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Krug

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« on: August 27, 2006, 04:16:54 pm »

I posted recently that I was moving from Minolta to either Canon or Nikon - and was very grateful for some useful links and helpful advice.

In the course of my comparisons I thought about warranties.

Now that I am retired I have great flexibility of location - I live primarily in Canada but can spend extended periods with friends and family back in England and with friends in the States - I am sure that I am far from unusual in this.
So I am concerned that the warranty on a "high end" expensive unit should be actionable in any of those locations should it be necessary.

Nikon Customer Service have told me that their warranty is only applicable in the country of purchase - "...but you could post it back to us at your own risk and expense...." !
Canon have a little more concern for their customer in that their warranty applies in North America they tell me but definitely not in Europe.

Am I alone in regarding this as extremely cavalier and unsatisfactory customer service in the current world ?
 Or are there alternatives of which I am unaware??

Maybe I am being the unreasonable curmudgeon that my family sometimes accuse me of being but these are expensive and complex bits of kit for which, surely, one is entitled to expect
flexible service support appropriate to the way increasingly people may live nowadays.
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Rob C

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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2006, 10:43:25 am »

Hi Krug

I was a little surprised to read that Nikon has advised you that its warranty applies only to the country where the item was purchased; my understanding has always been that, if you have the paperwork to prove original purchase and have registered the item, it carries a worldwide guarantee for a given period.

If budget permits, perhaps you might care to explore Leica - they seem to be realistic with guarantees... at least for as long as they remain in business!

Rob C

PS We curmudgeons must stick together - we are a threatened species.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2006, 10:45:03 am by Rob C »
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Krug

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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2006, 11:57:15 am »

Rob,

I was beginning to think that I had raised a stupid issue.

Further enquiry elicited the "informal" response that "with proper documentation service departments would often accept warranty work out-of-region but at the discretion of the local manager."
Which is somewhat consoling but not fully reassuring.

I will indeed look at the Leica situation as I had in any case been intriqued by the new DMR unit - though not able to find much analysis or opinion - and have been told that we should expect their digital M shortly.

Nice to hear from another potential member of Catharsis
  - (CurmudgeonsAgainstTHeAltogetherRecklesslySupposedImprovingSociety) !!
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Rob C

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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2006, 04:37:17 pm »

Krug

Nothing potential about it: I must have been a founder member of Catharsis! I have often wondered at the logic which states that things are constantly improving without getting any better.

I had an example of this just this afternoon when I was thinking about doing a quick test on my D200. Not wanting to break my bones with fresh views and so on, I resolved to find an easy, local view which gives both good colour in the right light and also quite dramatic depth. So, I pulled out some almost-forgotten Velvia shots on Pentax 67...

Not a lot more to say, after that, except that we seem to be reinventing the wheel in ever quicker cycles (no pun intended) and at ever greater cost without moving ahead in the slightest.

Ciao - Rob C

giles

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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2006, 08:19:16 am »

Quote
Am I alone in regarding this as extremely cavalier and unsatisfactory customer service in the current world ?

It's highly unsatisfactory.

I suspect it is due to the distributors in many countries not being owned by the manufacturers of the equipment they're distributing.  You'd think in this Internet connected world that a reconciliation with head office ("we do 8% of warranty repairs world wide, but only account for 6% of new sales, please send adjustment") would do the trick, but apparently not.

For similar and equally incomprehensible reasons it's cheaper for me to buy Canon lenses from the USA than it is to buy them from any of several retailers in this country.  After allowing for shipping, customs clearance (and tax) on arrival the savings on lenses (but not bodies, interestingly) are worthwhile.

As if that wasn't enough, in some countries manufacturers (Nikon has been named, but I have no personal experience) refuse to service "grey" imports, even for a customer willing to pay for parts and maintenance. And if you buy secondhand, there's no way to find out if the equipment is "grey" or not.  Ethical?  I'd argue not.  Does it make business sense?  Not at all, unless you're the subsidiary propping up profitability short term with such practices, in which case it works ... mostly ... so far.

Computer manufacturers got a big wake up call with Usenet newsgroups even before the Internet.  The camera manufacturers will realise -- eventually -- that their marketplace is worldwide, and change.  Looking at how slowly Hollywood and the media companies (one of whom is now a camera manufacturer, please note!) are getting the message about differential DVD pricing (er, "region coding") don't expect action soon, however.

