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Nikon defends decision to stop supplying spares to independent repairers

By Richard Butler on Mar 12, 2012 at 23:16 GMT

Nikon USA has defended its decision to stop supplying spare parts to companies outside its authorized service network. Its intention is to deliver 'the best service experience to the customer,' says David Dentry, General Manager of Customer Relations at Nikon Inc, explaining that the complexity of modern cameras and the need for specialist analysis and calibration tools meant that repair attempts by ill-equipped retail or unauthorized repair shops could end up causing delays, increase the cost and risk voiding the camera's warranty. However, an independent service center we spoke to said its statements misrepresented the situation and is likely to mean small repairs take longer.

Nikon's Dentry says the move comes to ensure cameras are repaired properly with the right parts: 'Cameras are now far more technically advanced, and require testing equipment for a proper diagnosis and proper tools for adjustment and calibration. Years ago, you could look at a camera and diagnose a worn gear or some physical issue. Now cameras are advanced microcomputers and require skilled technicians and specialized tools to fix a camera and calibrate the focus of lenses to properly assure adherence specifications.'

Consumer benefits

'The benefits for the consumer were top of mind when implementing this policy. A consumer’s products are repaired properly in a timely fashion, often times with less waiting time and less cost to the consumer. Consumers can also have confidence in their cameras service, as authorized dealers receive factory training, tech bulletins for recent products, and possess proper tools for diagnostics and adjustments.'

Dentry suggests using independent servicing is something of a lottery: 'Often times, a retailer or unauthorized repair shop would attempt to repair a camera even though they were not able or equipped to make such repair and thereafter would have to send the camera to a Nikon authorized repair facility for proper repair, at the cost of increased wait times. Overall, this led to many delays and in the end increased the cost to the customer. Additionally, as with most consumer electronics, if there is evidence of improper repair, a camera warranty would likely be void.'

The mention of warranties is odd, an independent service center told us: 'most of our business is post-warranty work. Why should people be paying us for work if it's paid for under the warranty?'

He also dismissed the idea that damage during repair is commonplace: 'there are literally thousands of pieces of Nikon equipment being serviced by independent stores. We've been in business since the 1950's and there are plenty of businesses that have been here for 30, 40 years. 'They're lumping everyone together. Yes there are some places that are one guy working out of his house who thinks he can repair a camera, but that's not the all of us - we've had guys here working for 20 or more years. These are people who have trained at the Canon factory or the Nikon factory or the Sony factory.'

Modern DSLRs feature complex electronics as well as traditional precision engineering

'There are some tools and pieces of equipment that are too expensive for us to buy, or that we wouldn't use often enough to make it economic, and in those cases we send the cameras back to the factory. But this move means even small things will have to go back to the factory,' says the independent business.

Dentry points out that independent service shops can apply to join the 20 centers authorized to repair its DSLRs in the US, and says they can contact their local Nikon rep or the Nikon Inc. repair department for an application and Nikon tool requirement list and training information.

But the cost of becoming a Nikon authorized service center is prohibitive, the independent service center claims: 'There's an item on that list that costs $32,000. Overall you need to buy equipment costing over $160,000 and you sign a contract agreeing they could cut you out tomorrow. The cost of equipment, that only works with their products, is more than the cost of what every other manufacturer requires, put together.'

'We have a relationship with all the manufacturers - if it requires a specialist piece of equipment for the work, we send it back.'

'Independent servicing allows quicker repairs'

'It's odd to be someone's customer for 40 or 50 years and then be told 'we don't want your money anymore. The majority of businesses like ours are family owned. This takes business out of the local economy.' Ultimately, though, the option of turning to independent servicing is in the customers' interest, he says: 'Independent servicing allows small repairs to be done quickly'

'We're not sure what happens next - we haven't yet heard officially it they're completely cutting us out or if they'll allow their service centers to re-sell parts, or if some people will self-import components. We won't go down that route but I'm sure some will.'


Total comments: 302
By micahmedia (Mar 13, 2012)

Nikon USA's repair department sure was qualified better than anybody to take TEN MONTHS to repair a D700, during which time it sent me not less than FOUR improperly repaired cameras. It took them SEVEN attempts to send me a working camera.

I understand their supply chain was stressed due to a natural disaster, however, that has nothing to do with the repeated incompetence I have witnessed from their repair department.

This defense of their poor decision, by insulting the good repair shops around the country who take up their considerable slack, is DEPLORABLE.

Nikon's parent company makes an excellent product. Nikon USA does much dishonor to the Nikon name. Nikon JP would do well to reabsorb Nikon USA and take over it's management. Especially the repair department!

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By JimBeard (Mar 13, 2012)

I'm waiting for a repair by Nikon: so far not a peep of any kind after 3-1/2 weeks.

Interestingly, when I asked the large shop where I bought the camera where to go for post-warranty repairs, they recommended 2 shops. Neither was the Authorized Nikon Repair shop that is also in the city where I live. (This was before the current cleansing operation.)

By ijustdontknow (Mar 13, 2012)

I've been a loyal Nikon customer for over 25 years. But this smells and the "for the customer's own good" spiel doesn't hold water.

