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Old Apr 2, 2009, 10:31 PM   #1
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I haven't ordered an FZ28 yet, but I won't hold out hope that Panasonic support staff will be of any help, regarding any issue, should I ultimately decide to buy their product.

I left a couple of brief queries via their website form, of which only one was answered, after 4 business days (not the worst, but certainly not up there with the best). They also didn't bother quoting my query. It's a good thing I saved a copy or I wouldn't have known what they were talking about. To characterize their response as abrupt, thoughtless and useless would be putting it mildly. Add to that the info they gave me was just plain wrong.

So, I called them and tried phone support. While the phone rep spent some time with me, he was, unfortunately, as clueless as the web rep:

First, he had never heard about the oft-mentioned audio problem, and asked, in an incredulous tone of voice, where I got my information. After I told him I got it from the pdf manual from their website, he asked me what the date on the manual was, as I might have an older version. geez... I played along, and it's as current as the one he had right in front of him. I then directed him to the page and exact note I was referring to:

Quote:
• Due to implemented sound quality improvements, motion pictures shot using this unit cannot be played back on Panasonic digital cameras (LUMIX) sold before August 2008.
Granted, this doesn't specifically refer to the FZ28, but I mentioned to the rep that people had tried different units and earlier ones did have worse quality audio. This was news to him. He was also unfamiliar with audio bit depth and sample rate. Ok, so he's a camera rep, maybe he shouldn't need to know about audio, but he should know about their cameras, yet he didn't -- that's in the next section down.
I was informed there is "no way to tell" whether I'd be getting an older or improved version of the FZ28 from the box or from the camera itself. I pointed out that even if they cannot cross-reference a batch # or revision # from the serial # (which they absolutely should be able to do), the camera body should have a sticker somewhere indicating at least the date of manufacture, if not a revision # also -- nearly every other electronic product sold in the USA has this info SOMEWHERE. This is probably an FTC regulation, though I couldn't find info specific to small electronic devices (appliances, yes; digital cameras, who knows?).

Second, the rep asserted (I didn't inquire about it) that the FZ28 can't zoom while shooting video. Obviously, their support personnel don't bother actually checking out the products they are ostensibly providing support for. They only know, like most support drones, what the computer screen in front of them says (that's if/when they bother to actually look at it). He even supposedly went off to dig up details that weren't on his screen. Too bad that didn't help him give me correct info, if he actually looked up anything instead of having coffee and a snack. If he (and the web rep) did look this up, it would mean Panasonic is supplying erroneous info to their own support staff!
Proof their info is bad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUBxwfPJ9bc
From the manual:
Quote:
• Zoom speed cannot be changed in the motion picture mode (P74).
Apparently, the support rep took this to mean no zoom at all. Clueless!

Third, I was informed by both web and phone reps that this model can't shoot macro video up really close (i.e., 1x wide angle). Proof this, too, is bs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30sgQz6Q9gs
The distances the rep spec'd were the exact same as stated in the "Tele-macro" section of the manual. I didn't ask how far out you can shoot macro video. I asked how close up you can shoot macro video. Clueless!
And before you call me clueless for not knowing it can do this, I've learned not to assume anything with regards to camera (and other electronic devices) design, as many products have unusual quirks.

One wonders how many potential sales Panasonic is losing due to their clueless sales/support staff. If I hadn't done my own research, I wouldn't be aware of just how capable this camera actually is and I might have given much more serious consideration to the competition.
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Old Apr 4, 2009, 11:19 AM   #2
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I've never thought to use customer support to answer questions about a product I don't own. I think it's commendable that they spent so much time with someone who isn't yet a customer. How does it compare with the time your camera dealer helped you? And how did the knowledge level of the two compare?

I haven't dealt with Panasonic customer support but virtually all the others I've communicated withthrough email or phone had varyinglevels of (tech) support with the entry level (first contact) being generally less adept/knowledgeable than succeeding levels. Did your questions get answered after you brought the reps up to speed?

john




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Old Apr 4, 2009, 3:26 PM   #3
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jmgiv wrote:
Quote:
I think it's commendable that they spent so much time with someone who isn't yet a customer.
It's pretty much just good business practice to try to earn new customers. Panasonic isn't doing a good job of this. This, btw, wouldn't be the first Panasonic product I've owned, but it would be the first Panasonic camera I've owned.

By "spent some time with me", I meant 11 minutes, of which about 6 I was on hold while he was off doing whatever he was doing. What he was not doing was gathering good info on the product his company wants me to purchase. The rest of the time he spent live with me attempting to find info on his terminal and volunteering inaccurate info on items which I had not inquired about. So yes, he spent time on my call, but that time was wasted.

Quote:
How does it compare with the time your camera dealer helped you? And how did the knowledge level of the two compare?
There's no contest between decent camera shops, especially brick-and-mortar ones, and Panasonic support as I've experienced it. For one thing, people generally provide better service when face-to-face (greater perceived accountability). I prefer to visit the stores in person, so I haven't called camera shops for sales or support info, either local or online. I usually check out products locally and then find a much better price from a reputable dealer online and order from them. As a general rule, however, I've learned not to believe half of what any dealer (of any product) tells me on the phone, either due to their incompetence or their unscrupulousness (e.g., getting me in the store is top priority). Once in, the local shops try very hard to make a sale and not create a return situation (unless it's to buy more items), so their staff tend to be generally knowledgeable, helpful and courteous. There have been rare cases of acerbic shop owners, though.

These are the dedicated camera shops I'm referring to, of course. Learning well from past experience over the years, I don't waste my time discussing any electronic device -- or most other items -- with department store personnel. No dept. stores in this area stock the FZ28 anyway.

You'd think manufacturer support staff would know at least as much about their cameras as local camera shop personnel -- or those who bother to d/l and read the manual -- do. I realize other manufacturers have flawed support services. I'm singling out Panasonic at this time because this is the primary candidate for my choice of a new P&S camera and, well, this is the Panasonic forum. :-)

Quote:
I haven't dealt with Panasonic customer support but virtually all the others I've communicated with through email or phone had varying levels of (tech) support with the entry level (first contact) being generally less adept/knowledgeable than succeeding levels. Did your questions get answered after you brought the reps up to speed?
Tiered support is standard, and this guy was evidently at the top of the food chain. After I finally landed the initial rep, I was transferred to him. He offered no further links up the chain, if any existed. Perhaps I should have asked for his super, assuming he had one, but at that point I had already wasted enough of my time. What he didn't know he simply shrugged off. I got the sense he wasn't absorbing any input for his future reference to the benefit of future callers. I'm sure he'll just stick to his terminal "fact" sheet. He was more apathetic than disagreeable, except for that one instance when he doubted the veracity of my claim regarding the FZ28's audio quality. Most of my questions were answered after the call ended, when I did more of my own research.

So, some may say, why did I bother with Panasonic support if I thought I knew so much about this camera already? Simple. I hoped to verify a few things I had heard and read about it which were not in the manual, under the assumption Panasonic would have definitive answers, since they designed and built the thing.

--
also John :-)
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Old Apr 5, 2009, 8:42 AM   #4
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Let's hope for Panasonicthat, for this particular employee, the Peter Principle is in effect.

john
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