Love them. Love them not. Love them.

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.

2 thoughts on “Love them. Love them not. Love them.

  1. All I can say in regards to Nikon’s service vs Canon’s is that, having worked at the second largest Henry’s location for more than 3 years, I have never met our Canon rep. Not even once. Nikon’s rep is a regular visitor to the store. He stays for extended periods, helps customers of ours (even if its not a Nikon product they’re after), and fields our questions.

    One of the main reasons I switched. Nothing against Canon hardware whatsoever.

  2. I would have to agree with mark. I shot with a studio for 4yrs now and they have the full canon system. The gear is great and the results are wonderful. But like any product it eventually goes wrong and has to be sent in, thus the problem that has been out lined by michael. So when it came time for me to branch out on my own and get my own gear I had a strong reason to try another brand (Nikon, but it could have been anyone at the time.) from this all I can say is I have received impeccable service! Example: I, yes that is I, physically broke my own flash and took it to Nikon ready to pay. 4 days later it was repaired at no charge to me or under warranty however you look at it. Not bad in my book! Now that is a perfect example and won’t always happen and I’m sure someone somewhere has been treated badly but in 4yrs of owning pro Nikon gear I have been in ONCE with a flash and go great service. Anyone who knows me like mark or Michael knows I am not nice to my gear all the time and it is heavily used by myself and fellow shooters and to say I have not gone in for service is also a good thing. Lastly NPS, Nikon professional Service, is free!

    But be sure canon is still an amazing brand and competitor and I have to say great to shoot with – from personal experience.

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