My daughter's digital camera had been acting up recently, and now doesn't work at all. I think the problem is with the on/off switch being worn out. I decided to buy her a new one as her birthday present. Digital cameras have improved so much since she bought the Pentax 2.5 years ago. How old is it? Pentax doesn't even have XP drivers for it.
I began looking for a digital camera with these specs :
- uses the memory card she already has (SD). That cuts out Olympus, Fuji, and Sony.
- has a large 2.4" LCD screen on the back. That sets the price to $159 or higher.
- is slim.
- costs under $200.
Saturday morning I went to most of the local stores that carry cameras: Wal-Mart, Zellers, Sears, Superstore, London Drugs, and FutureShop. I did this run to see what is available on the market.
Wal-Mart -- To my surprise, Wal-Mart had the worst cost-effective range. I was surprised, because I got my other daughter's camera there, an extra slim, large-screen Casio for under $200.
Zellers -- had a cute Olympus, but it uses the xD memory card, so I struck that one off the list.
Sears -- had nothing that matched my specs.
Superstore -- had a pink Samsung S500 digital camera, which I suspected my daughter would fall for.
FutureShop -- had a Pentex for $159; her old one is a Pentax, and that means the menu system is already familiar to her, a benefit.
London Drugs -- had two models that fit the spec.
In the afternoon, I returned to Superstore with my daughter. She loved the pink camera. She didn't care for another Pentax, so we only checked out London Drugs. With several customers hogging the glass counter, it was hard for her to see the models. But the Canon looked too fat for her liking. Back to Superstore.
The Superstore Experience
In Superstore's electronics department, I asked the young man to get me the specs for the camera. For that, he needed to get the camera's box (no spec sheets on hand), and the box was in a locked closet. He paged for the manager. We waited.
While waiting, I noticed boxes for a similar, but silver model of camera. The young man handed me the box so that I could examine the specs. I mentioned to him that I wanted to ensure movie mode had audio, because my daughter was so disappointed that her old Pentax had no microphone. "When I want to take movies," announced the young man, "I use my video camera, because it's so much better." Thanks for the advice, I thought to myself, but that's not the point. Teenage girls don't haul video cameras around in their purses.
We continued waiting. Eventually I told the young man that we'd buy some groceries, and then come back. Could he make sure he had the box by the time we got back?
We returned after 20 minutes, and as we entered the electronics department, I heard him again paging his manager. Clearly, he had forgotten about us. After some more waiting, the keys arrived. The young man slapped them onto the counter, and told another employee, "These are for them," motioning vaguely in our direction. He left, being too cool for us.
We waited. The young lady smiled. After a while, she asked, "Can I help you?" I again explained about buying the camera. She looked briefly in the now-unlocked closet, and then announced they had none in stock.
"Can I buy the demo model," I asked, knowing that (1) stores are keen to clear out lone models; and (2) often give a discount. That's how I got my other daughter's Casio camera cheaper.
"We don't sell demo models, unless they are discontinued," she announced. I failed to follow her logic: "You don't have any in stock, and this camera is not discontinued."
Disappointed, my daughter and I went home. She pined for the pink camera.
A Rare Model
I looked on the Internet. This was one rare model! No longer listed at Samsung's Web site (thus discontinued); CNET listed it, but reported that no stores in the entire USA carried it; eBay only had listing from people wanting to BUY the camera. Huh!
Could I still get it somehow? Not only would my daughter have her pink camera, she would have a rare pink digital camera.
I wondered if one of the other Superstores might still have one. On a hunch, I drove to another store located about 20 minutes down the freeway. There it was, in the glass case. I told the employee that I wanted to buy it. She got the keys, unlocked the cabinet, and then looked puzzled. "We don't seem to have any."
I let her do some more looking. I offered to buy the demo model. She responded that she would sell it to me, but she wouldn't, because it might not have the cable. That would be semi-serious, because I had noticed earlier that this camera uses a proprietary USB connector. But only semi-serious, because my daughter could still get the pictures off the memory card using an SD adapter.
Fortunately, the manager was working that Saturday evening. The employee asked him about the camera. He got another set of keys for another locked cabinet. Tumbling out came the box for the camera, with DEMO written in large red letters.
We checked the box. It had the cables, the CD, everything. "Can I buy it?" She checked with the manager, who I knew would be glad to get rid of this one-only item. "Sure."
A middle-aged shopper noticed the pink camera I was holding. "Who's it for?" she asked. When I told her, she replied, "We girls."
As the employee was ringing up the sale, she commented, "The only problem with demo units is that I don't think they have any warranty." Not a problem, because I knew they had the full warranty. She disappeared into the back to ask her boss, and returned a moment later: "Hmmm." She learned something new.
At this point, I'd normally ask the salesperson for a discount on the demo unit, typically 10%. But this pink camera was so rare, I didn't push my luck.
When I returned home, I came into the house yelling, "Who da' man? Who da' man!"
My 19-year-old daughter is thrilled with her new pink camera, today returning to university. "It's pink, it's pink!"