Fair and Square

Sad Camera
Sad Camera

I was planning to make last week’s rant about my car dealer a “good news – bad news” story, but there wasn’t room for the good news. Don’t get me wrong, the good news had nothing to do with the car dealer. It’s not like they swapped the summer air out of my tires for free. No, the good news was that I got my camera back. From a customer service point of view, Square Trade was wonderful to deal with throughout the process.

This story starts several years ago, but I’ve already told most of it. The part about wanting a small camera, that camera developing a smudge, bad repair, new camera, etc. You can read all about it here.

The new camera was fine. No smudge. Cheaper, and smaller, but not better. Definitely not better. The new Sony featured a variety of fancy-schmancy filters and scene modes, but no longer had a Manual setting. I thought I had figured out how to work-around the manual thing, but alas, my method proved less than foolproof.

Worse yet, the goal of the new camera appears to be to make every photo look like it was taken at noon. Snap a low-light photo in the early morning, click-click-click-click-click – five photos in quick succession are melded into a bright image of a dark city. These photos look dumb. There appears to be oodles of ambient light, yet there’s no sun, no shadows and you can clearly see the contrast between the building and its artificially-lit windows. It’s like those scenes where the hero lights a match and the room lights up like Luna Park.

I pouted.

I couldn’t take the camera back, but I hated using it. I was pretty sure I had spent my camera allowance. I suffered with that camera for almost a year before deciding to suck it up and buy a better camera.

When my daughter and I went to New York last summer, we researched cameras on the train ride into the city. I settled on a Nikon CoolPix S9900. This camera is everything I want in a point and shoot camera. In a pinch, I can slip it into my pocket. It takes great photos, has all the features I like, including Manual mode, the battery lasts a long time and it has a 30x optical zoom. I love this camera.

However, while taking photos in my shop, I smacked the lens against the side of a metal cart. The lens cover stopped covering. It also stopped opening. It made me long for the days when I could just lose my lens cover, leave it on while snapping a picture or have it or its shadow creeping into my downward looking shots.

I had purchased an extended warranty with Square Trade through B&H Photo. I felt good about that, but I worried that some loophole would allow them to escape without fixing my camera, since I was clearly at fault. I contacted Square Trade via their website and simplicity took over.

B&H had registered the camera in my name when I bought it. There was no receipt, but I was offered a button on the website to upload the receipt. I did. I got an email: “The status of your claim has changed – we have your receipt, we are verifying it now. This might take up to two hours.” Two hours later, I got an email basically saying “send us your camera.”

The point when I knew Square Trade was a cut above most companies when it comes to customer service was when they notified me that the FedEx guy had picked up my camera from the box I dropped it in. From that point forward, every change in the camera’s journey and every bit of its repair was communicated to me via email. The repairs were completed in the promised time frame, they were completed to my satisfaction and the camera was returned a day ahead of schedule. Square Trade paid the shipping AND THANKED ME for my business! Oh my goodness, I want to go buy something else just to buy a warranty from these people!

I have my camera back, I am happily taking pictures again and I will always appreciate the quality service and the way I was treated by the folks at Square Trade.

I want to thank Ellen for encouraging these customer service stories. I think I can let this topic rest for a while, but it felt good to end on a good note.

72 thoughts on “Fair and Square

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    1. Thanks Judy. B&H is always good (and an amazing experience if you get to their store). I think you can buy a Square Trade warranty right off their website, regardless of where you purchased your electronics.

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  1. I’ve used Sony’s for ten years in our business and largely it was because their auto settings (3) took great pics on the fly. I can’t sit setting up a shot while Mitchell is working and need to be able to just point and click. You can’t stop tying or finish work to set up a shot. I bought used for years for the finish room because Mitchell’s big fingers tended to get camera parts waxy or shellacky sticky because once in a while he would grab the camera and not get his hands fully clean — losing a $175 camera over time is less painful than a $900 camera. But my favorite used camera (we’ve owned six) is no longer found and I finally bought a new Sony. I HATE it. Seriously, the auto settings suck with either over-exposure or some dang thing, and I am going to have to sit and read the manual (geesh the horrors) because it keeps filling the screen with a reminder of my settings before every picture — this is addition to having it posted on the screen and that fact that I had to turn it to that setting intentionally — and what is worse is that it sits there for hours (okay a minute) because they want you to read the stupid message or you have to click (thereby taking a lousy picture) instead of waiting. I hate hate hate software people who dumb down a smart camera — this is NOT the camera I bought my mom! I have been perusing cameras but have other things we must buy first.