Disgruntled,

Giles
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pobrien3

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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2006, 02:05:17 pm »

In Asia most of the stuff we buy are so-called 'grey' imports (I prefer to think of it as a more pure form of applied Capitalism).  Even so I have had no issues at all in getting service for any of my electronic equipment (not just cameras), but I haven't owned or tried Nikon.  My brother did get resistance from Nikon UK when he took a flash unit he'd bought in HK in for a warranty repair, but they gave in quite quickly.

Friends who have bought 'grey' photo gear in HK and taken it home to the UK, Europe and Aus have also had no difficulties getting service back home.
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DiaAzul

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« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2006, 02:39:04 pm »

Quote
It's highly unsatisfactory.

I suspect it is due to the distributors in many countries not being owned by the manufacturers of the equipment they're distributing.  You'd think in this Internet connected world that a reconciliation with head office ("we do 8% of warranty repairs world wide, but only account for 6% of new sales, please send adjustment") would do the trick, but apparently not.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75456\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Quite often for global companies there is the trade of between the Business Unit (BU) that sources the equipment and the Market Unit (MU) that distributes and supports it. The implication of your assertion is that the BU does not warrant the equipment it sources and it is up to the MU to provide any required guarantees or support to the customer. The upshot is that the BU doesn't suffer any penalty for producing shoddy products - not really much of an incentive for them to improve production quality.

Given the increasingly mobile nature of the world population - I would say we have half of Poland and two thirds of France currently living in London, with a fifth of Pakistan, two thirds of the USA and a couple of Albanians living throughout the rest of the UK - it would be far more practical to offer global rather than regional warranty agreements.

As an addendum (building on the how many people can you fit onto the british isles?) I know we have a special relationship between the UK and the US (and that Mr B and B are good chums) but please could you take Madona back. The news on the radio this morning was that she had imported 5,000 peasants from France for the autumn shoot on her country estate - would someone please remind her that this is not LA.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2006, 02:42:04 pm by DiaAzul »
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Rob C

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« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2006, 05:14:24 pm »

DiaAzul

Blue day? Porque?

Anyway, as for our Madge, she is only repeating history with her peasants: you must have known already that they are, on the whole, quite revolting.

With regard to the problem of ethnic overflow, it's all a matter of summer. The non-Brit contingent is only in the UK because of the space left by the travelling Brit who is currently taking up more than his/her fair share of the Mediterranean and not, I might add, making a very pretty job of it. I have a particular dislike of the aesthetic damage inflicted upon more delicate constitutions by those de rigueur sandles made up from old car tyres... so old fashioned, to boot.

But time heals all things.

Rob C

DiaAzul

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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2006, 05:47:20 pm »

Quote
DiaAzul

...so old fashioned, to boot.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75485\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Just waiting for fashion to catch up with us second time around ;-)
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/

Krug

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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2006, 10:42:19 pm »

Rob,  
   
 I do wish you hadn't mentioned the old car tyre sandals it made me come over all queer (so to speak in OLD language )- I had to get a large brandy to be able to continue !!

I am glad to have stirred up some other annoyance about these "local" warranties - it reminds me of the similar exercise in "looking after the real interests of consumers" of a few years ago in the UK called Resale Price Maintenance. Anyone else remember that?
We were told that it was not in our best interests for retailers to sell products at whatever price they thought they could still make a reasonable profit from but that we needed to be protected by the manufacturer setting a universal price !!! We have done rather well since that change and both manufacturers and retailers have had to work a bit harder to pleases their customers.
The warranty thing is similar flabby thinking and the same featherbedded attitudes.
 It shouldn't matter, surely, whether the product is sold in A,B or even Grey market the manufacturer should be prepared to stand behind it. If retailers/retailling divisions wanted to charge (explicitly) for extra local legal requirements/delivery costs/special post sales service it could then be left to the market to sort out whether it actually is prepared to pay for that - and it quickly would and at least we would know what we were paying the different price levels for and more important the differences would need to be justified.

Sorry about the rant - but one last bit of fun!
The Nikon official ended up telling me that none of this actually mattered "because modern cameras basically just don't go wrong" - when I suggested to him that that was an argument for buying "Grey" he thought for a few moments and said "Well I suppose that's right."!!

