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Amazon Proves To Be Exemplary In Giving Us A ‘Partial’ Refund For Our ‘Star-Crossed’ Panasonic Lumix ZS20 Digital Camera.


Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> Amazon amazingly sends us replacement — Jan. 20, 2013.
Panasonic Lumix ZS20 Digital Camera: Automated Lens
>>Cap Started To Stick …
January 14, 2013.
>> Amazing 20x optical zoom on Lumix ZS20 — Jan. 5, 2013.

Click to ENLARGE. You can clearly see the spot on the picture.

Click to ENLARGE. You can clearly see the spot on the picture.

Well Amazon is back on my good again after this camera return refund – basically a full refund, less a restocking fee.

This was the Panasonic Lumix ZS20 Digital Camera that I had got Deanna for Christmas 2012. I had done a fair amount of research and had finally picked it because of its 20x o[tical zoom. We also happened to own two other Panasonic digital cameras. Deanna, understandably, was very happy with it since it was quite a camera, with more features than we knew what to do with. We had been waxing lyrical about it, especially its breathtaking zoom, when just 20 days into its use the automated lens cap started to stick. As I had previously posted Amazon was quite exceptional in the speed in which it got us a new replacement; we reported the problem on a Sunday and we had a new camera on Thursday. We were delighted with Amazon.

For whatever reason the new camera, though an identical model, never seemed to take as good pictures as the first. Plus I found it unnecessarily finicky, but it wasn’t my camera and I didn’t use it often.

Then came our trip to the Grand Canyon a few weeks ago. Though the camera had a 32GB card in it, I gave Deanna 2 more cards so that she would have a total of 42GB. She was all set. We also took our old Panasonic ‘point-and-shoot’ as a second camera. I decided I did not want to take the video camera. On this, my 8th or 9th trip to the Grand, I was determined I was going to savor it without the distraction of always trying to take pictures. I knew that Deanna would take plenty, especially since it was her first visit. [As it happened Deanna took 1,571 pictures on the trip though she didn’t manage to fill up the 32GB card.]

On the flight out to Arizona, on the Chicago to Phoenix leg, Deanna decided to take some pictures out of the window — such as the one above of a passing plane. When we started reviewing the pictures we noticed this annoying, distracting blob in all the pictures. We checked the window. It wasn’t on the window. I had a lens cleaning cloth and I polished the lens as much as I could. The blob would not go away. Its shape and focus changed with the amount of zoom being used. So I knew it was on the lens or inside the lens. In the right light I thought I could see a nick. The camera had been fine the day before. But, I had noticed a fatal flaw in the design of this camera — which I am surprised that Panasonic hadn’t fixed. Given the zoom aspect of this camera, the lens extends, extends out quite a bit and does so automatically like a turtle’s head coming out of its shell. The problem is that the lens pops out, without warning, even when you are just reviewing pictures or uploading pictures. So even if you are not expecting the lens to extend out, it does so and often catches you unexpectedly. Ideally Panasonic should have some semi-intelligent overrides on this. Lens should not pop-out if the camera is in review mode or if the USB cable is plugged in — without say the user explicitly flicking the ‘shoot-review’ button. So I can see how the lens could get accidentally chipped.

Deanna was very upset but was putting on a brave face. She was just going to use the old Panasonic and ‘photoshop’ the blurs out of the pictures from the new camera. I knew that this would detract from her enjoyment. So I said we will just get another camera in Phoenix and worry about what to do with the damaged camera when we got back.

Click to ENLARGE. Taken with the backup Panasonic.

Click to ENLARGE. Taken with the backup Panasonic.

Trying to buy a new, equivalent camera in Arizona proved to be much, much more difficult than I had expected. For a start getting into your rental car at the ‘new’ Phoenix Sky Harbor airport is a 1/2 day chore! Yes, I am very familiar with off-site car rental and understand the need for them. But the new Sky Harbor car rental facility appears to be about 10 miles from the airport! It took 20 minutes or more to get there. That is crazy. So much so that I am thinking of not using Sky Harbor again. I need to check out rentals in Vegas. It might be, in the scheme of things, easier to fly to Vegas and drive down. [I have done the opposite twice and it is a nice drive, i.e., fly to Phoenix and drive up to Vegas (because I could not get flights into Vegas).] So we finally get into a Hertz car, about 90 minutes after we landed and start heading up I-17. The growth in and around Phoenix has been phenomenal. So much of it is so build up. But, driving up I spotted a sign for Best Buy and Fry’s (which I knew was a big electronics retailer). We stopped at Best Buy. It was big. Bigger than the store in Manchester but it had a paltry selection of cameras — none even close to the ZS20. That was quite a shock. We then tried Fry’s. That was my first experience with Fry’s. It was huge and had an incongruous, Polynesian facade that really looked stupid. The place was cavernous. But it was dingy, dark and uninviting. There was hardly anybody there either. Again we couldn’t find another Panasonic or anything that came close. I guess most people like me are buying their cameras online or just using their phones/pads. Time was getting to be an issue. I wanted to make sure that we could see Montezuma Castle on the way up — and I knew that it would be closed by dusk. Stopping at Montezuma Castle on the way up to the Canyon is one of my rituals. I find that it sets you up for the experience, plus I wanted Deanna and the kids to see it. I had already decided that we were going to give Montezuma’s Well a miss on this trip. So, I decided to give up looking for a new camera in Phoenix and wait till we got to Flagstaff.

We got to Montezuma Castle with 15 minutes to spare. Wow. Talk about a transformation on the approach road. There is even a casino! It used to be totally, totally empty when I first visited in 1980. There was also no casino a decade ago.

Flagstaff is very canny. You can’t get to the Canyon without having to drive through Flagstaff. Very clever. Encourages folks to stop and spend some money. It took us awhile but we managed to locate a Walmart and a Target. Walmart proved to be a dud, but at least I managed to pick up two bottles of Shiraz cheap. We then went to Target. Deanna rushed in while I parked the car. By the time I found her she already had a Panasonic. She and the salesman assured me that it was identical to the one we had, though I was not convinced. But, Deanna was happy and time was getting on. So we bought that Panasonic. My hunch was right. It was a ZS19 while the damaged camera was a ZS20. Once we got Internet access we were able to work out what the difference was. The ZS19 does not have GPS. That was OK, though on the last day at the Canyon I was musing that it would have been nice to have had GPS data with each picture to eliminate any uncertainty (because sometimes it is hard to place pictures of the Canyon).

The new ZS19 proved to be a champ. It took good pictures and again it seemed to take better pictures than the one it replaced. That seems strange that we had 3 cameras, and that the one in the middle, though supposedly identical to the first, never seemed to take good pictures.

When we got back Deanna started the Amazon return process. Since we were past the standard return window we had to pay for the shipping. Not an issue. Deanna had the original box etc. She also wrote a long, detailed letter. She told them all the facts, omitting or adding nothing. Told them that she had been forced to buy a replacement and as such did NOT want this camera replaced. She wanted the money back. She sent it by US PS on Monday. On Wednesday I had an e-mail from Amazon saying that they received it. On Saturday night I had an e-mail saying that they were giving us a partial refund. I was delighted. It was not a full refund but the camera was 3 months old. I thought it was very decent of Amazon. So I will go back to shopping with them.

Click to ENLARGE. Taken with the new ZS19.

Click to ENLARGE. Taken with the new ZS19.