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05-02-2019, 02:10 PM - 16 Likes   #1
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Your Ricoh / Pentax product developed a fault, and you've lost faith in the brand...

... or,

"Your product failed? ... A 'LIGHT BULB' MOMENT"


Every now and then, a new member joins our forums to report that their shiny new or well-cared-for Ricoh or Pentax camera has developed a fault, or died completely. As part of the catharsis in expressing their understandable disappointment, a few will then state they're very disillusioned with, or have lost faith in, the brand. Indeed, a small few join these forums (or post for the first time) simply to tell everyone their camera died, and they're never buying another Ricoh or Pentax product again (I call these more extreme cases "drive by" posts ).

At the time of writing, we've had a few such posts (relating to different camera models) in the last week or two. Since I usually reply to them with similar views and advice, I thought it best to start this thread for the benefit of anyone experiencing problems and perhaps losing faith or contemplating switching in future.

....


"My Ricoh / Pentax camera (or lens, or flash, or something else) has failed, and I'm bitterly disappointed / disillusioned with the brand / going to switch"

Fact: There is no economically-viable manufacturing or quality assurance process that guarantees every component and mechanism in every instance of every new product will make it out of the factory working, and keep on working until (or beyond) the end of that product's expected service life. If such manufacturing and quality assurance processes were put in place, the cost of production would be so high that most folks wouldn't be able to afford the products, or - at the very least - wouldn't be prepared to pay so much for them.

This is true even for the simplest of products... such as the humble domestic light bulb (here comes our "LIGHT BULB MOMENT" )...

Any member here of adult age will have bought light bulbs for their home and - at one time or another - found that one of them doesn't work out of the box, or blows the first time it's switched on, or perhaps after just a few days or weeks of use. What went wrong?

That light bulb is assembled from a number of components. Each component is individually designed, and specific materials are chosen and sourced to make them. A range of machines are used to manufacture these components, and others to assemble them, quality check them (so far as is realistically possible on a fast production line), and pack them.

The most likely cause of the light bulb's failure - at least, when it's new - is that one or more components failed, or there was an assembly problem. For the components, perhaps a slight quality issue in a batch of materials was to blame - or maybe a misalignment or one-time glitch in machinery resulted in a tiny flaw. Or, during assembly, perhaps the components weren't lined up or joined correctly, due to a tiny misalignment or one-time glitch in the machinery. Or maybe the bulb was assembled just fine, but suffered some minor damage during the automated packing process, due to (you guessed it) a misalignment or one-time glitch in the machinery. All of these machines, like any other electro-mechanical devices, require regular checking, adjustment and servicing. Even then, just like motor cars, when everything seems to be working properly, occasionally there's a hiccup that can't be easily diagnosed or explained.

Of course, it could be that the design of the light bulb is itself flawed. In which case, even if the materials and manufacturing processes are up to par, a significant number of the bulbs will be dead on arrival, or will fail early on. If someone buys several boxes of those same brand light bulbs over a period of time, and finds that half or third of them either don't work out of the box or fail pretty quickly, they'll reasonably conclude that they're not great quality and switch to a different brand of bulb ("My OSRAM bulb died! How can OSRAM build such a terrible bulb? I've never heard of this with other bulbs. I've lost confidence in the brand. I'm never buying another OSRAM product. I'm switching to ....").

This is just a very simple light bulb we're talking about, here. A product with no moving parts, assembled from a handful of relatively large components with fairly big tolerances.

Now, consider - if you will - a digital SLR or mirrorless camera. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of components, fashioned from a huge range of appropriate materials sourced from different suppliers. Many of the electronic components themselves made up of hundreds of miniaturised discrete components many, many times smaller than a grain of sand. Mechanical assemblies made up of many parts manufactured and adjusted to ridiculously narrow tolerances. Optical assemblies. Mechanical and electro-mechanical switches. Body components. Seals. Coverings. And no camera manufacturer is capable of making every one of these components. Many - especially the electronic and electrical ones - are bought from other companies.

How does Ricoh / Pentax design, manufacture, assemble and test products such that every instance of them is perfect, fully operational at the time of delivery, and reliable for their entire intended service life?

