Couple’s $800 from Walmart camera breaks, Nikon says it’s “gray market” and won’t repair it

A couple bought an $800 Nikon P1000 for bird photography. And when it broke – the company could do nothing to fix it. Even though the camera was bought at Walmart, Nikon considers it to be “gray market gear” and won’t repair it, leaving the couple with a “$800 paperweight.”

Bruce Gaylord bought the camera for his wife Lisa back in September 2019. Before the bird migration season this year, she spotted the problem. “You should be able to see through the viewfinder and it only shows black,” she told CBS 2. “When I press the on/off button, the lens should extend. I turn it on and nothing.”

She tried different Nikon batteries, thinking that the one she used when the problem appeared was dead. However, each of them gave the same result. Apparently, the camera was broken. When she took it to the repair service, she learned that it wasn’t under warranty. She says that Nikon refused to repair it saying “we think it’s a gray market.”

Since the couple bought the camera at Walmart, they couldn’t understand how it could come from the “gray market.” It’s not a random third-party seller, so it was quite confusing. The thing is – the camera was imported. Walmart’s website did have an “intl.” abbreviation in the camera model’s name, but there was reportedly no description of what it means. Also, while some cameras come with a “no warranty” warning, CBS found several other models that don’t come with it. “We at least want people to know. To be careful,” Lisa Gaylord told CBS.

In early 2020, Nikon made it more difficult to get your camera repaired. From more than a dozen repair shops, it all came down to only two facilities in the US. The rest of Nikon’s Authorized Repair Stations became non-authorized, losing access to official parts and software.  Earlier this year, Nikon made things even more complicated. The company announced that it would no longer offer an international warranty for lenses and accessories. This basically means that, if you buy a piece of gear with a regional warranty, you can’t repair it for free in the Nikon repair center in another country.

To be fair, Nikon USA does have a “gray market warning” on its website. It reads that “Nikon products that are imported and sold by anyone other than Nikon Inc. USA are considered Gray Market products.” The manufacturer warns you to look for terms such as “import model,” “seller warranty,” “Nikon import” and so on as a clue that the product falls within this group. In case you buy any of the “gray market gear,” you won’t be able to repair it. Not only it won’t be covered by Nikon’s warranty, but you also won’t be able to pay for the repair at Nikon USA’s repair service.

On the other hand, how many people read the “gray market warning” on the camera company’s website? I know I never did. I was lucky to buy my first camera from a store that turned out to be an official Nikon retailer in Serbia, but now when I think about it – it wasn’t the case with any other Nikon gear. So, in order not to end up with a really expensive ornament or paperweight, make sure to only buy from Nikon Inc. official retailers… Or buy used gear.

[via CBS 2]

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