Return policies: What happens to those cameras?

JohnJohn Posts: 134Member
edited April 2013 in General Discussions
I noticed a big difference in how stores deal with camera and lens issues.
This difference seems to be related to the geographical location of the stores.

Where I live (mainland Europe) a camera or lens that has an issue and is under warranty can be returned to the store.
The store then sends the item to the manufacturer for repair after which it is returned to the customer. Only in the unlikely event that the item cannot be repaired is it replaced by a new item.

However, I often read stories of Americans not being happy with their newly bought gear and simply returning it to the store and exchange it for another unit or even a different model.

I wonder what happens to all these returned goods?
I can hardly see the stores selling these items as used items and taking a substantial financial loss.
However, simply selling a potentially defective or perhaps repaired used item as new seems highly unethical.

So, does anyone know what happens to the returned gear?

Comments

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    If the item is truly defective, it will be returned to the manufacturer (the store doesn't want the bad rep of selling defective goods). If the customer just didn't like the color/feel/handling and it is done within some "no questions asked" return period, then the store has three options. If all the original packaging is intact, they could sell it as new (somewhat unethical, but hardly unheard of as it still has full warranty), they can sell it as refurbished or used at a discount, and finally most common and likely is they send it back to the manufacturer who legally must sell it as used or refurbished.
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    A bit of clarity for USA returns -
    -It is Illegal for them to sell a returned product as "NEW" if it has been opened (seal broken). If a place does try to, it is generally an unknowledgeable employee (snot-nose kid) who didn't know better and put it back on a shelf.
    -"Refurbished" must go through a documented checkpoint system (store is qualified to refurbished products) or through the manufacture to be refurbished - legally.
    -They can sell returned items as "Open box" (big discount) if it has been returned and no apparent issues. Generally you get a 30 day unconditional returns.

    Big box stores - Walmart, Best Buy, Target, etc. take returns and send them back in to the manufacturer. (Note that there are agreements of how long a manufacture will take an item back from retailers - i.e. "old stock" previous model, they will not.) When this does not happen, it is just an employee who didn't know better and was a mistake. Policy and agreements are to send everything back to Nikon. These stores do not want to deal with anything but selling new products from the manufacturer.

    Nikon refurbishes the units (checks, reconditions them) and sells them as refurbished items. You can find the "refurbished" section on NikonUSA's site to purchase cameras. Some stores will also sell Nikon's refurbished items as well but not many and are limited to Large camera focused stores for the most part from what I have seen.

    What Ironheart spoke to, does happen some, but it is far from the usual and if it happens, it is usually a mistake and not an "Ill intent" business owner. But just as anywhere, there are dodgy business owners and in the US, some regions of the country have more dodgy owners than others.


    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,042Member
    A bit of clarity for USA returns -
    -It is Illegal for them to sell a returned product as "NEW" if it has been opened (seal broken). If a place does try to, it is generally an unknowledgeable employee (snot-nose kid) who didn't know better and put it back on a shelf.
    -"Refurbished" must go through a documented checkpoint system (store is qualified to refurbished products) or through the manufacture to be refurbished - legally.
    -They can sell returned items as "Open box" (big discount) if it has been returned and no apparent issues. Generally you get a 30 day unconditional returns.

    Speaking of seals, I don't ever remember seeing any seals around Nikon boxes- no stickers around the cardboard latches of any kind.

    How do you even prove that your camera is even new?
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    That fact, coupled with a return policy that requires all of the original packing, is why I believe many returned products are simply resold as new, snot-nosed kids notwithstanding... :-)
  • PapermanPaperman Posts: 468Member
    Why would a retailer like Best Buy/Future Shop/WalMart sell a returned item as new and risk losing reputation when it does not cost them anything to send them back to Nikon & get replacements ?
  • PapermanPaperman Posts: 468Member
    Well, not totally but somewhat related to the topic ....

    The Future Shop ( Best Buy spin off in Canada ) in local mall interestingly still has a D300 ( not D300s ) in the display cabinet ; it's been there for the last 1.5 years ! !

    When I asked the salesman what was going on, he told me that a customer returned it as a D300s in the box he purchased last Xmas and the staff taking back the return did not notice the missing "S" at the end of D300. !
    They couldn't track down the trickster and were also too ashamed to write off the camera as a loss or send it back to central warehouse.

    So they have been keeping it as a D300s in their inventory ( in a locked glass cabinet - it does not have a price on ) until one day someone has the guts to explain the fu....up to HQs.
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,042Member
    Well, not totally but somewhat related to the topic ....

    The Future Shop ( Best Buy spin off in Canada ) in local mall interestingly still has a D300 ( not D300s ) in the display cabinet ; it's been there for the last 1.5 years ! !

    When I asked the salesman what was going on, he told me that a customer returned it as a D300s in the box he purchased last Xmas and the staff taking back the return did not notice the missing "S" at the end of D300. !
    They couldn't track down the trickster and were also too ashamed to write off the camera as a loss or send it back to central warehouse.

    So they have been keeping it as a D300s in their inventory ( in a locked glass cabinet - it does not have a price on ) until one day someone has the guts to explain the fu....up to HQs.
    Considering that the Best Buys I've ever been to seem to have the photo department run by people who only have experience selling printers, I am not surprised...
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • tc88tc88 Posts: 309Member
    I agree with Ironheart on this. When they say the return needs to be in "like new" condition, it gives some clue. In stores, it's common to see returned items mixed with others selling at regular price. Mail order wise, I have personally received used items from Amazon, once expensive stuff too.

