Buying on eBay from a Chinese Reseller

I'm a user of the Black Rapid strap. I was one of their first customer. I bought the original RS1 with the lousy clip that only staid closed with a plastic tubing and the bad connector to the tripod. Eventually I upgraded these weak points (at full price) and have been extremely happy since. Now the strap is starting to fray. Should I buy a brand new one? The Canadian price is around $70 + taxes.

I always hear people gloating about how they bought such and such on eBay and paid a quarter of what I paid. So I checked on eBay and found straps that are similar to the Black Rapid but made in China and not from Black Rapid. Price was “darn” low. $12 + $5 for the shipping. Wow, is this real? Is this a patent infringement? The eBay seller had a 99.6% approval. On the shipping section, it clearly stated that once shipped it would take anywhere from 8 days to 40 days. I'm in no rush, so for $17, I decided to try it.

I placed my eBay order. On top the eBay and Paypal emails, I received an email, within an hour, from the seller thanking me for the order. If there is any problem contact to sort it out instead of giving a bad review…

Next day, I receive another email stating that my item has been shipped and a tracking number. The tracking number wasn't UPS or Fedex so I assumed that it was a regular postal tracking number from their national post office.

Eleven days later, I receive an envelope from Singapore containing my strap. It's all there, nice and semi-quick. From Singapore? I was expecting China but I paid and got my stuff. So what did I get? I got exactly what I ordered for the price agreed.

Black Rapid got a patent for their RS straps.

  1. You cannot patent an idea.
  2. You can only patent a product or a process.

They use the same idea of hooking the strap through the tripod mount. They even use the same clip and the same mounting screw. Could it be the same factory? But the strap and the shoulder pad are different. The shoulder pad is made of some soft foam and they use different clips for limit the free swing of the camera. It's the same idea but done differently. Is it enough? I don't know, I'm not a patent lawyer.

Overall, I'm very happy with my transaction.

On the same day that I ordered the shoulder strap, I also order some cheap polarizing filter from a Canadian company on eBay. Why a cheap polarizing filter? It's for a one-time proof of concept. If it works then I will buy a Hoya or a B+W from Schneider optics. They both arrived on the same day.

What about the quality? First the quality of the item has nothing to do with the dealer. The dealer's job is to deliver the item described on time and on budget. So back to the quality. It's not in the same league as Black Rapid. The fit and finish is not the same. But do you expect the same quality at $70 and at $12? Does it work as described? Yes, so overall it was a good purchase. Will I buy again the “cheap trinkets” from China? Yes, but it will be mostly for testing purposes or for the one time use items. Often I need to try something as a proof of concept and the “can it be done?” Years ago, I used the rental shop but today they do not always have what I need or the rental is more expensive than buying the item on eBay.

Since then I have from some other vendors selling the same strap for even 33% cheaper and a 99.3% rating instead of 99.6%.