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Nikon Repair Problems - the decline of a great brand.
Kevin Coughlin, Photographer, Photo Editor
Freeport | NY | United States | Posted: 3:27 AM on 10.15.12
->> I have been a loyal Nikon shooter since 1986 and an NPS member since 1990. I conservatively estimate I've spent between $100,000 and $125,000 in Nikon products ranging in about a dozen camera bodies (film and digital), more than a dozen more lenses ranging from 10.5mm to 400mm, several speed lights, straps, cases, and other accessories. One of the ads in the 1980's that sold me on Nikon was of a banged up F3 with a dented 24mm lens with the slogan "We Take the World's Greatest Pictures" demonstrating the durability of a Nikon. Another facet was their legendary Nikon, Professional Services department which gave working pros quick turn-around repairs, at a reasonable cost. I'm sad to say, it appears the "good old days" are gone. Like many corporations under pressure to turn a profit, Gone are the days when a simple complimentary adjustment or "clean and check" runs into a costly repair that would make auto mechanics blush. It is blatantly clear that Nikon technicians and counter people are quick to blame the photographer/consumer for otherwise warranty-covered items. The term "impact damage" can be heard if you wait just 5 minutes on line at their Melville, NY service facility. One veteran Nikon tech, who asked to remain nameless, says the company is under pressure to "bleed every nickel and dime" from every photographer who walks through their doors for service. I have always trusted the repair estimates given me, however, when I brought the same items BACK for re-repair (because it was not corrected properly the first time) I was outright accused of causing some sort of "impact damage" and a new "estimate" would be drawn up. Impact damage? Where? You mean the 5 year-old scuff on the body that was THERE when they INCOMPETENTLY attempted to repair it the first time? - I don't think so! To make matters worse, the regional technician manager (someone i USED to respect) told me there was "water damage" to boot! I was never more insulted in all of my professional career. Of couse, he could not PROVE any of this, but he wanted me to take his word. Tomorrow, I am going to Nikon and speaking with this manager's manager and if I do not get satisfaction, I will take it to another level, including any legal remedies. I would love to hear any recent horror or cock and bull stories about Nikon service because I know I am not alone. Please, no glowing "Nikon has been great to me..." yeah, they were once great to me too. Chances are, those people have not been to Nikon Melville lately. It just DOWNRIGHT SUCKS now!
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Brad Barr, Photographer
Port St. Lucie | FL | USA | Posted: 9:35 AM on 10.15.12
->> Hey Kevin,
Sorry you are having such a difficult time. It should be noted that the "old days" of Nikon, also meant the gear had only a fraction of the technology it now carries. Essentially, its all the mechanical gear from before, only now with a small computer system on board as well, and all the associated issues that come with that. Lenses too have much more tech on board. Not making excuses, but its not the same animal anymore. I did have an issue with NPS, when the shutter died on a d300. The said sorry about your luck, its not a usa model. So I had to explain I had gotten it from someone in Canada....and that I wasnt looking for a free repair, and that I too have spend thousands on Nikon shit for years...blah blah blah. Bottom line the replaced the shutter for about 265.00. I was perfectly fine with that. I had actually dropped the camera a week before anyway. So while it may not the the Same old Nikon....from 1986. Neither are the products...they are much more complicated. And the times I've sent to Melville...they have actually come thru.
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Lee Weissman, Photographer
XXXXX | NY | USA | Posted: 1:33 PM on 10.15.12
->> Kevin....I had my camera repaired last week in ONE DAY. While I agree with you that the company is not the same animal, I can't agree with you about the counter people, and the service that I personally have gotten. I find the people at the drop off to be more than helpful. Now if you are speaking about the regional person I think you are...well that is another story.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 3:49 PM on 10.15.12
->> Kevin,
First thing you need to do is cool down - I'm not saying you don't have a right to be pissed, but to be successful in a case like this you need to be cool.

Regarding the impact repair claim, when was the original repair done? IF it was very recently, pull out the invoice they provided with the repair and show them that the repair - which should have a guarantee for x period of days. If it has been a period of time, then you'll want to show them proof that the camera repair has failed to fix the problem. Be careful here; the requested repair has to be for the same problem as the original one.

As for the impact damage claim, you simply need to turn the tables on them by saying "the camera has not be dropped or abused in any way since I got it back. It simply still does not work.

You are correct when, if you're having trouble with someone, it makes sense to go to someone else. Avoid the drama - all it does it make the other side get fixed in their position. YOU want to be the reasonable one.

