As you may know, my camera is my right-hand man. I carry it with me practically everywhere I go so I need it to be ready to snap pictures of power lines or brick walls. Unfortunately, my wee camera – the Panasonic Lumix DSC-TZ1 (“Tizzy”) – started having problems about a month ago.
I’d turn it on and the LCD would remain black. It would even allow me to take a photo, 100% solid black. And yes, the lens cap was off. Sometimes I could resolve it by popping the battery out and back in; sometimes I could do the same with the memory card. But eventually it just happened all the time and I knew it was time for a warranty repair.
So I headed over to Panasonic’s site to look up my support options. I entered my ZIP code to get a local service center and found one that was listed as “Panasonic Camera and Digital Se”, which I presume meant “Service Center”. In reading the fine print I noticed that this repair was happening after the first 90 days, so I’d have to pay $102. Gulp. But, you know, it’s still cheaper than buying another camera and besides I like this one.
I packaged it up and sent it in. About a week later I received a voicemail from them. “Yes, sir, we have your camera here and it’s ready to be fixed. The total charge is $160. Please give us a call at… and let us know how you’d like to pay for this.” (This despite including payment information in the package.) Of course, that was $60 more than I expected so I called.
At first I was given a huge run-around, and they kept trying to tell me that it really was $160, not $102. Eventually I was asked when I purchased the camera, so I told them – January – and also mentioned that this is under warranty. “You have a warranty?!” At this point the person on the other end of the phone was getting snippy with me, and boy, I was almost ready to go off. But I calmed down.
I got a litany of reasons why the charge was higher. First I was told that I didn’t understand this (despite it being worded perfectly on their website) – apparently I Are Dumb. Then I was told that the warranty changed. (!) Then, I was told the $102 didn’t include labor. Then I was told that – ready? – they weren’t Panasonic! Technically this ended up being true as they were a third party repair shop but, their address and info was listed on Panasonic’s site (as “Panasonic Service Center”) along with these specific, odd rates.
I told ‘em that I didn’t care who they were. “But that’s not our price.” “I don’t care, that’s not what’s listed. This camera is broken and it’s only 6 months old.” “That means you’re under warranty.” “Yes!” “All you need to do is mail us your camera with receipt.” “I DID THAT.”
“Oh. (low voice) I apologize. Hold on a second.”
So I held. And held. And then…
“Sir? We just received the camera in the system and since it’s parts only we will repair it and get it back to you in 10-15 days.”
“So do I owe you any money at this time?”
“No, not at this time.”
Thus, the cost went from $102 to $160 to $0.
Great. Part one of the saga was over. Part two involved a mixup when my camera really was ready.
I called this past week to check on the status of the repair. “Oh, sir, we left you a voicemail message regarding your memory card…” – uh, no – “… can you tell me what brand and size it was?” I wasn’t 100% sure so I admitted that, but said it was probably a 2GB PNY.
“Okay. Well sir, you should have received your camera without the memory card.” I explained that I had been on vacation and did a mail stop, and no packages were delivered – thus I just wanted to know what was going on. Now I was fearing they lost my memory card!
“What was that work order number again?” I told her. “Okay, hold on.” I held. Five minutes later: “Sir? I’m sorry, but I was looking at the wrong record.” !!!
Turned out my camera had been fixed and shipped. I got a UPS tracking number and sure enough the camera showed up, memory card and all, a few hours later. The CCD was replaced at a cost of $0.
In the end Panasonic did fix my camera and did stand behind it, but it’s my estimation that the customer service staff at Bigston Services sucks.
Posted in Consumer Commentary