Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Share moments. Share life. Share frustration.

For the hundreds of digital pictures that I take, I use a Kodak EasyShare camera, model CX6330. A few months ago, the zoom button on the back came off. It snapped back into place very easily, but it ended up falling out repeatedly, as the tiny plastic tabs that held it in place had worn down. It didn't take long for me to simply lose the button. Now in order to make the zoom feature work, I have to stick a pen into the slot to poke the contact. It works, but it's not a very practical solution. I decided to call Kodak to get a replacement part.

First I went online to Kodak's parts replacement page. Unfortunately, the only part listed as available for replacement is the battery door. From there, I called the 800 number for the parts center. The man I spoke with informed me that the part I needed had been discontinued, but he gave me the part number (3F2094) and said I should try contacting technical support to see if they could help me.

Kodak's technnical support center also did not have the part, however. The woman I spoke with there said that my camera would need to be sent in to be repaired. I asked how that would do any good if they didn't have the part in the first place, and I was informed that the repair center had the part I needed, but that they would have to be the ones to install it.

That's ridiculous. It's a small button with two plastic tabs that simply snaps into place. It would take me about 2 seconds to install it myself. I asked if I could instead order the part from the repair center, but I was told that Kodak does not offer that option. It was suggested that if I didn't want to send in my camera for repair that I might consider Kodak's trade-in program for a new camera.

I see no need in paying to upgrade my camera for a newer model, as I'm quite happy with the one I have. On the other hand, I don't want to pay to have my camera "repaired" when the fix is something I could do myself. According to Kodak though, I needed to send the product in to avoid any damage I might cause to the camera. As I pointed out already, there's no major work to be done — there is no way for me to damage my camera by popping a piece of plastic into a slot with my thumb. Even so, isn't it up to me what I do with my camera, I thought? Go ahead and void my warranty! It's long-expired anyway!

The woman I was speaking with said that if I refused both options, then there was nothing she could do for me. I pointed out that it was Kodak who was refusing to help, not me. If the repair center can repair the camera, then the part is indeed available — Kodak is merely refusing to supply it to me.

By then we were entering our third circle of the same argument, so I asked if I could speak to her manager. She "guaranteed" me that he would give me the same answers, but I said I was willing to go through it again.

I know how customer service departments work. CSRs do things by the book. They tell you "no." They give you limited options. They don't deviate from the script. That's their job. Management, on the other hand, can say things like "that's really not how we've got things set up to work here, but I understand where you're coming from... let me just go ahead and send you the part... it only costs about 12¢ anyway."

Unfortunately, not this guy.

As promised, he gave me the same run-around as the woman before him. He suggested sending the camera in for repairs. He suggested the trade-in program for an upgrade, and since the repair only offered a 30-day warranty, while the trade-in program offered a 2-year warranty, he recommended I go that route. He even suggested that I check eBay to see if I could buy the same camera for a cheap price. But he wouldn't send me the part I need. According to him, it can only be installed by their repair team. This "major repair" would run $85, he said. In fact, the button itself isn't available as a part, they'd have to replace the entire rear assembly.

Any idiot can look at the camera, though, and tell that such a claim is false. The button is clearly a seperate piece and in no way could possibly require the removal of any other peice in order to insall. However, the manager continued to disagree and told me that if I was insistent on believing something that wasn't true, that he was sorry that he couldn't help me. Then he hung up on me.

Wow. What an absolute dick. I had been polite throughout the entire ordeal. I didn't agree with the options they offered me, and I tried to get them to be reasonable enough to help me out or to at least recognize that the options they offered were impractical, but I was never rude, impatient, or condescending. Yet, this guy hangs up on me? I'm a Kodak customer! Or at least, I used to be.

At one point before I was cut off, I was asked what state I lived in. When I replied with "Alabama," the thought entered my mind that I should mention that around here, folks appreciate the innovations of John Deere. You shouldn't have to replace the whole thing when a simple part will do.

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