No Cigar

(commentary)

Nikon Europe posted a short article dealing with the D600 dust issue. Not exactly as clear as Canon's, and Nikon doesn't exactly admit to the excess lubricant issue many have also experienced. Here's the shorthand of what you should do, if Nikon need to do this again:

  1. Clearly state what went wrong.
  2. Say you're sorry, directly. 
  3. Make amends.
  4. State how you'll make sure not to repeat the mistake.
  5. Request forgiveness.


Nikon's service note mostly messes this up. First, apparently the dust is at fault. Next, you're at fault if you haven't tried all the remedies listed in the manual. Only then will Nikon "examine" your problem and deal with it "as needed." But, of course, it may only "reduce this issue." 

So let me try to write what Nikon should have:

"Dear D600 user: 

It has come to our attention that some cameras were shipped from the factory with dust and excess lubricant that shows up as spots in your final image. The in-camera cleaning system does not remove these foreign objects from the filter over the sensor, thus additional cleaning action is needed to make your camera function the way you expect it to. 

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this problem has caused you. To make things right, we will clean your sensor and make your camera function as you expect, at no cost and with as little hassle as possible. Just contact us via <fillintheblank> to get that process started. However, sometmes using a blower as outlined on pages 304-305 of the User's Manual may be all that's necessary to fix the problem, so we humbly suggest that you try that first.

Again, we apologize for this problem. We take issues like this seriously, so we are examining our quality control at the factory and trying not only to identify how this happened for some cameras, but also identify ways to make sure it doesn't happen again. 

Please forgive us and give us a chance to make amends by getting your camera clean and functioning as expected. We realize you have a choice of brands to provide your photographic needs. We want you to know that we are aware that we didn't live up to your expectations for our products here. We didn't live up to our own high expectations. Rest assured that when we do mess up as we did here, we'll make it right. 

Thank you for your previous support, and please give us the chance to earn your future support, as well.

Sincerely,

A Better Nikon"

Shortly after I wrote this, I got the following email from a D600 user:

I initially noticed the problem at around 2700 clicks, and it was exactly as others have described on the various forums: a series of black spots on the top left of images, which weren't affected by the camera's self-clean function. I took the camera to the Nikon Salon in Tokyo (thankfully a relatively quick trip for me), and they offered to clean it for free.

The dust spots had visibly returned by 4000 images, and I took it back to Nikon but this time they charged me 1000 yen ($13). I was annoyed, but based on what I read on the internet it seemed like this was going to be a short-lived problem.

I am now at 6000 clicks, and the dust has returned with a vengeance. Again, centered on the top left of images. I took my camera back to Nikon and after a bit of arguing with 5 different people (complicated by the fact that I don't speak Japanese), my camera has been sent to the Nikon factory for servicing, which they say will take a week. They tried to charge me full price for this service, because I have a USA warranty which doesn't cover worldwide service (who knew?), but I was able to convince them that they should do it for free.

And there we have the reason why Nikon's posted answer--only in Europe so far that I know of--is all wrong. "Service it as needed" seems to be "we'll try cleaning it once." Top that off with: "Sorry, no amends because you're not where you're supposed to be." 

Is this really the way to treat customers who encounter a problem caused by the factory on a US$2000 item? Initially, I gave Nikon some slack on this issue. But their non-response has now put them back in my penalty box. Just say you goofed up and clean the dirty cameras, guys. So far all Nikon has managed to do is prolong five months of user complaints about the D600's propensity to wreck images with dust and lubricant in quantities beyond any reasonable expectations. Does Nikon really think that this isn't slowing D600 sales? If they can't see the connection, then maybe I should start publishing some of the other emails I'm getting.

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