Bizarre Nikon Canada Experience

I took a broken lens to Nikon Canada in Vancouver in the first week of January. At that time I noticed a big sign in the Nikon office that said their support website was not operational, and asked customers to contact Nikon by phone. I knew that I was going to be out of the country, so I requested that all contact and updates be via email rather than by the phone, and the rep noted this request.

A week later I got an email from Nikon Canada in Toronto (head office & main service centre) with a work order number. It also directed me to a website where I could check status of my repair. I had seen the sign about the non-working support website, so I didn’t bother to check via the web, but instead I sent an email to Nikon a week later asking for an update. I quickly got an email response, but the email I got had a number of very remarkable features.

The first few lines of the email were these:

"To update this question by email, please reply to this message. Because your reply will be automatically processed, you must enter your reply in the space below. Text entered into any other part of this message will be discarded.

Please do not reply to this email.”

This is already a bit weird (do I reply or not?), but it gets better. Reading down the email, I see again a link to some Nikon.ca support website for status updates. Just for fun, I clicked the link. Surprise! The Nikon.ca link redirects to a Nikon USA Serive website! At this point I’m interested, so I put in my order info to the Nikon USA website. It pulls up my service order, and seems to have all the information I need. This is totally weird — as you know well, the two companies have traditionally been separate and generally do not service each other’s products unless somebody is inclined to do you a favour. But here they are sharing a support website and customer information. It’s particularly odd because Nikon Canada website has lots of warnings about grey market products and disclaimers of responsibility for anything purchased from other subsidiaries of Nikon. So it’s weird to get a service email that directs a Canadian customer to Nikon USA. I note also that the Nikon USA site asks at various times for an account to be set up, and it’s not clear why a Canadian customer would want to do that. The privacy laws in the two countries are quite different, for instance.

The website also has US specific info like UPS tracking numbers and the like, while Nikon Canada typically uses Purolator, which adds to the confusion.

Frankly, this email and the direction to a third party website should be embarrassing for Nikon. It’s so confusing and unprofessional that it even crossed my mind that perhaps it was a phishing scam. No reputable company should ever direct customers to a third party website that way, still less share customer information.

In the end I decide the email is probably real but written by somebody incompetent. I forgo creating an account, and simply reply to the email instead. I get a quick response which tells me what I need to know. I report the strangeness of their email, and renew my request to be notified by email rather than by phone when the item is ready. I get an reply back saying that they have made a note on my file that I want to be contacted by email.

I got back from my trip on Feb 1. No email from Nikon yet. But (you guessed it, right?) there’s a voicemail waiting on my phone to say that my lens is ready. So much for the note on my file, or my various other requests that they reach me by email.

At this point I’m fed up and just want my lens back. The Nikon depot is not particularly close, so I take a morning off work and drive out to Richmond to pick it up.

And…. it’s not there. It’s still in Toronto. The person who called me seems to have goofed, and it’s not ready, at least, not in Vancouver.

At this point the lady at the counter thinks I must have just come down on the off chance it was ready, and she asks me whether I have paid for the repair? I respond that I was told that I have to pay when I pick it up (which is what they told me when I dropped it off). She says no, I have to pay over the phone before it can be shipped from Toronto, which they never mentioned before. Further she asks who told me it was ready, and suggests that I must have made a mistake. Happily, I have my phone and the relevant voicemail, which I play for her. She goes back and calls her manager. While I wait, another customer comes in, and the other person is also ticked with Nikon Service, for some different reason. We share horror stories for 10 minutes or so.

Eventually the manager comes out and listens to the voicemail too. I take the opportunity to show the manager the email in which I asked for an email notification, and the email response from Nikon in Toronto saying they have made a note on my file to email rather than phone.

At this point it’s clear they have no idea how this mess happened, and are extremely embarrassed. The manager takes my contact info and says he will look in to it, and see if he can get my lens shipped to me directly, to save another trip back, and possibly a break on the repair price. That was this morning. We shall see what happens….

For what it’s worth the manager in Vancouver seems like a nice guy, and well aware that something has gone spectacularly wrong. He seems to know that there’ s big problem with customer service at Nikon. (vv)

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