Picture This

Dear Olympus,

The only thing keeping me from unleashing an all-out, multiple-front complaint assault about the pathetic level of customer service you’ve provided me in regards to the broken digital camera I sent you for repairs at the end of April is the fact that I didn’t pay for the unit in limbo. That’s right, said Olympus Stylus 710 was awarded me as a result of my winning a “Super Shooter” photo contest sponsored by L.A. radio station KFWB last July in which I submitted my favorite Dodger Stadium moment and they liked it enough to send me the first prize valued at around $300 at the time.

That I didn’t have to pony up my own money for your camera shouldn’t really soften my anger, but it does makes it easier to let go. Still, you suck for your failure to take responsibility and repair the camera still clearly under the one-year warranty.

Overall it was a good piece of equipment before it began crapping out, which was sometime in March when the thing began freezing up after I’d turn it on. Usually powering it down and back up by removing and replacing the battery sometimes once, sometimes two or three times, would restore the camera to working order. But after several weeks of having to do this every time I wanted to take a picture became intolerable and so I contacted your customer service department where a representative said the malfunction sounds like a firmware issue that can only be resolved if I send it in — which I did with all the requested documentation showing the warranty was still in effect.

A couple days later, shortly before I was about to split for vacation, I then get a letter that tersely states:

Upon evaluation we have made the following notes about the product received. We have determined that the terms of the warranty coverage do not apply to this situation due to the following: received in used condition, dents on bottom left and right corners of camera.

Cost of repair (including tax, shipping and handling): $156.47

I turned around a WTF letter of protest the next day that I sent via direct mail to your service center in Irvine and copied it via email to your main customer service address:

Dear Sirs,

I am in receipt of a letter dated May 1 suggesting that I am responsible for the costs to repair my Olympus 710 digital camera because it was “received in used condition, dents on bottom left and right corners of camera.”

I submitted the camera for repair with the understanding as provided by an Olympus Imaging customer service representative that the warranty applied and am appalled at the implication that it does not.

While I did drop the camera in August very shortly after I purchased it (from a negligible height of three feet), it continued to work flawlessly over the next eight months after that incident. Though the camera has been dropped its current dysfunctional state is not a result of that incident.

Whatever is malfunctioning now is Olympus’ responsibility, not mine. But if Olympus is not willing to provide me with a warranty repair then send the camera back to me unrepaired. For the amount you dare to charge I can purchase a new camera and trust me it will not be an Olympus — nor will I ever purchase any product bearing an Olympus mark again.

William Campbell

I figured more than two weeks later when we got back from Europe was plenty of time for you to either reject or accept my demand and if not the camera I’d at least have some sort of reply waiting for me. Nope. There was nothing from either Olympus customer service nor your regional service center. And when I logged on to the Olympus website to check the repair status everything was still the same as it had been with the camera repair stalled pending receipt of the $156.47 you were extorting. It was then that I gave up the fight and went the final online step and checked the box declining to pay the ransom and requesting the return the unrepaired camera. And when the dialog box came up inquiring why I’d made that decision I believe I wrote something to the effect of “Because Olympus Sucks.”

In the aftermath of all this and with only a few days left until the arrival of my 43rd anniversary of life on this planet I rationalized taking the paycheck I received for the final couple days working at that gig in El Segundo and getting myself a new cam. Enabling just such a rebound are the fine and attentive folks at Costco who must’ve gotten word of my situation because in my inbox this morning with a subject line of Olympus Blows Digital Chunks! (not really) was a notice pointing me to a 7.1-megapixel Canon SD1000 bundled with a 2-gig memory card for slightly less than a hundred bucks over the $156 Olympus was pining after so adamantly.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with laonstage.com, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."