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Recent good and bad experiences with manufacturer service


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#1 mst

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Posted 29 March 2011 - 10:27 PM

In his review of the Tokina 16-28 Klaus mentioned the slightly annoying issue of sample variation, especially the high amount of decentered lenses we see in our tests.

Well, decentering (or any other issues) can happen with lenses of any manufacturer. When purchased new, you often have the chance to return for a full refund (especially in Europe), with lenses out of the grace period though your only hope is the manufacturer's service.

I have made mixed experiences with a few service facilities in the recent months, which I'd like to share here. Please note that these are not meant to be representative, they are just my experiences.

Let's start with the good ones:


Nikon

Since most of the lenses going through testing and trading here are Nikon lenses, I use their service more than other brands. I've had a few lenses which failed under warranty (including a 18-200 VR II which failed twice for two different reasons, plus a 24-70 with stiff zoom ring), they where all fixed for free, turn-around time was roughly one week.

I had to send in my 300 VR due to a locked aperture, which was fixed fast and at reasonable cost. However, afterwards the lens occasionally produced errors on the camera and showed inconsistent exposure. On its second trip to service, the mount and complete aperture was replaced for free (under warranty of the earlier repair).

Just recently I had to send in a PC-E 24 due to a defective screw (result of a failed attempt to switch the orientation of tilt and shift). The initial cost estimate was way above 400 EUR, since the screw was so ruined that it seemed impossible to remove, so the whole tilt mechanics needed to be replaced. Two days later, though, they send an update, noting they managed to loosen and replace the single screw, cutting cost down to 100 EUR (work) plus 2,32 EUR (new screw). Nice touch, since I already had agreed to the initially estimated price.

Note that all these jobs were not done by Nikon Germany's central service in Düsseldorf, but Kamera Service Albrecht (Nikon Cologne). So far, I've always been satisfied with the results, even if they needed more than one attempt. Certainly better than some of my experiences with CPS service in Willich (even though I'm not a NPS member). At least so far.


Tamron

As can be read in the Di 60/2.0 review, I have made some less than stellar experiences with Tamron Europe Service. Since then, however, the quality of their work and (!) communication has improved considerably. Just recently I had to send in a decentered 17-50/2.8 (non-VC), which came back almost perfectly centered. Well done.


Zeiss

I purchased a used ZM 28/2.8, which unfortunately arrived with a little wobbly main tube. Sent it to Zeiss directly and soon received a cost estimate (the lens was out of warranty already). They also discovered that the lens was slightly decentered and the focus action wasn't as stiff as it should be. Wasn't cheap (280 EUR), but the lens returned in a shape as good as new. In addition, the technician who actually did the repair called me twice during the procedure.


Leica

I've needed Leica service several times already. They 6-bit coded two lenses (at cost, of course), which took around 4 weeks (it was in the beginning of the M9 hype, I hear the turn-around times for coding have come down since then). I also had to send in a Leica lens because it needed focus calibration. Took them 3 attempts to get it perfect, however the service was fast (1 week) and free, despite the lens being long out of warranty.

A few months ago I happened to drive along Solms on a trip to visit a friend and spontaneously decided to ask for help with a lens hood that seemed wobbly to me. Stopped at their Customer Service Center, very nice place outside of the main factory. Got the lens back after no more than 5 minutes from the technician who fixed it. When storing the lens, I found a very tiny screw in the lens' pouch and asked the technician if this was the reason for the wobbly hood. He immediately replied: "No, that screw belongs to a Elmarit 135". Impressive.
Hood was fixed for free, lens was not under warranty (same lens as above, actually, a 75/2.0 APO).


Voigtländer/Cosina

Just one issue with two copies of the Skopar SL II 20/3.5. Both lenses showed significant overexposure (a known issue of the first batches) and needed to be sent to Japan. Took around 5 weeks (they were shipped back on March 9th ...), overexposure was fixed as expected, in addition both lenses were cleaned and looked like new ones. Service was free, both lenses were still under warranty.


Now off to the not so pleasing results:


Sigma

Some mixed experiences with Sigma so far. Had to send in a 70-200/2.8 II, where the HSM drive had failed. Lens was still under extended warranty, however this extended warranty is only available to the initial owner. So I got a cost estimate.
After explaining that the lens was loaned to me for testing, repair was executed fast and for free. However, even if I had to pay for it, an estimated cost of below 200 EUR to replace the HSM drive seemed rather low to me.

