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There are few industries as heart-wrenching as the fine art business. It's a six-car pileup at the intersection of art and commerce and the amount of opinion and hyperbole that is somehow labeled as...

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Strong Armed Robbery

Carlos Miller , Mar 17, 1999; 11:34 p.m.

I hung up the phone after placing an order and realized I just got screwed. It was my first time dealing with a mail order company and I ended up agreeing to something I did not want. When I called back three minutes later to talk to the salesperson, some guy named Mike, I realized the extension he gave me did not even exist. Nor did a guy named Mike. To cancel my order, I had to call customer service, which was a different number, but coincidently, the guy who answered the phone sounded just like the guy who told me there was no Mike. He also sounded a lot like "Mike." When I told him I wanted to cancel the order, he told me it had been shipped out already -- ten minutes after I had placed the order. They were not even sure if my credit card had gone through already.

He then offered my a $70 discount on my imported Elan 11e P "the much better made model" (which of course had no warranty) -- with the Sigma lenses ("Instead of the lesser quality Canon lens") and a no-name flash, which by the way, was going to be "next month's special."

I was lucky. I managed to escape without losing a penny. Even if I did have to wait a week until my credit was not tied up with the thieves.

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