Tuesday, April 10, 2012

...of pictures, cameras and frustrations

I've though long and hard about writing this post  - if it is the tone or content I want on my blog but as this is still frustrating me weeks later I think it is the word of mouth information should be shared in a community that uses cameras a lot.

If you are particularly likely to attend to detail you might have noticed that I have been taking a lot more photos with my phone lately and some with an older camera I have. This has all come about because my 14 month old Olympus point and shoot is unuseable - because a tiny plactic clip that holds the battery in place inside the camera has broken. This has happened without it being dropped, heavily used or otherwise maltreated. In all other respects the camera works fine - and is as new. I mean it is only 14 months old. I think a $150 camera should last longer than 14 months. I think most people would consider that reasonable. Do you? If you follow the link you can let me know in a one word survey. Am I being unreasonable? Keep in mind that I make handmade goods - so quality rather than disposability is important to me and I'm happy to pay a little extra at the time of purchase to ensure something lasts. I mean until last week we had a dishwasher made in West Germany.

As it was a little over 12 months old - the standard manufaturer warrenty period - although this was not indicated anywhere on the packaging or documentation I got with the camera I assumed the manufacturer warrenty had expired. Happily in Australia there are also additional statutory comsumer rights that can extened warrenties under certain conditions - generally related to reasonable expectations for the life cycle of a product. More information about these rights can be found here and here.
I understand that with these rights some responsibilites. I kept the camera in a sturdy case. I didn't throw it around or drop it. Basically I treated it with respect. I understand that I had to provide the manufaturer a chance to review the camera and acertain that it was broken and not due to misuse on my part. I incurred a cost to get it to Sydney (the only Olympus repair centre in Australia and an address sourced on my own - also not in the packaging). Working on the premise that I am being resonable I sought to enact my rights having acted on my resonsibilities.

I got back an email (later followed by a letter) resquesting co-payment in the amount of $60 to fix the clip. I was told I had no rights as described above (which I later confirmed to be incorrect) but that the amount was less than the actual cost of the repair (parts + labour) which was actually about $165, more than the RRP of the camera when new!

What followed was a exchange of emails where I continually pointed out my rights, explained why their response was wrong, with references - in turn I was offered a number of different reasons that I had to pay this amount to have the clip repaired. In the end I informed Olympus I would be referring the matter to Consumer Affairs for mediation as I did not believe they were acting within the Consumer Law and I was asked to send extra money to have the camera returned to me (this expecation was not communicated until after I had sent the camera there). I asked them to hold the camera until a resolution was reached. Next thing I knew the camera had been sent back to me - unrepaired.

At this point I was extremely frutstrated and in addition to the report to Consumer Affairs I sent a letter detaling my frustrations to the Cusmer Service section of Olympus (you can read it here)- who forwarded my letter to the Service area I had been dealing with as they said it was not their issue. How could customer service not be their issue? The response I recieved from the Service Department - we'll wait to hear from Consumer Affairs and won't discuss the matter with you further.

I've now been informed that Olympus is refusing to budge from their position, with the exception of sending me a packet to return the camera to them - and because Consumer Affairs is not able to force an action - they can do this, unless I take them to court. Over a point and shoot and $60. In effect they are willing to absorb a cost greater than the wholesale cost of a new unit but still charge me.

I don't get it, can't see I ever will.


Heidi @ Buttons and Butterflies said...

I commend you for standing strong! And sharing. I think word of mouth are important. To not say anything at all does not help the next person who comes along with a similar problem!

Kristy said...

Thanks Heidi! I am glad you took the time to respond.

Becky said...

That stinks, and I don't think you're being unseasonable. I'm afraid we'd been through that wringer a few times ourselves (including with Pfaff, as in Pfaff sewing machines, and another beloved brand, Black and Decker (now all made in China, both Pfaff and B and D)... I'll never buy those brands again. I think it's great you're highlighting this. I'll also boycott Olympus (I have a Cannon point and shoot that's 2 years old and going strong). Maybe if enough of us blog and post about these frustrations, companies will wake up and smell the coffee.

Kristy said...

Thanks for your reply, it is so frustrating that many manufacturers seem to care so little about the quality of their products and build them to last for such a short time.

Becca said...

How frustrating! Did you hit tem up on Facebook?

What ever happened to customer service and pride in manufacturing?