Nikon Service Call Center employees in Calif have been laid off ! A post on a Nikon related forum:
"Just called Mona@ Nikon El segundo in service. She said" I'm just
walking out".... and I said "leaving for lunch?...She responded no, our
department (Service call center) has been laid off. You'll need to call
another number? She would not say much more but did say service was
still open at El Segundo.
"I've sent alot of gear to El Segundo and Mona has ALWAYS been top notch,
good attitude and a good communicator. The number she gave me to call
NOW is in the Dominican Republic..So now if I have an issue with a
camera body and want to send in some image files showing the problem, it
routes thru the Dominican Republic and I guess they send El Segundo the
This is a cost-cutting path traveled by Kodak several years ago, preceding their declaration of bankruptcy !
The Better Business Bureau of Southern California, where the Nikon Service and Parts
Center are located, does not have good news about Nikon's customer service:
"THIS BUSINESS IS NOT BBB ACCREDITED"
Anatomy Of A Nikon D800 Repair
July 30 2012
By Bob Vishneski
A number of our readers have been anxious to hear the results of my and others’ D800 repair experiences, particularly
since they have sent their D800s in for repair but haven’t had them returned. Others are considering whether they
should send their cameras to Nikon or return them to the retailer (if within the 30 day return window). What are the
chances are of a successful repair? It is difficult to estimate. Based on a number of emails I have received and some
posts on the various Nikon forums, it seems that Nikon’s success in repairing the D800 is mixed at best. Some people
have enthusiastically given their D800 repairs a thumbs up. On a more disturbing note, however, others have reported
sending their D800s back to Nikon’s Service Centers multiple times only to see them come back in the same shape as
when they left. Those in the latter group are understandably very upset. A number of people are actively investigating
the various “Lemon Laws” as possible mechanisms to force Nikon to provide new D800s. On just about every Nikon
forum, at least one person has floated the idea for some form of petition, boycott, or other collective action that might
cause Nikon to change its current strategy for dealing with the D800 autofocus issue. Everyone is wondering what it is
going to take for Nikon to address this situation.
“Nikon is upping the game by significantly enhancing the resolution and capabilities of its new DSLRs. How is it doing
on that front? How is it dealing with product issues when they arise? What should I take away from the D800 situation
that might influence my decision to purchase the next DSLR from Nikon or any other manufacturer? Do I wish to take a
chance ordering the ‘latest and greatest’ model given how Nikon has handled (thus far) the D800 situation or should I
wait a bit? Is Nikon’s response to this issue consistent with what I would expect of a manufacturer if my DSLR
experienced such an issue?”
That’s a long way of saying everyone should take heed of the D800 situation. The D800 autofocus situation, and Nikon’s
response to it, however, do provide some data points that potential D800 and non-D800 owners should consider as they
weigh future purchasing decisions. If nothing else, it is a reminder that it often takes some time to work through issues
once the manufacturing lines start ramping up. If and when Nikon announces D700, D300 or D7000 replacements, one
might want to pause for a bit in light of the recent D800 situation.
I defy anyone to show how Nikon’s current approach to dealing with this situation is helping Nikon or its customers.
Unfortunately, some in the photography forums have criticized those attempting to estimate the number of units
affected, blamed the internet for some form of mass hysteria, or advised those with defective D800s to just (and I
paraphrase) – “don’t worry, just take pictures!” This is the traditional “blame the victim” mindset. Nikon should
proactively inform its customers regarding the specific units impacted and/or help customer determine how to test their
D800s. Nikon should not be sitting back waiting for its customers to call in with problems, when it clearly knows they
exist. If Nikon wants to ease its customers’ minds regarding this issue, it should reach out to its customers, inject some
certainty regarding the facts into the process, and indicate what next steps should be taken. Period.
Not So Ancient History
I received my D800 on June 26th, after placing my order at the very end of the first day preorders were being accepted
by B&H. Based on my understanding of high tech product introductions and the wave of D800 autofocus issues being
reported, I knew that keeping my place in the queue at B&H might result in my getting one of the defective units. I
considered canceling it and bypassing the first few waves of shipments, but weighed this against the probability that I
might not see a D800 until my 83rd birthday… Chalk one up for optimism and hope…
Nikon Communication Process – Or Lack Thereof
My D800 landed in Melville on July 9th. It was clear at the outset that Nikon’s Service Center representatives were not
going to engage in any meaningful discussions regarding the D800 autofocus issues. My emails to them regarding D800
autofocus links, videos, articles, tests, etc. were met with a resounding silence. Telephone conversations were always
pleasant, but revealing nothing. I don’t blame the staff, as I suspect they were simply towing the party line and ordered
not to say anything specific about the situation. Understandable perhaps, but not very comforting to the current D800
owners with a confirmed problem, or those that have yet to determine if their cameras are affected. And at no time did
anyone express any confidence that they understood the issue and were confident in a fix for it. On July 12th, my D800's
status was changed to “Shop.”
