I don’t like writing negative reviews. I don’t do it lightly, but there are times when I think it’s warranted. Especially when it comes to spending a lot of money. And let’s face it, if you’re interested in shopping for gear at MPB, chances are, you’re planning to spend several hundred dollars minimum. This will likely be long, but it’s exactly the kind of information I would want to know if I were going to drop $1K on something. If you don’t think you’ll ever buy used gear from MPB, then skip it. This post isn’t for you. If, however, you are considering it, take my experience into consideration and read on.
I also want to preface by differentiating that this review is in regard to MPB USA. If you’re considering buying from MPB in another market, then this post also won’t pertain to you. I’m focusing solely on the customer service and account usability aspect, not the actual gear offered, prices, etc.
I’ve been buying used camera gear since the very first DSLR I bought way back in 2009. I’ve purchased from Overstock, B&H Photo, Adorama, KEH, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and now, MPB. I’ve only had two bad experiences in the past twelve years of buying used and both of those were this year with MPB.
My first experience with MPB was a gear trade. I received a quality valuation (i.e. like new, like new minus, excellent+, excellent, good, well used, etc.) of “excellent” for all my gear as well as a monetary quote to be applied toward the trade. I then selected gear that was also rated “excellent” to be sent to me once my gear was received. I will say that I thought some of my gear should’ve been rated as “like new” based on the utterly blemish free appearance and the fact that it included all original packaging and accessories. I was told the rating may be adjusted once they saw the gear in person. I mailed my gear in and awaited the traded gear’s arrival.
Once the gear I traded for arrived, I was immediately put off because the condition it arrived in was not as good as expected. The camera had clearly been dropped – hard – and the corner was dented in. There was also significant scratching, so much so that the camera actually snagged my clothing when hung around my neck. This gear had been given the same rating as the pristine gear I sent in to MPB. Either I was not properly compensated for my gear or this traded gear was mislabeled. Either way, it was not acceptable. I contacted MPB and let them know about the quality of the gear I received. I sent pictures. They apologized for the mixup and sent me a return label to mail it back.
I never sent in my gear to them with the intent to sell it outright. I was only interested in a trade. So, when the gear they mailed me wasn’t up to par and had to be returned (and they didn’t have another one in stock to send me instead), a natural assumption would be that my gear would also be returned to me. In fact, at no time during the trade-in process was it ever even hinted at that any gear I mailed in to them would be FINAL and non returnable. I certainly never would’ve proceeded had that been made clear.
But that’s exactly what happened. When I inquired about the return of my gear since the trade fell through, I was informed that my gear had already been sold (before I’d ever even received the replacement gear in the mail and had the opportunity to verify its condition – essentially, before I’d been compensated) and could not be returned to me, but that they would pay me the quoted amount that had been applied toward the trade. Wow. Needless to say, I was pretty upset. I agreed to and initiated a TRADE. If the gear they sent me had to be returned due to no fault of mine, then it only makes sense that my gear should be returned as well.
Guys, this is the real reason I no longer have my beloved Fujifilm X70, among other gear. I’ve tried to justify it and make my peace with it. I’ve even written posts in a half hearted attempt to convince myself that it was all for the best. I can’t help but feel that MPB bait and switched me. Under the guise of a trade, they invoked finality on my transaction without my knowledge or approval. I thought it would be low risk because I could change my mind if the gear I received wasn’t as described. Apparently not. A fact that MPB did not share with me.
Fast forward a few months. Trading with MPB was a nightmare but I don’t like to make judgements based only on one experience so I decided to give them another try. As you know, I’ve been on the hunt for gear for months. Now you know why. I couldn’t find another X70 in anywhere near as good of condition as I previously had (and I looked extensively) but I decided to go ahead and place an order for something different with MPB. Less than 24 hours after I placed the order, I found the same gear for SIGNIFICANTLY less (and in better condition) at Adorama and KEH. It was too much of a savings to ignore and given my previous experience with MPB, I decided not to risk it after all – not when I was spending well over a thousand dollars.
I logged in online to cancel my order, only to find that there was no option to do so. The status of my order still said ”payment processing” so I knew nothing had gone through yet. I utilized their online help desk to try to cancel it. A search for ”cancel my order” turned up no results. I then attempted to use the help desk chat assistant. It’s set up like a live chat, but after waiting for AN HOUR, I realized no one was coming to help me. All in all, I sent two messages through the online assistant, as well as two emails, and I called on the phone. Despite my best attempts, I could never get in touch with a live person. And no one returned any of my messages in a timely fashion. I wasn’t really sure what to do. The order status hadn’t changed in my account.
Finally, someone got back to me and said that my order was too far along in the process and couldn’t be cancelled. I replied that my order still said “payment processing” so I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t cancel it, especially given I had already attempted to do so a whopping five times. It’s hardly my fault that no one got back to me. Regardless, I was told it was too late to cancel and that I could initiate a return when the order arrived. So, I waited for it to arrive.
When the order did arrive, I never even opened the box. I immediately sent in a return request and received a response detailing that I would have to pay return shipping. I thanked him for his response and requested a prepaid return shipping label given that the mistake was not on my end. He refused and told me that MPB would not pay return shipping simply because I had a “change of heart.” I thanked him again and asked to be put in touch with a manager. Crickets. I waited. And waited.
Finally, I called MPB again. I was able to speak to a real person this time and he’s the only one I will mention by name because he was awesome. Alister, I’m grateful for your kindness, even in midst of my frustration.
By the time I got Alister on the phone, there were nearly a dozen emails between myself and two different employees over the course of several days. Alister could see the email threads between the other employees and myself. He apologized for the way I was treated and informed me that the first employee should easily have taken care of my request and sent me a return label because the mistake was on their end. It was all visible in my account. But instead I got employees who had a chip on their shoulder and wanted to exercise some sort of misguided ”power.”
Oh, but that’s not the end. The process was still convoluted and painful. The link emailed to me to generate a return label didn’t work so I wound up having to call back twice to get everything fully sorted. Several emails more and I finally was able to print the return label. I received an email when the gear arrived that said it would be checked within 2-3 days. But I waited ten days with no information and no refund so I reached out via email. Within an hour of receiving my email, my $1,417 was finally refunded to me. Did they just forget? I sent them back over a thousand dollars worth of gear and they just forgot to refund my money?
Let’s recap: that’s more than a dozen emails, at least four employees, four phone calls and almost three weeks of my time start to finish. The customer service as a whole was abysmal. The usability of the website and help desk was ineffective AT BEST. Oh, and I didn’t even touch on the fact that I’m out $1,400 while all this is getting sorted out.
Based on these two experiences, I could never in good conscience recommend purchasing from MPB USA. Your mileage may vary, but I know I’ll never risk it again.