    I have also returned items to stores too. When I asked, once they claimed they would just keep it as demo. Another time, they were non committal. I think it may not be that straightforward for retailers to return items to manufacturers. Manufacturers may have to agree that it's defective, or there may be quotas. So the "like new" caveat allows retailers to still sell those at regular prices.

    I think the returns are more liberal in US because the rules on selling returned items are less strict.
  • NSXTypeRNSXTypeR Posts: 2,042Member
    edited April 2013
    I agree with Ironheart on this. When they say the return needs to be in "like new" condition, it gives some clue. In stores, it's common to see returned items mixed with others selling at regular price. Mail order wise, I have personally received used items from Amazon, once expensive stuff too.

    I have also returned items to stores too. When I asked, once they claimed they would just keep it as demo. Another time, they were non committal. I think it may not be that straightforward for retailers to return items to manufacturers. Manufacturers may have to agree that it's defective, or there may be quotas. So the "like new" caveat allows retailers to still sell those at regular prices.

    I think the returns are more liberal in US because the rules on selling returned items are less strict.
    I agree with your reading on Amazon. I bought some microSD cards that were advertised as new and they worked, but they had been removed from retail packaging. It was certainly not the "frustration free" packaging, it just came in a manila envelope. It seemed like it might have been stolen or refurbished. One definitely needs to be aware of who the seller is on Amazon.
    Post edited by NSXTypeR on
    Nikon D7000/ Nikon D40/ Nikon FM2/ 18-135 AF-S/ 35mm 1.8 AF-S/ 105mm Macro AF-S/ 50mm 1.2 AI-S
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    I agree with Ironheart on this. When they say the return needs to be in "like new" condition, it gives some clue. In stores, it's common to see returned items mixed with others selling at regular price...
    I have had friends who have managed (Sr. top store manager) Best Buy, Target, Sears, Kmart and a few others (those guys seem to bounce around a bit) and what they all said is that the purchasing and return agreements with manufacturers are quite entailed. One used canon as an example (others experienced the same) where they would take a returned item, but for every part missing, they would "charge back" the store for the cost.

    Most bigbox retail has "seals" on cameras, etc so the customer knows they were not returns. Most Camera specific stores I have noticed do not. Must be a trust thing. I would suspect a camera specific store to sell a simi used item more than any big box store.

    I think the returns are more liberal in US because the rules on selling returned items are less strict.
    Laws aren't more liberal by any means - they just aren't enforced, or more likely, it would cost more to take a store to court, and usually the "snot nosed" kids care so little that most just get an item exchanged. Listening to store managers, the laws really have some teeth if it is found the company has an "under the counter" policy to sell returned items as new. But of course, you need regulators, and lobbyists have made sure there is no budget for it. Sad really.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • TaoTeJaredTaoTeJared Posts: 1,306Member
    Amazon is getting a bit tricky and one must take care in where they buy the items from (partner stores, amazon, or "open box" Amazon. I have heard some bad stories with the "open box" amazon but also seen many, many good tempting deals.
    D800, D300, D50(ir converted), FujiX100, Canon G11, Olympus TG2. Nikon lenses - 24mm 2.8, 35mm 1.8, (5 in all)50mm, 60mm, 85mm 1.8, 105vr, 105 f2.5, 180mm 2.8, 70-200vr1, 24-120vr f4. Tokina 12-24mm, 16-28mm, 28-70mm (angenieux design), 300mm f2.8. Sigma 15mm fisheye. Voigtlander R2 (olive) & R2a, Voigt 35mm 2.5, Zeiss 50mm f/2, Leica 90mm f/4. I know I missed something...
  • BabaGanoushBabaGanoush Posts: 252Member
    edited April 2013
    @NSXTypeR: "How do you even prove that your camera is even new?"

    Well the first thing you should do when you get your new Nikon camera is to use Exiftool to examine the metadata of your initial test shot (mine's always a long dark exposure taken at high ISO to look for hot pixels). Read out the value of the Shutter Count. If it's not =1, or other low single digit, then you might raise questions with the seller. I buy my Nikon gear from a local dealer I feel I can trust. I can see him unboxing a new camera and demo'ing it for a prospective customer or two, but never letting it leave the shop. I bought my 24-120mm f/4 lens USED from him. Apparently he had sold the lens brand new to a local pro photographer who used it for just about a week and then returned it for different gear. I walked into the store a few days later and got the lens, virtually unused, at a decent discount. If he were dishonest, the dealer could easily have sold the lens as brand new and no one would have been the wiser. All the paperwork was there and so was all the original packing material.
    Post edited by BabaGanoush on
  • birdmanbirdman Posts: 115Member
    Depends on store of course. Bestbuy will sell as 'Open box'. The smaller independent stores will usually flat-out refuse a refund if camera has been turned on and fired once....or if set-up menus have been obviously used. Meaning camera is no longer "NEW". I can't blame the store. Hell, even a high rep store here in San Diego (small shop) will not let you open or touch a new camera or lens in box. Good policy. Small profit margins don't have room for customer frumpiness. Wal-Mart and the like stores not specializing strictly in electronics will probably eat some losses along the way. Whomever deals with KRockwell for sure gets used equipment back constantly after he tests them for his site.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,030Moderator
    "Wal-Mart and the like stores not specializing strictly in electronics will probably eat some losses along the way. "

    My guess is that they would make more of a loss not having a return policy as it would stop people buying in the first place. I think they would analyse their figures to keep a eye on the cost of customer returns.
    Always learning.
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