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by E.J. Peiker on Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:08 pm
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I have been photographing with Sony a7 series cameras and the Sony FE lenses for 5 years and 2 months now, basically since the week that they original a7R first shipped.  I have just had my first failure requiring service.  My 1 year and 28 day old a7R3 will no longer click in or release an SD card in Slot 1.  Apparently the spring loaded SD card mechanism has failed.  By comparison, on Nikon gear I have had several failures in the same period of time despite much lower utilization.  On Phase One gear, I had three substantial failures in 2 years.  On Canon gear, which I have not owned since 2008, I was getting around 3 failures every 5 years.  I am of course not counting anything that was due to any kind of camera or lens trauma, just sudden in the field failures.  While Sony gear is sometimes maligned, especially on competitor forums and rumor sites, this is actually a very good track record despite the camera being only slightly over 1 year old.  I am going to chronicle the repair process here - [please do note that I am a Sony Imaging Pro member]:

Day 1 - failure detected after a morning shoot when I could not eject the SD card in Slot 1.  Pulling on the end of the card with needle nose pliers removed the card easily with absolutely no resistance, similar to an SD card slot on a computer but on the camera there is not enough room to grip the card, thus the pliers needed to be used.  It appears the spring loaded capture/release system in Slot 1, the faster slot, has failed.

I logged onto the Sony Imaging Pro Support website with the attention of starting a repair ticket (similar to what I have too much experience doing with NPS).  After searching for a few minutes I was unable to find a facility to do this.  I then called SIPS and the call was immediately answered by a real human being based in the USA and learned that the way to initiate SIPS level repair is by calling them or sending an email.  After a few minutes of giving him information I was all set and about 10 minutes later all of the paperwork for the repair came through in email including a FedEx Overnight prepaid label, packing instructions, etc.  I did include a note, as was suggested by the SIPS representative, to make sure that Precision Camera Repair (another much maligned company), would take into consideration that the camera is less than 1 month out warranty.  I missed the drop off cut-off for today but the package will still be delivered on Monday morning to the repair company in Connecticut. 
 

by Mike in O on Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:42 pm
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[please do not that I am a Sony Imaging Pro member]: Note maybe? I think you are a good tester EJ, always travelling to extreme climates.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:00 pm
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Mike in O wrote:
[please do not that I am a Sony Imaging Pro member]:   Note maybe?  I think you are a good tester EJ, always travelling to extreme climates.

Corrected.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:50 pm
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Day 3 - Precision Camera Repair in Enfield, CT received the camera on Monday and did the assessment.  I did receive an email from an actual human upon receipt.  That same person called me on Tuesday afternoon and told me that they had assessed the problem and in order to replace the slot, the entire main circuit board must be replaced.  In other words the card mechanism is integrated onto the circuit board (not a very repair friendly design - in general in my life in the electronics industry, you want to avoid integrating mechanical components into an electronic component as it escalates what could be a cheap repair to much higher levels of cost).  The cost of this repair will be $604!!!  I asked the person who is handling my case if any consideration could be given due to the fact that it is just one month out of warranty.  At this point she told me she would get back to me on that.

Replacement of the board will cause all camera settings to be reset.  Sony users know that this is a major pain due to the complexity of the menu system and the lack of a facility to write all camera settings to a SD card.
 

by Tom Robbins on Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:41 pm
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Sorry the malfunction occurred EJ, but am grateful to be able to watch this process unfold from the sideline. We'll all learn from this experience.

A question if you don't mind: are the folks you're dealing with aware of who you are and that you are sharing the results with a fairly large group? Just curious as it may affect the outcome.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:51 pm
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Tom Robbins wrote:
Sorry the malfunction occurred EJ, but am grateful to be able to watch this process unfold from the sideline. We'll all learn from this experience.

A question if you don't mind: are the folks you're dealing with aware of who you are and that you are sharing the results with a fairly large group? Just curious as it may affect the outcome.


They just know that I am a Sony Imaging Pro Services member.  
 

by E.J. Peiker on Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:21 pm
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Day 4 - The person that has been communicating with me called to say that she has submitted my repair for warranty coverage to Sony since the failure is so close to the end of the warranty period and will let me know when she gets a response.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:01 pm
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Day 5 - Crickets!
 

by E.J. Peiker on Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:52 pm
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Day 6, 7, 8, 9 - The Roar of Silence - email sent...
 

by Neilyb on Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:04 am
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E.J. Peiker wrote:
Day 6, 7, 8, 9 - The Roar of Silence - email sent...


So not up to Canon Pro Service then... :| 
 

by E.J. Peiker on Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:24 am
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Neilyb wrote:
E.J. Peiker wrote:
Day 6, 7, 8, 9 - The Roar of Silence - email sent...