It can't. And nor can any other brand. It's simply impossible for any camera manufacturer to test and quality assure every discrete and integrated component (whether manufactured by them or a 3rd party supplier), and every assembly, for every instance of every product. When you think about it, given the complexity, it's testament to Ricoh (and the suppliers of all the components they use in their cameras) that so few instances of products fail.

Of course, this is cold comfort to those of us who receive a faulty product, or one that fails shortly after purchase or after a short time of careful use...

....

"My Ricoh / Pentax camera (or lens, or flash, or something else) has failed, and I'm bitterly disappointed / disillusioned with the brand / going to switch"

I sympathise, I really do. I've bought products that didn't work, or failed shortly after purchase or careful use. It's disappointing. Disappointing, and frustrating enough that we sometimes lose our cool over it. But it happens... WITH EVERY BRAND. Don't believe me? Search the web and you will find reports of failure with every camera model from every manufacturer - Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Leica etc. - and, yes, Ricoh / Pentax. As such, it's quite possible that with any given brand, we might be unfortunate enough to experience failure with one or more products (two or three in a row can really dent our faith, but that happens too). That isn't, IMHO, enough evidence upon which to lose faith in any brand... it's not enough evidence to demonstrate there's a widespread problem with the brand or a specific model. For that, we need to collect much more data, from many more similarly-affected owners (if they exist). And it's very rare that happens - because there are remarkably few large volume problems with cameras from any of the brands - Ricoh / Pentax included.

The next time you buy a box of 20 simple light bulbs from your preferred manufacturer, and one of them is dead out of the box, or blows when you install it, will you lose all faith in the manufacturer?


Last edited by BigMackCam; 06-15-2019 at 04:19 AM.
05-02-2019, 02:53 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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I wouldn't lose faith in Pentax because of "faults", but I have lost faith (to a degree) because the way Pentax has handled faults in the US stinks.

There is another manufacturer who also handles issues horribly, so I won't buy from them, either.
05-02-2019, 02:54 PM   #3
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This all fine and good. If your box of bulbs goes out, you simply return it and get a new one.
Or don't waste your time in line for a return, and simply buy a new one for $1.
This is hardly a comparable experience by any scope.

If there is a failure on your Pentax equipment and warranty repair is required, the US has only a single warranty repair shop. And it is absolutely dreadful.

If they fail to do the job on the first try, you must return and allow them to fail at the repair three more times before Ricoh deems the repair a failure.
For which each cycle may take a matter of months. At which point, Ricoh may finally choose to do nothing about it.
(This has happened to three of four items repaired. The fourth came back with only enough remaining damage to be irritating and not worth further hassle and another month out of my ability to use it)

This is a far cry from available options with a box of light bulbs.

It is also not the experience people have with other camera brands.
Sure there are always failures, That isn't even a viable argument.

Pentax is a bit unusual in that it is locked into a looping pipeline of failure with no viable alternatives to drive a desire to succeed.
Sure other brands have repair failures as well. But if you are unsatisfied you can try another repair center.
With the only existing US Pentax repair center, if the repair center fails, so what. Where are you going to go?
Nowhere, and they still get their money -- even if they simply ship the damaged item back to you untouched.
05-02-2019, 03:04 PM - 6 Likes   #4
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The fundamental problem is that failure provokes shouting and success rarely evokes even a whisper. It only takes a couple of loud failure reports a week (say 100 per year out of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of devices to make it seem like the product is a total lemon.

But perhaps that may be changing in this modern era of always-connected devices. The moment today's devices are turned on, they call home. And with use, they often report top-level statistics of what people were doing with devices. In theory, the maker knows exactly what percentage of sold devices are still being used, whether the device is having internal problems, and how much they are being used.

Imagine if Pentax could tweet every day how many pictures had been successfully taken that day with it's cameras. Rather than be swayed by the 0.1% who had a failure, we could celebrate the 99.9% who each took tens, hundreds, or even thousands of pictures in that day.

05-02-2019, 03:18 PM - 4 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by amoringello Quote
If there is a failure on your Pentax equipment and warranty repair is required, the US has only a single warranty repair shop. And it is absolutely dreadful.
Absolutely dreadful? How about these non-dreadful experiences:
Precision Camera -- shout out!! - PentaxForums.com
Kudos to Precision! - PentaxForums.com
Nice one Precision, really impressive service - PentaxForums.com
Precision Camera - Ricoh/Pentax Done Me Good. - PentaxForums.com
My experience with Precision Camera - PentaxForums.com
Positive experience with Precision - PentaxForums.com
Praise for Precision - PentaxForums.com
So Far, So Good with Precision - PentaxForums.com
05-02-2019, 03:27 PM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by photoptimist Quote
The fundamental problem is that failure provokes shouting and success rarely evokes even a whisper. It only takes a couple of loud failure reports a week (say 100 per year out of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of devices to make it seem like the product is a total lemon.

