Monday, January 11, 2021

Nikon's repair policy clause permitting them to refuse to repair a lens is unethical

Nikkor 18-200mm lensLast week, Nikon announced the elimination of their international warranties for their interchangeable lenses and accessories. This includes both their F-mount and Z-mount lenses, plus all Speedlights, etc. In the future, Nikon will only provide local warranties specific to countries or regions of sale under their marketing system or by shipping destinations.

Nikon states that this change was necessitated due to regional and national laws and safety standards. They have found it impossible to craft an international warranty that is effective and falls in line with regulations and laws around the world. That's understandable.

For Nikon users with existing international warranties, the warranties will remain in force for the full term of their warranty. Nikon warns users with lenses and accessories with international warranties, however, that

“If any repairs are performed on that product in a country or region not covered by the warranty, the user is responsible for all repair fees, even if the warranty is still valid.”

That statement has always been true for Nikon lenses and accessories.

The new warranty policy changes are going into effect this month.

All of the above issues likely don't pose a problem for Nikon users. Unfortunately, there is bad news, and Nikon users in the United States can testify just how much of a serious problem one clause in the Nikon announcement actually is.

The “offending” clause in the announcement, and I don't use the term “offending” lightly, is the following:

“In addition, some countries and regions may be unable to accept products sold in other countries or regions for repair. Please consult with the repair center, or a retailer or distributor in the applicable country or region.”

So, what does that mean?

Quite simply, if you purchase a lens in your home country/region from an authorized dealer and are somewhere else in the world while needing a quick repair of the lens, you may be out of luck, even if you're willing to pay for the repair. You may have to ship it home for repair. Moreover, if you purchase a lens while traveling outside your home country/region, even if it's from an authorized dealer in that area, when you get home, your home Nikon repair center may refuse to repair the lens, even if you're willing to pay for the repair.

If you're in a country/region like the United States, where Nikon has stopped supplying third party repair centers with parts for the most part, and for some parts, altogether, if Nikon refuses to repair the lens, you have no alternative except perhaps to send it back to the country/region in which you purchased it.

It is this “offending” clause that Nikon has stated that makes me think about whether or not I want to continue to be a Nikon user/customer, despite my long history with the company, despite how well Nikon helps me through Nikon Professional Services and despite the extremely high quality of Nikon products that I have tested, reviewed and purchased for my personal use.

For a typical Nikon user, purchasing from their local authorized Nikon dealer, the “offending” clause won't be a serious impediment. For a Nikon user who travels internationally with their Nikon gear, the “offending” clause can lead to serious problems.

For example, what if I'm in Europe with my Nikon USA warranted lens and it breaks down. I understand that Nikon Europe won't fix my lens for free. That's okay, but what's not okay is if Nikon Europe won't repair my lens at all, meaning I'd have to ship the lens back to the U.S., wait until it's fixed and then have it shipped back to me. That's expensive for shipping and insurance, but what's worse is the time I won't have the lens to use. What's worse is the time I won't have the lens to use!

In the United States we've already seen how bad this kind of policy by Nikon actually is. If you purchase a lens without a U.S. warranty, Nikon USA won't fix it, and with them no longer supplying parts to third party repair centers that means that the broken lens is dead in the water. Making it worse, when you buy a lens in the U.S. from an authorized Nikon USA dealer as a U.S. lens, it's almost impossible to get Nikon to confirm it's actually a U.S. lens in time for you to return it for a refund if you find it's not. They say they need to open up the lens before they can be sure it's a Nikon USA lens. That's totally absurd.

Nikon has it in their power to fix this situation and it won't cost them a dime. Quite the contrary, it will be beneficial for them, bringing in extra repair revenue and making Nikon users far happier than they are at this time.

Nikon can make most of the warranty changes announced. They can even include in the new policy that if a repair is made outside of the country/region in which it was purchased, the Nikon user will have to pay for it.

What they need to change is that they will always repair, never refuse to repair, any lens or accessory Nikon manufactured, at each and every Nikon repair center in the world, but that if the repair center is outside the country/region of purchase, then the Nikon user will have to pay for the repair. I would add the caveat that this would include all lenses and accessories for ten years after the product was discontinued, and if they have the parts necessary for the repair after that deadline, until the parts aren't available. I'd also want them to add that the cost of the repair (parts and labor) will be reasonable.

From an ethical standpoint, refusing to repair lenses they manufactured, even when the user is willing to pay for the repair, is highly unethical for Nikon to hold to as company policy. Nikon should immediately change this unethical policy and always be willing to repair their products with the discontinued product clause I stated above.

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