By micahmedia (Mar 13, 2012)

I believe this policy is just Nikon USA. Can someone from DPR confirm?

1 upvote
By mkln (Mar 13, 2012)

never believe companies that pretend to do something "for the consumers".

By Oddrain (Mar 13, 2012)

Worrying stuff. Have been thinking of moving back to Canon because of their superior service here in Bangkok. If this Nikon policy extends to Thailand then it would sadly make the move inevitable!

1 upvote
Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Mar 13, 2012)

of course nikon has excuses.... sucker.

1 upvote
By philipspeakes (Mar 13, 2012)

I'll think twice about the Nikon v1/J1 I was going to buy. Will check to see what Sony's policy is.

1 upvote
Cal V
By Cal V (Mar 13, 2012)

Nikon is asserting it's control. Nikon's policy is that they will not service grey market products...even if you pay (read their website). If they now refuse to sell the parts to the independant repairs shops there will be no way to have anything repaired that wasn't bought through the official Nikon dealers network. But I'm sure this is all just in the customer's interest. (sarcasm)

I've found some of Nikon's recent products appealing, but my interest just died.

By micahmedia (Mar 13, 2012)

What about all the cameras legitimately purchased overseas? You do realize that the USA is a country of immigrants, don't you?

And in case you're talking about any other country, I feel the same holds true no matter where you go. When you're away from home, you pick the closest, fastest, most convenient place to get your gear fixed. You sometimes have no choice.

I'm tired of the grey-market bvllshit refrain. The parent Nikon company makes the gear (quite well in my opinion) and then all the regional "Nikons" fvck things up. It has been out of hand for far too long.

If Nikon as a whole don't start taking care of their customers, someone else certainly will!

(EDIT) Missed the sarcasm line--sorry!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By BillRauch (Mar 14, 2012)

You can always file a complaint with the FTC. I just did and it's relatively painless:

Denver Wedding Photographers

Sounds like an opportunity for Nikon to dictate pricing, and timing. Not so good IMO.

Poul Jensen
By Poul Jensen (Mar 13, 2012)

"The benefits for the consumer were top of mind when implementing this policy."
Really Nikon? Incidentally, establishing a complete monopoly not only on parts but now also on repair/service sounds like a decision made with Nikon being top of mind. There's a reason why there is a market for independent servicing.

"Dentry points out that independent service shops can apply to join the 20 centers authorized to repair its DSLRs in the US"
How nice of you to think of them. They can buy for $160K equipment from you and sign a contract that allows you to kick them out at any time, problem solved.

Nikon, you deserve all the heat you get.

By JACK LARSON (Mar 13, 2012)

The trouble is that the authorized Nikon repair center in our area is not very good. They receive lousy reviews. But there are repair centers that do superb work on Nikon cameras.

The cost problem for me is in shipping and especially insuring adequately to send it to Nikon. That cost frequently exceeds the cost of the repair.

1 upvote
Denver Wedding Photographers

The same in this City too. And while I never find the repair costs to be lower locally, I do hear you about the shipping etc.

By Pyrophilus (Sep 16, 2012)

7 years ago, I dropped my sb-600 and it wouldn't fire. I was told by Melville that it maybe cheaper to buy a new sb-600 (was only $189 back then) then to get it repaired.

I opened up the sb-600 and noticed that the xenon bulb was broken. I called Melville back and they charged me $7 for a replacement bulb that I soldered in myself. The flash is still working after 7 years.

I then purchased two broken sb-800's off eBay for $60 each, then spent $12 to get two sb-800 bulbs. 7 years later, I still have the three flashes.

Two years ago, the thumb grip on my d300 wore out, so I called Melville and got replacement for less tan $20. I will certainly not be sending in my d800 to Melville because the rubber grip doesn't look fresh...

After shipping and cost of repair, I am afraid to mst users will throw way their moderately broken Nikon equipment not and fills than get them repaired, it makes greey business sense, but it is getting frustrating.

By SRHEdD (Mar 13, 2012)

Big picture, good business. Fine with me. I was an NPS member for years, but dropped it a few years back. I've used this side of their service more than I ever used NPS (but borrowing lenses back then was cool...), and never had an issue with price or speed of repair. They're just good guys to deal with. Actually, the urban legend was that refurbs were better cameras BECAUSE the tech people went over the cameras individually outside of the pressure and speed of the assembly line in the factory.

Also... stopped keeping up with the Jonses a few years back and bought a nice small Nikon, a D7000. much lighter on my wallet, and makes great images. I banged up the top flash cover pretty badly, went to Nikon's parts department, bought a replacement for less than $5 and swapped it out myself. I hope consumers can still buy parts for their OWN cameras with proof of purchase or something.

1 upvote
By michael1234 (Mar 13, 2012)

What I am worry is about the cost. Will it take longer and cost more to do simple work.

Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Mar 13, 2012)

I think it would not happen in Hong Kong because there are so many parallel imported goods. They can find replacements so easy here.

