Last June my wife and I bought a digital camera. A Kodak EasyShare. Relative to our income, it was very expensive. In July I used the camera to record a video of the local fireworks show. (Naturally the battery died just before the finale!) Sometime in August we realized that the video recording mode didn't work anymore. The camera uses a wheel to select which mode to go in, and I noticed a correlation that the mode on the opposite end of the wheel didn't work either.
As it got nearer to the holidays and we knew we'd want to take pictures when visiting family, I began to contact technical support. I went to the website, navigated the interactive troubleshooting guide (ITG), found and followed the troubleshooting steps that best matched my problem (i.e. didn't really match my problem at all), then finally, at the suggestion of the ITG, filled out an e-mail form asking for more assistance.
I got an automated response saying they'd try to get back to me in 24 hours. Well, eight days (192 hours) later I got a response telling me to go to the website and use the ITG to isolate my problem, and if it needed to be sent in for repairs the ITG would allow me to fill out a form for that. This was upsetting not only because I'd already tried that over a week ago, but also because there was no way for me to use the e-mail form without first using the interactive troubleshooting guide first! As part of the e-mail they received when my form was sent in, it said "Troubleshooting Guide: Yes" indicating that I'd e-mailed them through the ITG!
So I e-mailed back reminding them about the aforementioned facts and telling them that there was no troubleshooting steps that matched my problem and there was no option to fill out a form for repair. I also began to complain about it taking 8 days only to receive a worthless response and explained my problem in more detail. Furthermore I "firmly requested" that if they suggest once again to me that I use the ITG that they take 30 seconds and help me find something that matched my problem because I was seemingly incapable of doing it myself.
This time they did get back to me within a more reasonable time frame, apologized for the delay, and unhelpfully told me that I should call customer service for more assistance. I dreaded what that would be like so I put it off for about a month.
Finally I called and they told me to take the same stupid troubleshooting steps I did 1.5 months prior using the ITG. Thankfully they were short, and simple, but unfortunately still ineffective. When that didn't work they gave me an RMA # and transferred me to a recorded message with instructions on where and how to send the package. The recorded message was long winded and at times difficult to hear. And the company I was sending the camera to in order to be repaired was not called Kodak. It was called Teleplan International. But I couldn't make out what the voice was saying so I pressed a button to get it to repeat the message 3-4 times to try and hear the company name (which was near the end of the instructions, and after several attempts I still didn't get it right)! Trying to understand the recording alone probably took 20 minutes! Finally I gave up out of frustration and hung up the phone, only to go to my computer and realize they sent me an e-mail with all that information! ARGH! Why didn't they just smurfing tell me they were going to e-mail me all the smurfing information!
Once again I put off actually sending the camera off because it said it could take about two weeks and it was nearly Christmas.
Christmas with the family was quite enjoyable but we couldn't record any videos!
We got back from the trip and mailed the camera (on our dime!) to the repair center. After over 3 weeks it came back. I opened the box to test it out and immediately noticed a few things:
1. It's got really dirty, dirty fingerprints/smudges all over it.
2. There's a really big, deep scratch on the camera.
3. There appears to be a large speck of dust on the screen. I figure it's a piece of cardboard and try to blow it off. It sticks. I try to wipe it off. It sticks. To my great dismay, I realize that it is under the glass! There's no getting rid of it!
Despite my increasing anger I decide to make sure that all the camera modes work. Well, hey! At least they got something right! Video mode now works and records. I snap a few short videos, watch them, go to delete them, and I see some other pictures on the camera.
There are two photos taken at Wal-Mart of nothing in particular. "That's strange," I thought, "I don't remember taking these pictures." The more I thought about it and looked at the photos the more I realized that 1) the photos are taken from behind a counter where only employees would go, and 2) I've never taken the camera to Wal-Mart (it was purchased brand new at Best Buy), as the nearest one is about 25 minutes away in another town. I begin wondering what part of the repair process involves taking the camera to Wal-Mart to snap photos and simultaneously thinking of what I'm going to say when I e-mail Kodak to let them know about the sorry state the camera has been returned in.
I ended up writing this:
I received my camera back today. As promised, the functionality been repaired. Thank you for that!
Now the bad news:
The camera has dirty smudges all over the casing, which is also scratched, it has specks of dust and dirt behind the glass (meaning they cannot be wiped away because they are on the inside of the glass!) and there are even pictures on the internal memory that were taken behind a counter at Wal-Mart, where only employees would be. (This camera was purchased at Best Buy and has never entered a Wal-Mart under our care.)
Does the repair process somehow involve taking the camera to Wal-Mart to snap photos of nothing in particular?
It also looks like someone tried (and perhaps succeeded) in peeling back the sticker with the serial number on it.
The Service Report says the failure was "Pwr-No power" and the fix was to "Replace Part." I have to admit my ignorance in the matters of repairing cameras, but that doesn't sound like what the problem was to me. If this is a refurbished model and the sticker was placed on it to give us the impression that it is indeed the very camera we purchased, I feel that is very misleading and unethical.
The smudges can be cleaned and the pictures erased, but I have to express my displeasure in the state the camera was returned in. We bought this brand new for over $200 and took excellent care of it. We didn't even remove the clear sticker that covers the screen so that it would stay clean and unscratched. We always kept it in a protective case when not in use.
But within two months it malfunctioned and our only choice was to ship it for repairs, which shipping we had to pay for, and now it has been returned in this state! I am very unhappy that after the great care we took with our camera, it looks like it's been handled for two weeks by a 10 year old child.
The next day I received a "reply" to my complaint. I put reply in quotes because it was a blank message, aside from my original complaint and a standard signature saying if I want to reply to be sure to include any previous e-mail history. I thought perhaps there was a mistake and I'd receive a real reply soon. That did not happen. So 4 days later as I was becoming even more angry, I replied to their "reply" and said "A blank message is not a very good response!" and e-mailed that off.
I got a reply about how they understand my concern and know that "this can be very frustrating" on my part. The stressed the importance of feedback to Kodak and thanked me for taking the time to share my "comments" about the status of my camera, and encouraged me to let them know if I had any other suggestions or comment. They assured me that my comments were "going to be seen by the right people" and that I "can be rest assured" that my voice has been heard.
Then they basically said "Whoa! That's not our fault!" by telling me to contact Teleplan International repair center directly by phone. Personally I think that's THEIR job, since they are the ones who subcontract the repair work to the shoddy repair center. They also politely reminded me that if I wanted to send my camera back to the repair center, and if it was within 45 days from when I received my camera back, I would need to send it back to the place that mistreated my camera for repeat repair! I would not be charged for the repair cost, but shipping and insurance would probably be my responsibility again! Then they told me to go to that stupid ITG again to use the form I could never find to set up the process of repairing my camera again.
That was February 2nd and by that time I was just so frustrated and angry that I came to the conclusion that I should just cut my losses and accept the scratch and the crap under the glass just to be rid of their ineptness. I can't imagine how it would be worth it to send it back and get more Wal-Mart photos, more dirty fingerprints/smudges over it, and more scratches just in the hope of getting that stuff out from behind the glass.
So what do you think? Should I cut my losses or complain some more to them and demand a camera in exquisite condition like the one I paid for and sent in?