Canon Service Gets Poor Rating…Buy a Canon HV20 But Don’t Bruise It.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 campaign like I warned Canon in this November 7 YouTube video seen by 11,000?

31 Replies to “Canon Service Gets Poor Rating…Buy a Canon HV20 But Don’t Bruise It.”

  1. Canon’s payment system for repairs is broken. I had to have my GL2 repaired twice this year and each time I got an email telling me to pay via the website, yet when you get to the website it can not find your repair order.

    Turns out it takes 24 hours for the repair order to show up, so their email is 24 hours to early. But in fact, their procedures are flawed. They need a real time system that actually posts the repair invoice to the system at the same time that the email requesting payment goes out.

    I’ve taken time to explain this to them on the phone and via email.

    Their system is broken.

  2. Out of all the videographers you have got to be the most abusive to your camera!

    $800 – $1200 on a camera? I am poor and live in the ghetto so my ass had to wait in line at Circuit City the day after Thanksgiving to afford my camera… and that was on Thanksgiving ’06!

    Now I want a new camera… I am going to look into how much money I can make in sex work or selling dope.

  3. Alas, I’ll have to find a few sponsored gigs to pay for this one. I can’t believe Canon dissed Steve Garfield and Nalts! Two of the video cats with the biggest mouths. 😉

  4. At least for me, repairing busted electronics is almost NEVER worth all that red tape, PITA customer-service people, warranty exclusions, yadda yadda yadda… I’d rather buy new that go thru all that… Granted, that’s the mentality those companies are counting on, but like you said, if you make an excellent product, the lousy customer service can often be overlooked.

    For instance, I use Sony headphones — MDR-7506 — They cost a hundred bucks, and ‘ve had maybe 6 pairs over the last 12 years. They go bad with time and heavy use, but I keep going back, cause they’re exceptional.

    However, two things I promise if a company makes me feel lousy about doing business with them: I will a) NEVER do business with them again, and b) tell everyone about my experience, just like you did here.

    Side note: Don’t forget, Kev, you make money at this, so the camera is officially “business equipment,” and therefore tax-deductible… Whip out that plastic and go nuts, baby!

  5. That sucks Kev…you should flood their email system with copies of “How I broke my videocamera” and “Break my camera” back when you were trying to upgrade and see what they have to say about that! LOL 🙂

  6. The one saving grace is that indeed this equipment is a detuctable against my earnings. And I need every bit of permissible deductions because I haven’t saved a dime of my earnings for April.

    Somtimes I’m like Seinfeld in the Bee Movie- keeps flying into the glass. It took me buying about 10 Jabra wire headsets (best sound and inexpensive) before I finally got fed up with the plugs that would break in a few months.

  7. Nalts, I’m not typically a big advocate of “extended warranties”, however, Best Buy actually has a pretty decent deal and they sell the HV20.

    Under their plan (cost is based on cost of the camera usually 100-150) your camera is protected and will be replaced – EVEN IF YOU DROP IT AND BREAK IT! When I bought my Sony this last year, I bought the plan, and the clerk said that even if I drop it in the toilet and ruin it they would replace it for free.

    I haven’t had to use it yet, but for an extra $100 I couldn’t pass it up, and it lasts for 3 years.

  8. here’s a little experiment/secret you might want to try. Take pictures or leave small markings on different parts of the equipment you send in for repair, when it is returned check to see if what you received is what you really sent in to be repaired. Often times they will return your case but the stuff inside is all refurb, most people never take notice because these things all look the same. Sony does this all the time. You’ll also keep running into similar problems because the parts they use were poorly designed or defective in the first place. When it comes to computers, build your own; like anyone has time, but the cost of the extended warranty, which seems unfair, is usually well worth it, especially with laptops, monitors or cameras. Every thing made is expected to last no more than three years, beyond that is to your advantage, mock industry standards. If you want to keep up with speed and room you’ll have to replace your stuff at least every three years. Depending on need and expectations, buying the extended extended warranty can also be an advantage. Start reviewing equipment and you could receive free stuff.

    On the side of the consumer, Sony, Canon and HP’s motto is,”We don’t need you!”

  9. I do think some of the electronic manufacturers are of the “you need us more than we need you” frame of mind. I never buy those extended warantees though. ConsumerReports condemns them. The lady at Canon promised they wouldn’t be using refurbished parts. Hmm…

  10. Extended warranties are 100% profit for the companies that sell them, but now I’m thinking they’re worth it for the geeks who never leave home without their video cameras. Not that you’re a geek Nalts. I would never call you a geek. Maybe a tool, but never a geek.

  11. kevin kevin kevin, the lady at Canon.. hehehe 😉

    Warranty: It depends on the product. For a new computer I wouldn’t bother unless they come to your home or replace the equipment new (Dell has a few of those) and depending how long the original warranty is – if only 90 days, you will be better off, but if you can get the extended extended after the original is up it’s worth it IF you are going to keep the equipment. I bought a three year 160 extension at the end of the original and they have piratically rebuilt my laptop on site. So it really depends on the equipment.

    now, will you go make a video, I can’t keep up with you today! 😉

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