Panasonic Customer Service

Readers may recall that although I really liked some of the images and features of my new Panasonic GX85 camera, there was a spot on the sensor that showed up on some photos, like the one below (in the middle, about a third of the way down).



When I called Adorama to see about returning the camera, they said to call Panasonic, which I did.  Following the instructions of the Panasonic phone rep, I sent the camera to their service center in Texas, and according to USPS tracking, it arrived on a Monday.  Late on Tuesday I had a call acknowledging that it had arrived, and the rep told me it would take a week to ten days for it to go through their procedure.

When that time had passed and I had no response, I called the service center and was told that there was "debris between the glass and the sensor," and their engineers were still trying to figure out what to do about it.

After Panasonic had the camera for a month (during which time my window of opportunity to return it to Adorama had expired) I called Adorama to see what my next move should be.  They said they'd contact Panasonic.  When I hadn't heard anything in 24 hours, I called Adorama again, and they said they'd "escalate" the inquiry to Panasonic.  The next day I had a long phone message from a Panasonic rep explaining that they had decided to send me a replacement camera, but that since it was a new model, they had not yet received "inventory" from Japan, and were not sure when that would arrive.   I called and asked why the decision had taken a month (they have their "procedures" that they must follow) and how I would be reimbursed for sending the defective camera back to them (they don't reimburse shipping, even when there is clearly a problem with the camera).  At that point, the rep mentioned that they could also just send me a refund, and since they still didn't know when their "inventory" would arrive, I opted for the refund.  The crowning touch came when the rep told me that even the refund would be delayed ("We only cut checks twice a month").

I went to the Micro Four Thirds Forum on DP Review and discovered that I am by no means the only photographer who has experienced issues with Panasonic "service."  I think the moral of the story is that if you have a problem with a new Panasonic product purchased from an authorized dealer, you should insist on returning the defective product to the dealer while you're still in the allowed return period, rather than shipping it off to Panasonic's black hole in Texas.