I purchased a 70-200/2.8 OS as review unit, unfortunately the lens was heavily decentered, which was especially visible at the long end wide open. Sent it in four weeks ago, got it back today. Some glass elements were replaced, obviously at the lens' front, since the frontmost part of the lens' tube is now tilted roughly 45 degrees. Not a big deal, unless you belong to the old-fashioned kind of photographers who prefer to use a hood:

Posted Image

Will send it back tomorrow.


Tokina/Hapa Team

Tokina does not have their own customer service in Germany, all service work is done by their main distributor, Hapa Team. In fact, they don't do any service work themselves, but send anything to Tokina Europe (in the Netherlands).

Both Klaus and me have had some less than stellar experiences with Hapa Team in the past, that's why we usually only buy new Tokina products for testing, so we can simply return them in case something is wrong (which once again prooved to be a good idea in the case of the 16-28/2.8).

However, there's one Tokina lens I always wanted to own as a light-weight but fast medium DX tele zoom: the 50-135/2.8. I don't remember exactly how many copies I tried (5 or 6), but all were decentered to a certain degree (more than I was willing to accept). I finally managed to find a well centered one around christmas last year, unfortunately that one showed heavy back focus, so I had to send it in. That was in January.

Since there was no feedback at all I asked for a status update by email about three weeks ago. Got no reply, so I asked again, this time in a bit harsher tone, after another 14 days. This time I got a reply (3 days later), which also included an apology for the lack of communication.

Turned out that Tokina Netherlands had returned the lens to them unrepaired. Next option would be to send the lens to Japan, however, for obvious reasons this currently does not seem to be a good idea. So, they were proud to announce they had managed to find a new one (remember the lens is already discontinued) which they were going to send as free replacement instead.

With the centering statistics of that lens in mind I immediately replied and asked to keep the initially sent in lens available, just in case the replacement lens showed signs of decentering.

This is what I got the next day:

Posted Image

See it?

It's more obvious in this image:

Posted Image

Mail messages sent since last week remained unanswered so far.

*sigh*

-- Markus
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#2 AlexanderE

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Posted 29 March 2011 - 10:59 PM

That Tokina lens you received, how could they not see that? :P Specially knowing what was wrong with the first one :o

Also, the Sigma one, funny. Annoying, but a bit funny :P


Pentax: (http://www.fovi.no/)
I keep feeling like I'm a very lucky guy, the lenses I buy keep being in good condition. My newest 16-50mm however had something wrong with the focus engine, so I left it at Fovi (they used to be the importer of Pentax in Norway) when I visited in November 2010 and got it back in perfect condition shortly after returning home about a week later. The lens repair guys they use are in the same building. I now buy all my stuff at Fovi. Not always the cheapest, but not far from it, and always great service!

I'm now expecting a package tomorrow with my vertical grip for the K-5 (there has been no available grips for a long while here in Norway), And two 16GB SanDisk Extreme Pro cards that have 45MBps, that will be interesting. And a power adapter, I'm going into lens testing :P


Samyang: (http://www.foto-tip.pl/)
Last year I bought a Samyang 85mm 1.4 privately. I was told it was supposed to be automatic aperture for Pentax, but that the blades were very slow, so you had to loosen it from the mount, as if you were taking it off, change aperture, then mount it again, so I got a really low price, and I accepted it.

When I got it, it was very hard to change aperture, and I moved the aperture ring back and forth a few times, and then it was very loose, and the blades were locked in the smallest aperture they could be, and of course I couldn't use it. I contacted Foto-Tip.pl which sells Samyang and they told me to send it to them and they would fix it. It got stuck in customs in Poland, and nothing happened for a while, I asked foto-tip.pl what was going on, they investigated and got the lens to them in a hurry. They fixed it, and two days after they shipped it, from Poland, I had it in my mailbox. That's the fastest I've ever received anything via mail, so I was shocked it got here so fast, from abroad. Also, they did it all for free! Simply fantastic customer service. My next Samyang lenses will be bought from them! Which will be the 14mm 2.8 of course, and the 8mm fish-eye.


