Faulty Camera (Part 1)

It all started with a point and shoot.

Actually it all started with a very serious motorcycle accident and a long slow painful recovery. Lets ignore the accident and move on to the recovery and The Canon S100.

I spent a bit of time looking through magazines, looking at old photos and seeing photos being posted on facebook and flickr. I thought it would be nice to have a reasonable point & shoot camera. Something small and subtle that would be really discrete and easy to carry every day.

I thought about how few photos I had from the past and what a limited selection of family photos I own. I thought it would be nice to get a proper camera but then decided a good point & shoot would be the place to start.

So, my recovery process nudged me that step closer to getting a camera that wasn’t a cheap disposable single use thing.

After getting advice from friends and reading a number of reviews I thought the Canon S100 would fit the bill; small light, looked easy to use and has a variety of settings.

Here is the thing, I thought if I shoot in auto and then looked at the settings within the info menu, I could then start to use the camera in its manual mode. So a great little camera that is small enough that I would carry it and has functions that make it easy to use and has potential to be a very useful learning tool. Decision made!

My beautiful wife brought me the camera as a christmas present. I took a few photos with it and looked at the auto settings and started using the manual settings as I had planned. However, the camera was quickly put in the draw because it had a notable lag between pressing the shutter release button and anything happening.

At first I thought it was me and I reset the camera but it was still happening. I was missing shots and getting a little frustrated with it.

Electronics are usually made so well now; they are certainly more reliable than when I was younger and I just didn’t think the camera was faulty. I assumed it was a natural lag and had to put up with it.

In one way that shutter release lag did me a bit of a favor because I am really enjoying photography and it prompted my to buy a Canon 600d, then upgrading to a full frame Canon 6d with an number of L-series lenses.

I am a Canon user and am extremely happy with the quality of my semi-pro camera and great lenses. However I am really disappointed with the after care I received from Canon with regards to the Canon S100 that I later realised was actually faulty.

I wanted another small camera to carry as a back up or just something easy to carry; something like the Canon S100 only more responsive!

As I started to do a little research I found that the Canon S100 has a known lens fault particular to cameras within a serial number range and my camera was within this serial number bracket. Canon UK, Europe & USA were offering free repairs. Fantastic!

The camera was driven to a main service centre in Elstree. The guy behind the counter was super polite and helpful. So much so that I tweeted Canon to complement the staff member.

I’d much rather complement good service and I am normally rubbish at complaining. My preference would be to let it go.

After some time……….

I’m told they want over £100 to repair the camera.

£109 to repair a camera that has never worked properly!

£109 to repair a camera that cost my wife in the region of £300.

The S100 has been upgraded with two further versions and is on sale for roughly £184. So I asked for the camera to be returned from Canon.

How on earth could I justify paying that much for a repair when I could get and updated and new camera for an extra £70-£80.

I also didn’t see how Canon can justify wanting to charge that money for a product that was faulty from the outset.

I had wrongly assumed the lag in the camera was just the model and it just wasn’t as good as the reviews suggested.

I did not mention it to my wife because I didn’t want her to think I was disappointed with her gift and thought I’d buy a DSLR. (As already mentioned, 600d now upgraded to a full frame 6d).

Okay, so, the camera has a known fault but they want £109 for repairs… The return note with the camera stated that there was a damaged top fpc and it was not as a result of the known lens error.

I had to look up fpc and it stands for floppy print circuit. But how can that be damaged?

The camera has never been dropped and this is evidenced by the immaculate condition of the camera housing and rear lcd screen.

The fpc can become damaged by humidity and extremes of environment…. I live in London and I have not had the camera in a swimming pool or a sauna so it shouldn’t be environmental damage.

When the engineer from Canon opened the camera they would have seen that the camera has not been exposed to an environment that might cause corrosion or other damage.

That leaves me with one logical conclusion; I hope you would agree that the part must have been faulty at the time of manufacture or became damaged at the time of assembly.

That is the only logical thing I can think of. Please feel free to educate me if you can think of any other way the fpc could have been damaged.

A bit more digging around and time reading forums including The Canon Community who were really helpful revealed/suggested that my camera has a fault that Canon USA has acknowledge but Canon UK / Europe have not.

It seems that my cousins on the other side of the pond complained to The Better Business Bureau in the US and Canada who got involved and resulted in Canon USA carrying out free repairs to The Canon S100.

Another email to Canon and I got a lazy standard reply to which I responded to with another email asking them to read my original contact and then my further follow up.

Now they responded to my follow up email with a response that confirmed they had actually read it rather than sending out an automated response. They still did not tell me what the fault with the fpc circuit was but as a good will gesture they offered to repair the camera for £52 instead of £109.

They also advised that I return to the retailer, John Lewis and ask them to handle the fault under the sale of goods act. (More on that later).

On the face of it, Canon’s gesture to repair the camera at the reduced rate is a generous offer and one that has not passed by unappreciated.

But it is still niggling me that I should have to pay to repair a camera that has never worked correctly.

If the forums are correct, it also bugs me that Canon would treat UK customers differently.

I have since emailed Canon asking them to provide me with full details of the fault/damage that they found and to suggest how it may have occurred when the physical appearance of the camera clearly shows it has not been abused.

As I have said, I would normally just walk away from making too much of a fuss but as this was a present from my wife, I am not really in the mood for letting it go.

I have also asked Canon to provide details of how to escalate this complaint within their organisation.

I’ve spent a lot of money on Canon products and expected more from them.

But then I guess they think I am just an individual with a point and shoot camera rather than a photographer who has a portfolio that has had tens of thousands of views.

I guess I’ve blown any chance of becoming a Canon ambassador or getting any sponsorship!

I’m also sure there will be very many happy customers but this is how things have panned out for me.

Do comment on your experience, good or bad.

Update to follow…… (Faulty Camera Part 2)

Kind regards,

Jim.

3 comments

  1. In my experience, few large companies care about customers, no matter how much they spend. (Look at car companies as an example) I hope that you have better luck than I did, with John Lewis. I returned a VCR to them in Oxford Street (yes, it was a long time ago…) and they refused to replace it, although it was well-within their much-lauded 2-year guarantee period. They offered to look at it, and repair it ‘if possible.’ I went all the way with that at the time, and got very little satisfaction, other than a bodged-up repair by their own ‘technical staff’, and a VCR that still had intermittent faults.

    Camera companies do not trade directly (with some exceptions) so will always refer you to the actual seller as a fob-off. You don’t say how long ago you got it, as that may well make some difference to both Canon, and JL. I look forward to the update.
    Cheers Jimmy. Pete.

    1. Its outside of a normal warranty but as so many have had the fault in the US they have repaired them. Canon also suggested JL & the sale of goods act as this is in place for upto six years if the item was not fit for purpose.

      I think you will chuckle when I post about JL. They referred me back to Canon!

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