View Full Version : Buying from an unauthorized dealer

07-06-2007, 09:56 AM
My earlier post, titled Time-Sensitive Q, didn't attract any eyes...which I'm assuming was because it was such a vague title. So I'm trying again, with thanx for any advice.

Help, pls! I just bought a (new) Nikon D80 and the Nikon 18-200 mm VF lens from Digicombos in Brooklyn for $1,599.99. It arrived today. When I ordered it, the customer service rep said it would be covered by the Nikon US warranty. However, I notice that the lens serial number does not begin with "US," which Ken Rockwell indicates it should if it's covered. (Apparently the camera serial numbers don't have to begin with 'US.') I called Nikon customer service and they won't decode serial numbers. They say I can send it to a Nikon service center, which obviously DOES decode serial numbers and can tell me if it's warrantied. Or I can send it back to the seller and go to an authorized dealer, which Digicombos is not. When I called Digicombos to ask what sort of warranty I have and whether it's backed by Nikon the customer service rep said I'm the first customer in his experience who's ever asked. He says THEY purchase from an authorized dealer...but I told him Nikon tells me warranties don't transfer. Digicombos offered to send me a one-year warranty (without charge) or return the camera/lens within 10 days. So what would you do?

07-06-2007, 10:24 AM
I'm not sure about this because I've never bought from other than an authorized dealer. But, you do have to put down on the warranty card where you got the lens, and when you submit for warranty service, you do have to provide your receipt.

Both of these will tell Nikon that you bought the camera from a dealer that is not in their authorized dealers list. Since the warranty is non-transferrable, Nikon may not (and likely won't) touch the lens.

If it was B&H, they provide their own service for gray market products, but I know nothing about this company.

Only you can decide what you are going to do. The fact that you are not getting strong reassurance is not a good sign. If it were me, I'd kick myself in the butt for not going to an authorized dealer, and then send it all back. Don't be surprised if there is a restocking fee and if it takes a significant amount of time to get your money back. Hopefully, you didn't actually open anything that was sealed. That could help.

07-06-2007, 04:32 PM
He says THEY purchase from an authorized dealer...but I told him Nikon tells me warranties don't transfer. Digicombos offered to send me a one-year warranty (without charge) or return the camera/lens within 10 days. So what would you do?

There are two distinctly different points in the quote above.

If the vendor purchases from an authorised dealer then you will have a warranty. Sure warranties do not transfer but the warranty does not start until an end user registers it and you are the end user and you do not appear to have tried to register the warranty yet.

Go to this page and fill in the on line form. (http://support.nikontech.com/cgi-bin/nikonusa.cfg/php/enduser/cci/prodreg/product_registration.php)

Now the second part of the quote. If the lens really is covered by a Nikon warranty why would the dealer offer to send you one of their own?

07-06-2007, 09:52 PM
Thanx, K1W1.

Are you suggesting that if I fill in the online warranty form, that will be as good as if I purchased from an authorized Nikon dealer...and I can count on Nikon service or replacement? Is there any way to know in advance of catastrophe?

Just to be clear, here's the complete history:

1. When I ordered the camera and lens from Digicombos, I asked if they were covered by Nikon USA warranties. The salesman assured me they were. When someone else from this list called them today, he was told the same thing.

2. When the camera and lens arrived this morning, there were no warranty cards in the boxes.

3. Ken Rockewell says on his site that Nikkor lenses warrantied by Nikon for sale in the US should have serial numbers that start with "US." Mine doesn't.

4. Nikon refuses to decode their warranty numbers (although of course the company knows...when you send equipment to their service center they can tell by the serial number whether the equipment is covered or not). The Nikon custservrep did say that the 18-200 mm VR lens he looked at (during our conversation) had a serial # starting with "US." But the D80 camera body serial number only contains 7 digits, no matter which market it's destined for. Nikon says the only way I can tell if this D80 body and this lens are covered by a Nikon warranty is to send them to the service center with a letter. If I did that, and the answer (as I suspect) turned out to be "no," then I will have used up my 10-day return window.

5. When I first called Digicombos about this today, the custservrep said this question had never come up before (!) but that they want me to be happy so will provide a one-year warranty. I neglected to press him on whether he was talking about a warranty only for the D80 body (which normally carries a one-year factory warranty, I gather) or also for the lens (which should carry a 5-year warranty). The answer is not hard to guess.

6. In any case, I'm wondering how good a non-Nikon warranty would be. Who would do the repairs?

7. When I called Digicombos back today to ask more questions...I was on hold for more than an hour before I hung up.

I guess the smart thing to do is send everything back, hope Digicombos credits my credit card, and start all over again with a verifiably authorized Nikon dealer...and accept that it will take awhile to get the 18-200 VR lens. Maybe a bird in hand is NOT worth 2 in the bush. But it's not easy to let go of this equipment!

07-06-2007, 10:17 PM
Call DigiCombos SALES department. Again, ask (as if you were thinking of purchasing) about it (maybe even record the conversation). Then let them know that you actually already did purchase, and that it did not come with warraty cards, and you have plenty of reason to believe that it is NOT an authorized US warranty product. At this point you will likely be transferred. When you make your decision on what to do, make sure you get an RMA if you are sending it back.

Chances are that you won't ever need the warranty. HOWEVER, if they have already mis-led you, WHO KNOWS whether the whole deal is shady... IOW maybe it is actually a re-furb?

I would probably send it back... Just because I don't like to deal with deceitful people/companies. I would rather pay more, and support a company with morals.

07-07-2007, 06:50 AM
Thanx for the advice, TCadwall. I'll probably follow it.

But before I do, can you (or anyone else) tell me whether an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) number from Digicombos will guarantee that I'll get my money back...before I ship back the D80 + lens?

If Digicombos refuses to give me an RMA #, what do I do then? Cross my fingers and ship it back anyway?

Still would like to know if the online warranty registration suggested by K1W1 provides any reassurance that my equipment really WOULD be covered...if he/she or anyone else knows.

I hope all this is instructive to others...or perhaps I'm the only one on this list who was naive enough to believe the webvendor when they told me that their merchandise IS fully covered by NikonUSA warranties?

07-08-2007, 08:37 AM
Hoosier, do NOT send it back without a RMA. They will refuse it and it will be sent back to you. You will be out the money for shipping. You need to be polite when you call, but very firm. When you call, you need to say, "I need a RMA for my camera and lens." No matter what they say, you just politely repeat yourself. They will try and talk you out of it. It doesn't matter what they say to you. They could promise you Nikon will replace it with the moon. If it isn't true, it isn't going to happen. If it is gray market, or they are not authorized dealers, you will not be happy if anything goes wrong. IMHO, I would send it back, and buy from a "real" place. You will not get a credit until a few days after they process it. You need to find out how long that takes. The hardest part is not getting sucked into anything with them. If they ask you the reason, tell them you want to buy directly from an authorized dealer. I just hope that they are not going to charge you a restocking fee. Some places do that. (Circuit City, Best Buy, etc.)

Good luck.