Tokina:
I bought an old 28mm f/2.8 Tokina lens privately. When I received it, the aperture could not be changed, but the glass was clean, and focus was smooth and very well damped. I shipped it to Tokina in the Netherlands after getting some form from their website. After a while I was told they couldn't fix it and they asked if they should return it (for a cost) or just throw it away (for free). I just told them to throw it away. Nothing wrong in the service here really, just a lens that was too old.
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#3 Klaus

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 06:06 AM

While we are at it:


Samsung:
Last August I was about to test the Samsung 18-55mm NX. The kit lens was decentered. Unfortunately I did so after the grace period so I had to use the Samsung service - Geissler here in Germany. They replaced the lens within 4 weeks. The new sample was also decentered so back to Geissler with it. They were less than happy. For reference they requested the NX100 which we send out immediately (with attached 30/2).
1 month - no message, 2 months - no message, 3 months - I called them - they wanted to call back (didn't do so), 4 months - I called them - they wanted to call back (didn't do so), 5 months - called them - mentioned that they will send it back now. Two weeks later it arrived. Same goes for the N100 + 30/2 which never had a defect in the first place. This was about the very worst service experience ever. I'm clueless about the state of the 18-55 NX nor will I ever bother.

Canon:
Very poor service quality in general. The service personal that I met in Willich (HQ) is arrogant and unfriendly. My 15-85mm IS has a centering defect - a very obvious as illustrated with sample images. I tried 3 Canon service locations in Germany. They also said it's within factory specs. Written off as loss.
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#4 AAC7man

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 08:17 AM

While we are at it:


Samsung:
Last August I was about to test the Samsung 18-55mm NX. The kit lens was decentered. Unfortunately I did so after the grace period so I had to use the Samsung service - Geissler here in Germany. They replaced the lens within 4 weeks. The new sample was also decentered so back to Geissler with it. They were less than happy. For reference they requested the NX100 which we send out immediately (with attached 30/2).
1 month - no message, 2 months - no message, 3 months - I called them - they wanted to call back (didn't do so), 4 months - I called them - they wanted to call back (didn't do so), 5 months - called them - mentioned that they will send it back now. Two weeks later it arrived. Same goes for the N100 + 30/2 which never had a defect in the first place. This was about the very worst service experience ever. I'm clueless about the state of the 18-55 NX nor will I ever bother.

Canon:
Very poor service quality in general. The service personal that I met in Willich (HQ) is arrogant and unfriendly. My 15-85mm IS has a centering defect - a very obvious as illustrated with sample images. I tried 3 Canon service locations in Germany. They also said it's within factory specs. Written off as loss.



Well here's my 2 pence.....

Nikon (in UK)

I may just be fortunate, but 12 Nikkors have given no probs so far. All bought new, mixture of AF-D, AF-S. All very light use.

My recent Acquisition of N 70-200VR2 revealed small backfocus errors in both 4-year-old D200 bodies - Nikon UK website lists 6 authorised repairers. I took the bodies to FIXATION who are in central London. One body was fixed in one working day, the other 3 days - a fault was diagnosed and fixed in the flash of the second body. Both were cleaned, including sensors. Total cost £233. I would recommend them - they are in business to serve the professional and turn around Canon and Nikon in 2-3 days (they say) usually. Professional account holders get preference in repair times. See website, they do Nikon warranty work (probably Canon too). I understand Nikon themselves are taking 2-3 weeks at present.

I think this has the makings of a record thread....

#5 asnwd

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 10:50 AM

.. . .unrepaired. Next option would be to send the lens to Japan, however, for obvious reasons this currently does not seem to be a good idea. . . .
*sigh*
-- Markus


- but but it's on the news now that tokyo power plans to throw a tarp over fukushima - so no worries, she'll be right . . .

#6 popo

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 12:48 PM

Have one from me too...

Sigma (UK)

I bought a Sony mount 10-20mm (original version) when I saw the prices rocketing up at the start of the financial situation. It was the last one at a "good" price from a major UK retailer. Even on the first day, I heard squeaks when using it in AF, which later turned out to be gear stripping. Due to the price/availability situation I decided to get a warranty repair than return it.

