Shopping Online: Is Cancost.com a safe bet or a fake?

Scam Shopping Websites: Offers You Should Refuse!

Cancost.com appears to offer great prices on consumer electronics; but there are a few details that make a shopper suspicious.  Are these indicators of a scam or fraud, or just a unique business model that helps to keep costs low? See our investigation of Cancost.com below:


What is Cancost.com?

Cancost.com purports to be an seller of direct factory shipped products, from their FAQs page:

"We have direct deliveries from factories in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia. BUT ALL GOODS WILL BE SENT FROM OUR STORAGE IN USA. We're not resellers, that's why we have such low prices. All goods in our store are new, not refurbished, with the warranty, instructions etc. "

What do they sell?

As of late December 2007, their website shows the following:  Camcorders, Cell Phones, Desktops, Digital Cameras, DVD Players & Recorders, Game Consoles, Games, GPS Navigation, Home Theater Systems, iPod & MP3 Players, Memory Cards, Monitors, Notebooks and Televisions.

Who are they?

Their website identifies them as

Associated Services, Inc.
1308 Fieldstone Drive, Bedford, TX 76022

At right is a satellite photo of this location from Google Earth.  It clearly looks like a residential address.

According to the BBB, these phone numbers are associated with them:

  • (214) 717-5319
  • (800) 625-9057
  • (815) 715-4902
  • (817) 571-6110

According to Whois.org, a check on the registration of their domain name shows the following owner:

Registrant:
   John Kesinger 
   Email: kesinger1959@mail.ru 
   Organization: Private person
   Address: 10651 W 41st Avenue
   City: CHICAGO
   State: IL
   ZIP: 60431
   Country: US
   Phone: +1.8157154902 

According to posts on Yahoo Answers, the name Rick Winters is also associated with Cancost.com


What are the red flags that caused them to be investigated by CFR?

We received emails from consumers who had used them and were unhappy or were contemplating using them. When we looked into the matter, we found the following conditions that seemed odd to us:

  1. They only accept payment by direct wire.  Not only is this extremely unusual among retailers, online or off, but it offers the consumer no security after the sale.  If you are dissatisfied, you have little recourse because your money has been transferred to their account.  This is unlike a credit card, where you have the right to dispute the sale for up to 60 days.
  2. Their published business address appears to be a residence.
  3. The contacts for their web domain name list an email address in Russia and a street address in Chicago, Illinois.
  4. As best we can tell, from the published commentaries and Archive.org, the website is very new, perhaps only weeks old.
  5. Their website has a Bizrate.com "Circle of excellence" logo on their front page, but Bizrate doesn't list them as a vendor and a search of Bizrate for "cancost.com" found no results.

What other sources of information about them are available?

The Better Business Bureau says (as of December 21,2007): "The Bureau has processed no customer complaints on this company in its three-year reporting period." The BBB suggests using caution prior to paying in advance by wire transfer or ACH to a firm unknown to you.

Conclusion

There is no hard evidence to indict this website as a scam. However, the payment methods the accept, wire transfer, is considered to be risky for buyers since the money exits your bank account with no protection before merchandise is delivered.

A buyer would have to make his own evaluation as to whether this is an acceptable risk.

If you have any direct experience or knowledge with Cancost.com, please tell us about it!

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