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11-16-2014, 12:03 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Ricoh service experience

Another current thread is commenting about a long response time to fix a 645 lens, and wonders about "Pentax pro service". Rather than respond in that thread, I'm creating a new one because of some stuff I've been sitting on for awhile.

Unfortunately, there is no "Pentax pro service", at least not in North America anyway. The Ricoh service function seems barely functional at all. The level of service for the 645 system in particular is far below professional in its communication & execution, nor is it tolerable by other professionals. I have a number of service cases in flight right now (to the tune of about $25K retail value of equipment). This includes a 645D with a failed shutter (second shutter failure on the same body). I've posted about this one here before; it went in for repair the first week of July and is not yet back in my hands. 18 weeks and counting on that one.

For the most part I've stopped talking about my service cases temporarily, because they've been escalated to the top management of Ricoh USA to try to get some traction. When you get somebody very senior who's willing to listen and intervene, it makes sense to give them some room to operate before ratcheting up the volume again. So I've been giving them a chance to correct things before I publicly post in full what's been going on. Ricoh service is going to look poor when I do post details; I'd prefer to do it after positive outcomes rather than before. I'm not going to wait forever before I start commenting, though, and this little note is the first bit of what I'm going to talk about starting in the near future.

Unfortunately my cases aren't isolated. I'm aware of several others that are as bad (or worse). Anecdotally, I know there are quite a few more than that. My local dealer has been 100% aces through the situation so far, and have gone to bat way beyond what they should have to do to support me in dealing with the vendor. The dealer team have assisted in bringing high level pressure to bear on Ricoh service. I'm very appreciative of everything the dealer folks have done; and as a result, some things have started to turn around on a few cases at least. But when the final tally is in, the execution of Ricoh service will have been, I would say, nothing short of appalling for this level of product.

I don't say this just as a customer who's steamed because of my own particular cases, though of course I am that in spades. I say it also as someone who has a 30-year primary career in high tech including product companies, and has an understanding of technology product R&D, sales, service and support; both strategy and operations. Crap can happen with just about any product or service. The best companies realize that a customer service case isn't just an irritating need to minimally satisfy the customer and hope they go away without getting excessively PO'ed, but in fact it's an opportunity to turn the situation around and create even greater buy-in and loyalty. My situation and others I know about are far, far from even a "calm the customer down" level of service. Ricoh service is dropping the ball in a pretty epic way, turning service cases into furious customers. Not the way to go, Ricoh.

I've told Ricoh reps and management that the situation is unacceptable. I use the word "unacceptable" not as hyperbole or just to indicate that I'm mad. I mean it literally -- I don't accept the situation. When someone doesn't accept a thing, that means behavior must and will change. Either Ricoh behavior changes, or mine will. My first behavior change will be that I switch from being a positive advocate for the brand to being a cautious advocate for the camera system and an active campaigner against the company's current service function and in favour of some pretty significant changes to it.

For anyone out there having issues with Ricoh service, my strong advice is don't stay silent and take it. Actively campaign against poor service with your dealer, the local Ricoh rep, and the highest level of Ricoh management you can reach in your region. Don't do this just by email; meet with them in person if you can, and write physical letters to go on record with your dissatisfaction. Enlist the help of your dealer, they'll know who you can contact. Ask the dealer also to put pressure on Ricoh on your behalf; they'll see the service history of all their customers and can be a leverage point. Be professional about your communications, but don't stop the pressure until you're satisfied. If you know other folks who have specific service issues that seem unacceptable, encourage them in turn to get vocal about the need for change. As customers, we get crap service because we tolerate it. If we don't like it, we should stop accepting it.

More to come, unfortunately... and really not the kind of stuff that I'd like to spend my time talking about. In my opinion the Pentax digital 645 system is amazing, and it really fits my kind of work better than anything else I've ever used. But some things reach a point where you can't just brush it off and carry on. And even if I was tempted to do just that, the track record of Ricoh service is actually not stable, it's trending in a downward direction from what I can tell. It's not something that I can accept for the level of investment I have in this camera system, or for the importance it has in how I choose to do my work.