I contacted Sigma UK directly, who confirmed they needed to look at it and told me to send it in with various paperwork. About 3 weeks later I got the lens back, with the comments saying they replaced the gears.
dA Canon 7D, 5D2, 600D, 450D, 300D IR modified, 1D, EF-S 15-85, EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2, 70-300L, 100-400L, MP-E65, TS-E24, Zeiss 2/50, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300/2.8, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Olympus E-P1, Panasonic 20/1.7, Sony HX9V.

#7 mst

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 01:29 PM

- but but it's on the news now that tokyo power plans to throw a tarp over fukushima - so no worries, she'll be right . . .


Actually, I'm not (yet) afraid of the radiation. It's just that due to the situation in the factory they can not even give a rough estimate when the lens could be serviced and returned. Might take very long.

However, I'd certainly prefer to wait some time for a well centered lens to return than accept that tilt-zoom they sent as replacement.

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#8 mst

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 01:54 PM

That Tokina lens you received, how could they not see that?


Obviously nobody seemed to care to check the lens before they sent it out. What's slightly irritating is that they received this as new stock from a dealer ... who obviously either did not care to check the lens, too, or knew about its condition and was happy to get rid of it.

Also, the Sigma one, funny. Annoying, but a bit funny :P


Yep. One day later, that describes how I see it pretty well :)

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#9 Pinhole

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 03:54 PM

My experiences vary - I assume we don't have stick to lens manufacturers.

Tamron
About 5 years ago I owned a Tamron zoom 17-50 and it never autofocussed properly. I sent the thing in and got it back after about 2 months. I figured that if I can't use a new lens for 2 months, and there's a risk of it having further problems, it was too much of pain to keep, so I sold it.
In themselves, Tamron lenses can be good or even great, but for me it's too risky to have a lens I need for work in the repair shop for 2 months.

Canon
In one shop in Berlin, the staff were extremely arrogant and unhelpful - I had to practically threaten them with a lawyer before they took my old Canon in to fix the focus problems and clean the dirt off the centre (it was 3 months old). It took about5 weeks, and I didn't notice any improvement when I got it back.
Just last year I visited a different Canon service centre with my 5D MK II, and they checked the camera and sensor, gave everything a clean-up and blow-out, all without charge.
Basically, I prefer to just live with small problems on Canon equipment, because I can't be bothered with the hassle and waiting weeks where I might have to hire gear for work because mine is in repair.


Sigma
Had a Sigma lens years ago with a mechanical problem, and it took weeks to repair. Like Tamron, they can make decent gear, but if you have a problem it can mean your working gear is not available for several weeks.

Zeiss
I've never had any reason to contact their service department. :)

Metz
I own two Metz flashes, and one of them got the foot broken off after someone tripped over a cable. I phoned Metz, and instead of asking me to send it in to repairs or buy a new unit, the woman from the technical department actually treated me like an intelligent person: she said I could repair it myself! I was sent a replacement part 2 days later (18 euros) and I fitted it myself following that nice woman's instructions.
First class service, and a German company!



In general, I think the repair turnaround time is the biggest problem with most photographic equipment companies. It's not acceptable to wait more than 2 weeks for a repair, and for working photographers it can mean extra costs if you have to hire similar equipment in that time.
These days I try to only buy equipment where I'm fairly convinced that it's been through a proper quality control and will not have any major problems - that said, even cheaper products should still have good quality control.

#10 mst

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 10:05 AM

Two updates:

Got the 70-200 OS back today, hood now aligns as it should.

Still no word or any other sort of reaction from Hapa Team. Except an Out-Of-Office reply from the person I used to deal with, including a forward notice to some other guy ... who did not care to respond.

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#11 you2

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 02:48 PM

Canon usa is suppose to be very good; I've exchanged email a few times about minor issues; responses are very fast and very detailed (not just your canned do this do that unrelated to issue replies). I've never sent anything into canon usa; but have read many positive stories and virtually no complaints. What strikes me as odd is how can they be so good in usa and so poor in germany.

I've heard terrible things about nikon usa (esp if you have a non-usa item) but I never used nikon so no comments. Nikon usa is a bit different than nikon japan (virtually different company so this might not be a reflection on nikon).

Olympus usa just closed their canadian and usa service center (never used them; I no longer use olympus equipment though I loved their lenses).
-
My comments are mostly hersey as canon is the only one I've contacted and on three occasions had good results even though I never actually sent equipment to them. I'm suspicious that the 70-200f4 L is i have is odd so this might change.

