Holiday Swap Meet Scam?

November 28, 2008 8:00:27 PM PST
Holiday bargain shoppers may become easy targets for what the Better Business Bureau is calling a scam.A fly-by-night swap meet has popped up, luring people who are looking for good deals. In the last few weeks, the BBB has gotten more than 100 complaints about Mega Liquidation Store. The place advertised heavily and customers say they got either mixed messages, or out and out lies.

Hundreds of people lined up Friday, waiting for the doors to open to the Mega Liquidation Store at Chestnut and Olive. "I saw the commercial on television the last few days and I was like, 'Man, I have to get there at 11, or before 11', said customer Nick Chapman.

But the curtains inside the windows may be hiding more than just the view. The customers who crowded inside and paid the $6 admission fee said they were expecting great deals. "I saw iPods for $15 and digital cameras for $5," Chapman said. "It says $5, but it's $5 off," said customer Nereida Costumbre. "It's a rip-off."

A rip-off is exactly what the BBB is calling the store that just recently appeared in the central Fresno shopping center. They say the advertised deals on brand name purses, iPods, or cameras just aren't the real deal. "They're trying to tell you it's a $400 camera for $40," said Doug Broten, the CEO of Fresno's Better Business Bureau. "But it's a $40 camera or less. You get it home and what you really have is a piece of junk."

The BBB says many of the supposedly brand name items are really knockoffs and we saw a camera that may be an example. "It's a really nice camera," said Michael Coons. "My mom has one just like it. They have a lot of good stuff in there." Coons walked out of the store happy. His camera looks like it's from Kodak's digital M series. But it says it's 7.0 megapixels. Kodak says its bottom-of-the-line M series camera is 7.2 megapixels. And Coons paid almost exactly the same price he could've gotten at Kodak's online store.

Customers say they also saw knockoff perfume, purses, and iPods. "They're not iPods," said customer Reina Costumbre. "They're fake. They're like mp3 kind of, but they're not. Because on the back it would say iPod with the Apple, but it doesn't. It's like plastic. It doesn't even weigh like a real iPod does." "Everything's a lie, so don't come. Don't come," said Nereida Costumbre.

We wanted to ask about the products, but the management at Mega Liquidation wouldn't let us inside with our camera. Store employees said a manager would call us, but we're still waiting to hear from them.

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