11-16-2014, 12:21 PM   #2
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Hi Royce. Really appreciate your post. No ranting, when, I'm sure, ranting would be acceptable!
Have you attempted to take your complaints up with Ricoh Japan? (Just asking)
Here's hoping they listen to you.
Kind regards,
11-16-2014, 12:25 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Royce Howland Quote
My first behavior change will be that I switch from being a positive advocate for the brand to being a cautious advocate for the camera system and an active campaigner against the company's current service function and in favour of some pretty significant changes to it.
Given that corporate shaming on an Internet forum is about as effective as shouting complaints about the food in the cafeteria of an insane asylum, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 11-16-2014 at 01:31 PM.
11-16-2014, 01:43 PM   #4
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By North America I take it you mean Canada:

Do you offer professional services? - RIAC Community
QuoteQuote:
Do you offer professional services?

‎02-05-2014 03:45 PM

Does Ricoh offer professional services for the photo pro who uses Pentax?


Re: Do you offer professional services?

‎02-05-2014 04:09 PM

Hi Douglas,

Yes, our PPS (PENTAX Professional Services) program is a convenient way for professional photographers to work with and evaluate the latest PENTAX photo gear. Anyone deriving more than 50% of their yearly income from photography is welcome to apply for membership. Once accepted, members can check out PENTAX camera equipment as well as enjoy expedited product repair services.

The PPS application contains information on the program as well as an outline of the benefits to members. To request an application, just contact our Customer Service Department at 1 800 234-0276 (U.S. only) with an email or mailing address and mention you are interested in the PPS program. The completed application can be mailed back to the address on the form or scanned and emailed back as attachments. Please let me know if you have any questions about the program or our products and thanks for the question.


11-16-2014, 02:26 PM   #5
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Apparently there is a professional program.
11-16-2014, 02:37 PM   #6
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I understand your frustrations and I'm hoping that I don't have any service issues with the K-3 that I purchased a few months ago. I was looking to upgrade from the D to the Z in the future but I'm going to sit back and observe whether the service problems get resolved. If the they persist, I'm thinking about switching to a proven company, which is a shame because dslr's can't touch medium format image quality. I don't have a specific timeline but if there are image quality leaps in dslr's that can get me near medium format or the other MFD brands adopt more reasonable pricing, I'll switch.
11-16-2014, 03:23 PM   #7
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One can only hope that the UK is a little better.

My guess is that it doesn't matter which country your 645 goes wrong in. It will still get sent to Japan.

I have to say that I nurse my 645 like no other camera I have before.

All these service horror stories have eroded so of my initial fervour
11-17-2014, 04:09 AM   #8
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I cannot understand that. Why a ''pro'' service, and not a good service for every costumer. In my country there are laws about this. A service must solve a costumer's request in no more than a month, or they must replace the goods with new ones. If not, there is an costumer's protection office, and the fines they can sanctioned the firms are pretty high.

Anyway, this is very disappointing.

Yes, I can understand a ''pro'' service if they replace a defective camera the next day. But if you have to wait many month, this is not a ''pro'', this is a ''non-service''.

11-17-2014, 07:32 AM   #9
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Several things that have been striking me about this and some other things going on with Ricoh/Pentax are:
  • How much damage Hoya apparently did
  • How much difference individual country's/region's Ricoh/Pentax distributors make in this problem
  • How much individuals within those distributor networks matter
Ricoh seems to still be trying to wrap their heads around the problem at the corporate/executive level. For whatever reason, they are either not "getting it" or are constrained somehow. The North American situation is really rather mind-boggling, given that the U.S., at least among the 3 countries, currently has the fastest growing economy in the world, post crash.
11-17-2014, 02:34 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ramseybuckeye Quote
Apparently there is a professional program.
Tom thanks for this. I recently purchased the 645z with a host of FA lenses. I seriously hope no major issues arise. I just called the number above and they answered on the 1st ring!