    BTW, B&H is great and so is Square Trade. Hassle Free.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nodding in agreement as I read your comment Kate. The number of times I was thinking “aren’t point and shoot cameras supposed to be fast?” was unbelievable. I missed several photos of my dog (doing something amazing) where I pushed the button and ended up with grass or snow where the dog used to be. It’s my fault for not checking the reviews, but I never imagined that a company could take a product from great to garbage so fast. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. I had a Canon and loved it until someone smashed my car window and took off with both it and my laptop. Silly me for leaving it in plain sight. Now, I use the camera on my phone and am surprised at the quality of pictures… sometimes.

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  3. It’s sad but true that great customer service is so unusual that we feel lucky and grateful when we get it. I’ve had a couple of good experiences over the last several months and I made a point of writing letters of thanks to the companies. And, if I have the name of the representative who helped me, even better! I’m glad you had a good experience. I have heard great things about B&H and Square Trade.

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    1. B&H has been great. My daughter is a photographer and she appreciates the brands they carry and their prices. I’m much more an armature and I appreciate the advice they are so very willing to give. Square Trade, simply the best.

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  4. You can never say enough about excellent customer service. It goes a long way in bringing in added customers, which is why I shake my head at the business owners who don’t get that. I’m glad you got your camera fixed and are happily on your way to a photographer’s joy.

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    1. Thanks Mary. I waited until after the holidays to send my camera in. During that time, I used that piece of junk Sony and I just missed my camera soooo much. I had heard that Square Trade was good, but they were over the top good.

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  5. great information, I have never used Square Trade so this is something I will note as I pursue buying a laptop next month… I have also had wonderful costumer service with Amazon and Ebay…we buy from them because of those things…will look into Square Trade if I do not get my laptop from E-bay.

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      1. Thank goodness for warranties and the good polices of this company. Dan, accidents happen. I am SO careful with my camera. My worst fear is that I bang my lens into something hard and I break it. Or I drop my camera. Yikes! I had one incident where I thought my backpack was zipped closed and I went to grab it and out flew my camera landing on our kitchen floor. I was in shock. The only thing that happened THANK GOD is the filter broke. It was a real hassle getting that broken glass out without damaging my lens. I never want anything like that to happen again. Oh yes, I understand only too well what it feels like to have something wrong with your camera. <3

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          1. Yes. I always have a filter on my lens. This lens that broke was a circular polorized one, which for me now is no loss because I really don’t use that type of filter any more. The filters I use most is a UV Ray/anti-glare filter and ND filters for waterfalls. I’m not one of those photographers that carry with them oodles of filters. LOL Nope. Keep it simple.

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          2. PS Consider yourself very lucky with the quick thinking and quick reflexes. When my camera came flying out it was at an angle and so fast I knew I couldn’t get to it before it hit the floor. An iPad is an expensive piece of equipment to replace. :)

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  6. Ah, finally a positive outcome regarding customer service! But you’d better mark this on the calendar, Dan. You know what they say about lightning never striking twice…

    Sorry, I can be such a downer, I know. ;P

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow. That’s super nice! I love places like that. My bank is like that. I loves me bank. It’s like they are just sitting there waiting for me to call so they can help.
    Anyway, my camera story is not so nice. My SIL bought me my first digital camera in 2002. It didn’t work. I mailed it back to Minolta per their instructions and never got it back, never got a receipt, a letter, a call, nothin.

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    1. Hee hee – keep it away from metal carts. I was so proud that I remembered to keep the strap around my wrist, just in case I dropped it, but I was holding it when I lowered it into the cart. Just pure dumb on my part.

