Nikon Ends International Warranties

Nikon corporate today issued a formal notice of something that had been rumored and pending for some time: Nikon will no longer provide International Warranties for lenses and accessories (cameras long ago dropped the International Warranty). I've updated my "gray market page" accordingly.

In some ways, this is good, but in most ways customers will think it bad. 

First, the good. Nikon now treats all of its products the same. Products are produced and then distributed to individual regions (typically to a Nikon subsidiary). The region's distributor/subsidiary then manages all the warranty/repair for all Nikon products they import. While it might not be obvious, there were implied costs associated with providing cross-region warranties, and gray marketing of products exacerbated that. 

The bad, from the customer's view, is that they can—sometimes unwittingly—end up with products for which no manufacturer's warranty is actually provided. If you buy a gray market product here in the US, for example, NikonUSA will not provide warranty repair or even for-fee repair. 

Long-time readers will know that I called out Nikon's policies on global distribution and repair 25 years ago on the Internet, and have been vocal about it ever since. But my actual gripes date back to the 60's, when Nikon didn't have subsidiaries across the world, but was producing region-specific products that distributors controlled warranties and repairs on. In other words, the situation has never been what I'd call good and customer-friendly. 

For some time now I've been advising people not to buy gray market product. Not because the product is different or bad in some way, but solely because of the issues of getting it repaired, if necessary. That advice doesn't change with Nikon's new policies. If anything, I'd just emphasize my advice. 

I don't believe that Nikon is guilt-free in the gray market problem. Rumors have long existed that Nikon dumped excess inventory into Asia through short-term loans given by the Hong Kong based financial community to local distributors. Those distributors figured out how to arbitrage gray market product effectively, and the story goes that Nikon corporate saw that as a way to "make their numbers" when needed. Meanwhile, Nikon corporate also wants their wholly-owned subsidiaries to "make their numbers," and since warranties and repairs are done within those subsidiaries and represent real costs, the subsidiaries don't want to take on expenses for products over which they have no control and for which the distributor might have paid less than the subsidiary. 

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