Ok, Canon gets a "B.' My Rebel is back, it's working fine, and they didn't charge me for what sounds like pretty extensive repairs. (See Rebel rebels, or out out dark spots . . . for what the problem was. )

So why the "B?" Here's what I mark them off for:

1. Time. I mailed it off to the repair center in New Jersey by second day air on May 25,2004. It arrived at their shipping dock on May 27. I made telephone inquiries and it was several days before it found its way off the loading dock and into the repair system. According to their letter the repair was completed June 11. I didn't receive it until June 16th and then it was a day late because they did not notify me by phone or email that it was coming. I wasn't here the day FedEx first tried to delivered it.

2. That kind of minor irritation - not telling me it was being shipped - was typical of my personal contact. They did provide an 800 phone number, but calling it was next to useless. Each time you would go through the same tedious routine, drilling your way down to some pleasant functionary who would answer your question. But they never had any meaningful answers. They could say "it on the loading dock" or "it's being examined." They obviously had no direct knowledge - or none they were willing to share. MY impression is they were simply looking at some sort of tracking system on their computer screen. Each time I talked with them they would say call back in a week. The last time I talked to them was about two days before the repair was finished - and I got the same suggestion - call back in a week.

3. The written explanation of the repair doesn't give me much useful information. Under "service details" they say:

"Replaced TPT holder ass'y & cmos sensor ass'y unit, adj & cleaned"

Uh huh. So, I think that means they replaced the sensor, but I'm not absolutely sure. And more importantly, I don't know what it means in terms of my future behavior. Was this a problem caused by a faulty part? Or did something I do - or not do - somehow cause or aggravate the situation. Was the "cleaning" referred to just routine, or had the sensor gotten dust on it and my efforts to clean it failed? That's the most critical point. If dust got on the sensor despite all my precautions - and if it could not be cleaned, despite all my efforts to do so - then I am deeply concerned that this will happen again and put the camera out of order for another three weeks.

I am going to try to get an answer from Canon on this. Right now I am operating under the assumption that the cleaning was necessary - just routine - and that the sensor (essentially, the film - was defective.

4. Cost - it's a hassle to pack something up and ship it off and it cost me about $15 to do so and I am not compensated for this.

So the bottom line is this. The camera was fixed for free - less my shipping costs - and that is good. But it meant I did not have the camera for three weeks and I found Canon's communications - both on the phone and in writing - unhelpful.

Maybe I'm an easy grader. Other people may be less patient. But for me that's a "B" performance. Things can be defective and Canon did meet it's basic responsibility. And I still love the camera - though I gotta say, I was impressed with the Canon my daughter bought her husband for Father's Day. It has a 10X optical zoom that is image stabilized and seems in many ways to be a miniature, fixed-lens version of the Rebel. Looks like a winner to me. It also costs significantly less - about the same thing I paid for my image stabilized, telephoto lens. That said, for what I do I'd rather have the flexibility, 6-megapixels, and sophistication of the Rebel - but this camera looked like a great substitute for those who aren't enthusiastic amateurs like me, but just want to have a good camera for family fun and vacations. And 10X optical zoom, image stabilized ....that's impressive.

Posted by Greg Stone at June 21, 2004 07:39 AM