Large corporations, especially Japanese ones, can be hard to deal with. Customer Service tends not to be top of mind – dealing with these companies can be a little like dealing with the government.
They have only a vague understanding of the Internet. Their web sites are designed, it seems, to obfuscate. Long trees of site-to-site navigation, often having to chose between several options, none of which are right. “The interwebs”, for these old grey guys in suits, is, it seems, quite often just a way to get rid of those pesky customers who keep calling. (And I say that tongue-in-cheek: I am middle-aged, male, and wear suits quite often, and a tie even more often).
I use Canon equipment. The cameras are a 1Ds Mark III, a 1D Mark IV, and a 7D, and all the “L” lenses I need. Probably $45,000 worth of Canon equipment. And I love it all to bits of course, but I do rely on my cameras for a living, so I need good service when I need it.
Canon has CPS for that: Canon Professional Services. Pros get better service.
But here’s the catch.
- In Canada, CPS costs hundreds of dollars a year. It used to be free, and in most of the world it still is, but for Canada it costs. Much! We get a really bad deal. Why do photographers in other countries get reasonable service for free, and we in Canada pay $250 a year? After paying tens of thousands of dollars?
- Well, at least in return, you get service. But wait. That service appears to have been downgraded from what it was, just last year! More money for more process, less service!
- Emails from Canon about CPS have links, but the email is a graphic and you cannot click on the link.
- The CPS program has no email. Their emails are signed by “CPS Services”. Who wants customers to email them? Not Canon, it appears. Makes me feel very unwanted: Canon goes out of its way to not be contacted by me. I am an annoyance.
- Service? Well, I signed up. I got “approved” (ludicrous that you have to get approved, but anyway). I got a bill. Had a question. Called the person whose name and number was on the bill. She was on holiday (it’s OK for some!) so I left a message on her voice mail. This lady never called me back. I guess perhaps they have a “policy” against that.
As a result, I have not yet paid. And I doubt that I will. Maybe I’ll switch to another brand of camera equipment if I ever need service. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for less service, and getting no help? Doesn’t seem like such a good deal to me.
I cannot imagine treating customers this badly. Suppliers of any product or service should go out of their way to make their customers, who part with their hard-earned money for them, happy.I am delighted to work at midnight, or to go the extra mile in any way I can. I love my customers. I am grateful to them. I cannot imagine treating them badly!
So when my thousands of students ask me whether Canon service is like Apple’s, I can only sigh. And I doubt that Nikon is better (correct me please, if I am wrong!)
One thing I will say: retailers can be a very useful buffer. Henrys (Canada’s largest photo store) are fantastic. (Disclaimer: I teach there. That said, I do not work for them, and I can say this independently). Any service issue at Henry’s is dealt with very well. They invite contact, instead of avoiding it.
And I am not just saying that: I take out the additional Henrys warranty on all my cameras. The only additional warranty I ever buy. Because it is worth it.
The summary of this post:
- Large corporations can be good (Apple) or useless (you know who you are) at service.
- Retailers can be a very useful way for customers not to have to deal with these corporations (just like insurance brokers).
- Service is important: if your camera breaks, you are out of business!
Now back to photo editing, my job for tonight.