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Author Topic: Nikon Heads-up  (Read 4801 times)

schrodingerscat

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Nikon Heads-up
« on: August 24, 2008, 04:36:06 pm »

Greetings all -

I've been an independent repair tech for about twenty five years, as well as a stint at Hasselblad's repair facility in Santa Monica, and have witnessed some disturbing trends that pretty much started with the advent of the digital age.

The manufacturer's have steadily eroded their support for the independents by restricting access to manuals and software, and sky high parts prices. I recently paid $100 for a 3" LCD panel. While some are worse than others, Canon has been the most reasonable so far.

Nikon has just upped the ante in the UK, with the rest of the EU soon to follow as required by law. As of now, Nikon will not sell any internal parts for any current product to a non authorized shop. That means they will only be able to change out outer covers and such. If they get away with this, the others are sure to follow.

This has ramifications on several levels. First, repair costs. With a virtual monopoly on repairs, they have no incentive to keep prices at their already inflated rates. Second, turn around times. With the loss of alternatives, their service centers will bear the full brunt of customer demand at a time when the number of skilled technicians is dropping, primarily due to techs retiring or getting fed up with this sort of BS. And if you think that when you send your gear to Nikon for repair that an army of guys in lab coats in a gleaming state-of-the-art compound is waiting to work on it, think again. The manufacturers farm out most of their repairs to contract shops, most of whom serve more than one company. They do employ a few techs at their walk-in centers, but that's about it. Most independents are not authorized as it takes a very large economic and resource commitment to do so. You are also required to accept a certain amount of warranty work, which pays next to nothing. By the time it gets to the bench of the poor slob doing the actual work, it pays so little that the incentive is to just get in and out of it as quickly as possible.

While all the manu's will not do warranty work on grey market products, Nikon will not perform any service on equipment purchased outside of that area's distribution parameter, warranty or not. So all you folks buying stuff in Asia and the US will be TSOL if something breaks. Wouldn't be surprised if Nikon will soon start refusing to repair product shipped from outside the distribution area, if they don't already.

Slowly the thumb screws are tightening, and if I were a Nikon user in the EU I'd start howling my head off. It's already too late for New Zealand. Nikon will not sell parts of any kind  to independent techs.

Nikon's PR spin on this is that they are just protecting the consumer from bad techs. What's funny is that I spend two days a week at my account processing their repairs and my redo rate is about 5% of the manu's. Most of the hacked on cameras they get are actually from their own authorized shops who just slap the thing back together after realizing the cost of the parts will be higher than the charge for the repair.

Arrogant? When I asked the store's Nikon rep why the manu's were making life so hard for the independents, he literally told me to go to hell.

I really don't have much of an ax to grind in this. Between the cost of parts and the fact it takes two to three times longer to perform the same repair as on a Canon, I don't do many Nikons. My main concern is that if they aren't forced to back off on this the rest of the industry will follow. If that happens, everyone will be left at the tender mercies of The Company.
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David Sutton

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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2008, 10:27:05 pm »

Thanks for the heads up. The last few decades have seen us enter an increasingly disposable age where goods are made to last only a little past their warranty. Poorly made chargers and wiring are not difficult to fix with a soldering iron and epoxy    but few of us would want to pull our cameras apart. The problem is compounded by the rapid improvement in digital cameras, in that a two year old camera is in general worth nothing. You have to wonder if it's worth fixing. I don't see much hope here until we can say about a camera "this is good enough for the next ten years". Heaven knows it took a while for film cameras to reach that stage. If I were a Nikon owner (and may be one day) I'd be screaming blue murder.
David
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Rob C

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« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2008, 06:28:38 am »

The quality problem goes back long before digital was a dream in some wizard´s mind.

Schrodringerscat worked with Hasselblad repairs - well, my own experience: I was working in Malta for the IWS many years ago, when the 500C was the current model, and early in the  shoot the thing refused to do anything - just wouldn´t wind on. I had my Nikons as backup so all would not have been lost - perhaps better, in fact - and so I went to the concierge of the hotel with my problem and he sent me to a watchmaker in Valletta, a Mr Zamit, who took the camera, looked at it a while, and then took a knife and started to peel the fabric off the area around the winding knob. He caught my expression at one moment and smiled, asking me if I was getting nervous. I fibbed and said no, so he carried on with his work.

What he did was to remove a large plastic circlip which had gone bad and to replace it with a steel wire one which he fashioned himself from materials in his workshop.

That ´blad never had a problem from then on in.

So my feeling is that even then, in the 70s, companies as great as Victor H were also prone to cutting value/costs by using material inferior to that available to an outside workshop...

Rob C
« Last Edit: August 25, 2008, 06:29:54 am by Rob C »
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Hank

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« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2008, 05:44:49 pm »

Right now there are at least a couple of problems with the online support for Nikon's repair service.  When you ship in a camera you'll be emailed an email Estimate/Acknowledgement form.  Fill it out and a "Pay Now" button appears at the bottom of the page.  Press it and you'll be kicked back to the main page, rather than to the billing process.  Repeatedly.

Also, when you email them, there's a "Continue" button at the bottom of the page.  Press that and you get moved to a product registration page.  

Invesigation (via phone) reveals that if the Pay Now button appears when you receive the notice, your work is actually done.  And hell will feature ice skating waiting for your payment before your camera moves homeward.

And no, the email you sent is not forwarded if you fail to fill out the product registration page.  As a matter of fact, it isn't forwarded if you DO fill out the reg page.

