I’ve had good luck with my technology while on the road, but that came to a screeching halt this year.
My previous camera was on its last leg and it served me well for the over 40,000 pictures it took. The new camera was fine, but then things went downhill quickly. I’ll tell the story in bullet points to retrain myself from being sarcastic and to keep this long story as short as possible.
- In Myanmar I noticed a spot that didn’t seem to go away. I saw a small white piece of something inside the lens and I couldn’t remove it. In most pictures you couldn’t notice. A few weeks later in Fort Kochi, India I noticed a spot that I couldn’t get rid of on every picture. You can see it highlighted below.
- The spot wouldn’t go away and in Bangalore, India I visited a Sony service center. They informed me that although my camera was only two months old, my warranty was only valid in the U.S. If any problems needed to be resolved, I would have to pay out of pocket. They charged me something like $15 to take a look at the camera. They said they cleaned the lens’s sensor and it should be fine. It was! Nice!
- A couple weeks later I was in Ranthambore Park and I realized the spot returned. It was in a different place. Here is an image showing the new spot.
- Soon thereafter I was in Delhi and I went to the Sony center there. They said they could replace the lens, but it would cost about $120 and take two weeks. I was leaving India in less than two weeks and I didn’t want to spend so much. The spots situation got much worse as you can see below.
- I wrote the Sony USA customer support and explained the situation. They came up with a solution. I send my camera to them in the US, they fix it, and then they send it back to me. This would be time consuming and might make me liable for customs taxes on the way back in but it was the best solution. I sent it from India by FedEx (at Sony’s cost) and told them to send it back to me at my friend’s place in Cyprus.
- They sent it back regular mail to North Cyprus, which requires a lengthy pause in Turkey, but I got my camera back about 6 weeks later. Not ideal, but I was able to borrow a camera for parts of my waiting time. I wasn’t required to pay any customs fee.
- With a new lens, things were good… for about a month. Then the spots came back. I wrote Sony again and they agreed to the same silly procedure – send it back to the US, they’ll fix it, and send it back to me. I sent it FedEx again (at Sony’s cost) and gave them a return address to my friend’s place in Hungary.
- They sent my camera back later than I thought they would and it was sent July 3rd, 2013. I would be in Budapest starting from July 9th until July 15th. Looks good! But they sent it regular mail, not FedEx like they said they would…
- The camera arrived in Budapest on July 12th, but was in customs. A good friend of mine from college had an empty apartment in Debrecen, Hungary’s second biggest city. She already told me I could stay there and the plan was to wait there until the camera was delivered in Budapest adn then my friend would forward it on to me in Debrecen.
- Initially my friend was out of town so I knew I would be stuck in Debrecen for longer than expected. Just how long I never could have imagined.
- I checked the tracking daily and it didn’t move. Every few days my friend in Budapest would inform me of somethign crazy. There were several pages of forms to fill out. I had to send the receipt to prove it wasn’t a new item. More paperwork. More headache. Finally after I had waited a month always thinking that delivery was just a couple days away for weeks at that point, my friend wrote me to say they requested some form to show the camera was gift from me to my friend since it was addressed to her. At this point I kind of folded my deck of cards. I realized this would never end.
- I wrote my contact at Sony and told him all the craziness that was going on. While Sony had done its job, Hungarian customs not being their fault, they did tell me that they were sending it by FedEx. It would not have taken a month to clear customs with FedEx. Courier companies get you your stuff as fast as possible. That’s why they charge so much. I presume they would have gotten it through customs for us, or would have informed how much we owed and been done with it.
- Because of this error on their part, and the fact that I had spent an exhorbitant amount of time stuck in Hungary because of the lemon of a camera I bought from them, I asked for them to foot the bill for a new camera so I could move on. They didn’t agree to that, but they agreed to refund the full purchase price of the repaired camera stuck in Hungarian customs. Fair enough.
- The last snag was to get Hungarian customs to return the camera to sender. But this proved relatively easy and my parents got a check from Sony soon thereafter.
- I went to the only technology store in Debrecen, Hungary and found a camera I wanted. They only had the floor model though, and it didn’t look like it was in good shape. I found it for sale in Kosice, Slovakia, my next stop. I placed the order online on a Friday night and I’d collect it Sunday morning when I arrived there. On Saturday morning I got an email from the company saying it was out of stock and I had to wait two weeks to get it. I wrote them and told them to cancel it. They did, but they never refunded me. I had to call them a few weeks later when I realized the money was never refunded.
- I went back to the technology store in Debrecen and paid a crazy high price (Sony’s VAT is 27%!!!) for the only decent camera I could find in this small town, a Sony DSC-WX300. Yes, I got another Sony despite my problems. The people I dealt with were very nice and it was the only camera I could find with specifications that fit my needs.
You may be thinking… how stupid of Sony to have that warranty policy! Yes, I agree. They spent a lot of money in shipping costs when there were local repair facilities in India and Cyprus where I could have had the issue resolved more quickly. Apparently such “warranty only good in the country of purchase” policies are relatively common. So, beware.
I guess the story doesn’t sound so horrible. It was a huge pain in the butt though for me. Still, I realized how lucky I was that the “crisis” I had in my life was this camera issue. There are far worse problems I could have. And because of my extended stay in Hungary I had the time to explore the possibility of finding TED events in upcoming countries. I got in touch with TEDxYerevan and the rest is history. So, some positive definitely came about as a result of this drama.