Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

Started Dec 28, 2012 | Discussions
Jim F
OP Jim F Senior Member • Posts: 2,592
Clarification ...

... I didn't get the info from the Nikon USA web site as you state. But what was copied and pasted in your post is correct. Please see the post I just added here that starts, "Important" Just Got Off The Phone With Nikon". I spoke to Nikon on the phone and got info that is compelling. >> Jim

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larrywilson
larrywilson Veteran Member • Posts: 5,931
Re: Clarification ...

I've done some research this morning talking to b & h who sells the most photographic equipment here in the states.  They said they called Nikon and was told yes Nikon authorized shops do repair on gray market lenses if customer pays.  I followed up and Nikon USA's website says that they don't do repairs here in the states on gray market lenses as has been stated here ugh!!!!  How about that two completely different answers.

I think that if a company sells gray market equipment, then the customer ought to know exactly what the repair procedure is after the warranty period.  It sounds like back to Japan for the repair to me!!!!!

Larry

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bab99 Regular Member • Posts: 256
Re: Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

Jim, I have long assumed the following: The two factory service centers, Melville and Los Angeles (formerly at El Segundo) are owned and operated by Nikon USA, the exclusive marketers of Nikon in the United States. As such, they service what they sell. Their official policy is that they service what they sell and no more. You shouldn't blame them for putting this is writing, to protect themselves from situations involving the repair of equipment that they didn't sell but which could cost them money. However, it is my understanding that they can and usually do fix Nikon equipment that is grey market, they just don't want to admit it, talk about it, or make it their policy. So it does no good to ask them, or the gray market dealers, because you won't get a straight answer. If your question were about purchasing new grey market, I'd say forget about the warranty unless the dealer is willing to take the equipment back and/or has a way to get it repaired. Since your question is about used grey market, my guess is that you probably can get it fixed at Melville or LA if you don't tell them it is grey, but there's no assurance of that. They legitimately can say no. The situation with independent repair shops seems to be in flux right now, and I'm sure they are all scrambling to get access to parts. Long term, I personally can't see that Nikon can survive in the US without support from independent shops, but that is just my opinion.

As far as determining whether a Nikon is grey or not, I've not tried calling Nikon USA with a serial number. You would think they would know whether or not they sold it, so it might work. Good luck if you go through with the purchase!

Bruce

Jim F
OP Jim F Senior Member • Posts: 2,592
Re: Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

bab99 wrote:

... Nikon USA ... You shouldn't blame them for putting this is writing, to protect themselves from situations involving the repair of equipment that they didn't sell but which could cost them money...

I'm not "blaming" anyone. I just want a straight, definitive answer to my original question and an assurance that something can be fixed. None of us seem to really know the answer. Not faulting anyone here. It's just a sad state of affairs.

... it is my understanding that they can and usually do fix Nikon equipment that is grey market, they just don't want to admit it, talk about it, or make it their policy.

OK. What is the basis of your understanding? And what kind of company is Nikon USA to have a policy and an unwritten policy at the same time. This is really bizarre.

So it does no good to ask them, or the gray market dealers, because you won't get a straight answer.

Terrific ....

If your question were about purchasing new grey market ...

It's not.

... my guess is that you probably can get it fixed at Melville or LA if you don't tell them it is grey, but there's no assurance of that ...

Don't tell them it's gray market? Seriously???? Bruce .... please ... understand what Nikon told me on the phone -  they check the serial numbers when an item comes in for service to see if it's a gray market item. They have that information in a database that we don't have access to. Again, don't kill the messenger, I'm only restating what a Nikon service rep told me on the phone.

... as far as determining whether a Nikon is grey or not, I've not tried calling Nikon USA with a serial number.

I did.

Hello? Canon? ....

