Oops: Calumet Accidentally Sells $600 Lens on eBay for $1 — Three Times

Photographers often scour eBay listings in hopes of snagging a good deal on camera equipment, but usually they’re not expecting to find gear worth hundreds of dollars sold for the same price as McDonald’s Dollar Menu items. Well, that’s exactly what one lucky eBayer discovered a couple of weeks ago. The person stumbled upon a strange listing: reputable camera retailer Calumet Photo was selling a brand new Sigma EX 10-20mm f/3.5 lens for Canon DSLRs — worth about $590 — for just $0.99! And not just one lens, but three!

The lenses were apparently being sold as Buy It Now listings (you purchase the item at the specified price instead of bidding on it), and there was even free standard shipping within the United States.

Here’s what the item’s purchase history looks like:

The buyer discovered the ridiculous deal at 7:38 in the morning, and purchased one of the lenses. When he/she noticed that the purchase actually went through, the person dropped another $2 and snatched up the remaining two lenses just 28 seconds later.

And just like that, one of the sweetest photography deals eBay had ever seen — $1,770 in glass for just $3 — was claimed:

Sadly, a glance through Calumet’s current Buy It Now items doesn’t reveal any similarly-priced lens listings, and it seems unlikely the mistake will ever be made again.

We’re very curious as to whether Calumet will try to wiggle out of this apparent case of human error, or whether it will honor its crazy price and take the massive loss (while making some photographer exceedingly happy).

Sigma EX 10-20mm F/3.5 DC HSM Lens For Canon [eBay via Reddit]

Update: Zane from Calumet writes below that the buyer settled for a gift card after Calumet called the person to explain the mistake. Win win for both sides.

  • PhotoShark

    NICE! i hope they honor it. lol

  • Robert Paul

    eBay rules regarding errors like this are heavily in the favor of the seller. They would be crazy to honor this, especially when the buyer will almost certainly just turn around the two other lenses for 99.9% profit.

  • Mansgame

    They don’t have to honor it if it was an honest mistake. Even print ads don’t have to honor it if someone made a mistake. That’s going to come out of someone’s salary and $1800 is easily someone’s salary for a few weeks.

    When I bought my D90 back in the day, Ritz had a special where they were charging the same for a kit as they were for the body only so I went for it. It was a savings of $300. They didn’t sell it to me and instead offered $100 off which I happily took.

  • Tim

    Selling an item for less than you wanted and claiming “oops I forgot to check the Reserve Price button” is lousy customer service values. You put the lens on an AUCTION WEBSITE

  • perceptionalreality

    ebay’s rules are heavily in favor of the buyer in nearly every way. Numerous ebay personnel have left over that specific problem. As a former eBay powerseller with over $20K sold I personally left for Amazon, thinking the grass was greener, only to find out that at Amazon the policies are so screwed up that a SINGLE unhappy buyer can shut down your account permanently and without recourse, and any money they still owe you for other sales gets held for 90 days.

    If I were Calumet I would try to compromise with the buyer by offering to come through on one of the lenses in exchange for forgiving the mistake on the other two. (Of course if I were Calumet I wouldn’t be selling on eBay in the first place, as their policies make it absolutely easy for buyers to rip off sellers. Particularly with high dollar items like Calumet sells it just isn’t worth the risk.)

  • perceptionalreality

    There is no reserve price on a Buy-It-Now listing. They’ve had that for at least a decade now. Try to keep up. ;)

  • Zane Davis

    Zane from Calumet Photo here. This was quite the mistake on our end! When we realized we had listed these lenses incorrectly we called the buyer to apologize and offered him a gift card to make up for the inconvenience. He was happy with the resolution and we definitely learned our lesson!

  • Samcornwell

    Calumet will honour this and they will reap the benefits of the exposure it brings.

  • Samcornwell

    How much was the gift card, Zane? Enjoy the exposure it brings you guys!

  • lidocaineus

    I’m pretty sure they won’t tell you. And who cares? Someone got a gift card – even it was for $10 (likely much more), that’s way more than they paid.

  • David Thunander

    He would be an asshole if he took advantage of this. Poor seller.

  • Robert Paul

    Well then … I stand corrected.

  • Stephanie

    No surprise that Calumet weaseled their way out of this. Avoid buying anything from them, especially used equipment. Overpriced rentals? check. Selling expired/gray market film? check. Higher prices than every other camera store in _____ city? Check.

  • 9inchnail

    But way less than they were entitled to. Who cares if you made a mistake, it’s a binding contract. It’s a little douchy to grab all three lenses, but still, a deal’s a deal.

  • lidocaineus

    It’s not like Calumet said “whoops, our mistake, you get nothing.” They reached out to the guy to try and work something out, which they did, to everyone’s satisfaction. What exactly is wrong with that? Fortunately everyone acted like adults.

  • aboodi

    if it was me buying that and I was told that it was a mistake, I would have asked him not to send them.

  • dave

    I was just looking at that lens last week, too.

  • mynameisgrant

    I would have lost my sh*t if Calumet never honored that deal.

  • Tiffany Hood

    Its really sad how some people can feel so entitled. The person who bought it knew it was too good to be true, that’s why they only bought one to see if it would fo through. They obviously made a mistakes, as we all do since we are human.

  • HenkPoley

    Entitled for what? Say the lens was regularly priced but unavailable, and you bought one. Would be entitled for anything more than your money back to try it at another shop?

  • Hugo Cuellar Rodriguez

    Lol! Nicely done Calumet :)

  • Milosh Kosanovich

    $600 MSRP lens? They must have meant to list it for their regular price of $999, well, mistakes happen.

  • James

    However, it is important to note, that if there had been more of a negotiation, it would have held up in court. Online listings, especially on ebay where there is a limit to the time you have to buy it, hold up like contracts. none the less, I’m glad this didn’t go to court, it was an honest mistake, and the guy was nice enough to let them off the hook, and they where nice enough to reward him for calling their mistake.

  • James


  • James

    If you sign a paper to sell me your house for $100, then I withdraw $100 from my bank account to pay you for it, you’ll be contractually bound to sell me your house for $100 now in court, will you HAVE to sell me your house? Probably not, but you will wind up having to pay me something for a breach of contract, which unless specified will typically wind up being something like 10% the value of your house.

  • James

    Print ads are far less binding, especially if they’re not specific.