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Old Nov 29, 2003, 8:49 PM   #1
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Default Poor Pentax Warranty Service and Optio 550 Problems

Bought a new Optio 550 for an Asian holiday. Overall the camera is lightweight, good battery life, and takes nice outdoor photos in decent\good light. Indoors, under normal to low-light conditions it has a difficult time focusing, (hunts and is slow) and pictures using AUTO default settings are quite noisy. I compare to my old Canon S10, which took much better indoor photos.

Early Problems (first 2 days)
1 - The view finder does not correctly frame an object that is 4 to 6 feet away. Objects are higher in the photo then they appeared in the viewfinder. (I have checked 2 demo 550's, and they both had a similar problem, but less exaggerated. Had a service tech at the store check his results, and they were the same) note: The LCD does not have this issue.

2 - The camera locked up solid two times, when I try to take “interval shooting” pictures, set to take 3 pictures 10 seconds apart. It would take the first photo, and stop. The camera would still be on, but you can do nothing with it. There is no menu action, it is just locked up. It will not take a new photo, zoom, or shut off with the power switch. If you remove, and reinstall the battery, the camera will shut down when the battery is reinstalled. It then restarts fine.
3 - After 1.5 weeks of 100 photos a day during my travel the zoom lens got louder and louder, then finally failed to close fully, locking about 1/2 inch extended. I lost 2 weeks of photo opportunities in China, as I couldn't get warranty repair in less then 4 weeks…

When I returned to US, I sent the camera overnight to Pentax US warranty center in Colorado. I called after 2 weeks to check status, and was advised the camera had been checked in earlier that week, and it would be another week before I could get status. The next week, 3 weeks after shipping I was told the following:

Lens was jammed because of physical damage, so no warranty. This was also the cause of the framing error, #1. The camera does not have a scratch on it, and was never dropped, hit or abused. I was the only one who used it. How do you debate this with a manufacturer that has limited interest in customer service. They advised it would take 1-2 weeks to get me an estimate, and 2 additional weeks to fix the camera. That would be 7-8 weeks total for the repair. When I commented to the support tech that this was unacceptable service, he stated Pentax was "better then average" for warranty repairs. They have lots of warranty work, and are really back logged at this time of year. (note to potential buyers: says something for the quality of what they are selling)
Issue #2, they feel was caused by defective airport scanning equipment in Asia, that "scrambled" the firmware. Note, that my laptop didn't get scrambled, and the rest of the camera worked fine, so it probably has a firmware bug.

I have left VM for the warranty center manager, but he never returned my call.

35 days after Pentax received the camera I have an estimate, $320 for the repair they refuse to fix under warranty. Needless to say, I won't be giving Pentax any more of my money, so I opted not to fix the Optio. I feel the money would be better spent on a camera from another manufacturer. I just don't have the confidence this camera will ever be right.

What I learned:
1 - Understand the manufacturers warranty coverage. 4 - 8 weeks without your camera is a long time if you use it a lot. If Acura can fix a major electrical issue with my car in 1-2 days, I don't see why a camera manufacturer needs so long to fix a camera that is a current shipping model. It is just poor customer service.
2 - Check a new camera closely at the store. The framing error may have been an indication the lens had been depressed during assembly or shipping. (Pentax warranty center support person statement to me)
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Old Nov 30, 2003, 1:08 AM   #2
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the issue of the scrambled firmware is highly questionable. i work at an airport and my gear goes through a lot of times.
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Old Dec 1, 2003, 11:38 PM   #3
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I had exactly the same problem with my Pentax 550 Camera.
It worked perfectly until it just "locked up", froze all, no power,
no pix, no reason. Replaced with new battery, worked for a while, then froze again. Took the camera back to Ritz under a return
policy that I purchased. I have asked for a 555, not the 550,
hoping that these problems were unique to that model. Have not yet received new unit, but would be interested in keeping in touch.
(I have many digital cameras, and none have this problem. Really
frustrating because I like the pix it takes, and the small, compact
format with the 5X zoom)
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Old Jan 26, 2004, 1:37 PM   #4
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Sorry('') to hear about your 550 pooping out during your Asian holiday.
Hmm where did you buy your camera from ?
It sounds as if your purchase was made recently before your trip !
It couldn't be Sears ( they have the 550 by the way ) because they give a 2 months return/excahange (((on the spot))) policy at no extra charge if your not satisfied or it poops out on you. Not to mention the option of purchasing an extended warranty.
No I don't work for Sears but I give them 5 stars.
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Old Feb 25, 2004, 6:26 PM   #5
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Not surprised to hear of the Optio 550 problems. Have had lens "lockup" with both Optio 555's I have purchased. Fortunately, Wells Digital has been kind enough to take both back for full credit. Next camera will be the Olympus C 770 or the Canon S1. Both are better quality, I am sure, and have lots of optical zoom. Too bad Pentax couldn't maintain their history of quality on the digital cams.
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Old Apr 22, 2004, 5:00 PM   #6
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Default hmmm bummer I am so far A HAPPY Optio S4i owner

hmmm bummer I am so far A HAPPY Optio S4i owner:


Really no excuse on the manufacuter behavior: Two pieces of Sound Advice.

1) Besdies the good advice of going the dealer route, you can always dispute your purchase on your credit card

2) With any company sometimes the person you get is bad, you may need to ask for a supervsor or level 2 tech or simply hang up and get someone else on the phone.

Hopefully these behavior were exceptions...
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