Last year’s Christmas Gadgets

Failing camera lens

The unfortunate gadget

This is a bit off the mobile software and programming topic, but still something for those who like gadgets. Last Christmas my dad, very thoughtful of me, decided to get me a decent digital camera. Photography has been a great hobby throughout his life. In the mid 80’s he even opened a photographic studio and maintained it for almost 10 years until we moved to another city, which closed this adventurous period.

Even until now there are plenty of cameras in my parents’ house. Two Pentacons, Practica, Zenit, my first camera Smena-8, my favourite Yashica FX-3 and some unique vintage cameras. But among all of them my dad has always had a special feeling for Nikon as a high quality, innovative brand. One of his last buys as a professional photographer was the very automatized at the time Nikon F-90 with state of the art SB-25 flash. This set provided him quite a lot of fun and also plenty of quality photographs.

I don’t spend a lot of time photographing, so I wouldn’t need best featured camera. My preference was actually towards compact ones that I could always have with me in my jacket or in a small travel bag. We came to the conclusion that the camera would be a compact one with advanced features where I could manually adjust exposition time and aperture apart from what’s present in most cameras. There were a few models that we were taking into account but I let my dad make the final choice and make it be a surprise. I had a feeling what he could choose and it was Nikon.

Indeed he chose Nikon, model P7000. This is a very powerful device and the quality of photographs is very high. Sometimes the plenitude of adjustment options leaves me a little lost but I get to take photos I like so it’s definitely something I wanted to have. Unfortunately after a few months and a few hundred of photos taken the lens stopped working properly. Even though I always kept it in the protective Hama bag, and never exposed it to hazardous conditions, the lens started buzzing while moving and very often the lens cover didn’t open properly cropping many of my pictures in an ugly way.

The camera was bought in a store in Poland and has a European-wide warranty so I decided to take it for repair to the official Nikon service in Barcelona where I live. This took a while to get it there because the service was closed for holidays in August (very common in Spain), and then it had a plenty of repairs pending in September (that would cause over a month delay) so I decided to come back in October.

Apparently servicing the camera with the European Warranty Card, stamped and signed by the store where my dad bought it in Poland, with the date, model and device serial number was not so obvious. The official conditions for servicing the Nikon camera was to bring the warranty card together with a purchase document. I guess it was to confirm the date and legality of the purchase. This was obviously already on the warranty mentioned above, which I explained patiently to the service assistants, but they didn’t let it cover the repair. I explained them that my dad got it for me as a Christmas present last year, so I wouldn’t have the shop ticket included in my gift box for obvious reasons. Instead the warranty document was filled in with all the data the service shop would need to repair it. Again, no success.

Europe Service Warranty

The European Service Warranty card that was not sufficient to fix the camera.

I didn’t expect my parents to find this ticket easily, knowing they handed me the camera with the document, sufficient in their eyes, to repair it in any case. They did search for it once, with no success. I contacted the Nikon website but they couldn’t provide me any help as the service shop was decisive in terms of the validity of repairs. The store in Poland couldn’t provide me a copy of the ticket as it was the simple ticket, not the invoice that they would have to maintain in their documents. So the last chance was to bring it back to Poland where they would accept the local warranty card and leave it for my next two visits there. Or I could cover the cost of P&P for the international package twice and also wait long. While viable, both solutions were simply inconvenient knowing that I have a camera covered with the European warranty.

The purchase ticket.

This very simple ticket that could hardly be a legal document was necessary to repair a camera.

Finally my parents found the ticket last week, and the service shop in Barcelona accepted the camera for the repair under the warranty. Luckily, because this warranty lasts only one year, and is valid until 11 of December. Although this is a happy ending to the issue that was bothering me a bit over the past few months, it left me a mixed feeling about the Nikon brand. Knowing for example how Nokia handles their repairs in Europe, where you just bring the device without any document and they check it by the IMEI in the database to confirm if the warranty still covers the repair, it just made me feel disappointed. Is it the bureaucracy straight from Kafka’s novels or the fact that some companies might complicate their laws enough to reduce the costs of handling repairs at the price of the customer satisfaction? At the same time they’re making an advertisement about the European (or whatever scope) wide warranty.

This might sound like my very own issue since I live in a different country than my parents, but maybe more people do the same in the age of online second-hand shopping, product search aggregators, unified trade laws in European Union and a common currency (or the easiness of money exchange in online transactions). If I bought the camera from the United States, Hong-Kong or any other place where electronic gadgets tend to be much cheaper (although not so cheap if you have to pay customs when you receive them…) I could expect these type of problems. But this was not the case.

It might be worth to take a fresh look at the brands whose value is often taken for granted. While searching for the best features and a good deal it might be too much to perform the search on the warranty handling at the same time. Maybe betting on a good word put by someone who had the similar experience would be enough to add to the credibility of the brand. I would welcome comments if someone could share experiences here. The Christmas shopping madness will get to its peak soon, and it might make us more prone to making a similar mistakes when the time is running and stocks are going down.

I wish everyone only good choices and great deals besides that!

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