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Glen Pitt-Pladdy :: Blog

The Fuji saga part 6....

The next instalment of my attempts to get my Fuji FinePix E900 repaired that started with the Venetian Blinds Fault. I have been very quiet on this for a while since I have been going through the legal process to get this resolved.

Going Legal

As described previously, after numerous attempts and warning of legal action twice, I finally filled in the paperwork and filed it at Reading County Court to start a small claim. This was the recommendation from a number of sources and was also publicised in TV programs such as Watchdog as a good way to deal with poor service when all other means had failed.

After some initial confusion with the court staff, I got the right forms: there are two routes to making a claim - money claims, or other (eg. replacement goods). After discussing the implications of each route with the staff, I decided to make a pure money claim (based on the cost of replacing the camera plus the time that had been wasted up to that point - a very similar scenario as an example given on TV by Watchdog some time ago).

The advantage of a pure money claim for me was that it is a far simpler process and has far lower initial fees. This should make it more attractive to Fuji to resolve the problem as by finally replacing / reparing the camera and paying the minimal court fee (£45) the whole matter can be put to bed.

Attention!

Well, that certainly got their attention. A few days later I had a man from Fuji offering to do exactly what I was looking for: sort the problem.

Initially I was told that they had not received the warning letter for court action and seemed to be implying that I was at fault and over zealous. Within minutes they quoted something I believe was from one of my warning letters that they apparently hadn't received...... OOPS!

We quickly moved correspondence to email - I wanted this to ensure that I had a paper trail on the matter now that there was a legal aspect to it.  Initially things seemed very positive.  They offered to replace the camera with a comparable new model. It all seemed to be making good progress....

Dumbed down cameras

The whole thing about the Fuji E900 that has made it so popular among more serious photographers that want a compact to carry around with them is that it has many features only found in dSLRs, and is also very reasonably priced (especially now that it has been discontinued).

With the exception of a few manufacturers who continue to produce advanced compacts, this is something that has simply disappeared from the compact camera market.  Sensors have shrunk resulting in higher noise which is then hidden beneath selective blurring done by noise reduction processing, RAW mode has been removed - you need to pay premium prices for that, some manufacturers have even resorted a fixed aperture and an ND filter instead of allowing the photographer to control the DOF of the photo.

This was the problem we came up against - Fuji has some cameras that look great on paper for the typical "snapper", but there simply isn't the control or the advanced features the E900 has without going to far bigger, heavier and less portable models.

After further discussion, they offered to see if they could get an E900 for me (at the time there where still some retailers with them in stock). There was little point in me getting a replacement camera I would not use.

It all goes quiet....

After some weeks I emailed to see how things where progressing...... no reply.

After some more weeks, I emailed again..... no reply.

After some more weeks I decided enough was enough - I have now been around 5 months having trouble with this camera and Fuji saying all the right things for me to think they are going to make good, but never following through on the promises.

Judgement day....

I called the court for further advice on the case and how to move it forward. They advised me that Fuji had not even sent back the acknowledgement of being sent the claim by the court. The staff advised that I would be in a position to file for summary judgement. Apparently I could have done this within 2 weeks.... I had given Fuji months!

I filled in the remaining form and posted it back to the court.

.... few days later I had a "Judgement for Claimant (in default)" form from the court. As Fuji failed to even acknowledge receipt of the paperwork the court simply upheld my claims and Fuji have been ordered to pay the claim.

Thoughts on the matter

This is the first time I have tried fighting bad service, and while it may not always be the case, Watchdog where right - with the help of the court staff, it is easy to kick off a small claim, but also I think enough hassle and cost to discourage time wasters from claiming for trivial things. People spend hundreds or thousands of pounds on cameras and other gadgets each year, and those that have discussed their experiences with duff kit with me since blogging on this subject seem to have just accepted defeat with bad service and vowed never to buy anything from that manufacturer again.

The other thing that has struck me is that while Fuji said things that caused me to think they where going to resolve the problems, no action seems to have come of it. I gave Fuji months to resolve this and at any stage if someone had acted to resolve the problem (repaired or replaced the camera), then it would have saved me a heap of time and hassle (plus I might have gone and bought Fuji products again, and blogged about how good they had been), and it would have probably cost them far less in time that their staff spent on stuff like this. The reality is that after months of this, they didn't even return the acknowlagement of the claim back to the court.....

At this point I would hope that someone senior in Fuji is having a review of this case and are taking action to improve internal processes to minimise the change of repeated failings happening. I accept that things do go sometimes go wrong, but then I think the thing to do is to take action to rectify the matter.

What now?

That brings us right back to the beginning..... an advanced compact camera. I am still without a "carry around" camera and have been starting to survey the options more closely. After this experience with Fuji, I am unlikely to consider any of their products again, plus the interesting cameras for me are now gone from their range. Picking up a couple of second hand E900's on eBay is still an option (if readers of this blog have not beaten me to them!) - at least one is likely to last, and there is a possibility of using the other for spares if something gets dammaged.

The Panasonic Lumix LX3 does look very interesting, though a little expensive for my tastes. There is still stuff that I think the E900 does better, but the Panasonic is a very interesting camera - even has a flash shoe! There are also some other interesting cameras from Ricoh and some others, but the ones I have examined seem to fall down on noise, and I get the impression that the Panasonic isn't quite as good as the E900 there too. The other option is a Canon with CHDK, but they too have removed many useful stuff like the aperture from all but the highest end compacts, and gone for small noisey sensors. CHDK can do nothing to put that right. The Panasonic does have much of the cool stuff in CHDK built in, and I have never had a Panasonic product give me any trouble, though one other person I talked to recently has had trouble with one of their cameras.

The other thing is that I now have to get payment from Fuji - no sign of that yet.

As always, I will update the blog as the story plays out (ie. I look further into new advanced compacts).

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