Nikon Language

Nikon Europe posted an update to their warranty policies. I understand the issues that occur with translation, but…

"Carefully study the Intruction [sic] Manual or read the FAQ's contained within this support site. If you have lost the manual you can probably download a PDF manual from this site. You may find an explanation which avoids unnecessary inconvenience for you.

This section should read:

“Check the instruction manual that came with your camera or the FAQs posted on this site (links). If you lost your manual, download a PDF version of it from this site (links).

The whole “you may” and “unnecessary inconvenience” sentence is just one of those equivocating head scratchers. The implication is that you might be unnecessarily inconvenienced anyway! And that sentence doesn’t do anything to preclude you being inconvenienced ;~). Also note that I suggested that they should link to specific pages rather than just tell someone to search the site. That would be customer friendly, after all. Unfortunately, this page is all about customer unfriendly. And it was updated apparently by someone who doesn’t speak the language it’s in.

So what’s going on here? 

We have someone who can’t write updating Nikon’s draconian Gray Market scare tactics. 

I first wrote about Nikon’s terrible gray market policies in the 1990’s on the Web site, and have written articles about it since (note link ;~). In essence, here’s what I believe happens: Nikon decides to dump a bunch of cameras at low prices into a distributor, usually in Asia, in order to make their quarterly numbers. In doing so, they want to not have any further liability (warranted products require that you carry an allowance for future presumed repair costs on your financial statements). Nikon basically washes their hands of any responsibility for the product, putting it all on the customer. Then, of course, Nikon also says they won’t repair these products under any conditions, partly because of the strange way in which Nikon costs out repairs in the subsidiaries (prix fixe). 

So what we get out of all of that is a customer-facing “it’s your problem” statement of some sort. 

Usually when Nikon subsidiaries start updating their Gray Market policies like this it means that they fear a new round of products coming to them for repair that they want to disclaim. That occurs for two reasons: (1) dumping; and (2) currency arbitrage. 

While the yen has been more stable against the Euro than the dollar, the one year change still works out to almost 4%. So if you dumped camera gear below normal distribution prices in Japan early this year and then that inventory moves to Europe, it’s possible that products show up with considerable discount to the officially imported ones, especially given Nikon Europe’s recent tendency towards higher-than-US-equivalent pricing. Indeed, some Nikon products could be profitably bought in the US from excess inventory and sold in Europe at the moment.

Nikon’s warranty and repair policies have been convoluted for decades now. They are absolutely customer unfriendly. They are also an indication of a company that doesn’t understand what “global” truly means. 

Yes, Nikon’s profits are under stress right now. But gray market isn’t actually a new issue. Personally, I think Nikon needs to completely rethink their customer support and product service programs worldwide. The Nikon bean counters may point to data that shows they saved pennies here and there, but customers actually balk at buying new product at all when they see that there could be issues downstream if their product breaks. All Nikon’s updating of these Gray Market Scare pages does is remind users that Nikon isn’t always on their side in supporting Nikon gear. 

Buying Nikon gear on the used market also gets constrained by Nikon’s policies, because if you can’t distinguish between “official import” and “gray market” on the used market, you could end up with gear that’s unrepairable when it breaks. This constrains used sales, which Nikon probably thinks is a good thing. But I’d remind them that the reason why many Nikon users are Nikon users is the legacy support factor: old gear in closets works on new gear bought in stores. Take away the legacy support, and suddenly there’s no reason to not consider competitive products when purchasing new. 

Finally, I’d like to point out that if, as I suspect, Nikon does dump products into the gray market knowingly, sentences like "In some cases Nikon Authorized Service Providers will not be able to support this kind of commercial agreement made between the DEALER and CONSUMER. This is especially the case, [sic] when your dealer did not purchase your Nikon product through the official Nikon Distribution cases considered as Grey Imports [sic]”  become extremely disingenuous. 

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