Bad Experience with Nikon Professional Services – Stuck in Customs

Bad Experience with Nikon Professional Services

D800 Review

Back when I had it, I wrote my Nikon D800 Review that you might enjoy.

Update – Feb 2013

I wrote this blog entry below back in October of 2012. Oh it seems so long ago… the pain has run deep and true, like a river of regret through my soul.

But, since then, I’ve recently had an encounter with NPS Australia that has made everything wonderful again. NPS Australia is really really good. I still don’t have anything else positive to say about the other regions, but NPS Australia has gone above and beyond my expectations. Big thumbs up my Aussie neighbors!

Not a great story

So, I’ll start this out by saying that everything may very well be my fault. I’m not one of these angry-customer-types that rants and raves and demands he is right. But I think you’ll also find this story to be a little confusing or upsetting.

I joined NPS (Nikon Professional Services) a few years ago. It’s easy to join — you just have to be signed up by an existing member. I didn’t really know what NPS did, but I figured it would be handy in case anything ever went wrong with my equipment. Over the years, I’ve bought a lot of stuff and Nikon has never given me anything; I’ve bought a D90, D2X, D3X, D3S, D800, and countless lenses. They sent me a little black NPS card and said I should always carry it around with me, which was kind of a strange request. Anyway, this isn’t really about the silly little card or their draconian-card-carrying-policies, just setting the stage that I’m a member and everything.

I’ve had three negative experiences and zero positive experiences with NPS. I’ll go through them here.

1) Refusal to repair my Nikon 28-300mm lens – The lens fell with the camera recently and is a little bit messed up. I think it’s a minor repair. As far as I can tell, it’s just a little sticky when I zoom in and out. So, not a big deal. We sent this to be repaired by Nikon in the USA. However, they refused to repair it because they say it is “grey market”. I bought it from a retail outlet here in New Zealand in Christchurch (Photo Warehouse – the main pro photographer supply chain in the country). It cost about $1,600 instead of the $1,000 off Adorama. I’m so confused by this policy!

I went to the grey market page at Nikon and they say that it’s probably grey market because it went through an importer and is sold at a local store. Well, yes! I mean, isn’t this how millions of people buy camera gear around the world? I assume the lens is made in the same place as all the other Nikon lenses. And why do they call it a “Grey Market”? That kind of has the indication that something nefarious or underhanded is going on. It’s not. I just drove to a local legitimate camera store, and bought a lens!

The Nikon website also ridiculously says, “If the deal was just too good to be true, it probably was. One of the first indicators that a piece of Nikon merchandise might be Gray Market is if the price is considerably less than most other resellers.” Well, no! Pretty much everything in New Zealand costs a lot more, so it was hardly “too good to be true”… goodness gracious….

Even the return process has been a cluster. Now, I’m grateful to the team here at Stuck in Customs – we have about a dozen people who do various important things in different capacities. My COO, Curtis Simmons, has been having to deal a lot with NPS since I hoisted this upon his lap. I got an email from Nikon about returning the lens, which I forwarded to Curtis. He replied to me with this: “So in order to get the lens back NPS said that I have to refuse the repair estimate for a repair they refuse to do!”

We’ll just call this a clusterwtf.

2) Refusal to fix my D800 – When I was in Australia, the winds of Sydney harbor blew over my tripod and camera. It hit the ground, but didn’t seem too bad. I kept using it for another few weeks, and even took that photo below of the bed in downtown Dallas with it I noticed the focus was a little bit off. Not much… just a little bit. So I sent that in too so they could have a look. Apparently, they saw the outside of the body was damaged, which is no big surprise. The refusal letter we got said, “We found evidence of damage to the main casing.” They said it cannot be repaired! I find this hard to believe, since the camera is like 98% working well! I don’t get it… Naturally, I was more than willing and happy to pay for the actual repair.

Again, maybe I am wrong (tell me if I am…feel free to give me a gut check), but I really feel like they’re not even trying. And can’t NPS do something like get me another camera or something? I mean, after all, what good is Nikon Professional Services… can’t they help a brotha out? Jeez… this has all just been a tremendous waste of time.

3) Early ordering for the D800 – This happened many months ago, but I’m adding it here as item #3 of General Dissatisfaction. I was quite excited to get a letter from NPS that I could early-order a new D800. I thought, oh wow, finally some sort of clear “bonus” for being a member of this secret group. I guess maybe they know that I’ve been carrying around this black card all these years. Anyway, I went ahead and went through the process to get an “early order”.

The process was ridiculous. It required me finding a local retailer and making the purchase. There was a lot of faxing (remember faxing from the early 90’s, dad?) that went back and forth to ensure there was an order placed. Everything went according to plan, but I didn’t end up getting the D800 until many other people were buying them in regular stores! For example, my friend Lester Lefton just waltzed into a store to buy his a week before I even got mine! Hey, that’s a great program there NPS… not only did it take up hours of my time, but it was slower than just walking into a Best Buy!

Photos from my old D800

Well, sweet memories of the camera below… I’ll still put the camera and lens on my shelf… I will stare at them through narrowed eyes of bitterness…

Inception: New York I took these photos in New York City before going to LA to prepare for Burning Man. I found this spot below in midtown during a walk from Bryant Park over to the Facebook HQ in NYC. If you check my Facebook page, you’ll see some photos that Luke shot of me while I was taking this shot. It’s the one when I was awkwardly up under my camera shooting almost straight up in the air! You know that position…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

NPS NIkon Professional Services

Fast Action in New York City Speaking of PhotoWalks, I took this photo right after the photowalk in New York City a few weeks ago! I emerged from Grand Central Station and was about to walk across the street when I saw this scene. That guy was still as a statue, checking his phone while the world went on around him. - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Sleeping in Downtown Dallas What do you think is happening in this photo? It’s full of secrets, like Laura Palmer…We had a tiny, unannounced PhotoWalk in Dallas last week. Hello to those of you that came!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Mysterious Rock of Wonder The day in Death Valley was about 115 F (46 C). It wasn’t a dry heat either… there has been a lot of humidity here and there is flash lightning in the day and night. This location here took a lot of time, effort, and 4×4 to find. I took five gallons of water, a map, and some warnings from the place that rented the jeep that this area was inaccessible because of recent road wash-outs from rivers. Well, they were right! So getting the 4×4 over and through the washed out rivers took many more hours than expected. I only suffered one minor injury when my head slammed into the rollbar during a clumsy maneuver. But after I finally found this place I’ve always wanted to visit, it was late afternoon with plenty of time to hike around before night fell.I look forward to your theories (from the boring to the surreal) of what makes these rocks move across the playa on their own!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the entire post over at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Magical Fog in San Francisco over the Golden Gate BridgeI recently drove across the bridge and up this little mountain road to try to find this shot. I started driving up a road I knew well, but it was closed. Closed! So I parked, got out my tripod, and hiked about a mile up this hill to get to this spot. It was a very cool night, but there was some strange inversion happening. Almost anywhere I stood on the side of the hill was a stead hotel-room 72-degrees. And there was zero wind. It was a perfect night, and just when I arrived, the fog really started pouring over the bridge, so I set up for this shot...- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.