Fortunately, you'll also receive a mailed hard copy version of your Estimate/Acknowledgement form, along with provisions at the bottom for making payment via mailed response.  It's up to you whether to follow that path or pick up the phone (toll free) and complete the transaction.

In Nikon's defense, I got an agent on the phone immediately with no long wait on hold when I called.  And that person promised to forward my online problems to a supervisor.

Don't know if it was done, but vigilance pays.  Especially if you're waiting return of your repairs.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2008, 05:47:29 pm by Hank »
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Tony Beach

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« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2008, 06:41:15 pm »

Quote
...hell will feature ice skating waiting for your payment before your camera moves homeward.[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I authorized billing against my credit card over the phone as a part of authorizing the out of warranty repair of my lens (the darn Nikkor 70-200 VR is incredibly sensitive to "impact damage"; much more so than my old Nikkor 80-200/2.8).  I had the lens back days before my credit card was actually billed.

Here in the United States there are a fair number of [a href=\"http://www.nikonusa.com/Service-And-Support/Nikon-Authorized-Repair-List.page]"Nikon Inc. Factory Service Facilities".[/url]  On the other hand, I live in the second largest metropolitan area in California and the nearest place to have my DSLRs and lenses worked on is a 200 mile round trip, which is not exactly a "drop it off today and pick it up tomorrow" situation.

No offense to the OP intended, but I think I would insist on factory trained technicians working on my DSLRs and some of my VR lenses.  Many seemingly simple issues like AF calibration require hugely expensive equipment, and even the largest authorized service centers do not have that equipment.
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Panopeeper

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« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2008, 07:55:58 pm »

I see the reason for everything going astray as a single issue: the lack of "punishment" of a manufacturer. Specifically in the DSLR area there are at least two distinct reasons of that:

1. the fact, that one's investment in lenses may surpass by far that of the money spent on cameras,

2. much worse: the fanboy-attitude. I see masses of dummies, who would defend the worse crap "their" manufacturer brings out, because it carries that particular label. I suspect the brand loyalty of some photogs surpasses that of their loyalty to the family.

For a few years ago I had a Nikon prosumer, the CP 8800. It was a great camera in certain aspects, while it was the pure, unmitigated crap in some other aspects. I remember, how scores of idiots tried to convince me, that it is ok to count the clicks inside the camera from the current position (which I may or may not know) in order to focus manually, and if the light is too low for the AF, I should make more light or photograph something else.

(The same is true re other brands, though generally the crappier the equipment, the more readiness of the owners is observable to defent the indefensible.)

I brought it to the Nikon service; as it turned out, they did not have anyone in the Northwest Pacific to check it, and it came back as "works as designed" (Microsoft calls this "designed as works"). The camera came back unchanged.

Just when I "grew out" of the CP 8800, another issue came up: Nikon decided, that they have the copyrights to my shots (via "cryptographically encoding" the white balance, although the dumb suckers did not understand even that).

So, I decided to go with another brand. Now I invested a lot in lenses and disposable cameras, but I would declare that as "loss" from my budget for hobby if the manufacturer - Canon in this case - tried to take even more adb´vantage of the situation as they are doing now.

Anyway, back to the subject: only a thorough boycott of the manufacturers could help out photographic future; however, I don't see this happening; rather, I see the masses of lemmings.
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Gabor

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« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2008, 10:03:32 pm »

Quote
Just when I "grew out" of the CP 8800, another issue came up: Nikon decided, that they have the copyrights to my shots (via "cryptographically encoding" the white balance, although the dumb suckers did not understand even that).


How bizarre... I'm sure glad I don't have any copyright issues with my Nikons!    

In fact, they even implemented a suggestion I made to them a couple of years ago, and now my new D700 automatically encodes *my name* along with the © symbol on every image I capture.  
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Panopeeper

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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2008, 11:01:35 pm »

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In fact, they even implemented a suggestion I made to them a couple of years ago, and now my new D700 automatically encodes *my name* along with the © symbol on every image I capture
That is really a great feature. It would be nice to have my signature 5-10-30 times on different places of a pano. As of now I have to do that with PS, and I am usually lazy to repeat it a dozen times, so it occurs only once, if at all.

Anyway, you sure did not understand the issue about cryptographically encoding data in the raw file.
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Gabor

BernardLanguillier

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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2008, 12:18:41 am »

Quote
Nikon has just upped the ante in the UK, with the rest of the EU soon to follow as required by law. As of now, Nikon will not sell any internal parts for any current product to a non authorized shop.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=217001\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

What does it take to be an autorized shop?

Cheers,
Bernard

schrodingerscat

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« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2008, 03:11:07 pm »

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What does it take to be an autorized shop?

Cheers,
Bernard
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=217239\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Hi Bernard -

To become authorized, you're required to purchase a laundry list of specialized test and set-up equipment that runs into the thousands of dollars. You also have to participate in their training seminars and purchase the shop manuals and software(for every model), more time and money. All this material is only available to authorized shops. And just because the shop is authorized, doesn't mean all the techs have had the same training.

In return, they offer a slight discount on parts and free parts for warranty work. Nikon sets the prices for authorized work and compensation for warranty work. By the time it makes it's way to the bench, the tech usually makes very little, as the only shops who can afford authorization are the larger ones and the middle man siphons off most of the profit. Authorized shops are required under contract to accept a certain amount of warranty work and there's not that much margin built into the non warranty work. This pretty much leaves the shops to depend on volume.

The main benefits are the training and being able to advertise as an authorized shop.

This is the case with all manufacturers.

Cheers

SC
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