I have to say that as an Nikon NPS member, I've hit a few speed bumps with them as well so I'm not sure if any brand is fully immune to this.

Royce best of luck and do keep us posted as to the outcome.
11-17-2014, 05:47 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Several things that have been striking me about this and some other things going on with Ricoh/Pentax are:
  • How much damage Hoya apparently did
  • How much difference individual country's/region's Ricoh/Pentax distributors make in this problem
  • How much individuals within those distributor networks matter
Ricoh seems to still be trying to wrap their heads around the problem at the corporate/executive level. For whatever reason, they are either not "getting it" or are constrained somehow. The North American situation is really rather mind-boggling, given that the U.S., at least among the 3 countries, currently has the fastest growing economy in the world, post crash.
Being one of the people who went through the horror of the changeover this summer, the signs do look like they are trying to fix it, but the the service changeover was just underestimated and handled horribly, and they are still digging out, and we're still seeing these nightmarish repair times, but not as many. When I did finally get my camera back it was done right. For everybody out there with a repair in the pipeline, good luck. I hope these stories all go away soon.
11-17-2014, 07:35 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Several things that have been striking me about this and some other things going on with Ricoh/Pentax are:
  • How much damage Hoya apparently did
  • How much difference individual country's/region's Ricoh/Pentax distributors make in this problem
[LIST][*]How much individuals within those distributor networks matter
........................
Good summary, in particular Hoya's damage. I haven't dealt with a Pentax repair since I sent a 67 300mm ED to the USA Colorado repair facility and had a number of 645 and 67 repairs at the Pentax Canada center in Mississauga, all pre-Hoya. Service was first-rate and personal at both. The stories I'm hearing now really give me pause. I've had a 645D for almost four years with no issues, but I rue the day I might need service.
11-19-2014, 10:42 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the input. It has been a challenging time. Most people will never go through a version of this, I hope. And those few who do will respond in different ways, depending on their needs and their ability to tolerate what kind of response they get from Ricoh.

QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
Have you attempted to take your complaints up with Ricoh Japan? (Just asking)
No. For now I'm sticking to sending feedback within the North American operation. My theory is it's more relevant that way; hopefully more likely to be taken account of, and perhaps help spur some local changes.

---------- Post added 11-19-14 at 10:55 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Given that corporate shaming on an Internet forum is about as effective as shouting complaints about the food in the cafeteria of an insane asylum, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor.
I agree that merely whining on a forum wouldn't produce traction, but that's hardly what I'm doing. First, I've posted very little about this situation before now, whereas I've been working it with a lot of effort and communications in the "real world" for several months... including (as I noted) escalation to the top levels of Ricoh North American management. Second, I characterized posting my observations in public as my first behavior change; a behavior change involves a bunch of actions to follow. Posting this thread is not going to be my only action, or my last one.

Third, I'm posting in no small part to enlist other people who are having service issues to communicate their dissatisfaction back to Ricoh in an effective way, providing the example of what I'm doing -- working with my dealer, meeting in person with the area Ricoh rep, and communicating on the record with senior management. Fourth, I'm providing an experience report so people who haven't yet had any service issues but who have high expectations of service can lobby for changes in the quality of service for this system. These things combined I suspect will be a little more useful than "shouting complaints about the food in the cafeteria of an insane asylum".

---------- Post added 11-19-14 at 11:25 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
By North America I take it you mean Canada:

Do you offer professional services? - RIAC Community
No, really I meant North America, given some of the service issues reported south of the border, too. It seems there was a systematic dismantling over the past few years of capability to perform timely and effective servicing of the Pentax 645 system in North America. Many service issues (such as my shutter repair jobs) have to go to Japan. Others that stay local to North America seem to sit on the shelf for a long time awaiting parts or instructions from Japan. Or perhaps because the staffing is well below the level needed to address the volume of cases in a timely fashion. I read that USA service has just transitioned to another contracted service provider, and perhaps it will get better in future... but in the mean time the transition itself appears to have wreaked havoc with jobs that were in the pipeline at the time. So who was managing the transition?

