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Tuesday, January 19 Front Page >> Random Rants >> Canon 40D woes

Jul 09, 2008, 11:10pm

I was very excited when Canon came out with their 40D dSLR ASP-C sensor sized camera last late fall. I'd been waiting for about 18 months for a solid upgrade from my 20D dSLR and the 30D just didn't cut it as a suitable upgrade. I couldn't quite afford a 5D at the time, and I had the 400D to act as a backup for the 20D.

Within days (I think three days) of the 40D becoming available in Canada, I bought one - early adopter stuff. And this camera had a severe problem that I didn't notice until I owned it for about 20 days - the autofocus system was horribly off. I didn't notice it because I tend to shoot about 85% of my photos in manual focus, and I was making extensive use of the 40D's new toycandy liveview mode. I'd taken some autofocus snaps, but assumed the off-focus issues were my own bad composition or shaky hands. It was only after a few weeks that I really started to notice it was the camera's fault, not my own. By this point, I was past the "return to store for exchange" period.

I'd heard that Canon was not the greatest at doing quick turnarounds for warranty service (to be fair, Nikon has just as bad a reputation), so I called in my problem within a month of ownership, but put off sending in the camera until I could "do without" it for 3 weeks (Canon said over the phone repair turnaround was 10-14 business days). That time finally came up mid May this year.

What followed was 2 months without my camera. I finally got it back - actually, a brand new one, but only because of this email I sent, reprinted below. The email details what happened over the nearly 2 months I was without the camera. I sent it to Kevin Ogawa, President of Canon Canada, Ian Macfarlane, Vice President, Digital Imaging, and Maria Tesla, Counsel General for Canon. Don't bother trying to find their email addresses - they don't print these things on any Canon website. Instead, I took an educated guess at their email addresses, based on the press contact's email address for Canon Canada.

Within a day, my situation was resolved with Canon - they mailed me a brand new camera, including all the stuff in the box (so I now have a spare battery, lens caps, strap, charger, cables, etc., because I didn't send those in with my faulty camera), and they mailed it overnight delivery. A marked difference from the "service" I got from Canon prior to tracking down the president and veep's email addresses.

I was also told that my situation would result in a "staff review of services" at Canon's Calgary repair depot. The responses I got on the phone were considered unacceptable by Canon, and they said they would remedy these situations. I also got a personal apology from the head of the Calgary operations. All in all, I'm satisfied, though I hope others won't have to go through the effort or expense I did.

Here's the letter I sent to the head of Canon Canada:

Dear Sirs and Madam:

I am a still life photographer and I specialise in coffee and espresso product photography. Late last year, I purchased a Canon 40D to replace my aging 20D, and to supplement a 400D model I have as a "backup". Because I do most of my studio work using manual focus, It took me two weeks to notice my 40D had severe auto focus issues.

I had heard that sending in cameras for repair to Canon could be a lengthy process, so I put off mailing in my camera for warranty work until I had about a 3 week "lull" in my work. I did call Canon to register the problem in January, and called again in May to find out the arrangements for getting the camera serviced.

I mailed my Canon 40D in on May 17th, 2008. I sent it two day priority post to the Calgary repair centre. Prior to mailing it, I called the Calgary office and asked how long an estimated repair would take. I was told 10-14 business days for the "turnaround" which I read to mean three weeks, door to door.

Just under two weeks passed, and I had heard nothing from Canon, so I called the Calgary repair centre, and was told my camera "was not in the system". I was worried it was lost in transit, so I contacted Canada Post and started a trace.

While this was going on, I called the Calgary repair centre a week later, and this time (around June 5th or 6th), I was told the camera "was in the system". I asked how long the repair would take, and again was told 10-14 business days. By this point, I was already without my camera, the source of much of my income, for almost three weeks. I had several small jobs coming up where I needed a camera.

During this second call, I asked if I could be notified when my camera was repaired, or if it is to be replaced. I was told very casually I would be emailed. I asked to verify my email address, and the customer service person said "we don't have an email address for you on file". I asked if I could add one, and I was told that is impossible, they aren't set up to do that. I then asked "so how will I be notified about this camera?" and the person said, "oh, someone should call you".

I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told there are none. I asked to speak to the person's "boss". I was told no, that's impossible. I hung up in frustration.

Two weeks passed with no word from Canon on the status of this repair, so I called again. This time, I was told my camera "was in the queue for repairs". I asked when I would get it back. I was told, this time, "15-20 business days for repair". I expressed frustration over this, saying I was previously told 10-14 business days full turnaround time. The person told me that was impossible, no one told me that (basically insinuated I was lying). Then the service person I was speaking to could not tell me how far in my camera was for this repair, when I could get it back, or anything. Again I asked for a supervisor or boss, and was told "sorry, I can't do that".

Because of this delay, I had to buy another camera to do the work I was committed to doing. I needed high speed, I needed full manual control, and I needed image quality, and I needed creative features that my Xti / 400D did not have, so I ended up buying a Canon 5D, which to be honest, was an expense I could not afford, but had to make regardless.

Today, some seven weeks after I mailed in my camera for repair, I finally got an email from someone at Canon (quoted below) stating my camera is now being replaced, not repaired, and I would have to wait another 5-7 business days before it would be shipped to me. I don't know if this is a new camera, or a refurbished camera that has more shutter actuations than my model had, or what.

Ironically enough, I had a problem with a Nintendo Wii around the same time I sent in my Canon 40D to Calgary. The Wii's drive stopped working. This is a $299 consumer game appliance. When we called up Nintendo Canada, they said that it would be repaired or replaced in 5 business days, and all our settings (the game console stores a lot of information) would be transferred, AND Nintendo covers shipping. Or even better yet, I could walk into a Richmond BC repair depot, and have it repaired or replaced while I waited. All this for a $299 appliance.

But with my $1500 EOS 40D camera, I have almost no customer service, no ability to speak to someone who could actually look into this delayed repair, and it will be two months before I get a camera body back. There's something wrong here.

I've been a long time Canon customer with many thousands of dollars invested in bodies and lenses and flashes in the past five years. I would like to know what Canon Canada intends to do about remedying this horrible warranty service experience.


(nb - letter edited to remove some personal information)

This letter got results. It got a phone call the next day from Canon in Calgary. It got a brand new 40D shipped to me. But most importantly (and I hope this is true), it will result in a review of customer relations at the Calgary depot. I sure hope so.

And... now I have three camera bodies - a 450D (Xsi), a 40D, and a 5D. Anyone want to buy a brand spankin' new, less than 50 actuations 40D? I have to recoup some of the 5D cost.

3 comments | reply

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