« on: August 17, 2014, 02:31:34 PM »
I’m starting this thread to tell of my recent Canon Canada (Mississauga Service Center) experience with not only two of their top-of-the-line products, but with their customer service as well. I apologize for the length, but I'm trying to provide context to the story.
EF 24-70 f/2.8 II Story
Last year around September I purchased a Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8 II. At the time it was the most expensive lens I owned. After using the lens for about a week I noticed something wasn’t quite right. Unfortunately I made the purchase at an extraordinarily busy time and didn’t have the forethought and time to immediately test the lens. My big mistake. When I eventually got around to running the lens through FoCal software to check aperture sharpness I was amazed at the wonky curve I was getting. It was behaving very much like it had a decentered element. I tried the lens on both my 5D2 and 5D3, and even had a friend come over with his 5D2. All of the test results were roughly the same. I immediately packed the lens up and sent it to Canon. Since I was not a CPS member at the time I got stuck in the 4-6 week return cue, which in my opinion is disgraceful for a company like this when both Tamron and Sigma offer far superior return-time estimates. Anyways, I waited patiently. I also took the opportunity while the lens was away to sign up for the gold CPS membership, thinking that it would be $100 well spent for a six day return around-time in the future.
I received the lens back with a note saying it was adjusted and cleaned after about four and a half weeks. I ran it through my software again. Whatever they did to it made it even worse. At this point Canon had already had the lens longer than I had and I was quite upset with the results of their work. I had even included a note with the lens and a FoCal chart to detail exactly what was wrong. I called CPS Canada and spoke with a young lady there; she couldn’t have been any less friendly or unsympathetic. She told me that if I “wanted” I could send the lens back but that “they probably won’t do anything to it because it’s within their specifications.” I told her I had done extensive testing and that there was something very wrong with the lens, to which she told me that my testing wouldn’t have been nearly as thorough as Canon’s technicians.
I was completely aghast but her lack of regard and complete dismissal of my problems. I even asked if I could speak to a technician to which she replied “Nope.”
Realizing I wasn’t getting anywhere with this lens I decided to sell it. I sold it at a massive loss, detailing to the buyer what I had experienced. Thankfully the purchaser was a good chap and said that arguing with Canon to get it right under warranty was worth it for the savings, and also he had the Platinum CPS membership for an even faster turn-around time. Unfortunately he never contacted me again to let me know if the lens got sorted out.
I had sold my trusty 24-105 to help fund this lens, and now this new lens was gone too. I still needed a lens in this focal range. I made up my mind that I would still get a 24-70 II. I went to the local camera store and purchased another one. I immediately brought it home, tested it, and found it too was giving me a wonky curve; albeit a much better curve still than the last one. I immediately returned it to the store this time. I received my second lens from the store (third over all), brought it home, tested it and found it tested really well but had that weird clicking noise while zooming in and out. Back it went to the store. Thank God for the wonderful people at the store; the manager came out carrying six unopened boxes of this lens and told me to go through them all to find one that didn’t click and that looked good. I finally found one where I couldn’t hear any apparent clicks, signed the exchange papers and went home. The lens also tested well and it’s the copy I still have to this day. Unfortunately, there is still a faint click when zooming, but it’s not that bad and I was unable hear it with all the hustle and bustle in the store at the time. I’m just living with it.
Lesson learned: Check lenses immediately after purchase and return if necessary. Canon technicians won’t help.
EOS 1D X Story
As some of you may know I purchased a 1D X recently; June 16 to be exact. The first two weeks of using the camera were absolutely amazing. This thing produces images like nothing I have ever seen before, and functions like spot-metering linked to each AF point is a God-send. The problems started almost exactly at the two mark, however. I was out shooting with a friend in the country side and I started noticing these little black specks all over the viewfinder. As the day wore on the specks started accumulating more and more around the edges and even towards the center of the frame. When I got home I immediately lowered the focusing screen and blew it off with my rocket blower. I put the screen back and all the specks were still there. I did some research online and what I found is that if the specks are visible and well defined they are either on the bottom of the pentaprism or within it (apparently Canon doesn’t seal 1D pentaprisms for whatever reason). I also found a whole slew of people who were experiencing this problem with their 1D X cameras. Many of these people reported Canon telling them that they’d either need to pay $300 for a clean or $300 + $500 for a new pentaprism. I was quite alarmed that I might have to fork out more money on an extraordinarily expensive camera to get it back to normal. I called CPS and told the lady on the phone, who this time was very pleasant, what was happening. She told me to send it in right away and she’d make a case for a new pentaprism to be installed free of charge since the camera was so new.