I did find it interesting to see that Nikon includes this note at the bottom of each email response from its My Nikon
“Any use, dissemination, distribution, posting on Internet bulletin boards, disclosure or copying of this e-mail or any
information contained herein by or to anyone other than the intended recipient(s) is strictly prohibited.”
Since Nikon wishes to express its concerns regarding communications, I suppose Nikon customers might want to
include something like this in their correspondence with Nikon in the future.
“Any intentional effort to conceal, deny, or otherwise fail to inform customers of known product defects, that may
materially impact customers’ ability to use the product for its stated purpose, is strictly prohibited. Failure to adhere to
this stipulation may result in extreme customer dissatisfaction, eventual loss of market share, and potential legal action
concerning False Representation.”
I gave Nikon a date by which I had to have the D800 back – July 25th. This was the last date by which I could reasonably
test, pack, and ship the camera back to B&H in accordance with its 30 day return policy. I will give Nikon some credit
for ensuring that I had the option to return it to B&H. Had Nikon missed this date, the D800 was mine for good, and thus
I would have been at the proverbial mercy of Nikon’s Service Center to repair or replace the unit – not an enticing
prospect given the mixed D800 repair results some of my colleagues were reporting.
Great Expectations – July 25th
My unit was delivered to my home at the end of the business day. According to Nikon’s Invoice Repair letter the
following items were addressed. The first four items listed were consistent with what Nasim and others thought might be
contributing to the autofocus errors. I took this as a good sign.
• Adjust Mirror Angle
• Adjust Defocus Control
• Adjust Autofocus Operation
• Checked Communication
• Clean CCD
• General Check & Clean
I immediately moved the dining room table out of the way and put the unit up on the tripod, measuring the distances
from the floor to the sensor as well as the distance to the target according to the notes I had taken from the first wave of
testing. I again went through the monotonous process of putting labels on the chart for Left, Right, Live View,
Autofocus, 1, 2 and 3 – per photo, so I could identify the focus point used, the focus method, and the shot sequence
(Zzzzzz…). I tested the same series of lenses that I tested the first time.
I started zooming into some of the left autofocus shots in the viewfinder. The results looked promising. I zoomed in on
some photos taken with the right side autofocus point. They also looked pretty good. Encouraging, but not decisive. I
didn’t spend too much time “chimping” as they say, since I wanted to take the shots and then analyze them in
Lightroom on my 26 inch monitor.
I started poring over the 100+ shots in Lightroom, bouncing back and forth between the right and left focus points from
both Live View and regular autofocus, zooming in and zooming out. The Live View and autofocus shots were very
similar, with the latter being much sharper than before. The left and right sides look pretty close. I then compared the
new left side focus shot to the pre-repair version. Night and day!
Could it be that my long sojourn in the Nikon Autofocus Wilderness was over? Hallelujah Hollywood! I declared
“success,” and reported the good news to my wife, who said, “Does this mean you are going to finally start taking
pictures of something other than test charts in the dining room?” [insert evil, sarcastic laughter here].
Uh-Oh… “Houston, We Have A Problem”
I was so busy zooming in on the right and left focus points, I passed right by the center focus point photos. I mean, who
would have thought that in order to “fix” my D800 left side autofocus issues, Nikon’s technicians would simply ruin the
focus of the camera’s best sensor point – the center? No one would do that…would they?
That’s when reality hit. The left and right focus points looked good, but the center – terribly out of focus. Not one of
the 15 pictures taken with autofocus using the center point was remotely close to the sharpness of the Live View shots,
which were all perfect. I went back and attempted to dial in some autofocus fine tuning adjustments based on taking a
few shots of my LensAlign system, but had to use numbers ranging from +15 to +20 to get the center focus point in
sharp focus. And even then some lenses were still showing some bias toward front focusing that I could not
compensate for. Naturally when I then shot my test target again with the left autofocus point, the image was blurrier
than a Joan Rivers glamor photo! Sigh…
“We’ll Fix It This Time!”
I immediately contacted Nikon the next morning and spoke with the Customer Service manager. I requested a new
D800. He quickly apologized, offered to send a pre-paid shipping label, and assured me that Nikon would “fix it this
time.” He indicated that only Nikon’s technicians could assess the camera and make the call regarding fixing it or
sending me a new unit. This statement, of course, was fundamentally incorrect. Nikon’s technicians had already
(allegedly) attached my D800 to Nikon’s sophisticated measuring devices and software programs, analyzed the data,
made a series of adjustments, and then…. sent it back to me in the same, if not worse shape.
