Bad Experience with Nikon Professional Services

D800 Review

Back when I had it, I wrote my Nikon D800 Review that you might enjoy.

Update – Feb 2013

I wrote this blog entry below back in October of 2012. Oh it seems so long ago… the pain has run deep and true, like a river of regret through my soul.

But, since then, I’ve recently had an encounter with NPS Australia that has made everything wonderful again. NPS Australia is really really good. I still don’t have anything else positive to say about the other regions, but NPS Australia has gone above and beyond my expectations. Big thumbs up my Aussie neighbors!

Not a great story

So, I’ll start this out by saying that everything may very well be my fault. I’m not one of these angry-customer-types that rants and raves and demands he is right. But I think you’ll also find this story to be a little confusing or upsetting.

I joined NPS (Nikon Professional Services) a few years ago. It’s easy to join — you just have to be signed up by an existing member. I didn’t really know what NPS did, but I figured it would be handy in case anything ever went wrong with my equipment. Over the years, I’ve bought a lot of stuff and Nikon has never given me anything; I’ve bought a D90, D2X, D3X, D3S, D800, and countless lenses. They sent me a little black NPS card and said I should always carry it around with me, which was kind of a strange request. Anyway, this isn’t really about the silly little card or their draconian-card-carrying-policies, just setting the stage that I’m a member and everything.

I’ve had three negative experiences and zero positive experiences with NPS. I’ll go through them here.

1) Refusal to repair my Nikon 28-300mm lens – The lens fell with the camera recently and is a little bit messed up. I think it’s a minor repair. As far as I can tell, it’s just a little sticky when I zoom in and out. So, not a big deal. We sent this to be repaired by Nikon in the USA. However, they refused to repair it because they say it is “grey market”. I bought it from a retail outlet here in New Zealand in Christchurch (Photo Warehouse – the main pro photographer supply chain in the country). It cost about $1,600 instead of the $1,000 off Adorama. I’m so confused by this policy!

I went to the grey market page at Nikon and they say that it’s probably grey market because it went through an importer and is sold at a local store. Well, yes! I mean, isn’t this how millions of people buy camera gear around the world? I assume the lens is made in the same place as all the other Nikon lenses. And why do they call it a “Grey Market”? That kind of has the indication that something nefarious or underhanded is going on. It’s not. I just drove to a local legitimate camera store, and bought a lens!

The Nikon website also ridiculously says, “If the deal was just too good to be true, it probably was. One of the first indicators that a piece of Nikon merchandise might be Gray Market is if the price is considerably less than most other resellers.” Well, no! Pretty much everything in New Zealand costs a lot more, so it was hardly “too good to be true”… goodness gracious….

Even the return process has been a cluster. Now, I’m grateful to the team here at Stuck in Customs – we have about a dozen people who do various important things in different capacities. My COO, Curtis Simmons, has been having to deal a lot with NPS since I hoisted this upon his lap. I got an email from Nikon about returning the lens, which I forwarded to Curtis. He replied to me with this: “So in order to get the lens back NPS said that I have to refuse the repair estimate for a repair they refuse to do!”

We’ll just call this a clusterwtf.

2) Refusal to fix my D800 – When I was in Australia, the winds of Sydney harbor blew over my tripod and camera. It hit the ground, but didn’t seem too bad. I kept using it for another few weeks, and even took that photo below of the bed in downtown Dallas with it I noticed the focus was a little bit off. Not much… just a little bit. So I sent that in too so they could have a look. Apparently, they saw the outside of the body was damaged, which is no big surprise. The refusal letter we got said, “We found evidence of damage to the main casing.” They said it cannot be repaired! I find this hard to believe, since the camera is like 98% working well! I don’t get it… Naturally, I was more than willing and happy to pay for the actual repair.

Again, maybe I am wrong (tell me if I am…feel free to give me a gut check), but I really feel like they’re not even trying. And can’t NPS do something like get me another camera or something? I mean, after all, what good is Nikon Professional Services… can’t they help a brotha out? Jeez… this has all just been a tremendous waste of time.

3) Early ordering for the D800 – This happened many months ago, but I’m adding it here as item #3 of General Dissatisfaction. I was quite excited to get a letter from NPS that I could early-order a new D800. I thought, oh wow, finally some sort of clear “bonus” for being a member of this secret group. I guess maybe they know that I’ve been carrying around this black card all these years. Anyway, I went ahead and went through the process to get an “early order”.

The process was ridiculous. It required me finding a local retailer and making the purchase. There was a lot of faxing (remember faxing from the early 90’s, dad?) that went back and forth to ensure there was an order placed. Everything went according to plan, but I didn’t end up getting the D800 until many other people were buying them in regular stores! For example, my friend Lester Lefton just waltzed into a store to buy his a week before I even got mine! Hey, that’s a great program there NPS… not only did it take up hours of my time, but it was slower than just walking into a Best Buy!

Photos from my old D800

Well, sweet memories of the camera below… I’ll still put the camera and lens on my shelf… I will stare at them through narrowed eyes of bitterness…

Inception: New York I took these photos in New York City before going to LA to prepare for Burning Man. I found this spot below in midtown during a walk from Bryant Park over to the Facebook HQ in NYC. If you check my Facebook page, you’ll see some photos that Luke shot of me while I was taking this shot. It’s the one when I was awkwardly up under my camera shooting almost straight up in the air! You know that position…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

NPS NIkon Professional Services

Fast Action in New York City Speaking of PhotoWalks, I took this photo right after the photowalk in New York City a few weeks ago! I emerged from Grand Central Station and was about to walk across the street when I saw this scene. That guy was still as a statue, checking his phone while the world went on around him. - Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Sleeping in Downtown Dallas What do you think is happening in this photo? It’s full of secrets, like Laura Palmer…We had a tiny, unannounced PhotoWalk in Dallas last week. Hello to those of you that came!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Mysterious Rock of Wonder The day in Death Valley was about 115 F (46 C). It wasn’t a dry heat either… there has been a lot of humidity here and there is flash lightning in the day and night. This location here took a lot of time, effort, and 4×4 to find. I took five gallons of water, a map, and some warnings from the place that rented the jeep that this area was inaccessible because of recent road wash-outs from rivers. Well, they were right! So getting the 4×4 over and through the washed out rivers took many more hours than expected. I only suffered one minor injury when my head slammed into the rollbar during a clumsy maneuver. But after I finally found this place I’ve always wanted to visit, it was late afternoon with plenty of time to hike around before night fell.I look forward to your theories (from the boring to the surreal) of what makes these rocks move across the playa on their own!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the entire post over at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Magical Fog in San Francisco over the Golden Gate BridgeI recently drove across the bridge and up this little mountain road to try to find this shot. I started driving up a road I knew well, but it was closed. Closed! So I parked, got out my tripod, and hiked about a mile up this hill to get to this spot. It was a very cool night, but there was some strange inversion happening. Almost anywhere I stood on the side of the hill was a stead hotel-room 72-degrees. And there was zero wind. It was a perfect night, and just when I arrived, the fog really started pouring over the bridge, so I set up for this shot...- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

  • susan ratcliff

    Oh my gosh – you did have a hard time with them! I guess those ‘professional’ cards don’t do much good do they? Sorry to hear that for you and so many other customers of Nikon.

  • Edward Lang

    Well, if you would like to see a “Brother In Arms” on this issue, take a look at Tom Hogan’s web site, he also discusses the short comings of NPS, I’de like to say as a Canon shooter this isn’t an issue for me, sadly, I’de be fooling myself if I thought that, it’s a world wide Phenomena, poor to no service with a smile, if your lucky. But, I still enjoy your site with or without the damned D800.

  • Alin Simionoiu

    that’s really unfortunate trey, hopefully somebody at Nikon will get the message after this post.

    now what? i’m asking because i tryed to put myself in your shoes, thinking what i would do and i got nothing about the next step here other that buying another camera or maybe find some sort of local store that can also service the equipment

  • dougkaye

    Trey, I’ve had repeated disasters with Nikon’s service. I sent in a 135mm f/2 DC for repairs and got the same gray-market bs. And like you, I didn’t get my lens back. They just sat on it. I finally had to initiate the “refuse estimate” process.

    Now I’m in the middle of a 6+ week runaround trying to get the autofocus problem repaired on my new D800. See for details. And because their senior tech people are in New York (hurricane Sandy territory), I’m told it could be a long time before I even get a response. What a mess.

  • Casper van Zyl

    My heart goes out to you,there seems no sentiment in business anymore. Like yourself being a Mr nice guy you get bit on the rear all the time,this is the world we live in. There is never after sales service even though they tell you that,i have experienced that over the last 60 years,its sad but true. They are all beautiful artistic photos thanks for sharing. I feel an insurance against damage my be better in your line of business than relying on NPS.
    A bit of trivia, hang your bag on the centre of tripod when its windy, the same thing almost happened to me in Korea,its a pain some times but better safe than sorry.

  • Just a question for anybody really, when you buy a expensive camera and lenses do you put any insurance on it rather than depend on a warranty from Canon or Nikon? I plan on getting a FF camera and was just wondering what the norm was for protecting this expensive gear. Thanks. And sorry you got the run around Trey.

