Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Quality and Warranty Crises (Re: K-x and Pentax)

Last time we have seen how vulnerable the outer shell/built quality and the relability of inside electronics of the K-x could be and there were actually some more K-x users replied that they did experience the same or just something similar.

Yesterday, I finally had the time to take my Navy Blue K-x to the Pentax local service centre for requesting *warranty* service for the peeling off of the shiny paint at both sides of the bottom of the RTF that now chips are found as a result, symmetrically at both the right and the left. Just see the photo below for the wound at the left:-

I just picked up the self-detached piece of the painting when it got off and here it is:-

Well, about the Hong Kong Pentax service centre, unlike those of Canon and Nikon, both are located at Grade A to Grade B offices and districts in Hong Kong, the Pentax' one is located at the Gradeless non-office but old industrial buildings area at the far east Kowloon peninsula (at the Kowloon Bay), which is remote and not so easily accessible (and not even quite close to the MTR station). Moreover, it opens only during typical office hours, something from 9 am to 5 pm on Monday to Friday (and maybe also in the morning of Saturdays as well IIRC) which is really rather inconvenient to all we Pentax users for both the cheap/bad location chosen and the short and exactly "aligned" opening hours (in order to save costs for sure! :-(). In contrast, the opening hours of Canon and Nikon's service centres are much longer, to 8 pm something from Monday to Saturdays, even putting aside the difference in location and convenience.

I rushed to that remote site at lunch time, penetrating through the polluted industrial district in 30+ Deg Celsius and finally reached the Service Centre..

(Above: Industrial Building District where the HK Pentax Service Centre is Located)

(Above: The HK Pentax Service Centre, at the 10/F of this old Industrial Building, i.e., the floor that has the most outdoor air-conditioners)

After some short waiting (as there were only few customers there, even at the lunch time), I was called to come to the service desk. The staff, who only took a quick glance (i.e., no close inspection) and without any thought, told me that he would go inside the workshop and checked for the repair cost for me (it seems that he has just seen too many similar cases and knew well about the problem). I objected to his proposition and insisted that it is surely NOT my fault and there was no mis-use of any of my camera which is actually still in excellent condition and is very clean except the defects, which is undoubtedly a quality issue. That frontline staff then looped back to re-iterate that a repair cost was required and as such, I asked him to find his supervisor to talk with me.

After waiting for about ten minutes or so, the service centre supervisor came out and he expressed more clearly that "the Outer Shell of ALL those Pentax cameras are NOT covered by NOR Under Warranty"! What? Pardon? They have no responsibility of ANY on the quality or latent design problems of the products the made themselves, once the Outer Shell is involved?? And it is all the sole responsibility of the customers, like Hin and I, are required to suffer???

It was furthered told that "it was the set rules by Pentax for us to bill the customers for any replacement and repair of any parts to the *outer shell* of the bodies" which "we must charge you or *any* customers". Of course, I objected to his this repeated suggestion and "rationale" (which are totally unreasonable and NOT acceptable") and insisted that the defect was NOT caused by me in ANY sense, under NO circumstances. After some arguing, he thought about a way of resolution, "Just leave your unit here and we shall ask Pentax HQs and our principal for how to handle your case!"

As there was still no commitment on a FREE Warranty Repair Service nor there was no commitment on the time required for "asking" and making the decision, nor I don't know what they are going to do and "offer", and also in consideration about the so inconvenient opening time and super remote place of the service centre, I refused immediately to his suggestion. I had better use my K-x to take more pictures instead of let my unit to just seat at their workshop and those staff of the Pentax centre to do thing in a don't-care and irresponsible way, slowly. However, if I use my K-x further, the cracks of the wound may extend, though as I can see the covered shiny blue coat has actually already separated from the underneath black plastic already.

Indeed, the quoted repair cost is not dear. It involves only the replacement of the top plastic cover above the RTF only. But I don't think I would pay them for even one cent in this case, and that is my BOTTOM LINE! As usual, money is a non-issue to me for all those consumer camera gear, but my baseline principle for fighting for my own customer/consumer and user rights MUST be maintained!!

Actually, I became a little bit angry and told that I should share my unpleasant experience and the unfair treatment in the Net. But then both staff responded that, "you actually have the sole rights to do so!" and "please feel free to do so". At the end, that supervisor became somehow impatient and said that "I understood well what you want to express" and "I don't want to waste your valuable time anymore" in "good manner" and hinted that I should go! >:-|

Okay, I would give them the last chance btw. I don't need them to keep my unit to ask Pentax HQs for what should be done and how to tackle the manufacturing and design defects of the K-xes. I told them that I shall write the case fully and truly at my Blog, with clear photos taken, and let them just to forward my link to the Pentax HQs for follow-up action, if ANY!

Pentax, and now Hoya, being an irresponsible company, is what I have been angry about and hate much since the digital era. In the past, their products had far less quality, (in)accuracy and (un)reliability issues and that they were far more responsible for warranty even when there were defects happened within the one-year warranty period, which now many things are actually excluded by their OWN *discretion* and self-set "Policy"!!

Now, I think the Warranty Card is no different from a piece of junk paper in many cases! I am pissed off and annoyed!! >>:-( In fact, the first service centre staff did not even bother to have a look at the warranty card and he just told me it was not required! (So, why buy "warranted" goods from them then???!)

In fact, my first Navy Blue K-x unit was replaced owing to three issues back to January. One is the same crack of the blue painting at the same position (left side only at that time for that unit), the other is the serious back focusing with my Pentax fast primes, third is the inconsistent exposure and underexposure with different lenses and when using different apertures. The dealer helped me to got a new unit btw, whom the salesman had been polite and helpful enough (far better than those at the Pentax service centre!).

But still, buying new Pentax stuff nowadays just always looks like a BIG Gamble to me, which I need to take many risks before I could get an almost problem-free unit - but even though, now my current K-x unit still cannot pass the warranty before defect arises (although you can say it is minor!)!

Last but not least, if you are considering the K-r and K-5, good lucks to you folks, our fellow Pentaxians! (But stupid me, I honestly tell you, I've planned to buy the K-5! Especially when there will be a silver version, possibly! Stupid and foolish enough?? I think the only explanation is just that blinded brand loyalty in action! :-o)

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