But perhaps that may be changing in this modern era of always-connected devices. The moment today's devices are turned on, they call home. And with use, they often report top-level statistics of what people were doing with devices. In theory, the maker knows exactly what percentage of sold devices are still being used, whether the device is having internal problems, and how much they are being used.

Imagine if Pentax could tweet every day how many pictures had been successfully taken that day with it's cameras. Rather than be swayed by the 0.1% who had a failure, we could celebrate the 99.9% who each took tens, hundreds, or even thousands of pictures in that day.
There would be less shouting if Pentax would actually fix the broken equipment in a relatively timely fashion.

A PF forumer recently related how he had to return his defective $5000 lens to Ricoh, and after several weeks they still hadn't communicated with him regarding the status of his return. He had to file a claim with his bank in order to get reimbursed for the $300 it cost to ship the lens to Japan.

"Faults" are a fact of life, and no company has a 100% flawless product. But a company can make damn sure they treat the customer with honesty and consideration, and it seems Ricoh/Pentax is not too good with that - at least here in the USA.
05-02-2019, 03:28 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
I wouldn't lose faith in Pentax because of "faults", but I have lost faith (to a degree) because the way Pentax has handled faults in the US stinks.

There is another manufacturer who also handles issues horribly, so I won't buy from them, either.
Yes, this is a good point. The reputation of a brand is built not only the quality and reliability of its products, but on the after-sales service when things go wrong.

The thing is, after-care - unlike manufacturing - is regional. The quality of each brand's regional servicing and support facilities is highly variable. I well remember, before I switched to Pentax, owning a Nikon D40X. I used it only sparingly during the warranty period, but within a week or two of that expiring, I noticed a large number of dead pixels on the sensor. Unfortunately, Nikon cameras didn't offer pixel mapping capabilities then (not sure if they do now), and at the time I used to shoot JPEG only. It took me about a month to convince Nikon's UK service facility that - for a camera with less than a thousand shots on it - they might reasonably offer to remap the sensor without charge. They finally agreed - then, after carrying out the procedure, wanted to charge me - after which it took me another fortnight to convince them of what they'd previously agreed to.

So, if someone encounters a fault and receives poor after-care for that, I completely understand why that might put them off a brand - though I'd also point out that we still need to consider sample size of poor experiences vs good experiences. Just as it's possible to receive one or two faulty products out of many hundreds that were fine, it's also possible to have one or two poor service experiences out of many hundreds of good ones. If we're the one to receive poor service, it's all too easy to assume that's a general problem, instead of considering it in context of the overall statistics...

QuoteOriginally posted by amoringello Quote
This all fine and good. If your box of bulbs goes out, you simply return it and get a new one.
Or don't waste your time in line for a return, and simply buy a new one for $1.
This is hardly a comparable experience by any scope.

...

This is a far cry from available options with a box of light bulbs.
Please re-read my post. I'm not comparing light bulbs to cameras, but demonstrating how the simplicity of a light bulb doesn't guarantee 100% reliability in manufacture and supply - and, hence, how our expectations of more complex products might be realistically influenced.

QuoteOriginally posted by amoringello Quote
If there is a failure on your Pentax equipment and warranty repair is required, the US has only a single warranty repair shop. And it is absolutely dreadful.

If they fail to do the job on the first try, you must return and allow them to fail at the repair three more times before Ricoh deems the repair a failure.
See my comment to @luftluss above.

QuoteOriginally posted by amoringello Quote
For which each cycle may take a matter of months. At which point, Ricoh may finally choose to do nothing about it.
(This has happened to three of four items repaired. The fourth came back with only enough remaining damage to be irritating and not worth further hassle and another month out of my ability to use it)
That much can and does happen with other brands. Well, it does here in the UK - I can't speak for the US. Either way, the regional aspect of service and support is the issue here. My original post was dealing with the loss of confidence in the brand due to initial failure.

