By Sean Setters
We post a lot of eBay deals here at The-Digital-Picture.com, and a healthy percentage of those are from "bigvalueinc." After BigValueInc's feedback rating dropped 1.5% in a relatively short amount of time last year, we started adding a disclaimer to their posted deals. We revised the disclaimer when we received reports that some customers had received incorrect items.
We were also concerned that items purchased from BigValueInc wouldn't be eligible for US warranty repairs. Many items you purchase on eBay are grey market products. Don't get me wrong, there's not usually anything wrong with grey market items - they're made in the same factories and held to the same standards as items earmarked for North American distribution. However, should there be a problem with your grey market item, it would not "technically" qualify for a warranty repair by Canon USA. That's the tradeoff you make for saving money on your purchase price on the front end.
Being in the market for a 5D III body for personal use, I decided give BigValueInc a try. I took advantage of one of the deals posted to the site and saved almost $1,000 off the retail price. So far, so good...
I received a shipping confirmation for my 5D III the next day. Oddly enough, even though the auction had specifically listed FedEx as the means of shipment, BigValueInc shipped the item via UPS instead. While this discrepancy wasn't a big deal to me, I can understand where some might not appreciate the unrequested and possibly unwelcomed change in shipment method (especially if you strongly prefer one shipper to another).
A few days later I received the package. When picking up the package, I noticed the sound of items seemingly moving freely in the box. This was not a comforting sound. After opening the package, I saw a retail box for the EOS 5D Mark III + EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM kit along with some air-fill padding. This didn't surprise me - I had expected it. I assumed BigValueInc was able to sell the 5D Mark III at a lower price because they were buying kits and selling the components separately. One thing was conspicuously absent, though - a purchase receipt. Most sellers include a shipping receipt in the box, but BigValueInc did not include one.
Once I opened the retail box, I found out why I had heard components rattling around. The camera accessories - battery charger, battery, manuals, strap, USB cord, etc. - were simply laying in the void created by the long-gone lens. The camera was securely packed, bubble wrapped, and secured in its own compartment. To be fair, no accessory in the box was damaged. However, I think it would have been wise for BigValueInc to add some air-filled padding in the lens compartment to keep the camera accessories from bouncing around.
I was pleased to find the camera came with a blank, North American market warranty card - good for the US and Canada.
As mentioned, the camera was protected with bubble wrap, undisturbed, in a secure section of the box. I immediately put a lens on the camera and began taking test shots around my home. That's when I noticed an issue - there seemed to be something wrong with the multi-controller joystick. It didn't respond to movements in a dependable way. For every three times I pushed it right, it might register the movement once. I noted the issue but continued shooting with it for the next few days to see if the multi-controller bug would work itself out. I used the main dial and quick control dial to change focus points.
Everything else about the camera worked perfectly. The test images looked great. But the issue with the multi-controller remained after several days of consistent use. I decided the 5D III's multi-controller had to be fixed. I shipped the camera to Canon Professional Services requesting a warranty repair. I included my Paypal receipt to prove my date of purchase. I wasn't 100% sure Canon would repair the camera under warranty because BigValueInc is not on their "Authorized Resellers" list. However, Canon repaired the camera, under warranty, at no charge. It's now being shipped back to me as I write this.
I honestly think it was purely coincidental that I received a camera from BigValueInc that was in need of repair. I do not believe BigValueInc's business practices led to the issue. Cameras in need of repair straight out of the box are rare; Canon made the situation right by performing the warranty repair at no cost. Everything turned out well.
Keep in mind, you shouldn't expect the same type of customer service from BigValueInc that you get from well-established, reputable retailers (like Adorama). BigValueInc notes in their return policy that you may be charged a restocking fee based on the condition of the item being returned. They do make an exception for "defective" products which are eligible for return without incurring a restocking fee, though.
So would I buy from BigValueInc again? I would. I saved a significant amount of money purchasing from them and the item's warranty was validated by Canon. Aside from the small drawbacks - an unannounced change in shippers and relatively unsecure accessory packaging - my personal experience was a good one.
If you had a different experience buying from BigValueInc, please let us know.
And if you're ready to take the plunge, BigValueInc has the 5D Mark III available for $2,549.99 with free shipping.