Remember, you can control the conversation by ASKING questions like:

"See here when I brought it in - on the paperwork it clearly states what the problem is. Is that what they attempted to correct?"

"The camera has the same issue. Have you run across this before?"

You get the general approach. Don't be confrontational - too much. Ask questions and listen to the answer. Disagree if you need to, but stay in control. "I understand what you're saying, but here's what happened.... ... does that make sense?"

EVERY business is looking for every nickle it can find in this globally tough economy, so while the tech may be 100% correct, it is hardly earth shattering news.

So, work for a solution and do so with as little anger and drama as possible.

Good luck.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 4:08 PM on 10.15.12
->> Great response from Michael... (Kevin, this is not directed at you specifically, but to anyone who is experiencing bad service). Let me add from 30 years of sales experience, you MUST not give the company to which you are complaining a reason to dislike you. When you go on a random rant, or display your lack of control, you lose. But you CAN stay on focus in a controlled tone, a firm but business-like voice, NO that's ZERO foul language, and smiles. The minute you piss off a counter person or company rep with whom you're doing a negotiation you LOSE! You can be respectfully persistent, stay focused on the resolution you desire, direct the conversation, ask open-ended questions, be courteous in listening to the other person's responses and you will keep attention focused on the problem and not your (that's anyone's) s****** attitude and demeanor. There's a way to complain and negotiate that doesn't move the focus from your legitimate problem to your poor personality. Your goal is to convince them of your point of view, not bludgeon them with mindless ranting. In other words, try to move them to WANT to help you solve your problem... and be objective in entertaining suggestions from the company in resolving the issue, as long as they are responding with a true desire to satisfy.
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Mark Kauzlarich, Photographer, Student/Intern
Madison | WI | | Posted: 4:16 PM on 10.15.12
->> "Please, no glowing "Nikon has been great to me..." yeah, they were once great to me too. Chances are, those people have not been to Nikon Melville lately. It just DOWNRIGHT SUCKS now!"

Lee and Michael, you completely disregarded this part. He wasn't looking for level-headed counter points at all. To think that anyone reasonable could have a positive experience after the date of these issues, well, thats irresponsible. (excuse the sarcasm, I just thought the note had to be touched on).

But really, I've had my fair share of Nikon camera issues in the comparatively short time I've used them, but Nikon as a company in and of itself has never been of issue, even within the past week. Its problematic that you cannot get repairs done at a local place if you need something done relatively quickly, but I actually never found my local folks to be faster than Nikon direct service for NPS members.

I would agree with Michael that just a few deep breaths and a tempered approach to this could pay dividends versus blowing up at them like it seems you are about to. One (or a few) difficult experiences rarely means the situation is as black and white as it may seem to you through the lens which you're seeing things. I wish you the best of luck though, as I know broken gear can be quite frustrating.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 4:40 PM on 10.15.12
->> Heh heh heh Mark, pretty funny.

IT really comes down to something simple: Do you want to vent - and lose - or come across as reasonable and get the problem handled?

My brother Phil is so right (hey Phil!) - you don't want them to dislike you - because the answer WILL BE NO. More to the point, I never shoot the person at the initial point of contact. They get all the crap and trust me, they don't usually deserve it.

I will sometimes tell them that - "I need to yell at someone, and you don't get paid enough to take the beating - can we fix it, or do you want to transfer me to someone up the foodchain?"

Sometimes that works, sometimes I get to someone higher up. If they can fix it, then fine, sometimes the supervisor gets a beating. You'd be surprised how often it doesn't come to that.

I've been on the other side of the counter countless times in my business life. It is SO EASY when the customer skips the drama and just tells me the problem. It's such a pain in my a$$ when I have to deal with the drama. 95%+ of the time when the other side is reasonable - it's easy to fix. IF you're a drama queen with me, you may find yourself getting yelled back at by me. What happens is that I make a decision to fire you as a customer because I'm not willing to take your verbal abuse.

Finally, Kevin - I know you were angry. But calling Nikon (or anyone else) out on a forum doesn't help your cause. There is no company that can make every customer happy - it is impossible to do. You don't want to be thrown into the category of crazy consumer that can't be reasonable.

Long story short - by being cool, you stay in control. By staying in control, odds are you'll get what you want.

