Friday, August 19, 2016

Nikon: The Definition of Poor Customer Support

I generally love Nikon cameras and lenses.  They continue to come out with innovative products that I can use as a professional photographer.  For instance, I leaving for a trip to South Africa soon, and I discovered that Nikon now offers new and improved lenses for wildlife photography.  Nikon has a new affordable 200-500mm f5.6 lens that is very highly rated.  I ended up buying a used 80-400mm VR lens which is similar to the Canon lens that has the same zoom range. I bought the new Nikon D500 body about a month ago -- it is awesome fast and well built. 

However, Nikon's support of its customers -- both professionals and amateurs -- has always been pretty bad.  I am still in disbelief of the utterly terrible customer service that I received from Nikon in the past two days.  Just unbelievably bad.

Here's the story:

After much research, I decided to buy a Nikon 80-400mm lens, used, from a seller on Amazon.  The seller's listing said " All original Nikon parts and accessories included. US version and comes in the original Nikon gold box." 

The lens arrives promptly, but there is no US warranty card, which all Nikon lenses come with now to prove that they are US-bought and not gray market lenses.  Nikon and other camera manufacturers have spent tons of money on informing the general public, particularly keen photographers, to avoid "gray market" lenses at all costs.  Briefly, "gray market" refers to gear that has been imported by unsanctioned retailers, and was not intended to be sold in the US.  The gear is the same as "US warrantied" gear but is generally cheaper.  Nikon and Canon refuse to repair gray market gear.  If you are a photographer in the US, you should be very careful to only purchase US-warrantied gear from Nikon or Canon.  There's often no way to tell the difference --  you should only buy from authorized retailers.  Only Nikon can tell you if your gear is US-warrantied or not. 

I received the lens on Wednesday night.  On Thursday, I tried calling Nikon.  I am Nikon Professional Services (NPS) member, which supposedly offers pros (you have to certify yourself as a pro every two years and run through some hoops) a bit faster and better service than the general public.  I had a couple of numbers for NPS.  I am sorry to say that the customer service SUCKED. 

It was impossible to get through to a real human being on the NPS lines!  Here's what happens: You call the NPS number, listen to the robot phone tree, then you press 4 for tech support.  When you do that, the robot tells you to hang up and call another number!  You call that number, three times, and each time someone lifts the phone off the receiver and then hangs up.  I know what it sounds like. 

I called another Nikon number, "tech support" for "regular folks."  I explained my question -- I had a used Nikon lens, could supply the serial number, and wanted to know if it was a US-warrantied lens or not.  A Nancy in Pennsylvania kept asking me for my contact information, which was irrelevant.  She wanted to  know my phone number, email address, when I registered the lens purchase, and the list of questions goes on.  The questions were all completely irrelevant to my situation.  This interrogation went on for ten minutes. 

After taking down all this unnecessary information, Nancy finally told me that she could not give me an answer to my (very simple) question. I would have to send the lens into a repair center! 

Once again, I had just purchased a used lens.  No, I had not had time to register the lens, nor would I be able to do so since it did not come with a US warranty card.  I just wanted to know if the lens was a US-warrantied lens, or a gray market lens.  At this point, I have the choice of returning the lens to the seller; or keeping it.  Nikon should be helpful in this situation, not utterly unhelpful. 

Does Nikon's reply make any sense in the real world whatsoever?  Insisting that I send this used, newly purchased lens to their technical repair center is utterly unhelpful and utterly ludicrous. 

Nikon: your customer service sucks!

Their email to me is below.  Read it and laugh.

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