Let's all just taken a brief second and say "YAY!" with me. "YAY!!!" Okay, that feels so good. I finally have my lenses back home where they belong. It has been a long couple of months without a chunk of my gear that I use regularly. If you are not aware, It all started with my adored 18-200mm lens making bad noises, which was then followed a week later by my beloved 24-70 falling one foot to the ground with a crunch at a wedding. You can read all the details of what happened
To sum it up quickly. I sent my 18-200mm lens into Nikon through the local camera shop and then for experimentation purposes, I sent my 24-70mm into Nikon myself directly. In my previous article, I explained how to use both methods if you need to send your gear in for repair.
It has been seven weeks since I sent in my my first lens and yesterday I received the 2nd lens back to me in the mail. Seven weeks is a long time without your babies, I mean, tools.
After rejoicing about my reunited family, I thought I should also share with you all the details of how my experiences were with both methods of getting my gear repaired. I'll start off by saying that I highly recommend that you send your own gear in for repair. I found this method to be the best for several reasons:
It is cheaper. Period. The local camera shop charges $20 to send your gear in for you. The cost for me to FedEx 2nd day with insurance straight to Nikon - $14.00 I'm already coming out ahead.
You have to fill out the paperwork yourself regardless. Yep, you heard me right. You can either go to Nikon's website and fill out the required online form with the details of your repair, serial number, proof of purchase, etc. or you can either tell the clerk and the camera store or worse yet end up hand writing it on their much less clear and more cramped form. I spend far less time typing up my responses to the questions on the form than I did trying to explain it to a sales staff member that hadn't yet been trained on how to handle manufacturer repairs where I ultimately ended up hand writing it on the form myself. I think is is probably much better communication to Nikon repair staff when they can easily read your typed responses than your chicken scratches, don't you?
You know where you gear is throughout the entire process. When you send in the gear directly you get direct contact with Nikon staff when you gear arrives. You are mailed a quote either explaining your gear is covered under warranty or a quote for the repair cost. You are given information to log into your own account and approve or reject the repair work and once payment has been received (if necessary) they will begin your repair. Throughout this process, you can login at anytime and check the status of your repair. I was able to see that they received my lens, processed the paperwork, ordered replacement parts, performing the repair, cleaning and shipping. I even got a slip of paperwork with my lens when it returned listing out what parts had been repaired/replaced. I was always up to date with what was going on.
I can't say the same for the camera shop. I had to call several times just to check in. I didn't know when they shipped my lens after I handed it off to them. They "hadn't heard anything yet from Nikon", and never offered on their own accord to call and check the status for me. I was told "it may be a couple of weeks" before they hear anything. I'm sorry, but what was that $20 for? I ended up contacting Nikon on my own about the lens I had the camera shop send in and guess what? They replied immediately on the same day with a status update. They were great to work with and I always had my questions answered with Nikon. They just reaffirmed my love for their products because they have the customer services to back it up. Thank you, Nikon.
So, to sum up my experience, I can without hesitation say that you should save the money and just ship your gear in for your repair yourself. The process is straightforward, you can get your questions answered easily if you need to and apparently you will have to do the work regardless since giving your gear to the camera shop doesn't mean it is worry-free for you. You aren't paying extra to have them "handle" it. If you care about your gear enough to have it serviced, then you won't be sorry you dealt with it yourself.
Oh, and just in case you were thinking maybe I had it out for the local camera shop. I must say that I am a firm believer in shopping local when I can. I like to support the local economy and local families and am usually willing to pay a little more to do so. However, like any smart consumer, I also expect that shopping local means good customer service just like I would give to my own clients. I've shopped on many on occasion at the local camera shop and they always have the gear I need or want, but Nikon simply had a better customer experience and customer service. If you need to buy something, I can happily say go shop local, they will likely have what you need, but for getting gear repaired I think you will be happier working directly with Nikon yourself.