The Problem With Canon

In hindsight, I’ve made a few mistakes on the road to getting started in digital photography. But it all stems from one bright idea: Avoid The Kit Lens.

When I bought the Canon Xti (400D), I wanted something better than the 17-55mm lens that it came with. I saved $100 by buying the body only, so I put that money towards a better lens — the 28-135mm IS lens, which is actually the kit lens for the next model up, the Canon 40D, I believe.

Mistake #1: I saved another $100 by buying that lens as a refurb. sells cameras, lenses, and more that are “Refurbished by Canon USA.” I poked around on-line and saw people were generally satisfied with Canon’s service, so I felt safe in buying a Canon refurb lens.

Mistake #2: I didn’t test the lens extensively as soon as I got it. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how. I’m still new to the world of dSLRs, and even six months of reading countless photo magazines, listening to hundreds of hours of photography podcasts, and surfing photo blogs and websites daily didn’t teach me about what to do when I get a new lens. I still haven’t found a good resource for that. (Some say you should hang a newspaper up on the wall and take pics of it at all apertures to get a feel for it.)

Mistake #3: The lens wasn’t working consistently, and I thought it was my fault. User error. The auto focus was slow, then it wouldn’t work, then it worked again. I assumed it was something with the way I was using it. Maybe I shouldn’t flip that switch at that time, or maybe I had the aperture setting too high, or the ISO too low. . .

But after using the lens on and off for a couple of months, the inevitable dawned on me – the lens was crap. Manual focus is great. It works well on macro. IS is fine. But the autofocus is just busted. Every now and then you could get it to work again by focusing on a bright light, but that was a temporary fix.

Mistake #4: I looked at Adorama’s website to get an idea of the returns procedure. In their FAQ, they specify that you have 15 days after purchase to return an item, otherwise it has to go back to the manufacturer.

Mistake #5: I went to and looked up their procedure. It’s very easy. You fill out a form, including the serial number of the lens. You specify your issue, and they give you an address to ship the lens to. After receiving it, they’ll send you an invoice for how much it’ll cost to fix and you can approve it. The manufacturer’s warranty will cover my lens, though. It’s from Canon, and it’s under a year old, right?

Mistake #6: Canon sends me a bill for $90 to repair the lens. Thankfully, they won’t start the repairs until I authorize it and send them my credit card number, but let’s backtrack for a second:

I bought the refurb lens to save $100. After the $10 I spent to ship it back to Canon, I’d be losing out. I might as well have bought the new one.

Canon says it’s not under the manufacturer’s warranty. So let’s sum this up: there’s a lens that Canon refurbished and Adorama sold to me. It never worked. Canon wants me to pay to have them fix it, when they never fixed it in the first place. Does this blow anyone else’s mind yet? Canon refuses to stand by their own work and service. They’re saying that I have to pay them to fix a problem they told me was already fixed.

I checked back on Adorama’s website. Looks like they warranty used and refurbished items for 90 days. If I had seen that first, I might have sent the lens back to them. Now, I have to call Adorama, and then likely pay Canon to ship the lens back to me that they’re not standing by so that I can ship it to Adorama, who will likely send it back to Canon to fix.

I’m beginning to like the sound of Nikon’s system right now.

So I called Canon this afternoon. The woman I talked to was nice and understanding, but said that Canon can’t guarantee refurbished items sold through other stores. Sometimes, she said, stores sell stuff they claim to have been refurbished by them, but wasn’t. (Just to be clear, she didn’t claim this of Adorama. It’s just a general policy no doubt brought upon by lying .com weasels somewhere.)

I called Adorama. They said that they do, indeed, guarantee for 90 days and I could exchange it for the same lens. No problem. They sent me an e-mail with directions and a PDF form to fill out.

I called back Canon. I asked to cancel the service and they immediately offered me 20% off the labor costs. There’s a hint to all of you in the future: If you have to have Canon fix something, decline the repair estimate, wait for them to offer 20% off, and then accept it. ;-)

The good news is, Canon didn’t ask me to pay shipping on the item back to me. So I’ll only be out about $20 in shipping costs when this is all said and done, plus the lack of a lens for a couple of weeks.

Annoying. I’ll update as events warrant.

5 thoughts on “The Problem With Canon

  1. Dear Augie

    I came across your Blog today; hopefully everything will work out for you with Adorama’s used department, but if you have any ongoing difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    My name is Helen, & my role is Customer Service Ambassador for Adorama, as part of a new strategic plan for the company. I pick up on sales, website & policy issues posted on the internet, and where possible, address them, to ensure complete satisfaction when you purchase from Adorama Camera (whether on-line, in the store or by telephone).

    If you have any other queries, problems, issues or gripes, please do not hesitate to contact me directly; I can’t promise over night resolutions, but be assured that each & every customer is important to us at Adorama, and I will always do my best to ensure that you are happy with your purchase.

    You can contact me at:

    Best wishes

    Helen Oster Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

  2. I think the lessons here are to be aware of: the warranty term of the item being purchased, the manufacturer’s policies on returns, the procedures for return/replacement from the store selling the item, the pros/cons of buying online, buying refurb, buying from a local camera store BEFORE purchasing. This way, if problems are encountered, you’re not discovering how they might have been resolved after the fact. And, luckily, Adorama is a top-notch online dealer who will do whatever they can, within reason, to keep their customers satisfied. Other online retailers may not be as willing to work to protect their reputations, but Adorama is!

  3. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my next lens purchase will be from Adorama. Thanks for leaving that message, Helen. Adorama has handled this well. I’m a little disappointed in Canon, though I can understand their position, which is why I didn’t start spewing flames out their way.

    I’m just annoyed and frustrated in general. Hopefully, someone else learned from my mistakes here.

    Carolyn – when I decided to buy a lens on-line, I knew it would be from either Adorama or B&H. I knew from my research that they were highly respected and long-established retailers. I knew I wouldn’t be dealing with “Gary’s Cameras” from nowhereville, established 2007. Adorama’s refurbished section for Canon gear is what ultimately sold me on them. I like the price break, and knew Canon would stand by their gear.

    Sorta. Eh, what’s done is done. I know better for next time now.

  4. Thanks, Cory. I could use the positive encouragement. After telling me a week ago that they were sending the lens back to me via 2 Day FedEx, I still have nothing. Tomorrow, I’m calling for a tracking number.

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