I have been a Gold member a long time. When the new structure was announced I was on the fence about moving to Platinum. (I have been eligible for Plat for a while so it had been a choice to stick with the lower Gold$.) I began to lean toward upgrading to go forward this Fall at renewal time, but I had a surprising interaction with CPS that has made me consider self-insuring and paying like a regular citizen at time of need. So I am writing here to see what readers here think. Writing it all out will help me think about the decision, too.
First, I look at this as insurance. Insurance isn't an investment. I believe that I make a mistake if I plan to get back the net value (of services) I paid in. That said, how is the CPS way of doing things supporting me?
The incidents that forced this into perspective as a renewal question were:
I had sent in a 1DsMk3 body with all forms and a clean-and-check chit. I asked for a shutter count as I had bought the 1DsMk3 body used and I wanted an official document for that future time when I sold it to the next user. No shutter check on the repair order and when I called I was told they could not issue a new copy of the work order. They could probably e-mail me, no letterhead. (They did show the number, approx 74,500, in their RN# records visible to the customer service staffer.)
After that I tested the sensor for the first time since receiving it. There was a big round spot in the frame. I should look to see it if is among the other dark dust spots on the sensor before sending... Anyway, the clean-and-check chit sent them had a note specifically requesting sensor cleaning. I had taken the body out of the bag and removed the body cap, placed a lens on the camera and taken it out for a walk. Shot the sky, confirmed the visibility of the spot in some green broadleaf cactus, too. I figured I'd be without the body for a couple more weeks but hey, they'd make it right. (In Hawaii CPS must *mail* -- yes, mail -- you a label for a re-do and courier service usually takes an extra day. So two weeks give or take.)
Irvine told me that my dust represented "just one of those things about dust on sensor--it's going to happen. You can send it in again with another clean-and-check chit." Staffer checked with a Supervisor who didn't get on the phone.
I spoke to one of the CPS-specific advisers (different crew than Irvine's customer service operation.) He was a great resource, surprised they took this tack. Realizing I might opt for self-insurance I asked him for details about the listed services performed during a clean-and-check on a lens. A body is easier to see the value -- well, for me anyway. It's pretty vague about the real important questions: alignment, de-centered elements. He read a document that says they put it on a mount, but his reading of the task performed was that the ability of the lens to communicate with the body was all that was tested. Canon Repair also handles the lens to feel the performance of the rings, smoothness, and they are willing to clean the front and rear element. If there's a collar they insure it works. They will never, he said, go inside the lens during a plain old clean-and-check. That makes perfect sense to me. I'd love it if they did but let's get real, their costs would go through the roof.
I think I have been the beneficiary of extra help over and above official guidelines in the past but I suspect that flexibility in the facilities is waning.
So. Self insured from now on out?
I am not a big photo group with ten bodies out churning through three weddings every weekend. I don't get shot at as a photojournalist. My commercial photo shooting schedule isn't as crazy as it was some years back on the mainland during which I might have some piece of gear fail in a state 2,000 miles from home base. Canon saved me a few times in that crazier time. Loaners used to be handled on a phone call basis and went out that afternoon to your hotel… that kind of thing.
I have three bodies: 1DsMk3 (two of these) and a 5DMk3. Plan to get another 5D3, stick with four total. This another form of self-insurance, admittedly more $$ than Platinum $$. The only horror would be temporary loss of my treasured 17mm TSE, which I use for clients all the time. But I have a wider 12-24 Sigma lens which is plenty sharp and I *could* correct for a couple of weeks in Transform or DxO ViewPoint (don't like doing it this way but…)
Shipping alone during one equipment failure kerfuffle might pay for the $300., but having Irvine standards lowered might make some of that "help" worthless and get in the way of a successful shoot.
Wow, sorry about the wordy post. Anyone else thought through the self-insurance consideration? I have actually constructed various repair/shipping scenarios to understand the costs I would bear in typical hassles. No question, they are high costs.
Being out here in the middle of the blue Pacific cuts both ways good and bad in all things business.
So I might go for another year and bump up to Plat status. $300 is not going to break the bank. I sometimes go into the next price negotiation when faced with these decisions and just straight-faced quote a higher price to cover it. Keeps my resolve when the negotiating happens.
What do CR readers think?