  • Wow… I was going to switch from canon to nikon because I basicly had the same problem with the Canon Pro Service… wtf am I going to do now? This just shows that the customer isn’t king anymore… Shame really.. you spend thousands of dollars getting high end pro equip and get served like a street rat….

  • t_linn

    I remember running into the grey market issue as a youth trying to save a few bucks on audio gear. If there’s an argument for not repairing under warranty (protecting the local distributor is the argument, I believe) I don’t see how this extends to refusing to repair it at all. The “we cannot fix your brand new $3,000 body because something bad happened to it” is way beyond ridiculous. Again, dropping it may mean it’s not a warranty repair but how in the world does Nikon justify their sucks-to-be-you approach? I’d have a hard time every sending another dollar Nikon’s way in your situation.

    If you happen to run in the same circles as Bill Fortney, a Nikon technical rep for the southern U.S., he might be able to offer some advice. NZ is outside his territory but he’s a good guy with a long history with Nikon. In the Canon world, I would contact Chuck Westfall for an assist.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Interesting to hear NPS – glad to see Tom Hogan had similar issues… I had not heard of others, but I guess they are out there.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks Alin.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Wow @dougkaye:disqus that is crazy

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks Casper 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yeah, I have insurance…. and will use it but seems like Nikon should take care of me before the insurance company… oh well!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes @facebook-100003098372150:disqus what is one to do? Maybe try Sony, eh?

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yeah – well I really don’t want special treatment… I think there should be good treatment for everyone with a Nikon.

  • Christopher Neumann Ruud

    So very sad to hear that Trey. Hoping to get a nikon d600 soon I hope that you’re at least happy with the products, if not the customer service. I’ll be damned if I have spent so much cash on decent lenses now and will have to ditch brands …

  • I had to send my Nikon D90 in 3 seperate times before they fixed the viewfinder grid. Sent it back broken twice and I finally wrote “PLEASE LOOK THROUGH THE VIEWFINDER” on the inside of the box where they couldn’t miss it. Terrible service.

  • A Brighter Vision Generally

    Ouch… That’s harsh. Very dry service there bro… Hope you got it sorted in the end though… Nice pics…

  • A.D. Wheeler

    Yay for SONY! Hope you get it ironed out Trey!

  • Probably worth pointing out that Photo Warehouse is pretty much the main pro photographer supply chain in the country so I know we call each other bro, and live a relaxed lifestyle in gods own, but calling our legit (and bloody expensive) stores “grey market” is taking the piss! Thats a dammed good camera so I hope they sort you out as this tale will be making a few mates pretty nervous

  • I dunno… Sony doesn’t have a good amount of lenses in my opinion…

  • Trey Ratcliff

    yep – I hear ya brotha

  • Trey Ratcliff

    wow hehe that is funny and sad

  • Trey Ratcliff

    thx for the link…. and yes, no probs with my Sony so far

  • Trey Ratcliff

    thx – I will add that in the story

  • Harold Frank

    I dropped my Nikon d5100 with a AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED attached to it onto a cement floor. Some how the Black Rapid strap unscrewed itself from the bottom of the camera and down went about $2,300 worth of equipment. The shutter on the camera stopped working and I wasn’t sure how bad the lens was messed up. Instead of sending it in to Nikon I brought it into a repair shop outside of Phoenix. They are called C.R.I.S. I have no business relationship with this shop. I just want to say that for only $250 they fixed the camera and recalibrated the lens all in one week. Everything works just like new. So my point is maybe going through Nikon is not worth the headache.

  • Robert Scott

    I dropped my 14-24mm lens and broke the lens hood. I emailed Nikon Australia about a quote for supplying and fitting a new hood. They told me they don’t do email quotes and that I need to mail it to them so they can take a look. Now I know why they want to take a look. It’s not the damage, it’s whether it’s grey or not!

  • A.D. Wheeler

    Thanks for letting me post it. I have used Sony from day one and weather a ton of criticism for it. Glad to see that they are starting to get back some of that Minolta cred and beyond. I cannot wait for my a99!!

  • Did you try to get the lens serviced in the USA? Or any country other than New Zealand? Your warranty is local, and NPS is local. It doesn’t matte how much you bought it for, it just matters that the company that sold you the lens (Nikon New Zealand) is not the company that you want to repair it for you (Nikon USA). They may have the same name, but they are totally different companies.

    What they *should* be able to do though, is repair it at a cost, and usually with NPS you would get priority service/quicker turn around.

  • SONY’s service is worse than Nikon. Canon and Olympus have been the best in my experience (I work in a retail camera store). Also, we get about 4-5 times as many SONY repairs as we do for Nikon or Canon, even though Nikon sells about twice as much as SONY, and Canon sells about 3 times as much as Nikon!

  • Had similar experience when I dropped my D90 last year. Although I’m not ‘in the club’ I went to the local official Nikon centre, and there was only ONE staff there, an elderly Japanese guy who doesn’t speak much English at all, and all he told me was it is beyond repair. I had to get the quote to claim from my insurance and he charged me quite a big sum of money for that. Not really happy but at least I got to upgrade my camera to D7000!
    I thought I was just lucky but after reading your story I’m starting to think Nikon in general don’t have good customer service at all…hmm…they need to improve on that!

  • JOIN TEAM CANON!!!!!!!!!!

    If you are a member of NPS, do you get free repairs??? I ask, because Canon and Nikon will repair anything for a cost. If they rejected to give you a price, thats weird, and bad business.

  • Edward Lang

    Hi Mathew, I have absolutely no confidence in CPS (Canon’s version of NPS), I have the 1Dx (2), 5DMK3 (2) 1DMK4 (1), + D800 (1), 25k in Lenses, all covered with Insurance, if you rely on Canon or Nikon’s “Professional” service (what a Joke) your heading for a bad experience in my opinion, backed up by my experience of trying to deal with Canon’s CPS on issues with, 5DMK3, 200 f/2 Lens, 5DMK2. Problem becomes “Damage beyond Repair”, as an Underwater Photographer though, that’s generally not difficult, water leaks in salt water are pretty well always terminal.

  • I purchased a brand new US-region Nikon D800 from Adorama recently. It came without the left-hand side camera strap lug, the triangular metal clip you attach the camera strap to. I contacted support, providing an exact image showing exactly what was missing with the name and description… and they sent me a camera strap. When I told them this wasn’t what was missing, they came back and told me that I was going to have to send the camera in… to have this clip attached. You can buy these online for $5. Why would I pay my own shipping costs of more than $5 to send my camera to Nikon to have the clip, which you can simply put on like a triangle-shaped keyring attached? Are they stupid?

    I kept ticketing in and… they just started ignoring me. I still have no left-side camera strap lug to install the camera strap on my D800. It’s been 2.5 months.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks for the feedback – sounds like a lot of other people have had problems too! Sorry to hear this… I don’t want special treatment – I think everyone should get good treatment from Nikon… like Nordstrom customers.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    that’s a crazy story @facebook-100002311162809:disqus !

  • Trey Ratcliff

    No – they don’t repair things for free — and I was willing to pay, of course.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes – I tried in the USA.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    interesting story @haroldfrank:disqus thanks !

  • Doug Stroud

    I am having similar results w/ Nikon Warranty. I sent in my 50mm 1.4 and 85 1.4 for service, purchased from Ace Camera in VA and Adorama in NY. I am not NPS- I sent in an email requesting an application and the response was- sorry this is an online application only process- WTF… Nikon USA does not have an online application, Nikon Canada does and Nikon Australia does… but Nikon USA does not… Anyway- my 50 had its little plastic decorative ring fall off that covers the hardware next to the glass and I thought I would get it cleaned and adjusted as the 5 year warranty covers- My 85 has had very bad soft focusing results for sometime, maybe since I purchased it, below 2.2 and was the main reason for sending in my lenses. Either of these have ever fallen, taken a hit or anything and I get an estimate that these are no longer covered by warranty due to impact damage. OMG- It appears that Nikon is completely trying to screw me over and after reading all the posts below it is not just me but is a tactic to improve their bottom line. These lenses are stored in my Think Tank International or Airport Backpack. If this happens- my new purchase of the D800e is going back to Amazon and I will be switching over. If there is anything I cannot and will not tolerate is dishonesty. Up to you Nikon… and if Nikon is doing this to such a high profile individual as Trey Ratcliff, what will they do to a lowly working photographer like me and you?

  • Chris Brooks

    Yikes… sorry to hear about your troubles. Perhaps an opportunity for a “Grey Market” NPS company.

    Trey – Are you going to ditch the service, or give them one more shot to get it right (or reasonable)?

  • Really odd, the nikon services in South Africa are amazing.
    Had a d90 and d800 repaired, they did it made sure it was 100%, couriered it to me and collected their loan unit, and they offered that without me asking!
    And thats in South Africa, in a country where people burn the trains because they late!

