In 1962, then President Kennedy presented to the U. S. Congress a Consumer’s Bill of Rights. I decided to be a bit more specific and develop a Photography Consumer’s Bill of Rights.
The second and third points of the original Consumer’s Bill are as follows:
(2) The right to be informed–to be protected against fraudulent, deceitful, or grossly misleading information, advertising, labeling, or other practices, and to be given the facts he needs to make an informed choice.
(3) The right to choose–to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices;
To any manufacturer who might read this: I know you’re thinking that only a small fraction of camera buyers really worry about these things, that the majority doesn’t particularly care. That may be true. But remember, that ‘majority ‘ of whom you speak will probably ask one of us which brand to buy.
The Photography Consumer’s Bill of Rights
1. We have a right to be treated as intelligent beings.
Telling us your product will “empower us to shatter creative barriers and become more involved in the action while experiencing the joy of using classic craftsmanship” is simply announcing that you think we are really stupid. Anyone who is swayed by the stuff you are shoveling isn’t going to remain in what you consider ‘an attractive financial demographic’ for very long.
2. We have a right to factual information.
If a new product has a problem let us know. We will b**ch about it online for a day or two, then move on. If you don’t let us know, we will question it online for months. Your choice.
Tell us an item’s weak points (every item has them) on the front end. Knowing the weak points lets us work around them. We are photographers. That’s what we do.
Provide us information like field curvature at various focusing distances, distortion, flare tendencies, and focus shift. We will take better pictures that make other people want to buy your equipment.
3. We have a right to not be lied to.
When everyone on the planet knows your camera has an issue, but everyone who works for your company states there is no issue, you are lying.
4. We have a right to know how things work.
Knowing how a tool works on the front end allows us to choose it and use it better. If we actually knew the accuracy limits of, or effects of lighting changes on your AF system, for example, we’d be less likely to constantly wonder if our camera’s AF system was defective.
5. We have a right to know our equipment is working properly.
Telling us our lens is “in spec” when it’s taking horrible pictures is not reassuring; your credibility is already shaky. Send us the actual test results along with the standards you use to make that determination (if there are any). Even the neighborhood mechanic shows me the computer tracing when I think my car is running rough.
6. We have a right to timely repairs.
I doesn’t take three weeks to replace my car’s engine; why should it take 3 weeks for a dented filter ring to be replaced? I really don’t care if you want to ship it across the border where labor is cheaper. I’ve seen what you charge me for labor. That should cover U.S. minimum wage just fine.
7. We have a right to warranties that are honored.
If you tell me my unmarked, barely used item has impact damage then the burden of proof should be on you, not me. And yes, you should have to prove it.
8. We have a right to buy parts to do simple repairs ourselves.
Anyone can replace a bent filter ring or broken battery door in 10 minutes. When you want me to pay a $160 repair fee, $30 shipping, and be without my equipment for weeks for this, you’re telling me you think I’m stupid. Again.
9. We have a right to choose our own repair technician.
When you create a repair monopoly by not selling parts, we realize it’s because you dread comparison.
To any photography consumer: Only we can enforce such a thing, and we can only do it by voting with our wallets and purchasing from manufacturers who come closest to being consumer friendly. Of course the next time something just amazingly awesome gets released I’ll probably buy it, even if it’s from one of the ‘noncompliant’ manufacturers.
But when I have a close decision between a couple of brands, I’m going with the more consumer friendly brand every time.
I don’t see any reason to make a list of my opinions regarding which companies are the best and worst; they’re just my opinions. But feel free to comment on which companies you think are the most (or least) consumer friendly. The opinion of all of us is way more meaningful than the opinion of any one of us.