Why You Should Only Buy from Authorized Dealers

Everyone may take something away from this, particularly when it comes to the purchase of pricey equipment. Although the concept of “expensive” is a relative one, having a value that differs for each person and cannot be generalized, the information presented here is applicable to all price points of things. The decision ultimately depends on how much the item is to you and whether or not you are prepared to put that worth at risk in comparison to the many warranty schemes that are available. It goes without saying that the risk is proportional to the size of the expenditure.

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Because I live in the United States of America, that is where I always make my purchases for my camera equipment. When it comes to the more expensive items, I like to make my purchases in person at a Hunts Photo and Video store so that I know they will arrive in good condition.

Now, that personal rule was broken by me precisely four years and nine months ago when I made the purchase of a Nikkor 600mm F4 VR lens from Canada. The lens had been unavailable in the United States for more than six months at the time, and I had become weary of waiting for it to become available again. As a result, while we were on vacation for one week, we traveled all the way up to Montreal in, Canada, to buy the 600mm lens there. Before making the purchase, we checked to see if the shop was an “Authorized Nikon” dealer, and when the necessary paperwork was taken care of, we gleefully drove back to the United States of America with our new lens. Note that this was not a cheaper option than purchasing the item in the United States after taking into account Canadian tariffs and taxes.

Let us proceed with the plan. Today marks exactly four years and nine months when the VR on my beloved 600mm lens began to malfunction. Since Nikon Canada offers a guarantee of five years on lenses purchased from authorized Canadian dealers, we should feel confident about our purchase.

However, there is no easy solution to this problem.

Because I am aware that we are part of a global society, the advice that I am going to provide to all of you is to shop locally—not just locally, but from an “Authorized Local Dealer”—when purchasing anything pricey in the camera sector. Before making purchases in another country, you should check the cross-border warranty coverage at the very least.

The following is a list of bullet points describing my experiences:

  • I currently reside in the United States of America. However, I purchased the lens in Canada.
  • Purchased from a legitimate and approved Canadian vendor.
  • I made sure to keep all of my receipts and the information from the stores.
  • Please take care of my warranty card.
  • Have been having issues with VR, and it’s clear that the lens has to be serviced.
  • Repairs may be arranged by contacting Nikon USA.
  • There is no specific reciprocal system of warranty, and Nikon USA does not honor the Canadian guarantee.
  • It’s possible to receive preferential treatment, but ultimately that decision will rest with Nikon USA’s repair facility.
  • OK, not a problem; Canada isn’t that far away, so ship it there to be fixed.
  • Staples (the UPS Shipping Center) gives you trouble, so you spend an hour there with the employees attempting to figure out your shipping alternatives.
  • After all of that, they run into a problem and are only able to insure it for $5,000, despite the fact that replacing the lens would cost them $10,000.
  • What should I do now? It seems that the only way to ensure more considerable amounts (up to $50,000) is through a corporate label or a UPS shop.
  • Make a call to a UPS shop; it turns out that they provide varying insurance prices; the insurance alone will cost you $200, let alone the packing and shipment.
  • It is essential to have the UPS shop pack it in order to guarantee that your insurance will have the best possible chance of getting reimbursed.
  • Because the item is being shipped internationally, there is a possibility that there may be additional customs and taxes fees.
  • As a result, I’ve decided to ship packages via my neighborhood UPS Staples because they charge only $106 rather than the more than $350 that the official UPS shop charges.

Now comes the hard part: waiting for the lens to be returned safely after it has been delivered to the Nikon repair center in Toronto and awaiting word on the progress of the repairs. Despite the fact that if I had made the purchase locally, some costs, such as shipping, would still have been incurred, it is undeniable that I have made my life an inconceivably large amount more difficult by purchasing such a costly item over international borders. I will be upset every day until the lens is returned to me without incident, or I will sob uncontrollably if something occurs to it and the insurance is insufficient to cover the loss. If I had purchased it at my go-to shop, as I always do, I could have just driven it there and avoided all of these petty obstacles along the way.

EDIT (information below has been amended and added): 4/17/2014

  • The lens has arrived at the servicing center in Toronto, and UPS has sent me a delivery confirmation (my $5,000 insurance risk has been cleared, phew).
  • Twenty-four hours have passed since Nikon was given my lens – there has been no contact from Nikon to confirm whether or not they have received it.
  • When I phone them, they tell me that the reason they haven’t been in touch with me is because I haven’t sent any documentation.
  • They discovered my documentation when I inform them it was in the steel Nikon camera box the lens is in, which has been 36 hours after delivery. I contact them again (international call charges).
  • LoL – They have had it for more than 36 hours but have not even opened the case to look for the documentation (on a lens that costs 10,000 dollars).
  • 54 hours have passed since Nikon was given my lens – There has been no formal confirmation through phone or email from Nikon on the shipping or receipt of the lens as of yet: (

The takeaway for everyone is that, unless you don’t care about the warranty and repairs to your gear, you should buy it from the authorized dealer in your nation. This is the lesson that can be summed up in a nutshell.

For Example:

  • In Australia, buy from an Australian authorized dealer
  • In the USA, buy from a USA Authorized Dealer
  • In Canada, buy from an authorized Canadian dealer, etc…

It is not difficult to make purchases from foreign countries; nevertheless, it might be challenging to get things fixed under warranty or even without warranty while traveling across international boundaries.

Quite simply, if you want a warranty or repairs on your equipment without the risk of running into difficulties, you should buy it within the borders of your country and make sure that it is approved before you buy it. Additionally, you should make sure that you save your receipts. There are some international warranties that will be fulfilled, while others cover the entire world; however, this is not always the case, and the time periods that are covered by these warranties might vary greatly. For instance, the guarantee on my lens in Canada is good for five years, but if I want to get it fixed in the United States, the warranty period is significantly less than five years. When it comes to international warranty coverage, Nikon is highly stringent.

To clarify, the transaction that I just described does not qualify as a purchase from the gray market; it is an entirely separate issue. Large camera manufacturers typically have subsidiaries located in many countries of the world. These subsidiaries are responsible for importing, pricing, and repairing the manufacturer’s goods. A product that is sold on the gray market is one that was not imported by the subsidiary. The formal name of Nikon’s subsidiary in the United States would be Nikon USA Inc., while in Canada it would be Nikon Canada Inc., and so on. Because each subsidiary is responsible for providing warranties, those subsidiaries are the ones that establish and decide upon the regulations.

Therefore, a camera that was brought into the United States by a party other than Nikon USA would be an example of a gray market Nikon camera item in the United States. The chances of the manufacturer honoring any warranty on things purchased through a gray market are limited to none, or the warranty will only be honored if it was extended by the original seller who imported the item. In this particular illustration, I will use Nikon, but you could just as well substitute Canon, Sony, Sigma, or any other camera or lens maker. When making purchases from online marketplaces such as eBay, it’s definitely even worse.

In conclusion, before you acquire your pricey gear, make sure to use caution and thoughtfulness. The only reason I purchased my lens from Canada was due to the fact that it was readily available; nevertheless, if you are planning on purchasing something from another nation, you should make sure you are aware of how this would impact any future repairs or warranties. Best of luck.

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