Remember - no drama. Great thing is if you are in control, and you're dealing with someone on the other side who is trying to get your goat - you drive them crazy instead...
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Kevin Novak, Photographer, Assistant
Bel Air (Baltimore) | MD | USA | Posted: 6:48 PM on 10.15.12
->> I was once in line at an airline's customer service counter because my luggage had been misplaced. I certainly was not in a very good mood. However, the customer in front of me was exceedingly rude and went off on the clerk. The clerk took the abuse for a few moments and then calmly stated "Sir, there are only two people in this world who care about your lost luggage, and one of them is losing interest very quickly."

I've let that exchange guide my dealing with CSR's ever since.
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Tommy Metthe, Photographer
Abilene | TX | | Posted: 12:47 AM on 10.16.12
->> Before you guys pile too hard on Kevin too much, let me say, I'm having pretty much the same EXACT same problem with Nikon right now. I've tried the calm, cool, collected approach, it doesn't work either. I'm pretty sure they don't care right now. In the last couple years, their service has gone from good to awful.

Here's my story: In June, I sent in my 300mm f/2.8. After a $600 repair I got it back on August 9th.
On August 11, I went to use the lens to shoot an assignment, however, when I tried to use it, the autofocus was working incorrectly, (the exact same reason the lens was sent in for repair originally).

I phoned tech support and was told I would be sent a reshipping label, which was emailed to me on Aug. 17.

I packed the lens back up in the same packing it was sent from repair and shipped it back to be fixed properly. On Aug. 28 I was sent an email with a new service number, and at the time it was listed as a warranty repair.

On Sept. 1 I was sent an email with a new repair bill in the amount of $600. When I called to inquire about this, I was told there was impact damage found on the lens and I was being charged for it. However, on the original repair invoice there was a charge for impact damage that was obviously never fixed, since the lens is having the same problem I originally sent it to be repaired.

After going back and forth both on the phone and email I was sent an email saying that the repair is not a redo, but they have found damage to the tripod knob that were not found before.

The great thing about that is, the tripod knob has been missing for about 4 years! And, the lens had been to repair at least twice and the techs missed it both times (including the first time I sent it in and mentioned it in the letter and it was never replaced, which at the time I didn't think was a big deal since I never used it anyway).

So, basically, for the original $600, my lens got new rubber and a new lens mount, but they never bothered to fix the AF.

I finally gave in and paid the bill last week since I need the lens back and it was obvious Nikon wasn't going to admit to their mistake.

Right now, I am hoping when they put it on parts hold this time I can have it back before the end of the year! And that when it comes back this time the AF actually gets fixed this time!!
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 1:51 AM on 10.16.12
->> Being west of the Rockies I deal with NPS repairs in Los Angeles and have found the staff there courteous, efficient and charges reasonably priced. This experience has been via shipping equipment and stopping by the facility straight from LAX airport for a quick fix on the spot within a matter of minutes on my way to a shoot.

As to Melville, my only experience with that location has been in dealing with NPS regarding loaner gear. And again, my requests have always been handled professionally and quickly.

And when at large events like the Olympics, auto races, etc., their onsite services have also been similar -- helpful.

This is not a glowing endorsement; just a relaying of the experiences I've encountered.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 8:47 AM on 10.16.12
->> Kevin and Tommy, I think that provided you both have kept all the documentation from beginning to present, you both have a pretty good case for legal action in small claims court. I'm unsure if that can be facilitated from where you're at, but clearly I think in Tommy's case, they didn't fix the problem and just double charged him for the same repair.

Be that as it may, a lot of places often figure people will just give up and not take the additional legal steps in an attempt to remedy the problem. I'm just puzzled by the lack of customer service Nikon is providing.

I sent a lens to an independent repair facility a couple of years back and it was returned to me not repaired, same problem. It was like they just sent it back without even trying to fix it. I called their customer service line and the girl there sent a UPS shipping ticket to me that went straight to Nikon in Mellville.

I received the lens back about three weeks later and it was like brand new. Problem fixed and life went on.
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Ralph Mawyer, Photographer
San Antonio | TX | United States | Posted: 8:55 AM on 10.16.12
->> Some relevant additional analysis and editorial comments by Thom Hogan addressing the Nikon service situation on a macro level..

Scroll to 12 Oct and 8 Oct articles.
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Eric Francis, Photographer
Omaha | NE | United States | Posted: 12:06 PM on 10.16.12
->> I'd be interested to see the difference between the two facilities. I have tracked things well enough to be sure, but I think I have had better over all experiences with the LA facility.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 5:32 PM on 10.16.12
->> Tommy, If you need to, and you paid for this with a credit card, you can contest the charge.

