I’ve advocated buying the Canon HV20, and I remain a fan of the camrea. In fact when mine broke last month (and I needed a functioning camera immediately) I researched the marketplace for an alternative $800-$1200 HD camera I could buy right away. Guess what? I decided to buy a second Canon HV20. (Sony had models of similar quality/price, but alleged software issues that create problems with iMovie- a deal breaker). If you can overlook mild low-light issues and a weak internal microphone then the Canon HV20 is a great camera for about $800 (see Canon HV20 at B&H photo). But…
But just like you don’t know your spouse until the honeymoon is over, you don’t know your manufacturer until you break your camera. Canon gets a D minus on repair, based on these problems ranked according to severity.
- Difficult to do business with. Website wasn’t functioning correctly and poor user-interface, phone hangs up on me after suffering long hold cue, invoice comes via snail mail without easy way to transact via web.
- Voicemail and representatives lack any humanity. Call the Factory Service Center in NJ yourself for the smarmiest IVR, including the awkwardly phoney: “oh, and by the way. We may record this call to serve you better.” 732-521-7007.
- When I finally got a human, she was impersonal and robotic. When I asked for clarifications about why they rejected my warantee and required me to repair external damage, she said “like I said before…” which is almost as annoying as hearing “you need to…” Even when she offered to knock 25% off the repair it didn’t feel good because it was delivered with all the love of a department-of-motor-vehicle clerk screaming: “sit until your number is called.”
- They rejected my warrantee because there was physical damage to the unit — but I can accept that. It’s just annoying that they need to repair the shell of the camera. I’d just assume they fix the problem with the image output and give me back my bruised camera shell. It’s like worn shoes- my camera feels more “mine” with all the bumps, scratches and bruises (each of which is attached to a fond memory) and would reduce the repair cost.
- The repair does not extend my warrantee at all. Just gives me a 90-day period, and the camera is already under warantee through April 2008.
- So I got ‘tude, lost time, convoluded process, and ultimately paid ~$150 to save a camera that cost $800 new. Could be worse- the repair could have been so expensive that I’d have abandoned the camera like a 1980 Geo with a blown engine.
And what good is a warantee if it expires when you drop, scratch and bruise your camera a bit? Show me a videographer that keeps his camera protected in a soft bag, and I’ll show you a lame videographer (who probably wraps his wires in perfect circles with little velcro cords).
Will this stop me from buying Canon? No. Will this compel me to buy Sony? Nope- I had a worse experience with them due to a crappy digital still camera about 5 years ago. But I hope it will make others expect bad service. And if I’m on the fence between equipment by Canon, Sony or a third brand… I’m taking my chance with the third brand.
I write this post in keeping with the great unwritten rules of blogging. Complete transparency (about smarmy Canon and, of course, why my personal debt continues to grow). And providing you, dear reader, the service of accountability… to companies that haven’t realized we live in an age where product excellence can substitute for weak customer service. Hmmm…. Time for my Consumerist.com campaign like I warned Canon in this November 7 YouTube video seen by 11,000?