This is my experience with Nikon's Melville Factory Repair. So I am in agreement that they are not the place to take a camera for repair. And as a representative of Nikon I hold Nikon responsible.
I had a problem with my D3100 camera (approx. 3yrs old). It would only auto-focus in Guide mode. I took it to my local Nikon Authorized Camera Dealer who suggested I send it to Nikon Factory Repair and get an estimate for repair. After a few weeks NIKON FACTORY REPAIR informed ME that the estimate to fix my camera would be $198.00. I decided to use that money towards a new D3300 camera as $198.000 was more than the half cost of a D3100 body (only). I felt this was too short of a time for a quality camera to go bad, but I chalked it up to bad luck. I bought the New D3300 camera less any lenses. With tax, an extended warranty, and a few add-on's it came to $600.00. I now owned a broken D3100 and a working D3300.
I decided, being as the D3100 was broken, I would be willing to attempt a fix on my own and began a web search as to what might be needed to fix the D3100. After a few days of searching on and off, I did not see a good solution and gave it a rest. A few days later I resumed my search and found a solution. It was simply a menu item that needed to be changed. I followed the instructions and in a few moments the camera was working like new. At this point I felt that Nikon was being unethical or at least not treating me fairly. I contacted their Melville, NY FACTORY REPAIR CENTER by email and described my problem. I told them I felt that giving me an estimate of $198.00 to click a few menu buttons was certainly unfair. I got an Email back from Nikon customer support signed: Best Regards, Eric F. He provided a phone number for me to call and to ask for Eric F.. I called and spoke with him. He explained to me that that was Nikon's policy. He explained that I should have called Nikon Technical Support and not taken the camera to my Camera dealer. I explained that they were an Authorized Nikon Dealer. He explained AGAIN that I should in the future call Technical Support and not go to the camera dealer. I told him I understood what my future behavior should be but, I was concerned how NIKON FACTORY REPAIR handled the situation. I felt that after the technicians looked at the camera they should have known it was just 4 menu clicks to fix this and returned the camera with a minimal charge and or an explanation how I could fix the menu settings. Eric F. explained unless I accepted the estimate the technicians could not open the camera. I explained that they didn’t have to open the camera only turn it on to see the problem and they should have enough experience to see if they could set the menu correctly. He informed me if I didn’t accept the estimate they didn’t have permission to open the camera – turning it on was considered opening the camera. I explained that they could have contacted me and asked permission. (My phone number was on the repair order form from the camera store.) He told me that the policy was they couldn’t do anything unless I agreed to the estimate which would have given them permission. I suggested that they add that to repair tickets so that customers could give permission to look at the camera. I explained that I do repairs and never give an estimate without looking at the machine first, turning it on, and seeing the problem that that was described to me. Eric F. explained the policy (again) and told me in the future I should contact Technical Support. (He repeated this many times during or conversation.) I explained that he had already made me aware of the future procedures but, I was concerned with what had happened. In the end Eric F. did not budge and certainly didn't see any problem with the way NIKON FACTORY REPAIR hands out estimates, which he had made abundantly clear, is company policy.
From all of this, this is what I learned to understand from Nikon Factory Repair and you should too. Do not use an Authorized Nikon Dealer for help. NIKON FACTORY REPAIR will give you an estimate without looking at the camera. If you agree to the price they go ahead and fix the problem. If you don’t agree they don’t fix it – In fact they don’t look at it they just give you an estimate from your description of what is wrong. They don’t know if it is a computer part, a mechanical part, or a menu change, and they give you an estimate for – take it or leave it - make up your mind – to an arbitrary price. I have always thought an estimate would have some integrity behind it so I could be making an informed decision. To me an estimate should say: this is what the problem seems to be, this is what will need to be done to fix the problem, and we will keep you informed if any further work need to be done before going ahead.
Silly me! [bt]