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      1. I haven’t broken a camera yet, but have come close a few times. I’ve picked up my bag twice without realizing I hadn’t zipped it, and had camera, lenses, and other gear come tumbling out. Thankfully, both times the bag was on the floor, or a bed so the contents didn’t fall far. My heart did though! Panic stricken until I turned on the camera. If I were a cat I be down to just 6 lives!

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  8. I have a friend who bought an expensive camera and then dropped it off a boat into the ocean a few days later . Insurance would have been nice. I don’t know if they sell dropping-in-the-ocean insurance though .

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  9. Oh getting thanked for your business like that? Oh my goodness – wish more companies would go back to this – anyhow – good story and glad your camera is back! I had a sinkage lens problem years ago on and old point and shoot – was not worth fixing because I used it and wore it down – but have a few pics still from when the shutter was stuck – at that time it would open fully sometimes and then. Not other times – oh and lastly – I really love the fast blur image In this post – the colors look neat

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    1. Thanks. The smudge problem wasn’t worth fixing a second time and it wasn’t worth arguing with the company that “repaired” it. This was a rare treat. I do like the blurry image.

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  10. Thanks for sharing the good as well as the bad! There are indeed people in customer service who are interested in, well, serving customers — it’s just a shame there seems to be so few that we find it noteworthy when we encounter one!

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  11. Hooray for a positive customer-service story! The bad experiences may become entertaining tales at some point, but only in retrospect. We all want to be treated well, as you were by the people at Square Trade — which seems to be a well-named company!

    The thing that gets me is that it often takes so little extra effort to ensure a customer gets decent service. We’re not asking for perfection, or for miracles. Most of us know that mistakes happen. We just want to feel like someone gives a damn. What galls me is not that there’s a problem — it’s when solving that problem is needlessly hard, or when I get the impression that no one really cares whether it’s ever solved. THAT bothers me far more than the problem itself.

    Little things make such a difference. Consider a recent experience I had at Chick-fil-A. They’ve always had exemplary service in my experience and very friendly servers. I went through the drive-through line (which was long, but moved right along) and placed my order — which, among other things, included a medium coleslaw.

    Now, I’ve learned to check fast-food orders everywhere, even at CFA, but I didn’t want all the people behind me to wait while I pawed through the bags. So I thanked them and pulled into a nearby parking space to double-check it. No coleslaw. #Grumble

    So I went in and caught the attention of a server who was off to the side and politely mentioned the omission (receipt in hand, though she obviously had to take my word that I didn’t stash the coleslaw and then come inside to try and scam another one). She asked what size, I said medium, and off she went, then came back with a bag and said, “I gave you a large.” Nice surprise! Such a small thing, really, and yet it’s something that makes you want to come back.

    It’s so simple. I was nice, she was nice, and for the tiny extra expense of upsizing my coleslaw, they sent me away smiling — and looking forward to my next visit.

    So here’s to the people at Square Trade, Chick-fil-A, and all the other companies smart enough to ensure repeat business from happy customers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a great story Paul. It was such a little thing but it sends a huge message. It’s like the mail I got from Square Trade telling me that FedEx had picked up the camera. I had printed off the shipping label they sent me, but it printed very small. I did a screen clip of the label, enlarged it so it was easily readable, but I was worried that scaling the bar code might cause a problem. It shouldn’t, but, you know. When I got that email, I knew the label was scanned correctly. I felt so much better, and I felt better a day early. It’s hard to put a price on stuff like that.

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  12. I’m a sucker for a happy ending!!! Side note: I have been buying from B&H for years via catalogue…a number of years ago on one of my trips to New York….I took an afternoon off from business and hiked over to the mother ship store…nirvana!!!!

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    1. This was a very happy ending Kirt. The sales staff at B&H highly recommend Square Trade and the typically offer a package. I bought the warranty, a case and a 32 GB memory card for a really reasonable price. I could spend (have spent) hours in that store. I find myself ogling gear that I will never come close to buying but it all looks soooo cool.

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