  • Casper van Zyl

    If you buy a second hand car or new you can still have it serviced.What difference weather grey or not grey,you should be entitled to have it serviced after all you are paying for it. Sorry but this should be a wake call for all camera companies. Come on NIKON,CANON its time to to pull your finger out .Remember without your clients you are nothing,photographers are the ones that keep you in business, SO HOW ABOUT SOME AFTER SALES SERVICE

  • drasko stojadinovic

    well thats a good question what does this nikkon pro user stuff bring you anyway? if you are paying for this “service” i would quit it now

  • Trey Ratcliff

    wow that’s good to hear.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    I dunno… that’s kinda three strikes in my book.

  • John Lavoie

    Wow! This is all terribly disturbing. Sounds like its not “Black Market” unless you march into Nikon HQ and buy my gear. Looks like I should find a local highly gifted repair ‘dude’, grease his palms, suck up to him as much as possible, even marry his daughter if I have to, just to ensure that, in case somethings unfortunate happens to my gear, I know it will be taken care of and repaired in a timely manner. (R.I.P. professional customer service !)

    P.S. Maybe in the mean time I’ll just wrap all my gear in high-density foam and put it in air-tight display cases !!

  • an interesting experience-otherwise you have gorgeous photos

  • If you want to donate that camera to someone who will put it to good use despite it’s problems, I’m your man. I’ve been following your photos, skills and tutorials since your very early Flickr days. I’ve got photomatix and a Nikon D50 when I started being a Stuck in Customs follower, but having been unemployed for two years now there’s no way I can afford to upgrade my camera. I figure it can’t hurt to ask, and of course to add “Please!”

  • Ben Fewtrell

    Trey, I dropped my D700 and 16-35mm earlier this year and it would not even work… I am not an NPS member and they fixed it for me within a few weeks… and it was Grey Market to boot! They didn’t even say a word! Here is my blog post about it…

  • Recent case in point: 4 months for a SONY NEX 5 repair. At the end, couldn’t repair it so replaced it with a new one/refurb/something. A few weeks later, the replacement camera came back because the screen is falling apart. Literally, the front glass/coatings are disintegrating, falling off, etc.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    hmmm! @google-5980659dfaa41258536d7657beb68083:disqus

  • Trey Ratcliff

    hehe thanks @facebook-100000041321169:disqus 🙂

  • Daniel Shortt

    Note to self, do not drop my nikon, do not drop my nikon, do not drop my nikon!

  • Well, I am a part of some anti Nikon communities on FB since Nikon is pro-hunting and we have been protesting against trophy hunting, I am not sure if you agree to the cause, but they have been sponsoring unethical trophy hunting for a long time now. No wonder they are so unprofessional in their customer service knowing a photographer of your rep who has been suggesting fans to go for some of the Nikon products.
    Would like to add that being against trophy hunting is my own personal opinion and view. I don’t intend any offence and neither expect to start a debate about it here. So thanks for not getting offended.

  • aaron campbell

    If you cant get the D800 repaired, will you buy another D800 (with insurance $)/ use another model/ go mirrorless?

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes @disqus_gFK2ZmNJnr:disqus – buying another…

  • Trey Ratcliff

    No worries @facebook-811515132:disqus — I don’t kill helpless animals either…

  • Trey Ratcliff

    hehe @google-b49a0016258cfa112a5c252c17c4c6d7:disqus 🙂

  • Michael Lyon

    I use Canon and live in Japan. I damaged my camera and lens slightly when the camera and lens took a fall when the tripod was unbalanced. It was under warranty with Canon, since it had been less than a year since I bought the camera. Initially they told me the part needed to repair the camera was not currently available, and they couldn’t give me a date when the part would become available, due to their factory being located in Northern Japan and was affected by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that had just occurred at the time. About a month went by, and I got a call from Canon’s customer service saying, instead of repairing the camera, a Canon PowerShot G7, they would send me a new camera, the PowerShot G12 instead for the cost of repairs. I also had an underwater casing for my G7, and it was not compatible with the G12, so I asked them about it, and they said to mail it to them and they would replace the casing for free along with the upgrade to the new camera. To say the least, I was very pleased with how good Canon’s customer service was treating me. My stepfather uses Nikon, and is a professional photographer and instead of Canon, he would be willing to give me his old Nikon gear when he upgrades, but after reading this I am not sure if I want to get involved with Nikon gear and deal with issues when something goes wrong compared to how good the Canon service treated me.

  • aaron campbell

    am loving took about 5 weeks from order to delivery in Chch, got it at the end of May, three others had preordered ahead of me. Your review convinced me to get back into it after a 12 yr hiatus- thanks Trey. Kinda glad i missed the first years of digital camera development, it feels a very natural switch but it is just so much easier with image review

  • Derron Fricke

    Here are my thoughts, some dealerships like B&H, Adorama sell cameras online as well as brick and mortal stores both types grey market and Nikon warranted cameras. If you look at B&H for example they will have models of the Nikon D800 at different prices, some grey market some not. Typically they do a good job identifying which ones are grey market. From my understanding Nikon has a page on their web site where you can find an authorized dealer to avoid purchasing a grey market camera. Now this doesn’t mean that these dealers don’t also sell grey markets but they should be identifying clearly if they are selling you a grey market camera. I did not see on your story if you indicated that when you purchased the camera it came with a Nikon manufacturer warranty, which all Nikon cameras not grey market should come with. Nikon may feel that this grey market camera takes from their profits, as well as them repairing it in front of customers who purchased a camera with a Nikon warranty may be a disservice to those customers. I will be curious to here about these details, did your camera come with the warranty? Is the store listed as an authorized retailer? On the receipt was your camera listed at a discount or designated as a grey market camera? Possibly notifying Nikon and supplying them with these details may warrant their reconsiderations. As for my experience Nikon did seem to want a lot of documentation when I sent my D70 back years ago. Copy of receipts, warranty card, pictures demonstrating the problem. They then said they were unable to recreate the problem. I wrote back to them and asked them to do their tests again and asked if the photos I submitted were not proof enough. They finally fixed the problem. One last thought in regards to the repair on yours, maybe the housing was dented in to an area of the camera that through the specs off, but my guess is my previous response as not repairing what they deem to be a grey market camera. Sorry for the long post, hope this may shed some light.

  • Andrew Caldwell


    Did you try dealing with T A MacAlisters who are the local agents for Nikon?; I hear they are pretty helpful (I haven’t dealt with them myself) and I would think they should be able to sort something out… especially for that Grey Market lens! I believe the guy to contact is

    Gary Thoms

    P: + 64 9 573-1768

    E: [email protected]

  • Dieter Schaefer

    According to Nikon New Zealand’s website, Photo Warehouse is an Authorized Nikon Dealer. They should know (and should have let you know) whether they sold you a grey market lens or one that was officially imported (B&H, for example, sell both grey and black market Nikon equipment – but it’s clearly marked); it’s certainly something to take up with them. Did they provide their own warranty or a third party’s (which would be an indication of grey market import)? Sending the lens to Nikon Japan might be a route to having it fixed – though I doubt they will fix it under warranty since it has been dropped.

    With regard to the D800 – Nikon might consider the repair “not economical” since they feel they have to replace parts of the body frame – so maybe making use of your insurance to get a new body is indeed the better way to proceed here.

  • I totally agree with your article. I had the same issues with Nikon in italy. Here to be honest here it’s slightly worse… They use a regional official importer (Nital) who tries its best not to service Nikon material without their mark of approval. I went trought some nasty letters to have my lawfully bought camera flash fixed and still had to pay for postage fees while a lens has never have been fixed..

    Since then I switched to Canon and had one lens exchanged for a new one (even if I dropped the former) and several cosmetic issues fixed for free. Canon, not Nikon, will earn much of my future income for years.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks – that is good information.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Many people are saying good things about Canon for sure.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks – no I went with NPS in the USA

  • Derron – did you even read the article? All your questions were already answered…

  • Andrew Caldwell

    I don’t know much about the NPS setup; but I believe that everything Nikon that gets bought in NZ has to go through T A Macalisters for warranty claims / services etc. It’s all part of Nikon’s regional sales strategy to allow them to control prices / supply to those little places outside of the US.
    Either way not good work by NPS

  • Gregory Cox

    Exactly! One of the main reasons I use Sony is they have a store I can walk into and purchase products, or try them out! I work for them as well for almost 3 years and all I’ve ever heard is positive comments from the service department. I’ve seen 4 year old cameras repaired to like new. I hope you never have to, but when it comes to that lovely NEX-7 you own, I can say with confidence you won’t have any problems with servicing.

  • RakSiam

    Is there no repair facility in NZ? I would find some place local(er) to do the repair. While I absolutely agree with you that the lens most likely comes from the exact same assembly line, I don’t know what their business relationships are, etc. I think Nikon USA sets minimum prices for products sold in the US. And they only want to fix things that were bought under the USA warranty. But it is bizarre that they won’t even give you an estimate for fixing the camera. I can understand them not wanting to fix it for free obviously, but it makes no sense that they refuse to fix it at all.

  • My suggestion would be to write up the issues, attach your NPS card and send it to the VP of customer service or some other rep. I did a quick look and could not find a VP for customer service but thought Mr. Steven Heiner, General Manager of Digital SLR Cameras & Nikkor Lenses might be a good person to send the letter to. You don’t need to be looking for special favors when their system is broken. I would raise the issue to someone higher up. Worse case is nothing happens. Best case they realize what idiots they are and resolve the issue.

