Monday, March 23, 2009

Collaborator's Article: My First Sony Camera And My First Experience With Sony Customer Service

It's annoying, sad and troublesome when your camera suffers an accident and it can't take any more pictures and you have to send it for repair.
Usually one is scared, since one needs a place to send the camera to without having to worry what kind of experiments they will run on it. You need a reliable and trustworthy place to perform any repairs (or maintenance)
Sony has a facility at Laredo, Texas in the United States that provides repair or maintenance service to Alpha DSLRs.
Our new collaborator, Elspeth Duncan, had to send her A300 there in order to get it repaired, I asked her to write an article about her experience with Sony's service so you have input on the kind of service they provide if you ever need to send in your Alpha for repairs.

My First Sony Camera And My First Experience With Sony Customer Service by Elspeth Duncan.

On February 14th 2009 my padded camera bag containing my SONY A300 DSLR dropped to the floor from a low height of approximately ten inches. As the bag is padded and the fall was minimal, I thought nothing of it.

About an hour later I took my camera out of its bag to get a shot. Upon looking at my LCD screen afterwards, I was shocked to see the screen looking like it had taken a shot of curtains being drawn on a stage. My mind went back to the low fall in the padded bag. Could it be possible that something so simple had caused what appeared to be a serious problem? I had ordered my camera from B&H Photovideo eight months before and had it shipped to Trinidad & Tobago where I live. It had never given trouble, I was consistently pleased with its performance and was sure to always handle it with great care.
I consulted a camera buff friend of mine and sent him a shot of the LCD screen. “Looks like your screen got cracked inside and there is leakage,” he said. I couldn’t believe this misfortune. I googled SONY A300 LCD to see if there was anyone who had experienced something similar. I found no such thing. However, in my search, I came across the Alpha Sight website ( I contacted the owner, Diego, using the address in the side bar, explained my issue and asked for advice. He responded quickly and, having done research on the issue after receiving my email, was able to offer comprehensive advice. I had sent him the photo of the LCD screen and he confirmed what my friend had told me: the LCD screen was internally cracked.
Picture of the cracked LCD screen.

There is no SONY service centre in Trinidad, so replacing the LCD screen here was not an option. I had no choice but to make an overseas call for SONY support ( in the USA. It was my first experience of dealing with them. I was put through to a rep called Adrian, who dealt with me in a polite and professional manner, knowledgeably answering all of my questions and advising me on what I had to do. Further discussions with SONY (this time with a rep called André), when I called to give them some information a while later, proved to be just as professional, thorough and friendly. I was told that I would have to send my camera to the SONY Repair Centre in Laredo, Texas. I was concerned about having to send my camera all the way there, but decided to trust that all would be well.

When I received an email from SONY that night asking me to fill out a customer service evaluation form, based on my thorough conversations with Adrian and André, I did not hesitate to give them high or highest ratings in all categories.

My only frustration in this experience of sending my camera for repairs came with the actual shipment of the camera from Trinidad & Tobago to the United States via DHL. I was told by DHL that it would take two days for my shipment to reach its destination, but this was not the case. For reasons as yet unknown to me, my camera was held for extended periods of time by US customs in both Miami and Ohio. According to one of the reps at the courier company, US customs can sometimes hold a shipment for as long as three weeks to a few months and are not guaranteed to give any explanation. A little over two weeks after sending my camera off, someone at the Laredo Service Centre finally signed for it.

As per SONY’s explanation on the website, it was my understanding that my camera would have been examined and a quote sent to me for approval before they went ahead with any repairs. In the event that the customer cannot pay, no repairs are done and the camera is shipped back “as is”. My unit was still under warranty but, as it had dropped, I did not know if the warranty would be honoured. I awaited their quote.

The day after SONY signed for my camera (3rd March), I got an email from them (4th March) acknowledging its receipt. Then, on the 5th of March, I got an email from them informing me that my camera had been shipped back to me.

I was shocked. So quickly? They had barely even received it! And no quote? There was no further explanation with their brief email, so I had no idea what repairs, if any, had been done. I sent them an e-mail asking for details and promptly received the following response:

We are pleased to inform you that the repair of this Digital SLR Camera was restored to factory specifications. According to the technician’s report the LCD screen was replaced as well as a part that is described as a CV LCD Lower Cov. You should not have any more problems with this unit in the future.

The package was returned via UPS 3rd Day Service, and shipped to the following address: (Sky box address)

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us.

Regards, SONY.

After the frustration of waiting more than two weeks for my camera to arrive at its destination, I was relieved and impressed by SONY’s swift action and grateful that my warranty had been honoured. Shipping via UPS was without delay and spot on time. Within a few days my camera was back home, safe and sound, working like brand new at no cost to me other than shipment via courier to the States and a minimal fee for UPS handling within Trinidad. Some days later I was sent another SONY customer evaluation form via e-mail and, once again, gave all categories high or highest markings. I have the feeling they seriously take into consideration the customer feedback and do what is necessary to maintain high levels of service.

Diego asked me if I would write about this for his site and I said yes. This is my first time having any of my equipment repaired, so I have no other such experience with which to compare it. Also, my SONY A300 DSLR is my first SONY product. My camera buff friend (mentioned above) had highly recommended it to me and I was convinced enough to make the purchase. My other cameras (video and photo) have been/are Canon (digital), Pentax (non digital) and Panasonic (video). I don’t know about other people’s experiences with SONY. All that I have said here is based on my personal first time SONY experience (product and service). I am pleased with both my A300 camera and with the level of customer response and assistance received. Prior to this experience I had no real impressions of SONY (having never owned any of their products or had to deal with them as a customer). The brand has since risen in my estimation as one in which I would place confidence.

Elspeth Duncan
Multimedia Artist/Film maker

As you can see, Sony is indeed putting hard work into having a reliable customer service for Alpha DSLR owners. The Laredo, TX facility should be the first place to consider if your camera needs a repair or maintenance.

I hope this article is useful to you.

Thanks to Elspeth for taking the time to write this, and welcome to Alpha Sight Collaborators! :)

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar experience. You can read my experience at .

    I guess I was lucky, they did not charge me either. I sent the camera to the Authorised Repairer on Monday, and the Friday (of the same week), I picked it up, and all fixed. The Authorised Repairer is about 15KM away from my place. I figured that bringing my camera to them is easier than let them organised a courier.