Aside

Nikon Film Scanner Repair-Hell Story

LS9000

Precision Camera Repair craftsmanship to die for.

Don’t ever, ever send *anything* to Precision Camera Repair of Enfield CT. Unless  you want to have it destroyed, spend 3 months chasing them, and finally getting their attention and satisfaction by a stiff complaint to the Better Business Bureau. This happened to me, full details after the jump.

PRELUDE TO DISASTER
June 5, 2011
I was scanning 35mm negs with my beloved Nikon LS9000. Carelessly, I didn’t fully close and snap-shut the neg carrier. I realized my error when it tractored into the scanner, then wouldn’t come back out. There was that horrifying mini-grinding sound that meant trouble, lots of it. I shut down the scanner, and hoped I’d been hallucinating. I wasn’t. It was good and stuck.

Unplugging the scanner, I unscrewed the housing from the main chassis, hoping that I could somehow free the trapped carrier. Of course there was an intervening frame with dainties like chips, wiring and other arcane necessary shit. In for a dime, in for a dollar—I gently inserted a screwdriver on a horizontal angle to push close the carrier. Powered up, released the carrier, but not out of the woods yet.

I pulled a test scan, and the results were grim—intense pepper-grain, skewed colors, all wrong. It had to be fixed.

Going online I discovered that the Nikon LS 9000 was no longer being made by Nikon. The machine I’d bought new in 2008 for $2200 was now going for $3000-4000, used. Used LS 8000 scanners were going for $1800-2800, used. My head felt like it was trapped in a vise. I had a big shoot coming up in less than 3 weeks.

And here is where the train jumped the tracks and went straight into the cornfield.

PCR1

Precision Camera Repair: combined website screenshots

June 13, 201
Instead of being smart, and sending it off to Nikon Repair in Melville NY, I sent it to Precision Camera Repair, to their “facility” in El Paso, Texas. El Paso is known as a hotbed of optical technology, right? What could possibly go wrong?

Everything. Three weeks after sending the scanner, with multiple queries to PCR as to its status, I found out from a secretary that the scanner was coming back, and they couldn’t fix it, sorry.

On 7/1/11 a box arrived. Inside, my scanner was wrapped in a single layer of bubble wrap. The original box from Nikon I’d gotten the scanner originally was replaced by a tired 3rd generation Chinese retread. No Nikon padding. The front plate was fully askew on the chassis.

LS9000-top

LS9000 scanner: faceplate on dented scanner housing

I went from stunned silence to apoplectic rage in 1/10 second. Shaking with fury, I called the number on the waybill, and vented, with considerable profanity, at the incompetent stupidity of it all. And mainly at myself. I’d fallen for a bullshit website with crappy stock photography—BECAUSE I WANTED TO BELIEVE IT.

Now I wanted blood.

TWO LAPS AROUND THE TRACK IN A CLOWN CAR
I wanted blood, and since UPS was the carrier, I filed a damage claim. Not until I hadn’t heard from them, and unclear on ITEM RETURNED TO SENDER did I realize that the scanner had gone back to PCR. UPS did not ever tell me that it had gone back to them. More fury at their opaque website, until I reached a competent manager at the LA hub facility who spelled it out for me.

Now I was back dealing with PCR. Since the beginning of this debacle, I’d learned via the interwebs that PCR had a horrific reputation for breaking and destroying customers’ cameras, that they’d laid off 300+ senior repair techs at their Enfield CT location, and that the Texas location was little more than a tilt-up warehouse in an I-park somewhere.

After several calls and emails, I got a manager at PCR to agree have the Nikon Repair Facility in Melville, NY, to repair the scanner, gratis, in writing. The scanner went back, and returned sometime in September.

The first clue that it did not go to Nikon was it came back in the same shitty box, more bubble wrap. By this time, I’d had way more experience with scanners than I’d ever had before, and wasn’t too surprised. I knew that it wasn’t packed properly, and it wasn’t going to work.

Sure enough, plugged it in, and it died 10 seconds in. Another weary email to Raphael, PCR mgr, which got no answer. That did it. I then filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, outlining my considerable grievances against PCR.

On their complaint form, what did I want? I wanted their head on a platter. Barring that, I wanted them to either pay for the complete repair, plus all shipping costs associated with this disaster, or $4000. Send!

THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Within 48 hours, I got a call from PCR. The customer service rep read from my complaint, and was all, “gee! sorry, what could they do?”

“How’ ’bout fix my scanner, and have it so  the faceplate was actually aligned with the scanner?”

She said they’d be happy to do that. I was having none of it. I didn’t trust her company, that they’d already destroyed my machine twice, and that I wanted to send it to Nikon, and they would pay for it. She agreed, and that PCR would pay for the repair and shipping, to send them the paperwork.

At this point I asked her point-blank that if they had sent it to Nikon to get fixed, why were the following troubling facts evident:

  • it came back in the same box it went out in
  • there was no double-boxing
  • there was no Nikon paperwork
  • why was the face-plate still askew
  • why did the machine not work

“Oh, that’s easy to explain…” came across the phone line. An elaborate excuse followed, involving paperwork opened and closed, blah-blah-blah.

It was all lies and horse-shit. They’d never sent it to Nikon. The same hacks “worked” on it like before.

I then sent it off to Nikon, as I should have on that fateful June day. The total cost for sending was $110, which included insurance for a declared value of $4000, which is what it would cost to buy a used LS 9000 on ebay.

Three weeks later it came back, beautifully double-boxed, blown-foam-bagged padding. I plugged it in, it worked. I faxed the USPS and Nikon bills to PCR, and they paid up, to the tune of $694.00.

In the meantime, I was getting a real fine education on the hows and whys of buying a replacement scanner while my LS 9000 was meandering across the country.

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