  • Gregory Cox

    Actually they do. The reason Canon and Nikon have a higher lens count is due to the IS/VR that’s built into the lens. Sony puts Steady Shot in the body so you don’t have to buy it in a lens. Plus there are tons of Konica/ Minolta lenses you can use on ALL Sony cameras. Oh and one more word…Zeiss! Lol

  • I’ve been using Canon SLR’s and DSLR’s for ten years now. The obvious degrading in quality due to cost minimizing and such that all companys have are getting on my nerves! I have been preparing for my switch over to Nikon (D800 was the one I wanted) for a couple of months now… but lately I have been reading lots of shitty reports and am seriously bugged about what to do… For me Nikon and Canon are the only “real” brands due to the amount of accessories/lenses etc.. But Canon is basicly churning out old tech in new bodies and nikons support seems to suck more than canons! wtf am I going to do now?!? Shitty time for a tech geek like myself 😉

  • Gregory Cox

    Well you would be going straight to the source for the sensors…lol! For those of you who don’t know, Sony makes the majority of sensors in Nikon DSLRs, including the D800.

  • Rob Elliott

    I read some of the other comments to see if it was touched on.

    Someone warned me about buying anything from outside of the country I live in (or that I bought my camera in) because if I need it repaired I will be refused because they will call it Grey Market as the country combo doesn’t match.

    So they consider it Grey because your NPS is for the US and you bought the Lens in New Zealand, which this story seems to lend credence to.

    The rest is a cruddy set of happenings.

  • Actually, I take that back. According to Nikon’s USA website, they won’t actually fix it even at a cost. Perhaps you should ask Nikon New Zealand, or a third-party repair center.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    yeah, not a bad suggestion!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    There probably is, but I was just in the US, and I left it with Curtis (my COO) in Dallas — he sent it in… I didn’t figure it would matter too much where I sent it in.

  • I think the US service people will consider Gray market anything bought outside their local market.

    I tried to get my 600mm f4 repaired in the US and gave up after being asked to produce proof the lens was bought from a licensed Nikon dealer. I buy my equipment in NZ and don’t travel with my receipts or use a Carnet.

    Nikon does not offer NPS to NZ photographers, Market is just too small.

    Trey.. T A Macalister (NZ Nikon importers) have a very very good service department in Auckland. 09 573 1650

    Regarding your 2) Refusal to fix my D800 issue. I would suggest that if the body took a substantial blow that was able to distort the chasis then Nikon probably consider the repair uneconomical ie would cost as much as a replacement body

  • I’m glad you shared the story. I thought NPS was designed to help working photographers cut through the red tape and get repairs or gear so they could keep working. It seems inevitable that some gear can get mangled while you’re constantly in the field using it. Why NPS would deny a repair for something damaged while using it just seems odd and confusing. What’s the benefit to NPS if they don’t support their members in time of need?

  • In the last 30 days I have heard of two old-school Nikon shooters dropping them because of their lack of support. It is a sad day
    when a photog feels the need to drop 20K to move to a new camera platform because of lack of support. Hopefully this will be a wakeup call.

  • Tricia Lombardi

    Trey, I completely understand your frustration! Though I am not an NPS member, I researched the “grey market” details with some helpful staff at B&H when I first started buying gear. They explained that Nikon U.S.A. would not honor the same warranty period, or provide service for grey market gear. Ever since, I’ve elected to pay the extra fee for U.S. gear only. Here’s a blog post about it:

  • The moral of the story (and subsequent comment) is, don’t be a member of NPS.

  • Please switch to Canon. I will look forward to your posts on experiences with Canon.
    From my experience using both systems… Nikon gear requires repairing only after I mishandle / damage equipment.
    Canon requires repairing regularly from normal everyday use.

  • W3PYF

    This discussion gets to the heart of the matter. The gray market designation simply means the Nikon operation to whom you sent it for repairs didn’t “buy” it from home office and “sell” it to the dealer from which you bought it.

    This is a strange business practice that evolved in a different era, when the dollar was a very strong currency. US dealers (specifically, 47th Street Camera) would buy a container of new cameras from a German dealer who’d bought them with Deutchmarks and resold them to 47th Street for dollars. Then, 47th Street would sell them for below what their importer, Eirenreich Photo Optical Industries in Long Island City, NY, was selling them to US dealers. Nikon home office at the time would honor “international” warranties – but you had to ship such equipment to Japan for repairs.

    Of course, years ago, Nikon bought out EPOI and made it their US operations. But the basic policy didn’t change. It’s how the Japanese accounting system works. A camera is considered “sold” when a regional Nikon operation like Nikon USA “buys” it. It would not be a legal (under Japanese accounting principles) “sale” if Nikon USA could return it. The cost of repairs is a local (Nikon USA) cost of doing business – which is why they keep a careful track of the serial numbers of every device they buy from Nikon home office and sell to a distributor within their authorized region.

    Bottom line: No one buys a camera from Nikon, or even from a “Nikon Authorized” dealer. “Nikon” doesn’t “authorize” dealers – a regional Nikon operation on its own P&L buys them in a transaction from Japan, and then sells them to a dealer “they” – the regional Nikon operation – “authorized.”

    Lest this seem all madness, here’s why the system evolved: Inventory. Local dealers would not invest in inventory to show to customers if someone could walk into their shops, check out a camera – and then buy it for less from a Pop Photo ad from 47th Street Camera – who was selling cameras it bought cheaply from a German dealer.

    Fast forward and it’s a version of today’s “Best Buy: The Amazon Showroom” issue – on steroids. Today, with the internet, people no longer need to hold a camera to evaluate it – and thanks to FedEx and UPS deals with online marketers, can get what they want overnight, without paying sales tax.

  • This is certainly not the first horror story I’ve heard regarding Nikon’s terrible customer service. One thing I can’t figure out is how authorized Nikon dealers like Adorama and B&H are permitted to sell “grey market” Nikon gear. I can also see not fixing the grey market stuff for free but why they refuse to fix it at all is mind boggling. Are these “grey market” items not produced in the exact same place that the legit items are? It’s not like they are counterfeit.

  • Wow Trey, if the Nikon people only realized how many people follow you they may have been a little more accommodating, maybe even used your name as a reference to their “high quality” equipment and services. Still loving your book. I show it to everyone who visits me.

  • Hello! My name is Trey Ratcliff! You refused to service my camera – prepare to die!

    🙂 I’m sorry to hear you’re having such issues. Do you expect to ever get a satisfactory explanation from them?

    I use Canon, though I’m not a member of their CPS yet. I got my dates wrong on when I purchased my 5DII and tele zoom and at the last minute mailed them for repair on the day my warranty expired. I was worried that since they didn’t actually receive them until after the warranty expired that I would have to pay. I was emailed an invoice stating the repair to bring the lens back into focus was several hundred dollars. And not more than 20 minutes later, a new invoice stating that they were within warranty and would be repaired for free. Whew. I hope I continue to have good service with Canon whether I’m a big name or a little nobody.

  • I’ve heard stories about Canon being the same with grey market. For the camera companies, despite whatever their info page says is nothing more than a part with a serial number designated for a different part of the world. So the part you purchased at a NZ store had a NZ serial, and when the USA repair shop looked up the serial, it was flagged as ‘grey market’.

    You’d think they’d have a process for dealing with repairing equipment that was legitimately purchased in a different region, but apparently not.

  • bjrichus

    Yup. Nikon USA are 110% anal about this. According to them, ANYTHING not USA purchased is not a real Nikon product, so they won’t service it. I think someone in the management there is trying to be more serious about profits, so needs a whisper in the ear that they are costing Nikon a LOT of good will in the core customer base…

  • Trey-

    I don’t think it is fair for you to use your very loud microphone/soapbox to take Nikon to task with this issue. Nikon didn’t tell you to move to New Zealand with your Nikon USA camera, you are a professional, this is your business, you are supposed to do all of your due diligence for your business. You should have known about the difference between grey market and Nikon USA equipment, traveling all over the world you should have already figured out contingency plans for when a piece of equipment needs repair away from where your bought it or where you currently live.

    My Nikkor 18-200mm lens AF motor failed while under warranty, I opened a ticket on the Nikon USA web site and shipped off the lens via insured UPS to the Nikon service center in California. Two days after Nikon had received the lens I had it back from Nikon (shipped at their expense, it was in perfect working order and repaired at no cost to me. Nikon does stand behind their products, but the only benefit I can see with NPS is that you could walk in to an NPS kiosk at a major event (like the Olympics) and receive free immediate service as a working pro.

    Please don’t suggest to your readers that like you, they should abandon arguably the finest DSLR on the market today. Find someone who will fix you D800 and start using it again.

  • W3PYF

    Repairs are not a profit center for regional Nikon distributors – they are overhead. And they are gouged by the home office for replacement parts beyond some percentage of the cameras they’ve bought from the home office. It’s not that they “can’t” fix your damaged $3000 body – it’s that they are husbanding their spare parts inventory and repair-tech time for what they MUST fix: Cameras they sold to an “authorized” dealer. When a particular model has a defect and thousands come back for repairs, it’s a catastrophe for the regional distributor.