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tnielsen Regular Member • Posts: 372
Re: YOU CAN GET ANY OF THEM REPAIRED BY NIKON

A lens bought in the EU and brought to the States by you is not gray market. Gray Market items are imported parallel to the  official channels and sold .. not at all the same. Of course Nikon will service any item imported and sold by Nikon in any country.

Regards

Thomas

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larrywilson
larrywilson Veteran Member • Posts: 5,931
Re: Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

E mail I sent to b & h

Where can I get a gray market Nikon 500mm f4.0 vr lens repaired after the 1 yr warranty runs out? Can it be service by an authorized Nikon repair shop or does it have to be sent to the manufacture for repair? I would think it is important for a customer to know the answer to my question before buying a gray market equipment. Thanks Larry

This is the answer I got from b & h in email.

Hello , my name is Daniel W:
Thank you for contacting the E-Mail Sales Department at B&H Photo Video and Pro Audio.
Most service centers will repair with appropriate charges/fees.
We do not have a service facility at this time.
Please let us know if there is anything else we can assist you with.
Thank you, we appreciate your business.
Daniel W B&H Photo Video and Pro Audio The Professional's Source. E-Mail Sales Department
http://www.bhphotovideo.com

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larrywilson
larrywilson Veteran Member • Posts: 5,931
Re: Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

I'm still checking with Nikon Authorized service centers and now with Nikon usa after checking with b & h.  It seems like I am getting a different answer depending on who I ask.  I am thinking the retailers that sell gray market lenses are not going to be up front with what happens if a gray market lens needs a repair after the 1 year warranty.  I do know that to do a computer generated repair on a lens that the Nikon software locks out all lenses that aren't Nikon USA.

Another words I am getting no straight answers as of present.

Larry

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Jim F
OP Jim F Senior Member • Posts: 2,592
Re: Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

larrywilson wrote:

I'm still checking with Nikon Authorized service centers and now with Nikon usa after checking with b & h. It seems like I am getting a different answer depending on who I ask. I am thinking the retailers that sell gray market lenses are not going to be up front with what happens if a gray market lens needs a repair after the 1 year warranty. I do know that to do a computer generated repair on a lens that the Nikon software locks out all lenses that aren't Nikon USA.

Another words I am getting no straight answers as of present.

Larry

The only thing that I am certain of at this point is that, from now on, I will never buy a used Nikkor lens from anyone or any business (especially eBay) or any Nikon owner forum, e.g. Fred Miranda or Nikonians unless the seller has a bona fide receipt with the serial number. Then I'll call Nikon and see if they can tell me if it was gray market or USA market.

I really didn't get a definitive, "this is the way it is" answer from Nikon USA service when I called them either.

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larrywilson
larrywilson Veteran Member • Posts: 5,931
Re: Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

Thanks Jim, really is disconcerning that even the retailers are not being up front.  I have a Nikon 500mm lens I bought about 10 months ago that is gray market, never again unless I can get a certified answer to what the heck I am buying into.  It seems the situation has changed within the last year concerning repair.

Larry

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michael1234 Regular Member • Posts: 193
Re: Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

I just finished reading through it all and I did it because I am also concern about a purchase I did on ebay nikon 80-200mm 2.8 import as it may seem as it doesn't have a US prefix before the s/n and all my other lenses have. After doing some research I found out that yes its possible to get a grey market lens fixed that you bought in the US. Do not send it directly to Nikon USA but do on the other 24 or so authorized service centers. Second- you can used a authorized retailer and let them send the lens out for you. Third- its bogus that if you buy a lens in Japan or Denmark and bring it here then Nikon will not service it. All you have to produce is a receipt as evidence.

GMack Senior Member • Posts: 2,928
Re: Gray Market Lens Repair, Serial Numbers, etc.

larrywilson wrote:

..... I do know that to do a computer generated repair on a lens that the Nikon software locks out all lenses that aren't Nikon USA.