Seriously though what we need is a single "Global Warranty" to accompany a single global price with justifiable local price variations to accomodate real local market/legal .differences.
Well I feel better for that and you don't need to read it.
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pobrien3

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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2006, 05:23:46 am »

I agree with all that, but I would make a plea against the single global price - I rather like being able to buy my stuff in HK cheaper than anywhere else. As the cheapest buying location, I would lose out in any global averaging exercise!

...and as a British exile in Hong Kong subsisting on Radio 4 replays of "I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue" on the internet and almost-real Speckled Hen now here on draught, I add my name to the petition to repatriate Madge.  For good measure I suggest the Beckhams be sent over with her in compensation, and we could take Vinny Jones and Kiera Knightly back.  But please hang on to Fergie.
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Mark D Segal

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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2006, 11:37:25 pm »

Restrictive warranties is nothing but a restrictive trade practice that these corporations employ to protect the commercial survival of their local distributors under inefficient market structures. The only real way to change it is by amending various national anti-monopoly legislation to include it as a banned restrictive trade practice. This would force these corporations to pool the financing of their  local distributorships out of general global revenue (i.e. not make them independent profit centers) or close them up in smaller less efficient markets.

Restrictive warranties is also part and parcel of the international price variation many of them practice - charging higher prices in smaller less efficient markets in order to carry the overheads of their local distributorships; they get away with it using the big stick of restrictive warranty policies. For example, customers can avoid the whole problem in Canada by ordering from the mega-stores such as B&H and take their risks on after-sales repair problems. These are the kinds of choices and trade-offs that companies and their customers need to consider in light of the fact that some markets are smaller and more expensive to operate in than others.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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willow

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« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2006, 02:18:02 am »

I had the exact opposite problem - Buying in a more expensive country (UK) then trying to get a warrenty repair in a cheaper country ! (Thailand)

Eventually I retuned to UK to get it repaired.
The Canon approved service agent - NOT Canon. Didnt want to repair it under warrenty as the camera had been previously opened - by Canon Thailand! Then, only as I had the reciept and quote from Thailand, with me - they done it. it took them 6 weeks, where Thailands turnaround time was 2 days. The Canon agent also helpfully suggested, I should have posted it back to them first...
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Krug

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« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2006, 02:44:23 pm »

I am sure thaty MarkDS is absolutely right that this is simply restrictive trade practice - hence my comparison with the old r.p.m. practice in the UK in the past.

It is exactly the sort of hit and miss/take it or leave it attitude of Willows's example that I was  concerned about.

The frustrating thing is that I guess there is not much one can do about it.

Each of the main suppliers operates in similar fashion.
I guess that the main Professionals - who would have some leverage - are pretty well looked after by their respective suppliers.
Point + shoot people will have less at stake - and in any case another "even better" model is just coming out.

So it is the relatively small volume of non-professional DSLR owners that are primarily affected but whose voice is unlikely to be coordinated and in any case would not carry much weight I fear.

       
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aksundevil

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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2006, 07:26:36 pm »

Thought I would add, I purchased a Nikon in the US from a non-Nikon-autherized dealer. I paid a price slightly less than but comparable to the price of a US model (not gray) at a store like B&H and have the original invoice designating my unit as a USA package. When I mailed it to the Nikon service center in SoCal from my home in Alaska, it was returned to me untouched, and the service report had a big red Gray Market stamped on it. It seems that Nikon is very serious about not handling these cameras whether they be under warranty or if the repairs are being paid for.

Even if I wanted to ship the camera back to it's country of origin, I have no way of finding where that is. The seller continues to debate with me the validity of my camera as a US model. The moral of my story is to never ever trust unautherized online retailers as they are in the business of ripping you off in any way possible. Don't they have any pitty for us sheltered Alaskans? We will trust anybody, but not anymore.
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Ray

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« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2006, 08:40:08 pm »

Quote
It shouldn't matter, surely, whether the product is sold in A,B or even Grey market the manufacturer should be prepared to stand behind it. If retailers/retailling divisions wanted to charge (explicitly) for extra local legal requirements/delivery costs/special post sales service it could then be left to the market to sort out whether it actually is prepared to pay for that - and it quickly would and at least we would know what we were paying the different price levels for and more important the differences would need to be justified.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75508\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not sure if this is the 'Grummpy Old Men' thread   . I think there might be an issue of labour cost that's been overlooked here. The last piece of camera equipment I bought overseas was a 580EX flash unit in Bangkok. The price was significantly lower than the price back home in Australia, especially with the local warranty. I was offered the item with an international warranty at a slightly higher price which was still cheaper than the lowest price I could find on the internet in Australia.