    Japanese business works differently. Anyone who has followed the scandal at Olympus and doesn’t know Japanese business would think, “How in hell did they think they would get away with THAT?” And then, you think about how Enron was screwing over California on electrical power – and you see every system has its, well, peculiarities.

  • might be worth looking at a local mom & pop camera shop (you know the one that still develops film) that does in-house repairs – no? from what you said, seems like mechanical damage that might be similar repair to the old film cameras mom & pops are used to repairing. (how much damage can they do?)

  • Christopher Stivala

    Are you kidding, your option is obviously biased. Trey has spent 10s of thousands of dollars with them, he advertised the heck out of them yet he is not being fair? Come on now, this is a blog of his experience and this is informative to many.

  • PJ Evans

    Come to the dark side of Canon..or wait till Disney buys you out!

  • Christopher Stivala

    I bought a nex-7 thanks to your info. And was making the jump from canon crop to Nikon ff as I feel by biz now needs ff quality. After this article I have decided to go Sony. I realize this was your incident and might not be the case across the board but being who you are compared to me I doubt I’d have better luck with them. Sorry for your troubles, good luck with future and thanks for being open.

  • Thanks for the heads-up! I first learned about “gray market” when I tried to register my D90 on Nikon’s website. I find it odd that my new camera isn’t considered “legit”, since I live in the US and bought my camera through Knowing that any implied warranty will not be honored, and hearing that Nikon may even refuse to do a paid repair, I have made a note to take it to a local camera shop if and when it ever needs repair.

  • They will not repair my 24 f/1.4 lens because they believe that the aperture blades should not simply fall apart. I sent it in for just that reason because I don’t believe that should simply happen either that’s why I sent it in dammit. BTW no drop. It’s been months of having my repair shop go back and forth on that.

    I pretty much expect nikon to never honor a warranty because I use my camera too much and scratches to them can be passed off as “impact damage” and they love using that one on me… even when I don’t drop things.

    BTW TREY there is a falsity in your blog.
    NPS is easy to do?? – False
    It’s a big big pain in the rear for most photographers. I think you may have gotten special treatment.

  • Tricia Lombardi

    Trey, Thom Hogan (former editor of Backpacker magazine) and blogger about all things Nikon, has been a persistent critic of their customer service, and response to the left focus issue on a crop of D800 bodies ( He has received the same treatment you’ve experienced, and tried to convey feedback to them. Here’s hoping you get a replacement body soon.

  • Brian Williams

    Note to self, sell my Nikon D90 and purchase a Sony NEX-7

  • That’s to bad, Trey. Nikon should be ashamed of themselves!!!!

  • David Ingram

    Sorry about the equipment hassles Trey. My local camera store in Austin said that Nikon has been very hard for them to work with also. I have a D300 that needs a small replacement part (rubberized door that covers the CF slot) and have had it on order for months. Can’t get the part and may have to order via ebay.

    I use a variety of equipment and seems Nikon just isn’t very customer friendly. I have had much better results with repairs for my Canon 7d.

  • I’ve only had one experience with Nikon Repair in the USA and it was a cluster fball from hell. I sent in my 18-200mm lens that was 6 months old because it had seized up completely. Three weeks later after several emails and phone calls, I was told they were waiting for me to approve the quote to fix it! They somehow missed the copy of my receipt in the box and attached to every email! Serious amateur hour. It seemed like I was dealing with high school interns who had no clue how to answer simple questions without escalating to higher levels, and I was without my primary lens for 32 days!

  • Damian Bere

    Trey, they’ve been watching you… do you remember a few months ago on a Tuesday afternoon, when you didn’t take your little black membership card out with you?….. exactly… thought you’d got away with it didn’t you? Not on Nikons watch! …clearly you don’t take your membership seriously… 😉

  • Jeez! That surely is a sad story @google-c1ec23de8292d904dc213eba8bf1d17d:disqus. You’d think you’d get better treatment. Didn’t you only get that D800 earlier this year and now it’s going to sit on the shelf??? What do you plan on using now? Now after reading your post I think I should wrap bubble wrap all over my camera just in case 😉

  • I’ve never been quite sure what the benefits of being a member of NPS were. Now, I still don’t know.

  • Not that it solves your customer service problem – but if you bought it with a credit card,you may be able to get your money back through them…

  • I too had a D300 and 70-200 fall to the fround via the Black rapid strap, my repair was $1100.00 and black rapid stepped up to the plate and paid the bill.

  • I run the business side of things for Trey. Nikon has repaired a few other items for us without much hassle. But these latest issues are a different story. Trey isn’t expecting special treatment, he believes all Nikon customers and NPS members should be treated equally but with quality customer service (i.e., Nordstroms).

  • I agree. We are willing pay for the repairs.

  • To clarify, there’s nothing sinister about a grey import. It simply refers to a product designed for sale in one region that’s sold in another. For example, a product menat to be sold in the USA that’s actually sold in NZ, Australia or the UK, such as someone ordering from B&H from outside the US. In the bad old days, this could have implications involving incompatible voltage or TV standards, but these days most displays can handle PAL or NTSC signals, and most rechargers will handle any mains voltage. So physically the only inconvenience is a mains cord with potentially the wrong shaped plug on the end – a non-issue given travel plugs or simply plugging a local cord into the charger instead. For lenses, there’s no issue at all given there’s no charger or video standard to worry about.

    So the only actual issue is the local warranty. Buy a product from the USA and it’ll come with a USA warranty. If it breaks and you want it repaired during the first 12 months for free, then you’ll need to get it back to the USA, or wherever the local warranty is from. Some products have a worldwide warranty which means it could be repaired anywhere.

    Local stores obviously want you to buy from them rather than importing via a foreign store, but rather than trying to become more competitive or innovative, some companies are trying to protect their local sales channels by simply refusing to support products bought from abroad. I think this is a very narrow-minded strategy. Surely a better approach to get people into local stores is by offering something they can’t get from importing from abroad, such as hosting classes, tutorials, photowalks etc. Companies could also arrange touch-and-try days at local stores where people can get to play with the whole range – something that’s often impossible outside of big cities.

    Where Trey’s story becomes really interesting though is he did try and play the game by buying from a local retailer, which for whatever reason, supplied a grey import. Maybe they were supplied grey imports by mistake. Maybe it was a deliberate move. But either way it’s not a good situation. Since I spent a long time in NZ hearing about grey ‘issues’ from local retailers, I’m investigating this story further.

  • Chris Alleyne-Chin

    My damn butterfingers have dropped my 18-200 lens twice now and I’ve been thinking of sending it in for a checkup. You’ve made me very fearful, Trey. Or maybe that’s just the influence of Halloween?

    I wonder if all the BS you had to go through is owing to the fact that Nikon is Japanese and companies there are sometimes very rigid and arcane. More than that, though is that it’s a very old company. I noticed this with Motorola too (founded same era, ~1920) there would be some very design choices and unwillingness to say, redesign a bad UI.

  • Alicia Navarrete Alonso

    Sadly, your #1 is what most of us travelers have to put up with whenever something we’ve bought somewhere else breaks down. Isn’t it stupid to have to ship something halfway around the world because the manufacturer will straight-out refuse to take a look at it if you bought it in a different country? It’s ridiculous.

  • Jonathan Kelly

    Flip Nikon the bird. Switch to Canon!

  • I have always heard that if you have dust on your sensor and you send it to Nikon for cleaning, there is a 100% chance it will come back with more dust on it than before. It sounds like local repair shops are the way to go (if you can find any around). They are becoming an endangered species.

  • Ryan Tadeo

    Several years ago, I launched my Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS out of my camera bag. I was in a hurry and failed to check if the bag and it’s flaps were secure. So I threw the bag across my back and watched my lens fly out in slow motion, hitting and skidding across the concrete. I live in Dallas and this was during the summer, so I’m not sure if it was sweat or tears that I wiped away but I quickly picked up the lens for inspection. A few scratches but otherwise the lens was physical sound. Placing the lens on my camera, I realized the auto-focus no longer functioned. I sent the lens into Canon using my CPS membership where they notified me of the lens’ Grey Market status and asked for a purchase receipt. At the time, I was unfamiliar with the Grey Market status but bought the lens from Adorama. After I submitted my receipt, I received my lens with the auto-focus repaired along with a note that the IS was also repaired (I didn’t realize it was damaged). I was surprised that I was not questioned about any of the bruises on the lens or charged for the repair. In spite of my Twitter handle, I do not have a lot of use for Canon vs. “insert brand here” debates. I’m sure Canon has language similar to Nikon regarding Grey Market. Being a small business owner, I’m just impressed by companies that go the extra mile to help a client and equally frustrated by companies that do not. Hopefully your blog will bring attention to your situation and someone from Nikon will offer a viable resolution for you. Good luck.