I'd let Nikon know, professionally and politely, that if there was new impact damage, then they are responsible. It was sent in for the impact damage problem, it obviously was still suffering from impact damage and either Nikon didn't fix it or whoever they used to ship the lens back incurred the damage. Either way, it's not your problem - it's theirs. It can't be your problem until you drop it. Ask if they warranty the repair and when they say yes, but this is a new problem you can then state - "common sense tells you and I the problem wasn't repaired correctly the first time, it's got a warranty on the repair - and for $600 why are we having this discussion - fix the darn thing already. Why are we even having this discussion?" (See how asking questions puts you in control?"

Folks, part of this is just being firm. If you don't get the answer you want, calmly and professionally you asked for someone up the management chain. Tell the person up the chain that you've been a loyal customer for years and that while you expect to pay for good service, you don't expect to pay for the same service twice. You then ask "Am I making sense? Am I being reasonable?" Then SHUT UP and wait for a response.

Does it always work? No, but when you hear the term "impact damage" it's sorta like a truckling line telling me "we called there this morning and they said it was ok if we waited til tomorrow to deliver". When I hear that line, I know it's BS and that they are lying.(That happened last week and I was like a prosecuting attorney at that point..)

You just need to tell them the product was suffering from the same issues as went you sent it in originally and needs to be redone. Be uncompromising on this. If they refuse, tell them that it better be resolved to your satisfaction or the credit card company will be next.

Credit cards companies will decide if your claim is valid, but ask anyone who has experience - they tend to side with the card holder.
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Matt Cashore, Photographer
South Bend | IN | USA | Posted: 5:33 PM on 10.16.12
->> I'll chime in my with my vote that Nikon service is terrible. My gripes:

-Sent in a 400 simply for a tuneup. Wish I hadn't done that. Came back several hundred dollars later performing *worse* than it did to begin with.

-When the D4 and D800 came out with a custom function that I absolutely relied on suddenly and inexplicably missing, I wanted an explanation. Yes, that's a pretty unusual request but I've spent enough money on Nikon gear over the years ($250K is my rough guess) that I am entitled, I believe, to ask *ONE* unusual question. I wanted my answer on that one. The response I got was not only negative it was aggressively bad. And it wasn't 'I was a jerk and the guy I was talking to was having a bad day' it was a case of me repeatedly over several emails and snail mail letters clearly stating my question and clearly asking for a specific action and being told in so many words to go to hell. If I were an airline customer with a similar level of spending with an airline, and I asked to speak with the chief pilot on a specific question, I bet a dollar I'd be speaking with the chief pilot.

-The last time I asked for and actually received a piece of loaner gear was 1994. (Manual focus 600.) Since then whenever I have asked, *if* I get an answer at all, it is "All our gear is at the World Series/Kentucky Derby/Super Bowl/Final Four/etc."

-Ain't just a few malcontents on the message board, either. I think this may have been posted here before, but check out the blog. They do a lot of business with many companies' service centers. Here's the link:

The quote germane to this discussion is near the end: "Nikon USA’s repair and service sucks and is getting worse."

Occasionally I remind myself that I switched back to Nikon because of the Canon Mark III disaster, and I have enjoyed the last four years of confidently making sharp images. That said, when they basically gave me the finger on my attempts to get an answer to my D4/D800 question I did the only thing I possibly could short of switching brands again--I taped over the logos on my cameras. I will at the very least no longer be a walking advertisement.

On my next repair I am going to try a non-NPS option, there have been many alternative repair sites mentioned on this board, and I'll try one of those.
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Kevin Coughlin, Photographer, Photo Editor
Freeport | NY | United States | Posted: 4:25 AM on 10.18.12
->> Dear All...
I have some news to report. Yesterday I received a telephone call from the regional manager - the one whom I said I respected a lot in the past - and he told me that he was going to take care of my repairs. We ended the conversation on a good note.

I do not regret making the post I made, in light of the earlier situation. Was I mad? Damn straight! I stand up for what I think is right and I don't let anyone push me around. That said, I'm glad that cooler heads prevailed in the end. They DO listen to customer's concerns, and yes, even their gripes because the few dollars they feel they might lose on one repair may cost them a customer - or more -for a lifetime.

Just an FYI to those who criticized me for "calling out a major brand on a public thread"; let me remind you of the American Revolution. The best trained army in the world vs. a bunch of farmers and commonfolk with pitchforks - Do you all remember how that turned out?

