How to Use Design Patterns

How to Use Design Patterns

Among developers, design patterns are a popular way to think about design, but what is the proper way to think about design patterns? In this interview, Erich Gamma, co-author of the landmark book, Design Patterns, talks with Bill Venners about the right way to think about and use design patterns.

Amazon "used products" scam

While browsing the reviews of the Canon 20D on Amazon, I stumbled across this warning to buyers. I’ll repeat it here as it’s probably worth reading if you’re buying online:

Reviewer: phil_72 from Harrogate, North Yorks United Kingdom.
I have used this canon for about 4 weeks and am very happy with it. However, I would like to alert potential buyers that the ‘new’ sellers proporting to sell cheap D20s on marketplace are actually set to rip you off. It works like this, click on the ‘buy this’ link and you will get an e-mail from amazon saying that the transaction could not be completed. Then, if you contact the seller (as the sellers suggest) they will always tell you the same thing: They say “I have a contract with Amazon, but the payment system is not working at the moment. If you want this camera, e-mail me with your contact details and I will contact Amazon. Amazon will send you an invoice. However, you then pay me directly by Western Union.” What then happens is that you get a fake e-mail proporting to be from Amazon. You pay the seller directly…and……no camera will arrive. And, you are not covered by Amazon’s gaurantee, because you paid the seller directly. Its a scam, its all over Amazon, and they do not have the warnings posted up front. Will they let this be posted? Hmmm? – review and my bad experience

It’s about time I posted this as it’s been over a month since I had any dealings with 7dayshop. Since then I’ve dealt with several other online retailers without a hitch.

When I shop, online or otherwise, I expect a reasonable level of service and care. When I shop online I expect prompt delivery of my order or notification if the delivery will take longer or products are missing. I also expect to be able to pick up the phone and ask someone where my purchased goods are.

A few weeks ago I was still looking forward to my holiday in Chicago. I wanted to buy a new camera to replace my broken Sony F717. The Canon 20D was the one I had my eye on!

My friend John ordered the camera from 7dayshop for me. I made out a list of products I wanted; camera bag, filters, batteries, and more. About a week later, on a Monday, several of the items were delivered but no camera. We thought there must have been a delay so we let it go for a few days. Here’s what happened:

Most of the goods from 7dayshop delivered. Camera must be delayed somewhere. Let’s wait a few days.

Getting worried now. This morning John left a message on their support page asking about the missing camera. He was given a Royal Mail tracking number to check the status of the package. I rang the Irish Post Office but they couldn’t help me. I went online again and entered the tracking number into the Royal Mail Track and Trace page. Unfortunately Royal Mail didn’t have that tracking number on their system! I rang them after that but again they couldn’t find any trace of the package in their system.

In the afternoon I left a message on the 7dayshop support page asking for an update on the missing camera. Thinking that it would be taken care of, I ordered memory cards, a camera case and a battery case from them. Immediately after placing the order I realised I had made an error in the address of that order so I sent them another support query with the correct company name. No reply all weekend.

It was with some frustration on Monday morning that I kept checking my email waiting for a reply. Finally a reply to my address issue. It couldn’t be changed as the order had been dispatched. My query about the camera was ignored. Several other queries were ignored too. I decided to cancel my Friday order in protest at their shoddy customer care. The camera case was on back order and that was canceled but I was told that the other items were in transit and couldn’t be canceled.

I called the European Consumer Centre in Dublin and was advised that because the Canon 20D camera had not yet arrived it is 7dayshop’s responsibility to see that it is delivered. I sent 7dayshop a letter in the post stating that if I didn’t get delivery of the camera within 14 days I would be looking for a full refund to which I am entitled to under EU Directive 99/44/EC. I left another note with that information on 7dayshop’s support page.
I rang Royal Mail again to check the tracking number. The operator couldn’t believe it had disappeared so completely from their system!

2 hours later John was sent an email saying he must get a refund from Visa. He has to wait 30 days from the time of the order to make the claim, and it will take Visa a further 30 days to refund him.

Having been burned by 7dayshop, I ordered the Canon 20D from Technikdirekt. It arrived within a week.
I ordered a Canon 70-300mm zoom lens from AC-foto. They accept COD and that arrived within a few days.
I ordered a Panasonic Lumix FZ5 from Pixmania and that was delivered within a few days.

My memory cards did appear eventually, but the battery case (value £1.99) failed to show up. On closer inspection of the goods that were delivered by 7dayshop, the camera case and ND filters were missing too. I’m going to call it a day on my dealings with 7dayshop. I recommended them to others in the past but never again.

Here’s some reviews of 7dayshop. The positive ones usually are those that go without a hitch, otherwise it’s a tale of trouble and woe. Leave your story as a comment here. Maybe, just maybe, 7dayshop will take note of them.

In conclusion
When something goes wrong, it’s reassuring to be able to ring up someone and find out what’s happened to goods you’ve spent your hard earned money on. 7dayshop don’t have a customer support phone line. Sure, there’s a phone number on their whois record (01481 257336) but it’s answered by a machine telling you to fill in the support form!

Who do I recommend you buy your camera or electronic gear from? Anyone but!
Apart from the awful customer service, it appears that source their goods the USA. If you don’t live in the USA that means your goods will be without warranty as electronic goods rarely have global warranties. They must also be making a killing on price. They charge in Sterling, their prices aren’t that cheap, and the US Dollar is weak! Surely some of that profit should be ploughed back into the company?

Try these guys instead. They may ship you a non-English manual, but you get a European warranty, and English manuals can usually be downloaded and printed out.

  • Technikdirekt – very reasonable prices, slow delivery by Deutch Post.
  • AC-foto – no secure server, doesn’t accept credit cards online, but COD is ok, if a little expensive. Very reasonable prices too.
  • Pixmania – a bit more expensive, had some trouble with them during the summer but they’re only a phone call away and were helpful. Fast delivery