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?
-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.
How do you even prove that your camera is even new?
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.