Tim's Photo Magazine

Timely editorials on the world of photography plus camera and equipment reviews from a "user" rather than "technical" viewpoint.

My Photo
Location: Bovey, Minnesota, United States

My interest in photography goes back to my first camera, a crummy plastic Diana that took 120 roll film and took horrid photos (who knew these bad photos would be considered "art" years later). Then I swiped my Mom's Instamatic when she wasn't looking. Dad was/is a photo buff which I'm sure had a big influence on me! I was the only student in my high school shooting for the yearbook, went on to shoot semi-professional since, doing it more as a hobby business than anything else. I've used thousands of different cameras, collect them today, and enjoy both film and digital. I still use and maintain my own black and white darkroom. I've got lots to say about cameras, the business, copyrights, and all this fancy digital stuff.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pointless Warranties

I've come to the realization that for the most part warranties are worthless, and I'm sure that manufacturers are aware of this (oops--here they come now waving their data sheets showing how many millions of dollars in warranty repairs they've given away). I don't know about you, but the very few times I've had something conk out on me, the warranty was not a viable option.

My example. We had a nifty eMac. Bought it brand new. Let me right off the bat say we have had an Apple computer in our house since 1998 and have only this one time had ANY repair needed. After 14 months of household use (and we used it a LOT as a lot of my work is done at home, and we had three teenagers using it too) it went bonkers. Short version of the story is there were some defective components in the power supply that were provided by a third party to Apple. My warranty had expired by two months. But alas! knowing of the trouble Apple offered some sort of extended coverage for this problem. A call to Apple verified my computer was covered, I was given a case number, and informed that if I would get my machine to an Apple service location they would fix it free! Yahoo! (I said to myself, not intending to promote the Yahoo! corporation). Of course the nearest Apple service location is 200 miles from my home. My choices were spend $50 or more to ship it off for repairs, or deliver it 200 miles away. Since shipping it all over the country didn't seem like a good idea, and since we visited the city where the repair center was on a regular basis I decided we'd just tote it along on one of our trips and get it fixed. So I called the Apple store that had their Genius Bar (or whatever it's called) guys on hand. They checked my number, said they could fix 'er up, and to bring it in. OK, well to do that I have to schedule a day in advance to leave the machine. Then wait. Wait for them to take it apart and verify the problem. Then wait for the parts to come in -- which of course were back ordered due to the demand-- then wait while they fix it, then get a chance to go pick it up. So, bottom line is, this would take a month or two or more. A month or two of being without my machine. Without my stuff. A computer, like most of the devices we own today, become part of our life, without which things are a pain. I wouldn't be able to update my or my employers web page. I wouldn't have all my audio and photo work at hand. Oh, sure I had it all backed up. But what good will the backups do without a machine to use? They don't give out loaners. Any computers I had access to didn't have the programs I use on them, not to mention the work involved in getting things rolling on a temporary machine. Then, I got to thinking (which is, I'm sure manufacturers master plan) it's already "old" technology (heck, since they put that machine out they had moved to the G5's then the Intel machines) so I said to heck with it, and bought a new iMac. Basically showing that getting something repaired of a technological nature is silly. A warranty doesn't help if you can't do anything for weeks or months.

Similar experience for a friend of mine. His less than a year old digital camera went kaput. He was about to go an a road trip. Repairs would have taken a couple weeks plus transit time to and from, and the cost of insured speedy shipping. Even though it was fully covered by warranty it wasn't feasible to ship it out, wait weeks, miss photo opportunities and have this time and money invested in repairing what was an already outdated camera. So, he bought a new one, and the broken one sits in a drawer.

As far as I'm concerned the only type of warranty that is REALLY a warranty is one that says "If your device stops working correctly bring it to ANY retail location that sells our product for immediate replacement of the same or similar model". So, if your Powershot or Coolpix goes kaput on vacation, you just walk into the nearest Ritz Camera or Wal-Mart or where ever they might sell them, hand them the busted one, and walk out with a new working one. THAT is a warranty that is useful. If that model is no longer available you trade it for a current model with the same value as your original retail price. "Send it in and fix it" warranties are pretty much a bust unless you've got a spare to use in the meantime, and I don't know about you but I don't have another equal computer or camera laying around.

Could I interest you in a slightly used eMac? I didn't think so. I dismantled it, sold the parts on ebay (just like an old car, the parts are worth more than the assembled machine) and turned the case into a playhouse for the cat!


Post a Comment

<< Home