I informed him that I was going to make a decision by end of day regarding whether to send it back to Nikon’s Melville
Service Center or return it as allowed within B&H’s 30 day window. I asked to have my case escalated. He wasn’t keen
on doing so, and proceeded to tell me what his supervisor’s response would be. I expressed my appreciation for his
prognostic capabilities, but reiterated that I wanted him to actually escalate the issue and we could then determine how
well his forecast matched his supervisor’s response. He reluctantly agreed. I told the manager that I would think it over
for an hour or two, and decide whether to send the D800 back to Melville or to B&H, and then put down the phone. But
I didn’t need time – I immediately knew my response. I had had enough. I bent over backward to share links, photos,
articles, etc. with Nikon and all I had gotten in response, were the phone and email equivalents of blank stares,
stonewalling regarding any admission of an issue or assistance in determining how to test my camera, hours spent
taking photos of test shots, more hours spent analyzing the test results, a $73 UPS shipping bill, a botched repair, 16
days of Nikon having my camera only to have it come back exhibiting the same issues, and a vague promise that my
D800 would be fixed on the second attempt. The Nikon staff was polite as always, but the bottom line was that my D800
was not repaired, and I had little faith in the promise that it would be “fixed this time.” Despite being a long time Nikon
fan and appreciating the phenomenal potential of the D800, I had to admit that Nikon had simply spun too many of my
ever shortening supply of wheels…
I decided to return the D800 to B&H and take my chances with a new unit, hopefully from a batch of D800s that were
produced after they discovered and rectified the autofocus issue (which, BTW, Nikon has never confirmed). If this
means not getting a D800 for months – so be it. The FX lenses, and high speed CF and SD cards I purchased for my
D800 will collect dust, and my DX lenses will have to wait a bit before going up on ebay. But my humble D7000 remains
a solid DSLR capable of taking great pictures. It may now have the opportunity to take a few thousand more pictures
before another D800 shows up. There are far worse things in life…
I have no doubt that when Nikon finally addresses this issue, the D800 will be hailed as the great camera that it is, and
we can all move on from this chapter in its history. And I will likely be one of the loudest voices in singing its praises.
Sadly however, Nikon’s inappropriate response to the autofocus issue is tarnishing the luster of D800, damaging the
company’s reputation, wasting so much of people’s time, and chipping away at the goodwill it has built up among its
customers. But that’s Nikon’s choice, isn’t it?
My choice(s)? Getting rid of a defective product, not bothering to check the My Nikon website each day for reasonable
answers that never come, skipping the robotic conversations full of empathy but no meaningful information, not
risking an additional failed attempt by Nikon’s Service Center to fix my D800, not wasting my time taking photos of test
charts, and using the camera I already have. The good news? My doctor also tells me that, with time, the phenomenon
of seeing Siemens Stars everywhere will eventually subside. ;) And if Nikon will reimburse me $73 for the scenic, but
fruitless trip my D800 took to Melville, I suspect I will feel even better.
So once again, my D7000 is glad the D800 has left our home. And this time… so am I.
Last Updated Oct 12 2012
An increasingly common story about Nikon service:
Nikon parts ban begins to affect Nikon owners
"Im afraid most people think "this isn't going to affect me" and don't worry about it. I believe most people are wrong.
1) Warranty doesn't cover 40% of repairs. A d800 scratched sensor is an $1800 repair, a 70-200 VR front element is now just
2) Last year a broken battery door or lost eyepiece cover was a $10 part you bought and put on yourself. This year it's a $130
factory repair and your equipment gone for weeks.
3) If you buy used equipment things just got a lot riskier. If you sell your used equipment prices and demand are starting to
I'd encourage everyone to sign this. I think Nikon has made a bad decision that's going to have adverse effects down the road
in exchange for upping profits this year and next.
In July 2012 Nikon banned the sale of all repair parts for their cameras to independent
repair centers AND Nikon owners - the obvious result is that ALL Nikon cameras
needing parts for repair now have to go to Nikon Authorized Service centers for repair.
Only Kodak and lesser known brands have adopted this policy to their detriment....Kodak
declared bankruptcy in January 2012. With over 200 independent shops now unable to
provide repairs on their cameras, Nikon owners began experiencing delays and high
prices almost immediately with "factory" service. This amounts to less than 15% of
CCR's work, but impacts each Nikon owner heavily if their repair needs parts.