Yes, there seems to be a "Pentax Professional Services" program available in the USA. I can't speak to it since: a) I'm not in the USA; and b) I wouldn't qualify to join based on the criteria, even if I was in the USA. But regardless of that, I'm referring to professional service in the English language sense, not the sense of some branded program from which most customers are excluded anyway. (As an aside, given the state of the service organization in non-PPS cases, I have to admit I'm skeptical about service cases for PPS members. But hey... if they do get good service, good for them. It doesn't help the rest of us.)

In my opinion, a professional service operation is (among other things) one that communicates appropriately with customers, sets reasonable expectations for servicing cases, and then executes effectively to meet those expectations. A really good one would provide the opportunity for a customer to self-select into a higher service level, if it was important enough to them. (And I don't mean for free; I would pay for it if I had that option.) This isn't the kind of service operation that I'm seeing through my 4 cases so far...

---------- Post added 11-19-14 at 11:29 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by JimmyDranox Quote
Yes, I can understand a ''pro'' service if they replace a defective camera the next day. But if you have to wait many month, this is not a ''pro'', this is a ''non-service''.
Exactly right. Whether or not there are higher tiers of the service program, and regardless of what the criteria are to qualify for those tiers, the base level of service needs to be appropriate for the camera system. What is in place now is, in my opinion, unacceptable.

---------- Post added 11-19-14 at 11:42 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
Several things that have been striking me about this and some other things going on with Ricoh/Pentax are:
  • How much damage Hoya apparently did
  • How much difference individual country's/region's Ricoh/Pentax distributors make in this problem
  • How much individuals within those distributor networks matter
Ricoh seems to still be trying to wrap their heads around the problem at the corporate/executive level. For whatever reason, they are either not "getting it" or are constrained somehow. The North American situation is really rather mind-boggling, given that the U.S., at least among the 3 countries, currently has the fastest growing economy in the world, post crash.
This is well stated. It seems like the current situation is way below sub-par, and that Ricoh management should have identified and corrected the problems quite some time ago. Certainly in time with the release of the 645Z given the market potential for it in North America (particularly the USA). I do think some moves are being made to improve, but they are slow, seem kind of haphazard, and many really "lower left quadrant" cases are still happening. And then once all the moves are made, it's open to question whether it's going to be the result some of us will need.

E.g. I'm lobbying not just for the absence of gong show service cases like the ones I'm experiencing, but for Ricoh to put in place a decent program with higher tiers of service levels that customers can opt into. The current PPS is arbitrarily restricted based on photographic income, and there's only the one option. You either get it or get nothing. That's a pretty 1970's way of looking at the photography industry. The number of photographers doing professional work and having professional grade service needs, who nevertheless don't make the majority of their income from photography itself, is increasing rapidly. Personally, I think something more like the way Canon does it with their CPS program would be a much better way to go...

Last edited by Royce Howland; 11-19-2014 at 11:43 AM.
12-03-2014, 02:14 PM   #14
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This Canon ad made me think about this thread...

Canon: Support Matters

Wouldn't it be great if that's the way people thought about Pentax service?
12-03-2014, 02:41 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Yeah. As the photog in the video said, "it's not just the equipment, it's the support that comes along with it."

I'm just heading out the door but will have an update on this thread hopefully this weekend. The short form is I finally have a result. I just got my 645D back today from its trip to the shop -- it was away for 22 full weeks this time. Murphy being Murphy, my 645Z also broke down while the D was in for repairs, as did my DFA 25mm. (All were unrelated failures that occurred at different times for different reasons.) The Z and 25mm came back today as well. Both went in at the same time, and both were away for 8 full weeks.

I'm very grateful for the strong lobbying by my local dealer, and in the most recent simultaneous 3 service cases for the attention paid by senior Ricoh USA management. Without both of those, I have no doubt these situations would have been more costly in $ and especially time. For now, I have all my gear back and in working order... time to start using it again.
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