Extended warranties – Extra expense or extra security?

I got asked a new question last night at a photo shoot I was doing. One of the guests wanted my opinion about the worth of buying an extended warranty for a new camera she was considering purchasing. Personally I’ve never bought one for my camera equipment as most, if not all, equipment is guaranteed by the manufacturer.  Both Canon and Nikon have factory repair centers in the Greater Toronto Area. Also I have several camera bodies so if one goes down, all is not lost.

Most reviewers suggest avoiding the pressure to buy an extended warranty. Cnet Reviews has a good piece on it.

The guest last night said when she was negotiating the sales price of a new camera the quote from the salesperson changed substantially when she decided to decline the extended warranty being pushed on her. Here’s how it works: Camera retailers make around 15% plus or minus a percentage point or so based on the published list price. The retailer takes around five percent right off the top and the sales person gets to play with the rest. Sales people are paid crap and make their living on the commission they’re paid based on the amount of profit they keep for themselves. So when a salesperson says I can give you five percent, they’re keeping five percent or so for themselves.

This is fair enough. Everyone’s got to get paid so they can pay the rent and eat. But where it gets profitable for the retailer and the salesperson is on the sale of accessories like lenses, frames and memory cards which can have as much as a 50 per cent markup. And then there’s extended warranties. Retailers buy extended warranty programs from companies that independently sell them to the retailer. The profit margin on extended warranties is huge as they cost the retailer pennies on the dollar. Salespeople make a lot more money selling extended warranties than just cameras and lenses. And as our potential camera buyer found out, the actual price you’re quoted depends on whether or not you agreed to an extended warranty.

Now having said all that, there will be a certain percentage of cameras that fail. The retailer knows this as does the company that sells the extended warranty. It’s the cost of doing business but it’s a pittance compared to the revenue that extended warranty schemes produce.

And, worse, in this difficult economic time, if the retailer goes out of business you may find your expensive extended warranty has died with them.


Adobe customer service can’t be this bad – Can it?

Is it me? Am I doing something wrong? Have I called a number that doesn’t exist. Is this the twilight zone?

For two days now I’ve been trying to reach Adobe Customer Service at 1-800-833-6687 and for two days now (Okay to be fair it’s been on and off. I’ve turned the phone off when the urge to reach for a gun has gotten too great.) I’ve been listening to the world’s worst “new age” background music. It’s that damn loon that keeps calling that’s getting to me. And it goes on and on and on.

Anyway all I want to do is transfer my Photoshop license from the PC platform to my new Mac. This shouldn’t be too hard should it? I’m more than prepared to cancel the license on line for the PC software and download the new Mac software. Heck, at this point I’d even pay a small service fee.

I own legitimate copies of Photoshop CS4, Photoshop Elements versions 4 and 7 and Lightroom 2. That’s a couple of thousand dollars worth of software Adobe. I’m your customer. Answer the damn phone.

This is ridiculous. Adobe answer your phone!

And while you’re at it, get somebody who understands English to send out your emails to customers. Read this email that I got from Adobe and see if you can figure out what the writer is saying.

Adobe this is just unacceptable in this day and age. And somebody buy Geo a book on English grammar and usage.

***Notes to Customer***


Dear Peter West,

Your Customer I.D is : XXXXXXXXXX

Thank you for contacting Adobe Customer Service.

We value you as an Adobe customer and for that, we would like to inform

you that we are more than willing to help you with your issue.

WIth regard to your request, usually we ask customers to send a Letter

of Destruction to have to be submitted thru customer support portal, but

since that we value you as our customer, we will ask you to do that any

longer as of the meantime.

All you need to do to process the request is to contact our Customer

Service department at 1 (800) 833-6687. Customer Service


are available 6:00am-8:00pm PT, 7 days a week as this concern is within

their scope.

Thank you,



Adobe Customer Service

Why Henry’s Cameras?

This afternoon I went into a very well known camera store that says it services the professional and advanced amateur photographers in the Greater Toronto Area. Nice big store in a big warehouse type strip-mall. Clean. Bright. Lots of stuff and plenty of staff. But do you know what was missing? Nobody and I mean nobody said “hello” or “can we help you” or “nice day out there”. And I tried to get somebody to say something. I hung around the computer terminals where several of the staff were busy typing. I went around to the pro section and nobody even glanced up. This is appalling behaviour from the sales staff. After about 10 minutes I left.

That’s one of the reasons I buy almost all of my photographic equipment and supplies from Henry’s Cameras.  And I’ve been doing so since the early 70s.

Look let’s be honest. Henry’s has about a dozen stores scattered across the GTA and your mileage may vary but I bet 99% of the time when you walk in somebody behind the counter will at least say “Hi”. And okay for full disclosure purposes I do teach at Henry’s School of Imaging but really folks what does it take to say “Can we help you?” I’m always greeted warmly at every Henry’s store and I go to them all (the School of Imaging uses the staff training rooms for their classes). Can’t say that about the other guys.

I bought a Mac Book Pro :)

It’s been decades since I owned a Mac but now I’m the proud owner of 15″ Mac Book Pro. And, I’m impressed. I’ve been using Macs at Henry’s School of Imaging to do our Keynote slideshows so I’ve not had to set on up. Let me get to the point: what would have taken me 12 to 16 hours to do on the PC, the Mac did in an hour…without my help!

And, it found my hidden wireless network and asked me if I’d like to sign in. I would and did and the Mac set itself up.

I got a Mac Time Machine for $99 instead of $350 since I was buying a new Pro Book and again I’m very impressed. Now I’ve got collectively 3 terrabytes of memory storage sitting on my system.

I’m still doing my major photo editing on the PC (after all I’ve got two monitors, a HUGE graphics card, 3 gigs of memory and all the software in the world on these machines) but I am going to start migrating some of the software over to the Mac.

I’ll have more to say later but right now I’m having a blast getting reaquinted with Mac.

Something for Christmas

Looking for a great Christmas present? Living in the Greater Toronto Area? Then how about a photography course from Henry’s Cameras?

Here’s the link to the Henry’s School of Imaging site: www.henrys.com/school

Henry’s has courses for individual cameras and many more to help with composition, flash, portraits, even software like PhotoShop Elements.

I teach for Henry’s and the classes are worth every second. Most are well under $100 and most last for at least three hours and are limited to a mangeable number of students (depends on the space available in the individual stores).

Whether the course is for you or a loved one, it’s a great gift anytime.