Sometimes, Davids do beat Goliaths. Let this be a lesson for all to STICK TO YOUR GUNS!
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 9:11 AM on 10.18.12
->> You're a true inspiration to us all Kevin. I can say that I, for one, was following this important thread with baited breath as we all awaited what we hoped would be a humane outcome.

Neither your invoking of the memory of the American Revolution nor your comparison to the story of David and Goliath were at all over-the-top for this NPS repair.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 10:03 AM on 10.18.12
->> Wow, that Lens Rentals article should be required reading for everyone!!
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Kevin Coughlin, Photographer, Photo Editor
Freeport | NY | United States | Posted: 11:28 PM on 10.18.12
->> Brian, you're a funny guy!
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Robert Hanashiro, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | | Posted: 11:41 PM on 10.18.12
->> I can only speak from personal experience, having been an owner of Nikon equipment since 1974 ... I haven't had any problems like you describe.

But obviously all situations and experiences differ.

I hope your bitching about it here has helped you... honestly.
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Aaron Jaffe, Photographer, Student/Intern
San Diego | CA | USA | Posted: 3:43 AM on 10.19.12
->> Replace Nikon with Canon and your issues closely echo mine. Quite saddening considering I am young and have only just started my gear purchasing life.

Also, fun timing for anyone that also reads the stories on the consumerist:
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Kevin Coughlin, Photographer, Photo Editor
Freeport | NY | United States | Posted: 1:13 PM on 10.19.12
->> Bert,
It has...and I think it was a major prime mover in getting them to listen to complaints from consumers like myself. People here seem to think that this is a knee-jerk reaction -it's not. I put my name on the line here and frankly, it was my last resort, short of going to small claims court. Neither side wants that kind of publicity.

There was no internet in 1974 so it was basically "take it or leave it". Luckily boards like this provide people like myself an opportunity to find others in the same situation.

Thanks to all who commented - including the funny posts!
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Paul Hayes, Photographer, Photo Editor
Littleton | NH | USA | Posted: 10:28 PM on 10.29.12
->> I didn't see this mentioned elsewhere and figured it belonged here. Discuss (both the article and the comments below).
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Paul Hayes, Photographer, Photo Editor
Littleton | NH | USA | Posted: 10:30 PM on 10.29.12
->> Correction, looks like I searched the wrong area of the site. A Google search turned this up:
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Luke Trottier, Photographer
Bath | ME | US | Posted: 2:19 PM on 10.30.12
->> As a CPS and NPS member I expect my Canon gear to be turned around the same week and my Nikon gear turned around in 4-6 weeks. NPS is free and CPS costs me $100/yr. I would gladly pay Nikon $100/yr if they could offer me anything close to the level of service Canon provides.

BTW, I'm glad I'm not the only Nikon customer being told I drop my lenses.
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Matt Cashore, Photographer
South Bend | IN | USA | Posted: 4:25 PM on 10.30.12
->> x2 on what Luke says. Every single email, letter, or phone call I make to Nikon regarding repairs I volunteer that I would be more than happy to pay a membership fee for truly expedited (5 business days or less on the bench) NPS service and repairs.
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Matt Cashore, Photographer
South Bend | IN | USA | Posted: 1:27 PM on 11.06.12
->> Welp, my non-NPS service experience happened sooner than I'd hoped. I used Authorized Photo in Chicago. Cheap? Uhhh...No. But the turnaround time was 7 business days. I would be more than happy to pay an annual membership fee to get that kind of turnaround from NPS. And, most importantly of all, it appears (at this point) the lens was repaired correctly.

So there's my sort-of endorsement of Authorized Photo.
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Wally Nell, Photographer
SAN DIEGO | CA | USA | Posted: 3:32 PM on 11.06.12
->> Well, just a plus for CPS for me, is that each time I had a blown shutter or something that needed fixing, the turnaround was about 3 days. Then again, I drove it to the CPS facility and picked it up. A few times it was done within a day. I think it makes a difference if you can speak to someone face to face. Absolutely amazing service...
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Richard Shiro, Photographer
Greenville | SC | USA | Posted: 6:01 PM on 11.06.12
->> Matt Cashore, I use APS exclusively, and have had nothing but fair prices and great turnaound times. In the last month they have serviced my 400,(9 years old) 70-200, and 3 bodies. All work great and I was not inconvenienced at all.
My endorsement for APS...just my experience
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Thread Title: Nikon Repair Problems - the decline of a great brand.
Thread Started By: Kevin Coughlin
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