QuoteOriginally posted by amoringello Quote
It is also not the experience people have with other camera brands.
Sure there are always failures, That isn't even a viable argument.
Which brands are you talking about? I have personal experiences with Pentax, Nikon, Sony, Tamron and Sigma here in the UK. That's only the photography-related brands. I have experience with numerous other brands of non-photography-related equipment where the products or after-care of them wasn't acceptable.

QuoteOriginally posted by amoringello Quote
Pentax is a bit unusual in that it is locked into a looping pipeline of failure with no viable alternatives to drive a desire to succeed.
With respect, please quote your evidence for that statement? Without evidence - I mean, real evidence - that's just inflammatory talk about the brand, probably based on unfortunate personal experience and confirmation bias from a handful of other examples...

Last edited by BigMackCam; 05-02-2019 at 04:29 PM.
05-02-2019, 03:30 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
"Faults" are a fact of life, and no company has a 100% flawless product. But a company can make damn sure they treat the customer with honesty and consideration, and it seems Ricoh/Pentax is not too good with that - at least here in the USA.
Agreed. And other brands are known for very similar behaviour here in the UK... Sony, for one (I think you know I shoot Sony in addition to Pentax?). Doesn't make it right, of course, but it demonstrates a similarity in the lengths companies will (and won't) go to in managing retail customers...

Again, maybe it's a regional thing...


Last edited by BigMackCam; 05-02-2019 at 03:39 PM.
05-02-2019, 03:51 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
Agreed. The thing is, other brands are known for very similar behaviour here in the UK. Sony, for one (I think you know I shoot Sony in addition to Pentax?). Doesn't make it right, of course, but it demonstrates a similarity in the lengths companies will (and won't) go to in managing retail customers...

Again, maybe it's a regional thing...
Sony... a long history of anti-consumer behavior, so I won't buy 'em.

Panasonic - has (had?) a company policy of not fixing some lenses (like the $2000 100-400mm) outside of warranty repair. They'll sell you a factory refurb as a replacement, though. Last year a couple people made a huge stink about it on several forums and got satisfaction, and perhaps Panasonic is changing how they handle out-of-warranty repairs.

If Fuji actually had what I wanted, I'd buy them. For a repair I could simply make a 60 minute drive to their repair facility

Here's what I, as a consumer, want from Pentax: say I broke my (hypothetical) 2 year old DFA 150-450. I want to be able to ship it to a repair facility, receive a quote for the repair within a week, and a timeframe of a month for return. I don't think that's unreasonable.

A few years ago I had a Tamron lens with a broken AF. I sent it to them, under warranty, for repair. I received the repaired lens - same serial number - 9 days after I shipped it out.
05-02-2019, 03:52 PM - 3 Likes   #10
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I should also add at this point... I'm not a brand "fanboy". I'm not trying to "fly the flag" for Ricoh / Pentax. I don't care what other folks shoot, and don't care what they think of my choices either. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who feels they will get equipment they're happier with and / or after-sales care in their region appropriate to their requirements, they should absolutely pursue that. It would be silly not to, right? I'd just like folks to make those decisions rationally, and with a realistic view of the alternatives, rather than acting on emotions because their new or infrequently-used camera develops a fault - which happens with any brand
05-02-2019, 04:11 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Sony... a long history of anti-consumer behavior, so I won't buy 'em.
I bought my A7 MkII as a body to use my adapted Soviet lenses on. It's been a peach. I couldn't have got anything remotely similar at the price. Plus, it's been a useful additional body to my Hasselblad HV when I'm shooting A-mount lenses. If my A7 MkII develops a fault or dies, I'll deal with it. Maybe I'll be satisfied... maybe I won't. On balance, though, it makes sense for me to have that camera. Our frames of reference are key here, of course...

QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Panasonic - has (had?) a company policy of not fixing some lenses (like the $2000 100-400mm) outside of warranty repair. They'll sell you a factory refurb as a replacement, though. Last year a couple people made a huge stink about it on several forums and got satisfaction, and perhaps Panasonic is changing how they handle out-of-warranty repairs.
Another manufacturer who doesn't do exactly what we want? Whoulda thunk it?!

QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
If Fuji actually had what I wanted, I'd buy them. For a repair I could simply make a 60 minute drive to their repair facility
But they don't have what you want, and the locality of your repair facility is a purely regional benefit. Handy, but a basis for general brand appreciation? Personally, I don't think so...

QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Here's what I, as a consumer, want from Pentax: say I broke my (hypothetical) 2 year old DFA 150-450. I want to be able to ship it to a repair facility, receive a quote for the repair within a week, and a timeframe of a month for return. I don't think that's unreasonable.

A few years ago I had a Tamron lens with a broken AF. I sent it to them, under warranty, for repair. I received the repaired lens - same serial number - 9 days after I shipped it out.
Out of curiosity, how many service experiences do you have with Tamron? I've had three. First, my K-mount 28-75 f/2.8 that wouldn't adjust within the limits of AF fine adjustment on my K-3 (that requires zero adjustment with most Pentax lenses). Fixed and returned within two weeks (excellent). Second, my A-mount 28-75 f/2.8, with a tilted focus plane... fixed and returned within two weeks (also excellent). Third, my K-mount 10-24... de-centered, and with incorrect aperture adjustment showing different exposure levels at each setting. Three trips back to the service centre. Finally "OK", but I'm still figuring out if I'm completely happy with it. Four months in total (not excellent). So, 66% satisfaction rating, there. And you might reasonably suggest I should be dissatisfied with Tamron's out-of-the-box reliability given the number of defective units I've received, but I'm not...

You have a 100% satisfaction rating based on your single Tamron with broken AF, and a zero satisfaction (or 100% suspicion) rating with Pentax on your hypothetical two-year-old DFA 150-450.

My point here... our personal samples give highly subjective opinions. The reason I mentioned sample size previously is, we need a lot more data if we're going to praise or dismiss a brand...

Last edited by BigMackCam; 05-02-2019 at 05:15 PM.
05-02-2019, 04:17 PM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
"Your camera failed? ... A 'LIGHT BULB' MOMENT"
Unpopular opinions anyone?

For some of our users any perceived attempt to absolve Ricoh from perpetual responsibility for owner disappointment is viewed in a very dim light and produces a knee-jerk reaction along with a short list of case histories.

Your statements require no apologies or additional explanation.

BTW: Thanks for starting this thread. I almost did the same this morning.


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05-02-2019, 05:13 PM - 1 Like   #13
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From what I read here, there are both cases of satisfaction with customer service, and cases of dissatisfaction. To me, this is positive enough so I do not take a wholly negative attitude regarding some shortcomings.

However, a company can always make a better effort to improve customer service, because it pays in terms of future sales and stability. If a design flaw shows up, like the infamous aperture block, it would behoove the company to address this shortcoming, rather than adopting the principle of shrugging it off due to "not enough" units reporting said problem. There have been more than enough reports of this problem to warrant a parts adjustment in subsequent models as the right step to take.

I will say, the old original Pentax company, who had their own repair facility here in the US, did a fine job in dealing with such matters. But having a big part of the company chopped off by THK when they bought them out, has not helped in maintaining the previous standards.

Last edited by mikesbike; 05-02-2019 at 05:19 PM.
05-02-2019, 05:34 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikesbike Quote
If a design flaw shows up, like the infamous aperture block, it would behoove the company to address this shortcoming, rather than adopting the principle of shrugging it off due to "not enough" units reporting said problem. There have been more than enough reports of this problem to warrant a parts adjustment in subsequent models as the right step to take.
Well said, Mike. I can't and wouldn't defend Ricoh against its poor handling of the aperture block issue. Indeed, I pushed for this to be raised at the last industry event interview with Ricoh, even though I knew it wouldn't be publicly addressed and reported. Although I haven't been affected personally by the problem, the sheer volume of reports (still expanding) shows it's considerably beyond the normal failure rate to be expected with an established camera model.

If someone was to base their disillusionment with Ricoh / Pentax specifically on the aperture block issue, and Ricoh's support of it, I'd have a hard time convincing them to give the Pentax brand another chance, other than to suggest buying the higher-end models. I can only hope and suspect Ricoh learned its lesson on that one
05-02-2019, 06:00 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
Sony... a long history of anti-consumer behavior, so I won't buy 'em.
They also have the same repairer in the United States, Precision, as Pentax.

Not A Number has posted some examples of good feedback for that company, but don't worry, there are plenty of horror stories, too!
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