Repair "humps" and marketing nonchalance

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Tom Caldwell
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Repair "humps" and marketing nonchalance
6 months ago

Be aware that Panasonic Australia has no interest in repairing camera bought overseas whether within warranty time period or not. They refer you to an authorised repairer who wishes to charge $200 for a simple lcd replacement - seems to be a "flat rate". Obviously if it was more than a simple swap job I would expect to pay extra.  We did not even get far enough to find out if they had access to suitable screen in a timely manner or whether the camera would disappear into a workshop for months.

I don't mind paying if there is "no warranty" (but there should be) but the charges seems exorbitant as common knowledge knows that lcd units at retail price range either side of $20 and the labour for a skilled operator has to be a 15 minute job at most. I wish that my profession had paid so well.

The Chinese supplier has offered to warrant the repair so it looks like a trip back home for my little gem.

This is the sort of attitude that sends people overseas to purchase goods rather than intimidates them to buy locally.

Consider that I have not seen a GM1 for sale in front line stores both in a capital city here or in regional outlets. Therefore I have to buy mail order and it is just as easy and nearly as quick to buy from overseas at a significant discount.

Recently I tried to buy two (separate deals) expensive lenses from internet vendors in Australia. Both fluffed me around as they did not carry the stock and relied on local distributors to supply them. One gave up after a month and the deal was cancelled by mutual agreement - I bought the lens direct from Japan - apparently the distributor could not do this with over a month's notice. It was still on "back order" when I gave up.

The other lens was a drawn out affair over several months as it was in short supply world wide. Despite having a pre-order in which I thought gave me some priority I found another vendor selling Australian sourced stock in some quantity when the first supplier with pre-order was still protesting a complete inability to give me a date for supply. As they still could not do so I again cancelled the order and bought the Australian sourced stock elsewhere (instantly).

My experience in buying cameras and lenses has been generally good. The gear has been reliable across several makes and warranty claims have been very very rarely necessary. I am sure that I have already saved any extra costs for this camera - so I am not complaining.

What I am complaining about is the sort of blackmail offered - if you buy direct from overseas then tough luck chappie go slap yourself on the head. Distributors might moan that some buy overseas and then expect to get a local warranty. Well there are two sides to the story. Firstly the catch-22 of finding suitable stocks here in a timely and price competitive manner - I would gladly pay 20% more than the best price overseas for a purchase that was in a store near me.

Secondly I believe in consumer ethics - I believe that if a shop stocks a product that I am interested in that I can inspect and play with before I buy then I am bound to buy it from that source. I don't believe in the touchy-feely then make an excuse and buy cheaper on-line.

There are plenty of shops selling cameras locally, in fact the place seems over-run with them but they all sell much the same thing - the consumer pap - entry level cameras of all descriptions from dslr, EVIL types down to the humble compact. Not only do the assistants "know nothing" about what they sell but asking about something a little more exotic brings a puzzled look and a quick trip to the computer terminal to find the distributors "one-off" pricing which will certainly not be even nearly competitive by by the time the retail margin goes on and more often than not a wait whilst the distributor puts it on the next import indent. So I thought the retailer charged more simply because they carried the stock? So why do I pay full retail margin when I have to guide the hand of the shop proprietor tot he product I really want? But yes I can "do a deal" but then why do distributors insist on charging one-off pricing for rare bird product? It will never be sold through any one outlet in any other manner. So back to the internet purchase if anything exotic is required. Some outlets sell them in greater volume even if it is in China.

So we reap the result of what marketing sows. If they cannot be bothered marketing anything more than plain pap through stores (the stores are mainly to blame) then they must provide efficient direct marketing like CR Kennedy does. And they must carry a few at least of the more exotic stuff to cover enquiries from "dopes" like myself to be sold at something like world price competitiveness..

Otherwise we will simply buy from overseas and wear our own "warranty". It becomes a self fulfilling prophesy and lack of interest/support in Panasonic customers simply means that they may look elsewhere to a more interested product distributor such as CR Kennedy for their product in the future.

Meanwhile my Chinese supplier is supportive and looks forward to my future business.

So much for the arrogance of Australian business practice.

All this over a perfect working camera that is suffering only from some lcd screen degradation (after 5 months ownership).

With a little bit of luck some fuss over this matter might just get back to Panasonic - but I don't have my hopes held high. They seem to be off on a self righteous planet of their own.

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Tom Caldwell

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
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