I would be suspicious of that part.  If true, then any lens brought into the USA could not be fixed even if it and the owner were from another country and not a gray lens at all under their International Warranty stuff.  However, I wouldn't put it past them to try it.  I haven't seen anything in their software in the service manuals to nullify a repair based on a serial number - yet.  If someone drops a grey lens and bends the filter ring, the 2nd tier independent shops to Nikon USA might be able to order the ring, but then they couldn't do any focal length tuning at all if true?  Seems iffy.

My one lens that was bought at a USA dealer, and defective right out of the box, had the yellow paperwork for the USA extended warranty.  However, it did not have a US or USA stamp on it prior to the serial number on the lens.  I got asked about it at El Segundo and luckily I had the yellow paperwork with me with the serial on it so they did fix it under warranty.  It may have been some lens destined for another country during the shortage a year ago and Nikon USA added the yellow paperwork to the box.

Mack

Jim F
OP Jim F Senior Member • Posts: 2,592
Michael1234 ... some follow up ...

michael1234 wrote:

I just finished reading through it all and I did it because I am also concern about a purchase I did on ebay nikon 80-200mm 2.8 import as it may seem as it doesn't have a US prefix before the s/n and all my other lenses have.

The lack of a US prefix does not necessarily mean it's gray market. Some Nikkor models are not stamped with a US prefix before the serial number. I don't know about the 80-200 models (and there have been several). The 300/2.8 lens (and I think some of the other big primes as well) don't have a US prefix. One thing you might try is looking on eBay for a particular model. If the seller has any pictures where the serial number might be, click on the picture and zoom in. You can usually easily read the serial number. Depending on the model, you might see a US prefix or you might not. That was somewhat maddening for me when I was shopping around for a used 300/2.8 VR1 or VR2. That's when I discovered that this model does not have the US prefix before the serial numbers. So, you might call Nikon service on the phone and ask them to check their database to see if your specific lens is gray market or not. That's what I did.

After doing some research I found out that yes its possible to get a grey market lens fixed that you bought in the US. Do not send it directly to Nikon USA but do on the other 24 or so authorized service centers.

I spoke to an authorized Nikon service center today in Arizona (one that I am very familiar with and that I trust). They told me that if they have to order parts from Nikon, they must supply the serial number of the lens to Nikon. If Nikon determines that the lens is gray market, Nikon will not supply the authorized service center with the parts. Thus, you'd wind up with a $1000 (or whatever you paid for it) paperweight. If they don't need parts, you'll probably be able to get your gray market lens serviced. But don't bet the grocery money on that. Whether you can get the lens fixed or not may depend upon whether the authorized service center has to order parts from Nikon. Bottom line: it's a crap shoot.

Second- you can used a authorized retailer and let them send the lens out for you.

Maybe, I don't know. I don't think I'd risk making that my fallback strategy.

Third- its bogus that if you buy a lens in Japan or Denmark and bring it here then Nikon will not service it. All you have to produce is a receipt as evidence.

That's already been discussed earlier in this thread by someone else. I am no expert on that. That said, I think it's different if you bring a lens in from another country where you bought a non-US lens legitimately, but needed service while you're in the US visiting or shooting internationally on assignment or whatever. That's far different than knowingly buying an imported lens here in the US (when you could have bought a US lens).

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sunshine eternal mind Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: Michael1234 ... some follow up ...

It is confirmed after looking through endless ebay pictures, The ones selling from HK JP don't have the US prefix. THe ones selling as USA market have the US prefix. The one thing that convinces me that they can be fixed here in the US is that adorama BH sale imports and include 1yr by them once that year expires then what? A photographer who lives in the city I live told me that I can take it in to the authorized nikon retail store and they will ship it out and fix it. Sending a lens to Japan will cost a fortune, lost risks, and customs.

sunshine eternal mind Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: Michael1234 ... some follow up ...

In the case of the nikon 80-200mm 2.8 I figure as long as you don't drop it and do store it in a dry place it should last you a very long time 10-20 years. Also there are no af-s expensive motors to give out and expensive VR's to give out. It just a bare lens and good at it.