So not up to Canon Pro Service then... :| 

Well had I just said that I would pay for the repair I'd already have the camera back as the guarantee is a three day turn around but since the camera is just a month out of warranty I asked for a warranty exception.  They haven't gotten back to me on that yet but in fairness, where they are located had a severe winter storm over the last two days with many things shut down.
 

by Neilyb on Wed Feb 13, 2019 1:07 pm
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Seems fair. Canon would not have done this under warranty!
 

by Phil Shaw on Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:10 pm
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I had repairs done by Canon UK free of charge after the warrantee had expired .  I also had a 1D3 though that never worked. :cry:
 

by E.J. Peiker on Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:18 pm
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Day 16 They finally got back to me. Still no word from Sony on Warranty coverage, they are going to resend the request.
 

by E.J. Peiker on Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:12 pm
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Four weeks in, still nothing, repeated calls, emails just gets me a "we are still checking" on the one out of 4 times that I get any response whatsoever.  This is making me really consider going to a Nikon Z7 for my travel photography once the announced new lenses are available and the new FW with improved AF is vetted.  Remember that this is the service a Sony Imaging Pro Services member is receiving!
 

by Neilyb on Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:02 pm
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Now that the market does have some competition Sony really have to up their game on Service and Support. Sorry to hear E.J. Keep calm and carry on ;)
 

by E.J. Peiker on Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:09 am
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My letter to Sony Imaging Pro Support (names and numbers have been edited out):

Hello,

My name is E.J. Peiker, Sony Imaging Pro Support member US####.

Exactly one month ago my Sony a7R III had a failure of the SD Card Slot 1. On February 1 I initiated a Sony Service Center repair (Work Order: WO-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx). I received a call back on 2/5 acknowledging the receipt of the camera and an estimate of $603.97 to replace the main board. I asked if this could be covered under warranty as the failure occurred just three weeks after the end of the camera's one year warranty. The representative from Precision Camera Repair said that she would check. She called back again on Feb 6 and said that she had submitted the repair to Sony for warranty coverage and she would get back to me in a few days with their decision. That was the last time I spoke with anyone at Precision and have since been getting stone walled as you can see from the email exchanges below:

------------------
Feb 12 I wrote:
Hi xxxxxx,

We spoke a couple of times last week about my repair and you were going to find out if the repair would be covered under warranty. I have not heard back since the last time we talked on Wednesday.

Thanks much,

E.J.

- I received no response

------------------

Feb 16 I wrote:
Hello again,

I am still waiting to hear back from you regarding my camera. when last we spoke on 2/6/19, you were going to request that this repair be covered under warranty but I have not heard anything since then. Please respond as soon as possible so that we can get my camera repaired.

Thanks much!

E.J. Peiker

------------------

Feb 18 I finally received a response:
Good Morning E.J.

I apologize for the delay in response. I am following up with other Sony Pro team members regarding the warranty request. I will follow up with you as soon as I have a response.

- That is the last communication I received

------------------

Feb 26 I wrote:
Hi xxxxxx,

It’s now been almost a month without the a7RIII and I’ve been using my much less user friendly backup, the a7R2 but really would like to get this resolved and the camera back in service.

Thanks!

E.J.

- No response!

------------------

Feb 28 in the morning I wrote:

Still waiting for a response, I need this camera back!

Thanks!

E.J.

------------------

I own 4 Sony cameras (a6000, a6300, a7R II, a7R III) and several GM lenses and have owned every iteration of the a7R and have been using my old a7R II backup during this time. I am getting very discouraged with this situation and it gives me pause on investing more into the Sony eco system if this is how Professional Support customers are being treated. If there is anything you can do to get this camera repaired and back into my hands ASAP, I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you!

E.J. Peiker
US####
 

by E.J. Peiker on Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:27 am
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I got an apology and promise for immediate follow-up from Sony Imaging Pro Support 13 minutes after sending the email above. Lets hope this gets things rolling!
 

by E.J. Peiker on Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:57 pm
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About 5 hours after the apology email from Sony Imaging Pro Support offices I got this email:

"Once again, apologies for your experience. I have reached out to my manager and we want to offer you as a one time accommodation for your troubles, a 50% discount on the service fees. I will reach out to the service center. In the rare occasion that you have trouble reaching the service center, please reach out to us and we will contact them on your behalf. Cheers, have a lovely day !"

I have agreed to the 50% discount (which is on top of the 10% discount I get as a Pro Support Member. Now lets see how long it takes to get the camera back.
 

by SantaFeJoe on Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:08 pm
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E.J. Peiker wrote:

"Once again, apologies for your experience. I have reached out to my manager and we want to offer you as a one time accommodation for your troubles, a 50% discount on the service fees.

Pretty sad that after waiting this long, this is the best they can do! They should send you a brand new camera and NO charges!
No good business practices here.
Joe
Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.  -Pablo Picasso
 

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