1 upvote
By Octane (Mar 13, 2012)

I usually don't like that kind of protectionism, but i have 25 years of experience dealing with Nikon's support in different countries going all the way back to the F3 that I got back in the 80s. I had never had a single bad experience with their support and I always got my cameras and lenses back fixed when I broke something and always at a reasonable price and within a reasonable amount of time. And I'm not even an NPS member. So I can understand their decision not wanting to jeopardize the quality of service.

I don't think you can compare cameras and lenses to cars where changing out a break pad is something very simple to do.

Honestly I would not send my D3 to anyone else but Nikon.

At the same time, nothing prevents independent repair shops to use used/broken/second hand lenses and cameras as a virtually infinite supply for spare parts.

1 upvote
By edatcrc (Mar 13, 2012)

I hop e you remeber your words in 8 years when Nikon no longer services your d3 and there are no indes with a parts stock to keep it going.. I still service many of the older Nikons .. I'm not an ASF just old school learned to repair on the nikkormats and worked my up... I know there are some things I can't fix, but Nikon USA is saying I can't change the rubber grips on your camera or put on a simple battery door, replace that broken mount flange on your lens which I've done 100's of times in past 40 years repaiing cameras. Scratch your focusing screen? sorry. The choice who does the work is being taken from you.. If you want Nikon to do it thats fine but no choice??

1 upvote
By marike6 (Mar 13, 2012)

When my D70 meter stopped working out of warranty, I sent it to Nikon close by in Melville, NY. They gave me an estimate that was more than fair. I had it fixed properly, and haven't had a single problem since.

I do feel for the independent shops, but let's be clear: Nikon is not trying to hurt the customer. As long as there are Nikon service centers that charge reasonable rates, what's the difference where you send your camera for repair?

1 upvote
Cal V
By Cal V (Mar 13, 2012)

And if your D70 had been purchased outside the US, or was grey market, Nikon would have refused to service it. Want to buy a new camera because a $5 part is broken?

David Borche
By David Borche (Mar 13, 2012)

I am curious who would offer better pricing: Authorized shop trying to pay off $160,000 worth of required tools or small mom-and-pop only trying to pay rent, employees and bills?

By Josh152 (Mar 13, 2012)

@ Cal V

That is just the risk you KNOWINGLY accept when you buy grey market. It's is called "grey" for a reason.

1 upvote
By micahmedia (Mar 13, 2012)

You are very, very, very lucky.

By robmanueb (Mar 13, 2012)

"As long as there are Nikon service centers that charge reasonable rates"
Do they? Or are independents cheaper?

Jonathan Wilson
By Jonathan Wilson (Mar 13, 2012)

I think the independent repairers are important to the consumer. The repairers (and us) were already being screwed on the cost of spare parts (I have seen and heard often of one faulty part writing off an otherwise good camera) but definitely this is going a step too far in my books.

Hopefully the other major manufacturers don't follow suit. I'm New Zealander with Pentax and its harder get things repaired here generally. If Pentax started doing this, I would have to look at Samsung I think.

1 upvote
Damond Lam
By Damond Lam (Mar 13, 2012)

Maybe people complain to Nikon too much with the independent repairers.

1 upvote
By Louis_Dobson (Mar 13, 2012)

I hope they don't plan to pull this ludicrous scam in the UK.

I hate shipping cameras around and nip down to Sendean in Hatton Garden. If I can't do that with Nikon, maybe I should stop buying them.

By robmanueb (Mar 12, 2012)

I hope this isn't happening here in NZ. Not sure what Canon's policy is on this? I like the aftermarket repairers they can be good or bad but if you stick to well known shops they will guarantee their work and that is good enough for me. I would never use Canon or Nikon repair to clean sensors as they charge an arm and a leg for what is essentially minor maintenance. Nikon charges around US$200 and Canon US$150 for a sensor clean. Which are the ethical companies around here?

By RezaTravilla (Mar 12, 2012)

the best experience? hmmm i think expensive price is a bad experience =P

Henry M. Hertz
By Henry M. Hertz (Mar 13, 2012)

maybe that is why the D800 is cheaper then the 5D MK3.
nikon thinks they will make more then enough repairing it.... ;)

1 upvote
By pundit (Mar 12, 2012)

If many camera manufacturers ensured their cameras/lenses were properly calibrated in the first place I'm sure there would less service issues period!

Bart Aldrich
By Bart Aldrich (Mar 12, 2012)

Nikon wants to control the $$$$$ of repairs is more like it.
Make it too expensive to repair and the masses will have to buy more cameras.

I used a D200 with a pop up flash that would never stay down from about 3 months on rather then send it away and spend hundreds to fix it.

Tomasz Paprzycki
By Tomasz Paprzycki (Mar 12, 2012)

Sorry Nikon... I simply don't buy this...

By Jogger (Mar 12, 2012)

I wouldnt take my D700 to an independent shop.. heck, anyone could set up a repair shop.

By micahmedia (Mar 13, 2012)

You should set one up yourself. You couldn't do any worse than the Nikon USA shop in El Segundo did with my D700. Really. If they camera was more than a paper weight by the time your were done, you'd have a leg up on them.

1 upvote
By ybizzle (Mar 12, 2012)

Heading should read, "Nikon screws the the independent service centers with bogus reasoning and stops providing spares."

Total comments: 302