(news & commentary)
At least one law firm has now officially filed a class action suit against Nikon regarding the D600’s lubricant and dust issues. Other law firms are collecting potential class members in anticipation of filing a similar suit.
The suit by Zimmerman Reed PLLP, as filed, seems to try to get around the protective clauses regarding warranty of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in multiple ways: that Nikon knew of the issues when shipping the camera and downplayed them via their service advisory, that the issue is endemic to the product and in contradiction of the claims of a shutter tested to 150k clicks and “stunning” image quality, and that Nikon’s actions have lowered the resale value of the product. Curiously, though, the lead plaintiff representing the class doesn’t seem to have actually sent his camera back to Nikon for repair despite owning it for well over a year, so I don’t know how you get past the protections of Magnuson-Moss. They try to by exerting a claim that “[plaintiff] read stories that Nikon would not make repairs…” though I’d think this would work against creating a class, as technically only those who only read such stories would be in the class. I should also point out that the lawyers sent a letter to NikonUSA on February 5th asking the company to “correct, repair, replace or otherwise rectify the defective D600 camera within 30 days of receipt of this letter.” Said letter was sent to Nikon on February 5th and the suit was filed on February 19th, long before the deadline given Nikon to respond.
Basically, if a product producer fulfills its warranty obligations, it’s generally assumed to be not liable for damages. It appears that the construct here is “Nikon’s service advisory said the user should clean the sensor and that didn’t solve the problem, therefore the product is unfit for its intended purpose.” However, that same service advisory said “If these measures do not remove all dust particles and you are still experiencing problems, then please consult your nearest Nikon service center. The technicians will examine the camera thoroughly, and service it as needed.” The suit characterizes this as a “vague” offer of servicing. Doesn’t seem vague to me, and as I said to the lawyers, who contacted me earlier this year trying to collect information that might be relevant to the suit, I don’t know of a case where Nikon hasn’t ultimately resolved a purchaser’s issue via repair.
The claims of violating California Civil Code probably have more viability here, though part of that is the broad and sometimes vague nature of the California law. To a large degree, the suit, as filed, seems to be much more about “false advertising” than “mechantability of purpose.” Over and over there’s the assertion that the camera was marketed to users as a high quality product capable of extremely high levels of image quality, yet users were not able to achieve that due to the lubricant splatter and dust problems.
The suit asks for the following things: a jury trial, a certification of class, restitution to the class members, a corrective campaign by Nikon to include replacement or refund, an award of damages, and, of course, payment of all attorneys’ fees for the plaintiffs.
As I noted a year ago, Nikon completely messed up their response to the D600 problem (and the D800 one, for that matter). That this has led them down the path to further problems (a law suit) doesn’t surprise me one bit. Everything I wrote then still applies. In fact, it’s even more important today than it was then, because if it appears that a law suit was the only way that Nikon got around to actually dealing with a problem, it just makes people less prone to believe Nikon’s marketing messages and to look closer for more problems in the future. A little over a decade I referred to this as a “friction” against Nikon’s sales. That friction is now starting to wear down the pads and cause an acrid smell.
I’ve written the following on my sites for almost 15 years now: Nikon has a clear, consistent, and critical problem in its communications with its customers. This has not improved significantly since I first brought it up, and my only surprise is that it’s taken this long for Nikon to get fully tripped up by that.