Thursday, July 27, 2006

Black Smudges

Last week after we returned from vacation, I went to download the pictures I took of Lake Superior from our digital camera. Much to my dismay, over half were ruined by strange black smudges all over the pictures.

My initial thought was that the lens was dirty, so I spent some time trying to thoroughly clean it. After taking a few indoor pictures everything looked OK, so I thought everything was taken care of. A little later I started thinking more about how not all the pictures were distorted, and it wasn't just all the pictures after a certain point but rather a mixture.

Looking more closely, it seemed like the pictures with the worst smudges featured a lot of sky and/or water. So I went outside with the camera and took some sky shots. After downloading the pictures, the problem had returned (or more specifically had never really gone away).

I wasted a lot more time that afternoon trying to clean the lens, but eventually concluded it was either some other problem or that I just didn't have the right equipmentt for cleaning the lens (which seemed unlikely).

Since the camera is only about a year and three months old, I decided to call up Sony to see what they would do for me. According to the first customer service lady: nothing. No troubleshooting, no workaround suggestions, just told that I would have to pay $181 and ship the camera to Connecticut for repairs. Ouch.

Considering the camera was less then $400 new, and these days can be had for less then $250 (if you can find it), almost $200 for a repair seemed a bit steep to me. And I expressed that feeling.

I got passed around a bit and eventually got handed off to some other level of customer service where I convinced a lady to go halvsies. Actually, they are paying $92 and I am paying $89, but close enough.

That seemed a little more reasonable, as I like our camera and don't really want to have to buy a new one. Particularly because then we would have to switch from Sony to some other brand and would have to invest in all new memory cards and batteries. So I agreed to send the camera in.

That turned out to be a bit of a hassle since Sony sent not one but two e-mails with 'further instructions' that differed between mails. Then the UPS store, which was supposed to have a 'deal' with Sony for cheap shipping, was deceptive in quoting prices and ended up charging us over $15 to ship a 1.5 pound camera via UPS super-slow freight (project delivery time is a full week after shipping).

Hopefully they will be able to fix the camera and return it promptly. I would rather not have to buy a new camera and have paid $104 for nothing.


Brenden Johnson said...

Ouch! Something to look forward to with my camera, huh?

McBrideFarm said...

Why was the shipping so much? That's just weird. They must have charged for some extra insurance or something?

Weird. I hope the camera does get fixed! It seems like the lens is somehow sensitive to light or something.

Steve Eck said...

Brenden, hopefully not!

Sarah, Well for one thing it was shipped UPS, which is significantly more just to start with then say the USPS. Plus there was a couple dollars of insurance that Sony wanted, and outrageous fees for the box and packing materials that we thought were included in the original price quotation (but turned out not to be).

Scooter said...

My mother in law dropped our last camera, resulting in no shutter action. We got the same line, send it in for about $150, even though we could replace it for around $200+tax (with a 1 megapixel upgrade). So we got the new camera and sold the other one on e-Bay to someone who could actually fix it - he got a deal (or at least a dock + card/etc), we got a little bit of money back.

Steve Eck said...

Scooter, I definitely wouldn't have paid the full $200 just to get the camera repaired. But since they were willing to cut the repair price down under 100, it seemed like a fairly decent deal versus having to buy a whole new camera. If the camera had been another year old, I might not have gotten it fixed, but after just a year prices haven't dropped enough yet.