of a certain brand.  To get "key dealership" status, retailers must either have a 1) good track record of selling that particular brand of products in larger quantities than other retailers, or 2) commit to a minimum quarterly or annual quantity of the brand's products.  In return, the retailers will be getting a lower cost price as compared to the rest of the retailers.  Take note , that key dealership status is exclusive and usually only less than a handful of retailers across the island are granted this for every brand.  In view of this, these "key dealers" will push these brands very aggressively (And also commonly, condemn other brands).

C) The hotter the product, the higher the profile, the worse it is (For retailers that is).  Imagine this... If there was a product which was better than all the other competitor's.  You can be sure that almost all buyers would have checked the market prices amongst all the retailers on the island.  It becomes a price war.  Whoever can offer a lower price, will get the sale...  Again back to MOTIVE A, why would they want to sell you the product at such a low profit margin when they could easily dissuade you to buy something else so that they can earn more?!

D) Enter the "Dragon".  Here's the opposite.  The lesser known a product is known, the better!  This is because the chances of the prospect buyer knowing it's actual market price is much much lower!  "Dragons", "Hum Bao Bao a.k.a. Hamburgers", "House products", "A products" are some of the commonly known terms and vary between different shops/retailers.  These products could be anything ranging from obsolete models, soon to be obsolete models, poor specifications model to even high end models that did not receive favourable reviews from magazines (See my upcoming article on AV cheats).

E) "But I saw this retailer selling what I want to buy!"  To gain customer credibility & trust, most retailers would want to carry all the popular models (Albeit only in very small quantities, usually only 1 pc).  So seeing the same model you want to buy does not mean they are ready to sell you that model.

F) Authorised distributor.  Obviously this dealer has gotten the exclusive representative rights to sell this brand in Singapore and they will sell their representation as compared to other brands.

Footnote: If you do feel that my article helped you save a few hundred dollars, strengthened your knowledge or if you just wanna motivate me to write more, a small donation is always welcome through Paypal or to POSB Savings Account 032-61998-3.  I thank you in advance for your generosity.

Apologies if my 3 articles are patchy at certain parts as I am typing out directly as I am thinking.  Take note that these 3 pages will be subject to some modifications from time to time to facilitate a smoother reading experience and also to add on more facts once I am able to recall more.  Please do visit periodically for updates and also share this site with your friends and forum members so that they are made more aware of the real going ons!