If you want help, please don’t give our advocates orders

When Jensen Hwa is unable to upgrade the firmware in his Canon camcorder, he asks the company for help. Canon promises to perform the upgrade for free, but returns a broken camera to Hwa. Then Hwa tries to tell our advocates how to handle his case.

Question: I received notice from Canon that I needed to update the firmware inside my Vixia HG20 camcorder in order to use an SD card with it. But when I followed Canon’s directions step-by-step, I got an error message. The camcorder was otherwise still usable.

I then called Canon’s technical support team to ask for help with the update. A team member advised me to mail the camcorder and firmware to Canon’s factory service center for repairs. The factory service center sent me an email stating “Based on our initial examination, we will begin the necessary repairs at no charge to you.” That same email promised me that if the camcorder could not be repaired, Canon would send me a replacement model.

A few days later, I received a package from Canon. It contained the same camcorder, which now would not power up and had some paint chipped off.

I called Canon’s service center several times to complain and was escalated to supervisors, all of whom told me that “the mainboard is broken” and that there were no repair options available.

A manager called me who proceeded to pick apart every little grammatical piece of the promise in the email I received from the factory service center. He claimed that the center promised only that it “may” provide a replacement and that it wasn’t required to do so. The manager also repeatedly insisted that I pay approximately $150 to get an “upgrade” to a newer model, and that this was the only thing he could do. He seemed completely happy to ignore and break his company’s previous promise to me, telling me that there was nobody else to whom I could speak and that this was my only choice.

I told him that I would need to seriously think why I would continue to spend my money on a company that is unable to keep its word.

I would like Canon to follow through with its original promise – to either repair my current camcorder or send me a comparable model as stated in the “No Charge Repair Acknowledgement” document I was emailed. — Jensen Hwa, West Bloomfield, Mich.

Answer: I agree with you that Canon’s factory service personnel should have been more helpful.

For some reason, Canon’s customer service was definitely out of focus in dealing with you. Instead of picking apart the wording of the promise it emailed you or claiming that there was nothing the company could do for you, Canon’s factory service center should have followed through and either repaired your camcorder or sent you a replacement. And it never should have sent you back a broken camcorder.

But after you turned to our advocacy team for help, your case ran into some problems.

We reached out to Canon on your behalf, forwarding our contact the documentation you sent us. Our advocacy team has its own internal contacts with whom we work. Our standard procedure is to allow our contacts a week to respond before checking back.

Sometimes when we reach out to companies, they will resolve cases directly with consumers as a result of our contact. Usually, but not always, the companies will let us know when this happens.

Four days after we contacted Canon, when we asked you if you had received any communications from Canon, you became impatient with us and gave us orders.

First, you demanded a copy of our communication to our contact at Canon, questioning whether we had reached out to the right person. You also ordered us to reach out to the persons listed on our website as executive contacts for Canon, copying you on each of those communications.

While our advocates are happy to assist consumers who request our help, we don’t respond well to orders. We have a track record of success following our own standard and proven procedures. If you want us to act on your behalf, then we need you to let us do so without trying to micromanage our advocacy.

One week after we reached out to our contact at Canon, we asked you if you wanted us to “push” your case, and you responded that you did. So we contacted Canon again on your behalf.

But when we followed up with you to find out if you had been contacted by Canon, you responded: “I was forced to resolve the issue on my own to get it done faster, without having to waste time waiting for weeks on end for you to ‘push’ my inquiry.”

Canon was aware of our contacts on your behalf on multiple occasions, so it isn’t clear to us how you “resolved the issue on your own.”

While we congratulate you on your successful resolution of your case, however that came about, we are writing about it to warn our readers and consumers who desire our help not to give us the attitude you took with us. Consumers who do so are more than welcome to resolve their cases without our assistance.

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