(news & commentary)
News out of China today says that Nikon’s D600 problem is ongoing: Officials from Shanghai Administration of Industry and Commerce apparently visited Nikon China on Sunday and got an agreement to “replace problematic products with new ones.” This follows a two-hour prime time TV broadcast on Saturday where China Central Television (CCTV) accused Nikon of selling faulty cameras and skirting warranty policies. In one case, apparently Nikon claimed that the spots that appear on D600 sensors were due to the poor air quality in China, not a problem with the camera.
As of today, numerous news agencies are reporting that Nikon has withdrawn the D600 from the Chinese market.
This just adds another layer to Nikon’s problems. Denying the QA problem was always something I thought that Nikon would eventually suffer damage from. But note that Nikon is constantly claiming that lower-than-expected sales in China are part of the reason why their camera sales are off. You have to think that this is a “see foot, shoot foot” situation. If Nikon really wanted to improve Chinese sales of its products, it needed to be in front of this QA problem, not behind it.
Frankly, how Nikon has handled both the D600 and D800 quality control issues is disheartening and bodes ill for us long-term Nikon users as it seriously threatens the overall health of the company. We have not heard from management on this issue, and that needs to happen. Service advisories and subsidiary employees acknowledging an issue doesn’t give the customer confidence that executive management understands that there’s a real problem and that they need to be clear that they’ll fix it and stop it from happening again.
Did I think I’d still be writing about the D600 problem well over a year after it first appeared? No. Does Nikon think that having more than a year’s worth of consumer complaints rolling around the Internet is helping them sell cameras? I should hope not.
Nikon seems to be trying to create plenty of scenarios so that they’re assured of becoming a Harvard Business School official Case Study. That’s not a good thing. As I discovered in my MBA program and then executive management in the high tech industry afterward, while those Case Studies seem to have simple, logical answers, what usually stands in the way of the right answer is people. No Nikon executive seems to be able to say “yes we had a problem, we’re sorry, we’ll fix it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Until that happens and customers believe them, Nikon is just going to continue to have this problem. Every time someone encounters a problem with a Nikon camera these days, I tend to get a “is this another D600/D800 type problem” email from them. People are actively looking for the next Nikon QA problem.
Nikon simply fails to understand that they’re under higher scrutiny by its loyal customer base. The trust in the customer base is starting to drop. This has to end, and soon.
So let me state it again: Nikon’s executive team needs to stand up, tell us in detail what happened and what the exact problem is, what they’re now doing about it, and how they intend to keep it from happening again. It’s called an apology, and I know that’s difficult for some Japanese to do, but it’s now necessary, not optional.