Personal Stories – Fixing my Canon Digital Elph

Christmas present buying note: digital cameras make great presents.  Unlike many technology gifts (electric razors, TIVOs, cell phones, etc.), digital cameras actually save the recipient money; no more film.  Three years ago, I was so happy to say goodbye to film and hello to the little digital wonder that fit in my pocket. 

The Canon S400 Elph was great camera back in 2003.  In fact, it still is.  So what if the pixels are a scant 4 million, that is plenty for me.  Heck, most of the pictures on this blog are taken with the 2 megapixel camera integrated with my PDA.  It is the optics that make the difference, and in my opinion and more importantly my camera savvy wife's opinion, Canon has the best optics of any digital camera. 

So how bummed was I when earlier this year the camera crapped out on me?  Very bummed.  I had a memory card error, but the error spanned all memory cards and seemed to be a camera problem.  I looked it up on the net, and found it that the problem was with the Canon camera itself.  Seems there is a latent defect in the firmware.

How angry was I that Canon, a corporation that I held in high esteem, had sold me a faulty product?  Very angry.  Not so enraged that I could not type, I angrily posted to many a review website about my story and gave Canon a very low rating on its camera.  "Hah, that will show them", I thought.  Then around June, Canon started a program whereby they will fix the latent memory error defect for free.  They even pay for shipping!  Had I only subsided my rage enough to notice, I could be using my Canon for these post instead of my distorted and grainy PDA cam.  Heck, my ravings on the net may have spurred Canon into conciliatory action.  Thankfully, perhaps with my rage tempered by the every shortening days of fall, I checked into the camera problem again and discovered Canon's olive branch.

Now to the task of contacting Canon and getting the thing shipped to the repair center.  My wife and I started in September.  The repair odyssey starts with a call to Canon.  I recommend reserving a few hours and lots of patience for this; you start with a mindless voice activated computer and end with a clueless voice activated person.  A Few weeks later, call back and a different customer service rep will wonder why nothing has happened yet because a record of the earlier call shows up on his screen.  Another week goes buy and there is an e-mail from Canon and UPS.  The Canon e-mail says to look at the UPS e-mail, click on a link, and get a shipping label.  The UPS label has broken links leading to error messages and no shipping label.  After ten days, the UPS label that can't be retrieved expires and Canon agrees to send a new label.  The new UPS e-mail is also full of broken links.  Now is the tough part, explaining to the UPS rep, after exhausting the voice activated menus, that UPS has a program that allows company's like Canon to send shipping labels to its customers.  One UPS rep thought I was having trouble printing a label on a Canon printer.  Eventually, a frustrated rep directs the call to the UPS technology center.  The UPS technology center closes before the regular help center (perhaps it is in an upscale part of India?), so the call must wait for a new day.  The UPS technology center reps have some inkling about UPS's ability to e-mail links to shipping labels, and after about an hour I was able to get them to send me a good link to a shipping label.  For a while, I wondered if Canon had put up certain obstacles to prevent customers from getting their camera's fixed.

For all those with busted cameras, keep the heat on the manufacturer to fix it.  The squeaky wheel and frequent caller gets the grease.  For all those with problems retrieving UPS shipping labels, call 1-877-289-6418 and keep hitting 0.  Or just e-mail LDAddario@upsts.com. 

Today I received an e-mail form Canon letting me know that my repair was accepted.  Woohoo!  I should have my old camera back in working order before Christmas.  Maybe I'll have my wife wrap for me and put it in my stocking.  As a present to Canon, they get to stay off of my shunning list.

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