Customer and Lens Both Squeal

In mid-2010 I bought a used Nikon 70-200 VR I. By September 2012, the AF failed. I sent the lens to Nikon LA. The response was estimate repair B2 $432. Not having any idea what that meant, I authorized the repair.  I knew I was taking my chances buying a used lens so I had no qualms about paying for a repair. My issue here was I had no clue what the repair was. Could you imagine getting a auto repair or other any other appliance estimate as vague as that? No one would tolerate it.

So I paid and I received the lens back within a very reasonable time and in time for my annual Eastern Sierra fall color trip. Invoice says replaced AF-S motion and various other parts. I unpacked the lens and turned the focus ring which squealed loudly like parts scraping against each other. I called Nikon CS.  They said send it back. So I over-nighted it back with a letter saying I needed it by the end of the week for my trip. A week after my trip, I got it back. The squeal was gone, but no apology, no offer to pay for my shipping. Nothing but silence.

Fast forward to late June 2013. After using the lens about 8-10 times, the AF fails again. I contact a friend who is friends with a higher up person at Nikon in NY. He tells me the NY guy called LA and to send the lens back to LA specifically to Vic Zimmerman, who runs the repair center. Vic is expecting the lens and he will take care of it. So I send it back to LA. Then I get an estimate: Repair B2 $432. I call my friend, who calls his friend, who calls LA and after a week or so, it is changed to Repair B2, complimentary. The lens is repaired and sent back to me. Again, the final invoice says replaced AF-S motor ect., same repair that failed in less than a year.

I certainly did appreciate the complimentary repair. However, it is not lost on me that absent my personal relationship, Nikon expected me to pay for the repair again. Further, I have no information as to why the AF-S motor failed in 9 months and no re-assurance that it will not do so again. It is not reasonable to pay $432 a year to keep this lens running. Nikon's response? Silence.

So once again I unpack my lens and turn the manual focus ring.  It squeals again just like before. Just about every time the manual focus ring goes past the focal area either at closest or infinity, it squeals. So I send it back to Nikon. I then receive the following email from Nikon Tech Support:

"Mr. Zimmerman in the L.A. office has asked me to contact you regarding your lens. Most AF-S lenses can squeak if the manual focus ring is turned past the limits of the focus range. This has been tested with some of our lenses and is normal. If this is happening to your lens it does not need to come in for service."

The lens is then returned to me with an invoice stating "check and clean", but this time it still squeals.

None of my other lenses exhibit this behavior. This lens has only done so when it comes back from Nikon following a repair. No one I know who has Nikon lenses have lenses that do this. The very unscientific poll I posted on Nikon Cafe revealed that the few people who had lenses that did squeak, did so because the AF-S motor was failing.

So now I am left with what do I do with this lens? I good conscience, I cannot and will not sell it without full disclosure which will significantly devalue the lens. I have no confidence in Nikon as a company doing anything about it. I realize I bought it used, but it is not gray and I paid for a repair and am entitled to be able to use it in confidence for a reasonable period of time without failure. I also think I am entitled to not have to rely on Nikon's vague "test[] of some of our lenses" that do the same thing.

I will not be the customer of a company that will not stand by its product and repairs and acts so indifferent towards its customer making excuses instead of doing the right thing. I was lucky I was able to leverage a friend of a friend this time, but absent that, Nikon could have cared less. The message sent is Nikon does not value me as a customer. If it does not value me as a customer, then why should I be one.  I have no trust or confidence in the LA repair center and if at all possible, will not send it any of my other equipment again. If not for the fact that I cannot stand Canon ergonomics and dial system (works for others, just not for me), I would be considering jumping when the 7D replacement arrives (I currently shoot a D300). (rs)


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