  • Guest

    Several years ago, I launched my Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS out of my camera bag. I was in a hurry and failed to check if the bag and it’s flaps were secure. So I threw the bag across my back and watched my lens fly out in slow motion, hitting and skidding across the concrete. I live in Dallas and this was during the summer, so I’m not sure if it was sweat or tears that I wiped away but I quickly picked up the lens for inspection. A few scratches on the body but otherwise the lens was physically sound. Placing the lens on my camera, I realized the auto-focus no longer functioned. I sent the lens into Canon using my CPS membership where they notified me of the lens’ Grey Market status and asked for a purchase receipt. At the time, I was unfamiliar with the Grey Market status but bought the lens from Adorama. After I submitted my receipt, I received my lens with the auto-focus repaired along with a note that the IS was also repaired (I didn’t realize it was damaged). I was surprised that I was not questioned about any of the bruises on the lens body or charged for the repair. In spite of my Twitter handle, I do not have a lot of use for Canon vs. debates. I’m sure Canon has language similar to Nikon regarding Grey Market. Being a small business owner, I’m just impressed by companies that go the extra mile to help a client and equally frustrated by companies that do not. Hopefully your blog will bring attention to your situation and someone from Nikon will offer a viable resolution for you and address the policy globally in moving forward. Good luck.

  • t_linn

    I appreciate your sentiment, Trey, and I agree. I wasn’t advocating special treatment. We as consumers increasingly come up against an indifferent bureaucracy, overwhelmed and understaffed. Just getting a person to listen can be a challenge. Sometimes having an advocate within that bureaucracy is enough to get someone to at least consider the particulars of your situation.

  • t_linn

    Interesting insights, W3PYF. What I don’t understand about your explanation though is that at *some* price, a repair is profitable. Unless the mothership limits what a regional distributor can charge for a repair, why not at least provide the option to a customer that allows the distributor to make a profit on the repair instead of leaving him/her with a $3,000 paperweight?

  • I had heard stories in the past that Nikon was overly strict for service work and this kind of confirms that. As for Canon, I bought a camera used on eBay from another country. It was grey market with several paint chips and scrapes but CPS never questioned a thing when I sent it in for service.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Another good Canon story!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes – I bet that was scary when the lens went flying!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes – very crazy @google-7dcc67cae9c4a3e00a48fed8a7cbbe05:disqus

  • Trey Ratcliff

    It could be the problem for sure @google-27e9df3e9d038d56413601ebabe7ae91:disqus

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks @facebook-1678913615:disqus – you always come prepared with extra information. You sound surprised that Photo Warehouse supplied me with a Grey Market lens. I’m not terribly surprised… I bought it about 2 years ago there. Either way, whether or not it is Grey Market, Nikon should not even have this designation for customers… I’m a Nikon customer… not a “grey” or “white” customer.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Me neither!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    haha @Damie

  • Trey Ratcliff

    haha @google-cc0e0f77a9acb0eee97fba13250855a0:disqus ! 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    that is another clusterwtf!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Ahh – no @facebook-17806585:disqus you are right – it is NOT that easy to join… a lot of silly paperwork… I guess I meant it is free to join.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Cool – hope you have fun with Sony

  • Trey Ratcliff


  • Trey Ratcliff


  • Trey Ratcliff

    Agree @wbeem:disqus ! 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes – according to @facebook-1678913615:disqus, Photo Warehouse should not have been selling a Grey Market lens.

  • Andrew Caldwell

    I think the lens has been labled as ‘Grey’ because you bought it in NZ, and tried to get it repaired in the US (hence in the US it is Grey, in NZ it is White). From my experiences Photowarehouse don’t sell items that aren’t imported through the proper channel (ie TA MacAlisters who are the sole agents for NZ Nikon gear)

  • Derron Fricke

    Thank you Glenn for your concern but I did, he did not say anything about having a warranty. Nor did he say he checked to see if the store was authorized, he said “I went to the grey market page at Nikon and they say that it’s probably grey market because it went through an importer and is sold at a local store. Well, yes! I mean, isn’t this how millions of people buy camera gear around the world? I assume the lens is made in the same place as all the other Nikon lenses.” Which is not the same as finding out if his store was authorized. And he said nothing in regards to the receipt indicating a discount or grey market. he simply stated that “It cost about $1,600 instead of the $1,000 off Adorama. I’m so confused by this policy!” and “Pretty much everything in New Zealand costs a lot more, so it was hardly “too good to be true”… goodness gracious….” This does not indicate an answer to my my query if the receipt actually indicated grey market or a discount. So a final question for Trey as well, have you tried to send the camera and lens in to the repair facility in the region where you purchased the item? This may make a difference on whether or not the item may be deemed grey market as the comment from Gordon Laing may indicate that because you purchased the item in NZ and not the USA it is being deemed grey market. This may be a simple as sending the item to the regional repair facility with the receipt and warranty card.

  • Wow. The very same thing happened to me with the Black Rapid strap! You’d think having an ultra secure strap takes your mind of worrying about gear falling but its actually less reliable than the normal strap so it seems. Now I’m walking around like an idiot, wearing the black rapid strap whilst still supporting the gear by hand, afraid the strap will spontaneously unscrew itself.

  • Trey, what are you using in the mean time?

  • Hey Trey. Let me tell you my experience. I fall down from 2 mt to my camera and tripod. (uups) my tripod get smashed as well as my camera. lens was completely damaged (I mean it ) and hopefully it was under a warranty service called Mack Cam warranty. Well I told them the situation and I live in Turkey. I sent the lens to local repair service and I got the money from the company. You might want to try a company like this. Sorry for your cameras!

  • A.D. Wheeler

    After watching Trey’s show on Micro 4/3rds that is probably the route that I am going to NEX. 😉

  • The word is out, Doug. You’re just too nice. 8^)

  • No, from now on you’re Grey Trey. 8^)

  • Michael Kan

    I am “happy” to see they treat the big name guys the same as they treat the rest of us simple NPSers.
    At least I got a loaner D4 when mine went back for the 3rd time.
    As an aside, Nikon USA considers any camera or lens without the US serial number a gray market product and will not touch it.

  • DDickens

    That Nikon guy matt from youtube has used NPS and says there a great help

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes @google-0ecaeba409c3391e3234a28e2bc4770f:disqus I think the grey designation is a dumb one…

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Good idea there @twitter-17113551:disqus

  • Trey Ratcliff

    My NEX-7 and backup D3S.

  • stanleyyamada

    Trey sorry to hear that you have to go through this with Nikon but I glad that someone with high profile has similarly had difficulty with Nikon’s service policy. I had a similar experience with my D90 in 2010 and will be moving to Canon with my next body purchase.

  • Alan Hess

    I am a NPS member and have not had the issues that you describe. Actually, I have found the service really good. Now, it might help that I live in San Diego and the repair center I send stuff to is in Los Angeles and I have purchased all my gear through Nikon approved vendors in the US.

    I have sent in my main camera body for expedited repair for a broken hot shoe and it was back with a a week. I dropped my 70-200mm and it need repairs due to sticking of the zoom ring. It was back in a week or so. I was notified of the D4 early sale and 1 email to Adorama and my camera was ordered and it shipped and delivered way before my local camera shop even think about getting it in stock

    As for professional suport, I have been at numerous events shooting where I was able to use gear loaned by Nikon for the event.

    I think that it becomes very tricky when you purchase stuff in one country and try to get it fixed in another through the NPS service. Maybe they should have some kind of international program for photographers in your type of situation. Is there a NZ or Australian NPS office? What office takes care of that part of the world? Would they be able to help with lenses purchased there?

  • Christin McLeod

    Note: This is regarding the strap, not Nikon/repairs. A friend of mine also has the Black Rapid strap and said hers comes unscrewed all the time. She once had the camera fall off as you guys are all describing. I would say there’s a flaw with the design if this happens repeatedly like this. I was planning on getting one, but I’ll save the $60 and my camera.

  • Eric Cotte

    Sadly, I’ve heard many stories about Nikon’s poor customer service, which is a shame given how much I love their gear. When I was unable to get my grey market D200 serviced by Nikon, I sent it to Authorized Photo Service ( in Illinois. They fixed the problem (pop-up flash wasn’t firing) and proceeded to, at no additional charge, clean the camera and reset everything back to factory spec, which addressed a focusing issue that I didn’t even know I had. I had the camera back in my hands in less than 5 days with a very reasonable price tag.

  • Mary Eikenberry

    Your sense of humor is so awesome, Trey!!

  • Felix Cervantes

    Trey, I sorry for your misfortunes, but to blame Nikon?

    Your camera suffered major damage because it was dropped. Who knows what is wrong with it. The out of focus issue can be a result and not necessarily the problem with the camera. If Nikon tried to repair the camera, then they would be liable to fix all the issues and they would be on the hook for your misfortunes. Have you ever wondered why insurance companies total cars when it may seem that it is easily repaired? Because they know better that it will never be the same.

    Your camera was dropped by you and that is not Nikon’s fault. No matter what Nikon does other than give you a new camera would your camera operate as the same as before.

    I am extremely disappointed with you that you are using your website to complain about it, its like if you complain, Nikon will be forced to give you a new camera.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks for that feedback @google-eb2194565e331b130ff31af3ec8d1e47:disqus — happy you had a good experience. Yes, the issue seems to be an international one.. which is silly, since Nikon is an international company.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    That is a good story @google-0b200414f953edf48bd3431ae65263eb:disqus !

  • Trey Ratcliff

    hehe… well… at times!