I sent it in and got an e-mail saying they were indeed having to replace the prism. I got the camera back within six days, as per CPS Gold standards, and turned it on, excited to have a clear viewfinder. Unfortunately there was still some debris in the finder. I also took a shot and heard a “clink” sound. I took off the lens and the focusing screen bracket had dropped. Horrified that it or the focusing screen may have hit the back element of my lens I did a quick inspection. Thank God nothing seemed to be touched. I used my focusing screen pincher tool (comes with all focusing screens purchased separately) from my 5D2 to push the bracket back into place. I then checked to see if the latch was too loose. To my dismay it wasn’t, it was too tight. Whoever pushed the bracket back into place did not push it in hard enough for it to click in, and now that I had push it in properly the little tongue/catch would not release the bracket properly. I had to manually pull the bracket down, thus causing either the focusing screen to drop down abruptly or for it to stick in place above the bracket and not come down at all.
I called CPS and immediately told them. The gentleman I spoke to said that shouldn’t happen and to send it back. Unfortunately I had a photography job on the weekend so I told him I’d have to wait until the following week. The camera still worked alright once the bracket was in place properly, and despite the dust in the viewfinder. Using the camera during the job, however, yielded even more particles entering the prism and viewfinder. How the hell does this camera have so much crap inside of it? I never change a lens when it’s windy outside or dusty. In fact I usually carry two cameras just to avoid changing lenses outside. I also mostly shoot indoor events. So what gives?
I sent the camera in as soon as I was able. I included another letter detailing the issues and explaining exactly what I wanted done. I even called CPS to make sure that the same information be added to my account. I received an e-mail from CPS once the camera arrived telling me they were graciously doing a one time cleaning of the viewfinder and that they were just replacing the focusing screen. I was so annoyed! The focusing screen was not the issue, it was the bracket, and there is a serious problem inside the camera for that much debris to be forming in the viewfinder.
I called CPS, and they told me the technicians never got my notes added to my account because the camera received a new repair number. I then had to explain again, in detail, what I wanted done to the camera. I even said replace the prism if necessary, as I have insurance that I purchased with the camera that covers cosmetic repairs. The CPS lady, who again was very pleasant (unlike the lady I spoke to over the 24-70 issue), assured me they would fix everything and to call back if I wanted to check on the repairs. I did, twice. The next time I spoke with nice lady CPS agent she said the repairs were completed and she had inspected the camera herself and everything looked good. The viewfinder was cleaned she said and did not need replacing.
I received the camera back with debris in the finder, albeit not as much. The focusing screen bracket was still stiff and not operating normally. AND the most glaring issue was a finger print right on the mirror that was completely visible when I took the body cap off.
I called CPS and they were quite apologetic for the fingerprint. I asked them why, after the CPS agent said she had inspect the camera herself, had they thought it was acceptable to send a camera back with debris in the finder and a finger print on the mirror, while at the same time not even bothering to fix the main mechanical issue I sent it in for. I got no response other than “send it back.” I told her that sending it back is a nuisance because I’m without the camera for a week and I need it for jobs occasionally. The agent told me they’d send me a loaner 1D X until the repair was completed, and that they normally don’t do that for Gold members.
After stewing on everything for about three hours after that phone conversation I got my sensor cleaning kit out with swabs and solution and gently cleaned the mirror myself. I also took some screws out above the focusing screen bracket and adjusted that myself too, bringing it back to how it once was. I called CPS and cancelled the loaner. I did the cleaning and repair in roughly ten minutes. Unfortunately I’m just going to live with debris in the viewfinder because obviously Canon won’t do anything satisfactorily for me on this issue. If it ever gets bad enough I have insurance for a new prism to be installed again.
It annoys me to no end the trouble I have had with these products. The level of service is quite laughable and upsetting when you’ve spent thousands of dollars on their products.
I’m aware debris in a viewfinder is just superficial and doesn’t affect the end product. I also get that these are tool cameras and meant to be used and that things will happen to them in the course of their lives. What I have trouble with, however, is that this is a problem that started almost immediately after purchase and continues to persist. Again, it’s not a huge issue, but it’s still annoying.
The fingerprint and focusing screen bracket issues are unacceptable from a repair standpoint. There’s no excuse in my opinion.
Lesson learned: If you buy Canon, or any product for that matter, check it thoroughly and use it as much as you can immediately after purchase. If there’s something wrong, return it. Getting satisfaction from repairs is a futile effort.
Canon’s customer service, while greatly improved from the time I dealt with them over the 24-70, still leaves a lot to be desired. The phone agents are all friendly and willing enough to help. However, they aren’t the ones doing the repairs, and from my experience with both the lens and camera, it’s Canon’s technicians who need a lesson on how to do their jobs.
Will I switch brands? No. Where would I go? Sadly, Nikon is worse, and what other companies are out there that offer similar performing products to Canon? I also have close to $20,000 worth of Canon gear at this point…so, it’s not realistic to make a change. Like I said above, I’ll just be thoroughly checking every purchase I make in the future and I will immediately return it to the retailer if something is amiss. It’s hard for the retailer, but as a customer it’s the only safe way of truly protecting myself if I want to continue playing the game.