The D600 Dust Problem, Still

(news & commentary)

While I was off in August, multiple Web sites posted a settlement offer from one of the firms that had filed a class action suit in California against NikonUSA regarding the dust/shutter issues of the D600. The settlement letter—which should have remained confidential under its terms, but apparently wasn’t treated as such by some participants—indicated that NikonUSA’s response was to provide a new D610 camera to all D600 owners who had signed onto the suit. 

I’m not sure how many suits were actually filed against NikonUSA, though there were at least four law firms I know of that were sniffing around trying to find “clients.” I’m not currently aware of outcomes from those other law firms. 

Unfortunately, this appears to be yet another fumble by Nikon. Not everyone that had a problematic D600 was aware of those pending suits, not everyone who was aware signed on as part of the “class,” and, of course, the suit only applies to the US in the first place. As far as I know, this means that only customers in China and those that joined the class on this particular suit have been automatically granted a replacement D610 for their D600 by Nikon. Everyone else has to go through Nikon’s published Service Advisory, which may or may not generate a replacement camera (though it should ensure that you have a properly working camera).

So what’s happening is that there are essentially three groups of D600 owners: (1) those not aware of the problem; (2) those that have to rely on Nikon service to do the right thing; and (3) those that had an agency (China) or lawyer (US) intercede and get them a D610 replacement. It’s the difference between group 2 and 3 that’s the problem: Nikon appears to be doing something simpler and more substantial (replacing cameras) for the squeaky wheels to avoid further legal action. 

From a cost/corporate standpoint, that’s the rational response. However, from the beginning this has been an emotional issue, not a rational one. What’s getting damaged is not so much Nikon’s short-term bottom line—though that certainly took a big hit—but Nikon’s reputation, which impacts the long-term bottom line. I can’t even begin to count the number of Nikon customers I’ve heard from that now have a different attitude toward the company, one that is much more likely to result in reduced future sales if not corrected.

If the right thing to do is to replace D600’s with D610’s for customers who have a lawyer, then the right thing to do is to replace all D600’s. The irony of Nikon’s current position is that it potentially sets up a second class action suit in the US, whereby those that weren’t part of the original class can claim to be treated differently. 

What’s my recommendation to D600 owners who are still having a dust/splatter problem? Hopefully there aren’t many of you left, but Nikon seems to be paying more attention to the squeaky wheels, so it seems the rational approach would to become more of squeaky wheel. 

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