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks for the link @stanleyyamada:disqus 🙂

  • Here’s an idea, why not get insurance on your camera gear?

  • Karen Brown

    Happened to me as well … Black Rapid strap fell off and my 70-200 was damaged although not so badly that it couldn’t be fixed. Like Ferdy, I walk around holding my camera just in case.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yep – I have insurance… first step though is going through NPS for repairs, however. It seems the proper course.

  • Trey Ratcliff


    I’m willing to pay for repairs… the question is, why are they refusing to repair it for a Nikon customer.

    You’re off your rocker dude…

  • Trey Ratcliff

    I went ahead and made that part of the story bold @google-51195cf6796e6a0437d824a4b8c38ad9:disqus , since you seem to be seeing things through your own out-of-focus lens.

  • kay.martin

    Why doen’t Nikon have better customer service? It doesn’t seem to exist anymore, I’m afraid. and like the others, I have a black rapid strap that now I’m afraid to use.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes @a5b2fc14a67060e44180f34ee42d6ae3:disqus – I have heard a lot of stories of those unscrewing themselves.

  • Wow, I thought I was the idiot when my camera fell off my Black rapid strap. Must be the design

  • Felix Cervantes

    Sorry, Trey, but I think you are seeing things out of focus. Nikon is basically saying that your camera is unrepairable, so are you willing to spend $3,000 for repair costs? $2,000? There could have been significant damage that you are unaware of. Are you truly aware of how much damage the camera sustained in the fall?

    You do realize that if Nikon accepts your camera for repair, then they become liable? How much are you willing to pay for the repair? If I were Nikon, I would charge a minimum of at least $1,200 to mitigate any risk that Nikon might occur.

    And you do use your website as a bully pulpit, I remember you going after Peter Lik a few years back.

    PS, by you putting my name in bold, does that mean I am on timeout? Still like 99.998% of your blog posts.

  • hansmast

    Come on over to the Canon side! We have cookies. 😀

  • NPS have not got a great reputation. Canon Professional Services on the other hand seem to be much better at dealing with their customers. Perhaps when they produce their high MP landscape/studio FF body you might borrow one and a couple of L series lens for testing? If nothing else it might make NPS buck up their ideas where you are concerned!


    Oh did you get my subtle hint 😉 Would love to catch up when we bring a group of happy snappers to Queenstown from Aus (I’m a kiwi living over here!) in 2013! Love waundering around “stuck in customs”.

  • Jerry Nelson

    Well at least you have the Sony NEX 7. I sure like mine.

  • Wheew… got to keep the juices flowing! Hope you get this resolved.

  • Sandy McAnally

    I had an out of warranty repair on my Canon 7d at no cost. I’m not a CPS member. Very happy with Canon customer service!!!

    Where in Dallas was that bed?

  • paul

    So Trey, Nikon did you a favour. Now you can go claim on insurance (with the “refusal to repair” from Nikon) and you can get a new camera! You did have your camera insured, right?

  • Love the first photo in this post.

    It’s too bad that your experience with Nikon has been so bad. Seems like it’s far too common that customer service is poor in so many companies, especially those businesses with minimal competition. I’m actually surprised on the rare occasions of having a good customer service experience. Amazon is one of the few companies that seem to be consistently good, and I recently had a Western Digital hard drive die on me just past the warranty expiring and after complaining on Twitter, they contacted me to offer to extend the warranty and repair or replace the drive…haven’t actually gotten it replaced yet but so far they’ve handled things well. It’d be nice if more companies would do a little more to show that they appreciate their customers and not make things so difficult.

  • Rene Kisselbach

    Hi Ferdy,

    I heard this story many times over. I have the strap as well and mine never comes loose and I always check before I go out that the screw is tight. Maybe it is because I use the Manfrotto plate, I don’t know. I just have it as part of my procedure when getting the kit ready, assuring the screw is tight.

    I love the strap. No neck pain anymore. 🙂

    Trey…..shocking customer service. I hope somebody at Nikon is reading this and has a KPI for customer satisfaction!

  • Levi Johnson

    Makes me glad I invested in a Canon!

  • I’d rather the company provide support at the basic level of contact without having to resort to ridiculous measures.

    It’s a matter of voting with my dollar – Nikon has competition, and some of their competition does innovative things in the camera space that Nikon isn’t keeping up with. If that’s the case, why would I stick with them when the prices are the same as competitors, the tech isn’t exceeding competitors, and the service is garbage?

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks for the feedback – reading it all 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes – a lot of pro-canon people here! 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes agreed @JeffPeterson82:disqus 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Wow that is cool @google-8dece12adafe6d259ec46022f83953c9:disqus — that bed was part of an art display by the symphony center.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes – a great backup camera! 🙂 I took it down to Milford this weekend @jerry_nelson:disqus 🙂

  • Trey Ratcliff

    hehe @facebook-100000839675127:disqus the darkside! 🙂 Never say never…. !

  • Trey Ratcliff

    I have heard good things about CPS @facebook-100004031658678:disqus 🙂 It’s a paid service, yes?

  • t_linn

    Again, I don’t disagree with the sentiment, Kain, but what do you do when you already have $30,000 invested in Nikon gear? You could ebay it all and maybe lose more than $3,000. You could write off your new $3,000 camera body. Or you could try to get creative with the bureaucracy. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Surprised that nikon does this to best photographers like Trey, not to mention Trey is a big time nikon fan. Unbelivable attitude of nikon.

  • Manny

    Time to switch to Canon

  • Rob Morgan

    NPS has saved me several times by loaning me equipment while mine was being repaired. And I have gotten really good service from them. Repairing all my broken gear so far.

  • Trey Ratcliff

    That’s good to hear @google-6ef85a6375d32e860fd1a41572859df9:disqus

  • Trey Ratcliff

    Yes kinda sad 🙁

  • jason

    My old 40d canon camera had a problem ,I sent it in to canon canada and had it back a week later good as new all for 125 dollars ..including parts and labor

  • Do you guys have the newly designed Blackrapid FR3 camera connector? They work much better
    and I have never had a problem.

  • Wow Trey. I’m shocked that Nikon wouldn’t repair the lens or the D800. Usually, they would just say that it isn’t warranty and give you a price for the repairs. That’s what they did for my Nikkor 80-400mm.

  • plcarpe

    I think the way you were treated would make me NEVER want to buy a Nikon now, even though your pictures are fantastic. They don’t seem very stable, and they cost a lot.

  • Kersten Howard

    I, like you, is a member of the NPS scheme and I have nothing but praise for how Nikon UK have dealt with me over the years. Every time I speak to them they either sort it out on the phone or collect my camera FOC, fix it, and have it back to me within a few days. Normally it is cleaner when I get it back as well. Even problems I thought wouldn’t be covered have been. Simple answer is move to UK and use the great Nikon staff over here 🙂

  • If you look at the thread engagement on the Rapid strap part that goes into the tripod mount on the camera and you will see it only has about 2 threads of engagement. That in itself is not enough to secure the rapid strap to the camera body. Nikon highly recommends to not using the rapid strap because of this. Now one way to fix it is to use a RRS plate on the camera and then a lever release mount attached to the rapid strap and use a longer screw. This way you can use the camera on a tripod and still use the rapid strap when not on a triopd…

  • I have six Leica lenses. Two arrived DOA (50 Noctilux and 50 Summilux — remember, these are hand made and receive a human final inspection so DOA is not what one expects). However, unlike your Nikon experience, Leica stepped up and fixed both and against all odds and their warranty, they paid round trip shipping for the Summilux repair (I had to pay one way shipping for the Noct repair as per the Leica warranty). Maybe you just need to try a different camera company (the wife has been very happy with her Pentax K5).

  • Simonf

    I always understood that a NPS card meant that you could get priority service for your gear anywhere in the world? It entitled you to jump the queue so to speak. But it didn’t mean free service.

    T A MacAlisters, the local agent dont provide NPS here in New Zealand, but I thought they should honour it if someone flashed the card. That was one of the advantages years ago of belonging to NPS or CPS if you were overseas on assignment. If your equipment failed you could flash the card and get priority service.
    Photowarehouse do NOT sell grey imported goods and actually have several agencies in their own right so they are hardly likely to grey market. Having said that I personally wouldnt use them for equipment unless I had to.

    That aside the fact that Nikon wouldn’t even look at your equipment even when you were prepared to pay for the repair AND you had an NPS card is just plain crazy. Mind you Nikon do have some crazy ideas which defy logic. Thom Hogan wrote recently that Nikon USA won’t even supply the thumb screw that tightens the tripod collar on a 70-200 f2.8 which is user replaceable, without the lens being sent back to them!! How is that for silly?? also apparently they are selling one of the new Coolpix’s online for less than the recommended retail and LESS than the retail stores can buy it from Nikon at wholesale. How is that for saying what you think of the retailers??
    You couldnt have got your equipment repaired here in New Zealand by an independent technician as TAMACs will not supply parts to anyone now. I had an argument with them a few years ago when I wanted a well known tech to fix the battery clip in my D200 battery grip. I complained to TAMACs and just got the usual BS about it being a precision piece of equipment etc. (I KNEW that, but also knew that my Tech had been repairing all brands of equipment for years!) In the end I had no option but to send it to them for repair at exorbitant prices.
    Also TAMACs don’t repair damaged lenses in NZ, they have to send them to Japan!! Complete lack of service. Unfortunately Canon are no better except they do have a CPS here in NZ, not that that means much. A few years ago a colleague who is a well known commercial photographer in Wellington had to wait over 12 months for his professional lens to be repaired by Canon. He was a CPS member and even though the guys at Canon knew him well and who he was he still had to go through hoops to become a member of CPS. This guy has his work all over New Zealand and is probably one of our best known commercial photographers. They still wanted a sample of his portfolio before they would admit him as a member of CPS!!