I was undecided whether to pay more or less because the fact is I can't remember ever taking a piece of camera equipment back for repair during a warranty period. These items seem to be very reliable. Nevertheless, I paid the premium for the sake of the international warranty, no doubt a sign of my own psychological insecurity, and I fully expect it will prove to be money wasted.
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aksundevil

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« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2006, 10:35:15 pm »

No "grumpy old man" here, and if I were, I might have had the wisdom not to fall into the situation I already mentioned. An international warranty might seem to end up a waste of money, but trust me, that's way better than ending up on the other end.
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Ray

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« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2006, 11:26:26 pm »

Quote
No "grumpy old man" here, and if I were, I might have had the wisdom not to fall into the situation I already mentioned. An international warranty might seem to end up a waste of money, but trust me, that's way better than ending up on the other end.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75833\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

True! But the chances of your ending up on the other end are far, far slimmer than the chances of your wasting your money. This is basically an insurance situation. If the loss or destruction of your property is of life-style threatening proportions, then insurance is wise. If it's not of life-style threatening proportions, then it's probably a waste of money.

When I paid the premium on my 580EX flash unit for an international warranty, I was vaguely aware that I was really paying for a certain degree of psychological comfort and felt slightly ashamed that I had fallen into the age old trap. If you can afford it, self insurance is always the best policy.
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Ray

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« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2006, 12:20:03 am »

To put it another way, the cost of a camera includes an insurance policy against things going wrong within a certain period of time, say 1 to 5 years. The cost of that insurance will vary from country to country. In Thailand, the cost would certainly be very low and that is reflected in the purchase price of the camera (as well as the low wages of the store salesman and all persons involved in the Thailand operations of bringing that camera to market).

The additional cost of, say 10% for an international warranty (I can't remember the exact premium) has to be measured against the probability of things going wrong. From my perspective, as the buyer, if there's a 1 chance in 10 of things going wrong, I'd be prepared to spend that extra 10%. Perhaps even if there's a 1 chance in 20. But I suspect the reality is, there's a 1 chance in 100 (or perhaps 1000) of things going wrong. In which case my premium of 10% is way over top.

I'm in a casino situation where the odds are tipped in favour of the casino. The casino cannot continue to exist unless people, on average, lose money.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2006, 12:23:08 am by Ray »
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Mark D Segal

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« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2006, 09:28:10 am »

Quote
To put it another way, the cost of a camera includes an insurance policy against things going wrong within a certain period of time, say 1 to 5 years. The cost of that insurance will vary from country to country. In Thailand, the cost would certainly be very low and that is reflected in the purchase price of the camera (as well as the low wages of the store salesman and all persons involved in the Thailand operations of bringing that camera to market).

The additional cost of, say 10% for an international warranty (I can't remember the exact premium) has to be measured against the probability of things going wrong. From my perspective, as the buyer, if there's a 1 chance in 10 of things going wrong, I'd be prepared to spend that extra 10%. Perhaps even if there's a 1 chance in 20. But I suspect the reality is, there's a 1 chance in 100 (or perhaps 1000) of things going wrong. In which case my premium of 10% is way over top.

I'm in a casino situation where the odds are tipped in favour of the casino. The casino cannot continue to exist unless people, on average, lose money.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75839\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Ray, your reasoning here is close to correct. But the impact of a risk is measured as it probability of occurrence times the cost of the consequences - it is this latter element you need to add-in to your reasoning above before deciding whether the premium is worthwhile. For example if there were a 10% probability that you would incur a 2000 dollar repair bill over the life of the warranty, the weighted value of the risk is 200 dollars, so you could pay up to that for the "insurance" and *statistically* still be ahead of the game; while this approach to probability has "timeless validity", the fact is that the risk could materialize ANY time - even well after the life of the warranty, so such calculations are valid "on an expected basis" but not in particular. You only really know after the warranty expires whether it was worthwhile, but the basic value of such a calculation is that as long as you can estimate the values for the two input variables, it tells you whether the premium is rational.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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