Every new digital camera is covered by some sort of manufacturer's warranty. Most point and shoot, beginner-level cameras offer a 1-year warranty, giving the customer some protection against defects in the camera. Under the manufacturer's warranty, cameras should be fixed for free when a manufacturing defect exists.
However, it sometimes can be difficult to convince a manufacturer to have its warranty fulfilled. Something you might consider to be a "defect," the manufacturer might consider a function of the camera that just doesn't work all that well. In addition, most manufacturer's warranties will not cover problems that you cause to the camera. (To cover a dropped camera, you probably will need an extended warranty from the store.) With so many different kinds of warranties available, things can become more confusing when trying to have a warranty honored.
It will take some work with a manufacturer to have a warranty honored. You may have to mail the camera to the manufacturer, at your expense, before the manufacturer will determine whether to repair the problem at no cost to you. If you need to contact the camera manufacturer over a warranty, use the About.com article linked above to find the contact information you need.
Here are some tips to follow before you have a problem and immediately after you discover a defect with your camera that can help ensure you'll have a manufacturer's warranty honored.
- Follow the rules. Every camera manufacturer has a set of steps and rules that you must follow to have a warranty honored. Such rules either will be listed in the camera's user guide or on the manufacturer's Web site. Also, after you make your purchase, keep all receipts and information. Most warranties are good 1 year from the date of purchase.
- Mail in registration information. Register your camera by sending in your registration or warranty card right away. Some manufacturers won't honor your warranty if you don't mail in the card or fill out an online form. Keep in mind that you might receive some commercial e-mails, junk mail, or telemarketing phone calls based on the information on the card, so you may want to only submit the required information and not answer the other questions warranty cards often contain.
- Keep a diary. If you must contact the camera manufacturer concerning a defect that's covered under warranty, it's a good idea to take notes on every conversation you have with a company representative. Mark down the time, date, and person with whom you spoke.
- Resist mailing the camera. If at all possible, try to solve the problem without mailing the camera back. Some companies force you to mail it at your own expense. Cameras could be lost in transit, so, if you have to mail it, be sure to insure and track the package. If the defect is a common one, perhaps the manufacturer will simply send you a replacement unit or give you a discount on another model. It never hurts to ask.
- Prepare to wait. If you have to mail in the camera for repairs, you can expect to be without the camera for at least a few weeks, and sometimes as long as a few months. Repairs under warranty typically are lengthy. Stay in contact with the manufacturer throughout the repair process. Also, the manufacturer should extend its warranty equal to the amount of time the camera was being repaired.
- Prepare to push. Obviously, manufacturers don't want to honor warranties, because it eats into their profit margin. You may have to be pushy to convince the company to fix your problem. This is where having a diary comes in handy. When you can recite every conversation you've had with the company, or if you can speak with the same person each time, you'll have a better chance of succeeding.
If the company refuses to honor the warranty, you unfortunately don't have a lot of options, beyond avoiding that company when making future camera purchases. There are some things you can try to resolve a warranty dispute, though. For example, you can report the issue to the Better Business Bureau or to your local government's consumer rights agency. Several Web sites exist that allow you to file complaints against a manufacturer.
Contacting such organizations won't guarantee that your camera will be fixed for free. Hopefully, though, you can help another consumer avoid the same problems you had.