Jim F
OP Jim F Senior Member • Posts: 2,592
Incorrect ... Final Clarification ...

sunshine eternal mind wrote:

It is confirmed after looking through endless ebay pictures, The ones selling from HK JP don't have the US prefix. THe ones selling as USA market have the US prefix.

Incorrect, sir. Not all Nikkor models have the US prefix to the serial number. That is a fact that was confirmed to me on the phone by Nikon USA and by an authorized Nikon service center that is a stand alone company.

The one thing that convinces me that they can be fixed here in the US is that adorama BH sale imports and include 1yr by them once that year expires then what?

As I've reported here in my recent replies which you don't want to believe (and that's OK with me - just don't kill the messenger, Caesar), all I can tell you is what both Nikon service and an authorized service center told me. NIkon USA will not touch a gray market lens bought in the US (warranty or non warranty.) So, after your one year warranty, you have a risk of your gray market lens becoming a paperweight. If you need service and your Nikon authorized repair company has to order parts from Nikon, Nikon USA will check to see if the lens is gray market. If it is, they will not supply the repair company with parts. Nikon changed their policy a few months ago in that they control the distribution of all parts - to individuals and to repair centers.

A photographer who lives in the city I live told me that I can take it in to the authorized nikon retail store and they will ship it out and fix it.

OK? Maybe? Where would they send it (obviously at your cost)? But I would not bet the ranch on that. By then you've spent a lot more for the lens and subsequent service than had you bought a US marketed lens in the first place.

Folks, in summary and to end this discussion (at least from my perspective) I want to state clearly I'm not pretending to be the Nikon USA spokesperson here. As I started this whole thread with many questions, I've learned a lot and I'm just reporting to you, my fellow forum members, what I've learned. I've said enough about all of this. To those of you who want to believe something else, that's your decision. Over and out.

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Daniel Clune
Daniel Clune Veteran Member • Posts: 3,451
Re: Incorrect ... Final Clarification ... CORRECT

Jim F wrote:

sunshine eternal mind wrote:

It is confirmed after looking through endless ebay pictures, The ones selling from HK JP don't have the US prefix. THe ones selling as USA market have the US prefix.

Incorrect, sir. Not all Nikkor models have the US prefix to the serial number. That is a fact that was confirmed to me on the phone by Nikon USA and by an authorized Nikon service center that is a stand alone company.

The one thing that convinces me that they can be fixed here in the US is that adorama BH sale imports and include 1yr by them once that year expires then what?

As I've reported here in my recent replies which you don't want to believe (and that's OK with me - just don't kill the messenger, Caesar), all I can tell you is what both Nikon service and an authorized service center told me. NIkon USA will not touch a gray market lens bought in the US (warranty or non warranty.) So, after your one year warranty, you have a risk of your gray market lens becoming a paperweight. If you need service and your Nikon authorized repair company has to order parts from Nikon, Nikon USA will check to see if the lens is gray market. If it is, they will not supply the repair company with parts. Nikon changed their policy a few months ago in that they control the distribution of all parts - to individuals and to repair centers.

A photographer who lives in the city I live told me that I can take it in to the authorized nikon retail store and they will ship it out and fix it.

OK? Maybe? Where would they send it (obviously at your cost)? But I would not bet the ranch on that. By then you've spent a lot more for the lens and subsequent service than had you bought a US marketed lens in the first place.

Folks, in summary and to end this discussion (at least from my perspective) I want to state clearly I'm not pretending to be the Nikon USA spokesperson here. As I started this whole thread with many questions, I've learned a lot and I'm just reporting to you, my fellow forum members, what I've learned. I've said enough about all of this. To those of you who want to believe something else, that's your decision. Over and out.