#12 mst

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 08:37 PM

Metz
[..]
First class service, and a German company!


Yep, bought my first Metz flash just recently and was very pleased by what I got. The only brand I'd accept as alternative to Nikon flashes, at least in this segment (it was a 50 AF-1, which I consider a much better deal than Nikon's SB-700). Sold it about a week later, but only because a close friend was desperately looking for the exact model I purchased. Will certainly buy one again. Only complaint: comes without any accessories (not even a pouch or stand), menu not self-explanatory. Otherwise, just great for the price.

Back to topic: still no reply from Hapa Team, sent another message today.

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#13 mst

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 08:49 AM

Back to topic: still no reply from Hapa Team, sent another message today.


Well, at least some reaction happened: Hapa Team now offers to either return my backfocusing lens (not repaired) or to repair the tilt zoom they sent as replacement. But, if they can not adjust back focus, will they be able to fully repair such a desastrous lens?

So, in summary, two not really attractive options to choose from. Remember that the lens is still under warranty.

Exchanged several messages with Hapa Team two days ago, however since then no replies again. My last mail is unanswered.

Will keep you updated.

-- Markus
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#14 wim

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 12:20 AM

I've always had good experiences with the Canon repair centres in the Netherlands, except for some long waiting times around Christmas a few years ago, with a 40D/85L battery problem and trying to get my 50L calibrated first time around (40D/85L required a firmware fix, the 50L needed a second calibration and has been right since then). Since I became a CPS member after that event, I don't have the long wait problem anymore. Since there are new Canon Service Centres in th eNetherlands as well, which managed to work away the backlogs, that shouldn't really happen anymore anyway.

They have always been very helpful, as were any of the retailers I dealt with.

Last problem I had fixed was about half a year ago, when I finally had it fixed anyway, the friction ring on my (second) 100-400L, which didn't hold the lens in a fixed position anymore after I lent it to a colleague, who didn't realize he had to loosen the ring first before using the lens....

Anyway, it was fixed within a few days, and with constant email communication, with an option to borrow another lens for free, because they didn't have the parts in stock. They called me a few dyas after I got the lens back to inquire if everything was as expected, and emailed another week later to make doubly sure. All of this at no charge.

Kind regards, Wim
Gear: 5D Mk II, 1D Mk III, with a solitary zoom, a gaggle of primes, an accesory plague, and a Panasonic GF-2 with 3 primes, 3 zooms, and some alternative lenses ....

#15 mst

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:43 AM

I have always heard good things about Canon in the Netherlands. And it has always been in strong contrast to my own experiences with Willich in Germany ...

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#16 Klaus

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 09:38 AM

I have always heard good things about Canon in the Netherlands. And it has always been in strong contrast to my own experiences with Willich in Germany ...

-- Markus


Makes you wonder whether it's worth to send your lenses to NL. Is that possible ?
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#17 mst

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 10:03 AM

Makes you wonder whether it's worth to send your lenses to NL. Is that possible ?


I would have tried after my last terrible experience with Willich, but never had the chance to (thanks to the D300, which was announced at roughly the same time).

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#18 wim

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Posted 09 April 2011 - 08:37 PM

Makes you wonder whether it's worth to send your lenses to NL. Is that possible ?

You could give it a try - the centre in Weert (which fixed my 100-400L) actually is iaised with a centre in Germany, although I forget which one. However, that one is quite small compared to the main centre in the NL, and may not be able to do all repairs. Techrepair, main centre, can do everything however.

HTH, kind regards, Wim
Gear: 5D Mk II, 1D Mk III, with a solitary zoom, a gaggle of primes, an accesory plague, and a Panasonic GF-2 with 3 primes, 3 zooms, and some alternative lenses ....

#19 mst

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 08:32 PM

Two updates today:

1) actually more of a non-update: still no reply from Hapa to my latest message.

2) the Sigma 70-200 OS again: hood is perfectly aligned now, unfortunately the lens itself is not. Still decentered, so I'm afraid I'll have to send it in again.

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#20 mst

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 10:42 AM

1) actually more of a non-update: still no reply from Hapa to my latest message.


Finally!

They have agreed to repair the tilt-zoom and give me some time to carefully test it afterwards. In case I don't like it, I will have the option to switch back to my initially sent in lens (the backfocusing one).

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