  • Kevin Blackburn

    I now dont feel so bad these are some of the same troubles I have had with Nikon and NPS. I still have a 14-24 in at 2 private repair services for over a year now since nikon refused repair Again like you I am happy to pay whatever it cost and I have been using Nikon for more than 15 yrs but feel so let down by the customer service

  • Great work!

  • After much more consideration and your reply which was a little hard for me to tell the tone of I have decided to stay canon, put those apc lens on my nex-7 and get a 5dmkiii. What I am wondering is if you have any recommendations when it comes to adapters?
    Thanks again for inspiring me to get out and do something. Also missing the goggle+ talks you have, guess your busy…

  • Chris

    For delicate attachments that need to stay put, I use a drop of “Loctite Thread Locker Blue 242”, a US product. Do shake the tube well before applying. You will note when disassembling some electronic & other similar equipment, some blue or grey matter on the screw threads, this shows the industry uses a similar product. If permanent or stronger bond is wanted, use the Loctite Red (even labelled as permanent, it will release with torque. I use the red on quick release plates.. Do make sure the surface is not greasy! -= Chris =- Proud to be a non NPS member .

  • I dropped my D600 in the first week I had it and NPS Japan says it they can’t/won’t repair it because the inner body has a crack and they can’t guarantee the focus etc on repairs. It still shoots video and stills but auto focus doesn’t work and the Fstop is stuck at 5.6. In other words I think if they replace the parts of the outer housing that contains the lens mount area it will fix it. BUT their fixed policy is that if the inner cast is damaged they won’t fix it. I said I don’t care about a guarantee on the repairs, if they can make the lens stay on more tight and the fstops changeable. I have been a member of NPS JAPAN for 15 years with usually good service, but their attitude this time has really bothered me. If anyone has ideas where else I could get this fixed at a reasonable price I would I would love hear about it

  • Yes in Japan there a lot of paperwork and a 6,300 members fee every three years to belong. But you do get the repairs made at about half cost, and they lend you equipment when you need it

  • agree. I have spent a lot of money with Nikon, bu they showed no mercy on my experience posted above (somewhere)

  • In Japan, they won’t if you dropped it and it is obvious, and you tell the truth

  • I run photo tours for overseas photographers here in NZ ( and also work as a commercial photographer. We here in NZ are not even big enough to get NPS at all – there is no NZ ‘chapter’ of it and you have to live in the country where you are registered so we can’t use Australia NPS etc.
    I did ask the Nikon distributors when we could get it here and they told me ‘we have lots of things we want to do before we do that’!

  • Me at the Santa Monica Photowalk: “Trey, is there any actual difference between Canon and Nikon?”
    Trey: “No, they’re both essentially the same.”

  • John Gremmer

    I have had no problems like this dealing with Pentax!

  • Don Hughes

    The Nikon Mantra has been dropped. No support (software like Nikon Scan as ONE example), no local service and poor quality control (D600 and D800 of late). Just another factory of merchandise.

  • Christopher Neumann Ruud

    Wound up with a (barely) used D700 instead. And I love every frame it shoots!

  • Sam W

    What a fucking whiner.

  • What a productive comment.

  • Dr H Ramakrishnaiah H.

    Look like Nikon is sliding down rapidly on their quality control of their products and services. I too have noticed this in many of their new lenses. For example Nikkor 500mm f4, VR II nano coated lenses had lot of dust inside!! It was hard to make a decision. Same thing was noticed in 70-200 f2.8. If the lens and camera are manufactured in their factory I think it is Nikons obligation to provide service irrespective of whether it is bought gray or otherwise. It is good for Nikon too, customer loyalties are based on these issues.
    Dr Ramakrishnaiah H.

    Bangalore INDIA

  • Gustavo Navarrete del Toro

    Nikon sucks, I can not find a spare part for my new camera, I will be back to my old Cannons cameras, I have one from the ´60 and works perfeclty,……..Nikon? never again!!!, very low quality and service level!!!!!!!!!!! they are cheaters, their bussines it to repair their garbage……..obviously to our charge!!!!!!!

  • Adam Woodhouse

    Recently I had my 3rd Nikon body fail on me. That is it for me. First D700 fails 1hr into a wedding (thank god I had a 2nd body). It needed a new motherboard. 2nd camera was D3s … again an hour into wedding and it jams with an ERR code. TWO visits to Nikon and out of pocket $900 in total and it still does it!!! Last is this past month my D610 fails 1hr into a wedding (notice a trend here? … always have at least 2 bodies on you when doing a paid gig). This time the curtain blew out of the track and is jammed (can see it when looking in the camera, under the mirror). Over 5 yrs I’ve now spent $2000 (Canadian) on repairs where the cameras have failed me at critical times. For the most part my experiences with NPS and repair centre here have been favorable. It is the reliability of the gear (these cameras were not abused and no where near the max shutter count they are quoted to achieve before shutter replacement). I have since unloaded almost all my Nikon gear and have been enjoying the lighter and less expensive Fuji XT1 body and comparable glass to what I had in my Nikon days.

  • Ian Hanson

    Finally. Someone gets it. Different issues, same takeaway…what’s the point?

  • Glad I’m not alone! 🙂

  • Ian Hanson

    As am I. I’m about ready to switch to Fujifilm, I think I’ve waited long enough now the models are up to snuff to take over. Just want to see what this Medium Format idea is, then we might be in business. Love your work, moving in the direction of what you’re doing so keep up the good work and maybe I’ll see you out there sometime!

  • Tom Gibbons

    I also just had a bad experience with NPS USA. I had purchased a refurbished D750 directly from I had received the box with the camera and extra items it was supposed to come with – minus the cord that plugs into the wall then into the charger. I had emailed Nikon NPS and explained this. In less than a week an envelope came with the wrong cord. I again sent off an email explaining that the wrong cord had been sent and please send the correct one as I photograph weddings every weekend (also an associate photographer as well) and really needed this cord. They responded that if I wanted the correct cord I must first send back the wrong cord that they had sent with a note explaining which cord that I needed. They must not realize how many professionals are looking into other systems, ie; Sony and Fuji. The one reason I have not gone totally with the Sony system is because I still need speedy repair for broken equipment. I am now rethinking what equipment to use for next year.

  • Lefteris Kritikakis

    Nikon USA… oh boy. If it wasn’t for Sony’s abysmal service, Nikon customers’ departure would have been a stampede. Nikon USA will lose more than 50% of its customers within one year if Fuji develops a full frame system and/or Sony improves customer service.

  • Lefteris Kritikakis

    I bought the 80-400 used for one style of events (graduations). Excellent lens. Then I discovered much dust on the 2nd element which I didn’t see when I bought it. I sent it to Nikon for just a cleaning, and they wanted about $560. They wouldn’t even tell me why. So I asked for the lens back, and I returned it to the store. Private Nikon repair centers told me all that they could not touch the specific lens model – only Nikon does it. Nikon responded “because it has to be taken apart etc” about two days after I refused the repair and had already returned the lens.
    Sony has worse stories in the US, but if they improve customer service, it’ll be a stampede of customers leaving Nikon. IF Canon improves their sensors, and/or Fuji introduces an FF system, and/or Sony improves customer support, Nikon USA will close down.

  • Lefteris Kritikakis

    I’ve had Canon cameras in the past (T2i and T6s and a 5mp point and shoot), and all of them happened to fall off the top of the car with me driving away. None of them had any problems after the fall (the T2i fell 3 times, 2 with the tripod, no issues). To the point I thought that it was normal. With Nikon bodies I feel I’m carrying eggs.

  • Lefteris Kritikakis

    A close friend of mine has a Leica store in London, he repairs cameras for the last 40 years, and always warned me against Nikon… “better sensors but their bodies are not as durable”. Truth be told, Canon pro services are far better, everyone knows that.

  • Lefteris Kritikakis

    Felix, if an NPS member (meaning a knowledgeable person, as the Courts would assess it), signs an agreement for a repair “at his/her own risk”, and is willing to pay for the reasonably possible best repair given the circumstances, then Nikon should facilitate the repair. Now, let’s see what Nikon will do with a few batches of misaligned sensors on the D850 that have already appeared in the market. Google it. I have two bodies and tested me in agony when the problem was publicized, to discover with great relief that only one had the issue to a lesser extent than the “fully problematic ones” (which can’t focus on infinity with some lenses…).
    And that’s right after the D750 2nd shutter recall fiasco, the D600 lubricant-leaking shutter etc… Nikon is approaching Hasselblad prices, but made in Thailand.

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