This morning my nice Postie brought me a package.
As with many of my stories, this one highlights my completely out of control state of paranoia and distrust.
I have spoken previously and elsewhere about my search for a new DJI AIR2S and was grateful to receive many helpful suggestions pointing to where I might find a good deal. One of these was on a popular auction site, which the thought of gave me,frankly, an attack of the vapors.
Having spent a couple of days realizing that there was no “deal” and that DJI capped their prices, I decided to wander through said auction site, just to see what was being offered. My specification was strict. A new, sealed and original (not refurbished) DJI AIR 2S Fly-more Combo. The list price of this is £1,169 and is fairly uniform across all retailers.
What caught my eye was the sale this machine in the configuration and condition aforementioned, for £999.00. My heart skipped a beat, then the warnings started to pop into my head. Old sayings like “If it looks too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true” and “buyer beware” etc.
I scoured every photo, looked at the seller rating (easily faked) and generally looked for patterns in the seller reviews. Interestingly the seller had included photos of the box and serial code and the seals on the box. Still, £999.00 is £1000.00 to me and I wondered, for a couple of days, how they could possibly be selling it for £169 off the capped price. I imagined receiving (a) A photo in a box, (b) A house brick in a box, (c) and empty box etc, etc, etc. My suspicion went into overdrive.
Now, I fully appreciate that this is most likely a classic marketing tactic, but just as I had convinced myself that I would rely on eBay’s Money Back Guarantee (whoops, actually said the name here) or various other safety nets, the sale ended and was removed. I stared in disbelief at my computer screen. A day later I went back on and started my search again, only to see that the sale had appeared again, from the same seller at the same price (can you say fish bait?). That just made me even more suspicious.
So I started looking for stories of cloned DJI products selling illegally in the UK. I looked for scams relating to certain eBay sellers and worried over the dates and reviewer names that gave this seller 100%.
It all came down to a choice. Take the risk (and understand how to remediate the risk if it went wrong), or go elsewhere and potentially pay £169 more than I needed to. You’ll have guessed this already, but I decided to take the plunge. I completed my purchase and watched the transaction go through, watched the dispatch process and tracking number. I should mention that the other reason I thought this might be trustworthy was because the seller provided all the tracking information and paid for a next day (before 1300) delivery. Not something, I figured, that a scam artist was going to trouble themselves with.
Today the package arrived.
Have any of you watched the BBC series “Silent Witness”?
Honestly, it was like a scene straight out of that program. I found myself photographing everything, from the appearance of the package, to how the DJI box appeared once the packaging (it was very well packaged) was removed (scalpel no less). I inspected and photographed the box seals and every aspect of removing the carry bag from the box, the contents of the box, the arrangement of the items in the carry bag, etc. I checked the box serial number against the photos provided by the seller (there was a difference in the manufacture date on the box, but it made the drone newer than the advertised manufacture date). That had me a little spooked so I decided that I’d probably had enough coffee for today.
I removed the drone and photographed the serial number and all the battery serial numbers. I inspected every arm and the gimbal / lens looking for something untoward. It all seems absolutely fine. The controller and the batteries are now taking their first charge.
So. The next thing I am worrying about is whether, once I connect it to the Fly app, a big message will appear informing me that this unit is from a know stolen batch.
I will get DJI Care Refresh for the first 12 months and am also concerned about purchasing that (you have to enter the unit serial number I believe) in case it also flags thievery
It’s a hard life being this paranoid and always expecting the worst of your fellow Human, but what can I tell you. I have experience enough to be cautious.
Once it’s powered up and connected to the Fly app and once I successfully get Care Refresh in place I will be a very happy chappie, having just become a multi-drone owner.
Then of course, there’s the question of how they could sell this for so much less than the standard purchase price. I would love to find out how much these things cost direct to reseller from DJI, at cost so to speak.
My current working theory is that they have incorrectly advertised this with the DJI Air2 price, not realizing that this is the latest (S) model so should cost more.
Finally, if you are still reading this rather lengthy tome, THANKS! You have probably saved me some money with a therapist