I got an email answer from Nikon pretty much saying exactly what Jim has said. No idea about parts to authorized service center as I didnt ask about that but I will assume thats correct also. Seems downright outrageous though. Iam going to try and contact Nikon Japan and see what they have to say. Not sure they will understand with the translation and cultural differences. I mean there is a large used market in the USA and if that becomes such a risky proposition the ONLY way to buy used is to check the serial # and call Nikon before buying or see the US for the first part of serial # like my 24-120 F4 has.

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GMack Senior Member • Posts: 2,928
Re: Incorrect ... Final Clarification ... CORRECT

Daniel Clune wrote:

I got an email answer from Nikon pretty much saying exactly what Jim has said. No idea about parts to authorized service center as I didnt ask about that but I will assume thats correct also. Seems downright outrageous though. Iam going to try and contact Nikon Japan and see what they have to say. Not sure they will understand with the translation and cultural differences. I mean there is a large used market in the USA and if that becomes such a risky proposition the ONLY way to buy used is to check the serial # and call Nikon before buying or see the US for the first part of serial # like my 24-120 F4 has.

The Nikon "International Warranty" is becoming more like a "Regional Warranty."

If Nikon USA is owned by Nikon Japan (if EPOI sold out to them), I don't see why they are so restrictive.  It could be more of an effort to "minimize all repair" as it costs them money and going regional is one way to do it with the greys.

I know Olympus USA had their techs brought to the USA on a work Visa from Japan for a few years and they worked for the mother-ship so it wasn't an issue back then (I was a factory trained Oly tech, fwiw.).  Nikon was owned by EPOI then so it was cutting their ROI to subsidize for Japan's boo-boos.  But if they are one in the same now, why should they care if not to try and just kill off repair costs in total?  Their denial of warranty claims in favor of customer paying for "abuse or impact damage" is disturbing in its own right.

Mack

Snapshott Senior Member • Posts: 2,219
Re: Incorrect ... Final Clarification ...

Jim one question that I haven't seen answered unless I missed it. Was the lens you were looking at grey market or not?

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Snapshott

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larrywilson
larrywilson Veteran Member • Posts: 5,931
Re: conclusion for me

I have researched the "grey market" issue in relationship to repair after the usual one year warranty issued on Nikon lenses by internet retail companies such as B & H.  I have contacted Nikon USA, a couple of Nikon authorized repair shops, KEH and B & H and I have come to the conclusion that I will only buy "Nikon USA" lenses.  I have been told by a couple Nikon Authorized repair shops that if they need a part that they have to supply "Nikon USA" with the serial number and if the lens is a grey market the shop can't get the part.  Also if it is a software  problem, then the repair shop can't access the software to fix the problem.

I wish I had known this before my last big purchase of a Nikon 500mm f4.0 vr lens last May.  The internet retailors are not up front with this problem, so be aware.

Larry

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Jim F
OP Jim F Senior Member • Posts: 2,592
Re: Incorrect ... Final Clarification ...

Snapshott wrote:

Jim one question that I haven't seen answered unless I missed it. Was the lens you were looking at grey market or not?

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Snapshott

I've looked at several; not physically looked but have been in touch with the sellers and have also seen the serial numbers on the pictures of the lens for sale (if the image is good enough and large enough) by zooming in on the image of the barrel and noting the serial numbers (most of the time the seller will not offer information about the serial numbers in his/her listing). So, I could see the serial numbers and made note of them. Then I called Nikon and asked.

I called because the 300 2.8 VR Nikkor lens are not stamped with a US prefix even if they are a US market lens. That's the sole fact that makes this such a headache and difficult to decide whether to purchase a particular lens or not. I don't want to risk finding out that my expensive purchase cannot be fixed since it gray market unbeknownst to me when I didn't know that to begin with. Frankly, if it was a teleconverter (which is just a chunk of glass with no moving parts) or some inexpensive lens, none of this would matter. But a lens that is the price of a used car is a much different matter.

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