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Sometimes a deal is a deal, and sometimes it's not. Mail order and online retailers often have details hidden in the “fine print” that can make a seeming bargain not much of one. However, you'll almost always get a true deal if you ask the following three questions before you buy a discount digital camera:
1. Does it come with the manufacturer's full US warranty?
If the answer to this first question is “no,” consider the added cost should something go wrong. Without the manufacturer's US warranty, you're not covered for repairs – even if the camera is defective.
2. Does it come exactly as packaged from the manufacturer?
Don't laugh. Some “discounters” actually sell the battery, strap, memory card and other items the manufacturer includes in the box as “extras.”
3. What is your return policy?
Return policies vary widely, but a 15% “restocking fee” is not uncommon. Be sure you understand the true cost, should you decide to return the item for any reason.
If the camera comes with the full US warranty, exactly as packaged by the manufacturer and there's no restocking fee for returns, you've probably found a genuine bargain. But ask to see it in writing.