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The Only, Lonely Protester at CES (Video) 259

Posted by Roblimo
from the the-parts-added-together-are-greater-than-the-whole dept.
CES is not a political show, so it only drew one visible protester: Kelly Chong, who is mad at camera manufacturers for (he says) destroying his camera repair business. He managed to get mentioned in Forbes, in an article headlined CES: One Man's Protest Against The World's Camera Makers. And now he's getting three minutes and five seconds of fame on Slashdot. Is his protest justified? According to a 2012 article headlined How Nikon Is Killing Camera Repair, at least one major camera manufacturer now refuses to sell parts to independent repair shops. So Kelly Chong seems to have a legitimate beef. Will anyone listen to him? Will major, multinational camera manufacturers start selling parts to independent repair people again? And what about those of us who do (at least some of) our own repairs? Labor charges aside, it's often lots faster and easier to do a simple repair yourself than to box your camera up and send it somewhere, not to mention the waiting time for it to get back to you.

Tim: CES for the most part is a very apolitical show. People aren’t outside protesting the show’s giant carbon footprint or the e-waste that all these gadgets generate. But outside there is a guy who has got a very specific beef with some of the manufacturers here, specifically Japanese camera manufacturers, who he says cost him his business. Meet camera repairman and former CES exhibitor, Kelly Chong.

Kelly: My name is Kelly Chong. I am from San Diego, California.

Tim: What are you doing here at CES?

Kelly: I am trying to help US consumers by demonstration.

Tim: Now, you are holding a sign that says NIKON CAMERA; you are calling them ECONOMIC TERRORISTS. What do you mean by that?

Kelly: They are not supplying local repair shops service repair parts and service literature. For example, you have a Canon video camera, if your camera has a problem, there is nowhere to go fixing your camera, they are going to affect US consumer and economy. That is why we call them economic terrorists. We have to protect US consumer.

Tim: Now what do you think should be done?

Kelly: We have to protect our country. I am a US citizen.

Tim: What do you think should be done?

Kelly: We don’t have much money to hire an attorney. That is why I come in here. I am a US citizen. I am trying to protect US customer. I am proud of America. We have to protect our country. They have to supply parts, all the local repair shops, that is all.

Tim: Now this isn’t your first time in CES, is it?

Kelly: Yes, yesterday I tried to get inside, they kicked me out. They already violated my constitutional right.

Tim: Now you were here before as an exhibitor?

Kelly: Yeah, I am an exhibitor. I have been visiting since 1985, Kelly Camera, now we are in San Diego, now Pro Camera Repair Inc. We complain to fifth estate, Congress and Senators, and President Obama. We are awaiting final result from court. The case about five to six years. We don’t have much money to hire an attorney but we did.

Tim: You would like to see these companies being required to supply parts?

Kelly: Yes, they should supply the parts; that is all.

Tim: Okay. And how have you personally benefited by this?

Kelly: Because we sent a letter, so many complaints, they just ignored it. We are a small local company. So I would like they to bring final result. I just am pissed off. That is all.

Tim: Okay. Anything else you would like to add?

Kelly: I would like to protect US consumer because I am US citizen. That is all.

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The Only, Lonely Protester at CES (Video)

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  • by pclminion (145572) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:18PM (#42787875)

    Back in your place, consumers. You barely even own what you own, much less have any right to fix it or pay someone else to fix it.

    The economy of America will collapse unless you keep buying brand new stuff constantly. You don't want that, do you? Are you some kind of terrorist?

    • by Master Moose (1243274) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:36PM (#42788115) Homepage

      I have a large rear projection Panasonic T.V. A model circa 10 years old - No longer sold, and not worth repairing. It did however require some alignment beyond standard convergence, so I contacted Panasonic to ask how to enter maintenance mode - Their reply: Such information is o propriety only being provided to authorised dealers/service people.

      Frustrated, 5 minutes on Google gave me everything I needed to know which I then emailed to Panasonic, letting them know that I had the information anyway and that their assistance to one of their customers was beyond appalling. reply: none

      • reply: none

        Unlikely. Their reply was likely to engage a lawyer at having the information source removed so that you can't access it in the future.

    • Back in your place, consumers. You barely even own what you own, much less have any right to fix it or pay someone else to fix it.

      You do not own that camera, you only license it! (This is already happening)

  • Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:19PM (#42787879)

    As a member of a large professional camera repair society (SPT), I can firmly say: f*** Nikon. Chong's point is entirely valid. Sadly enough, as a photographer, I love Nikon's DSLRs but I can't support them due to their policy towards independent shops.

  • by TWX (665546) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:19PM (#42787883)
    ...on the product in part. In particular, how much service is necessary to keep the device functioning essentially as it did when it was new, and how regular use impacts this.

    Remember, a manufacturer, unless obligated by law, does not have to provide anything post-sale unless they've stated that they will. They don't necessarily have to provide parts, warranty, or service unless they've stated that in the sales literature to convince you to buy their product. Granted, depending on the circumstances if they don't give warranties or make repairs possible then their long term sales could suffer if buyers choose other manufacturers due to after-sales support, but that is a choice that they have.

    I do understand the complaint, and I even have sympathy, but on the other hand, lots and lots of manufacturers in other fields, especially electronics fields, are doing the same thing. It's hard to buy parts for TVs or other AV electronics. It's even hard to find electronics repair shops that will do out-of-warranty service now, most only handle warranty work.

    If manufacturers make quality products that run for a reasonable amount of time (with a different definition of reasonable for each and every market) and handle the rigors of use, then it's hard to make the argument that manufacturers are doing the wrong thing. After all, if a photographer drops his camera and it breaks, that wasn't the manufacturer breaking the camera, and it's likely that with the bigger camera makers, they have ruggedized models that can take that kind of use. But, the manufacturer does not necessarily have to make it easy for the owner to get the broken-out-of-warranty camera fixed either.
    • by foobsr (693224) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:28PM (#42788005) Homepage Journal
      Remember, a manufacturer, unless obligated by law, does not have to provide anything post-sale unless they've stated that they will.

      Would like to watch when car manufacturers (all at the same time, sure) will start to follow NIKON'S policy.

      CC.

      • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:32PM (#42788067) Homepage

        Remember, a manufacturer, unless obligated by law, does not have to provide anything post-sale unless they've stated that they will.

        Would like to watch when car manufacturers (all at the same time, sure) will start to follow NIKON'S policy.

        CC.

        They already kind of are. You can get more details here, at the Right to Repair coalition:
        http://www.righttorepair.org/ [righttorepair.org]

        Basically, various companies have realized that they can charge dealers exorbitant fees for diagnostic equipment if they make said diagnostics proprietary trade secrets, and then the dealers will have to funnel the costs to the consumer -- which is fine, because the dealers are the only place in town to get the cars repaired at. It's gotten so bad that I've even seen proprietary light bulbs for some vehicles.

        • by adolf (21054)

          It's gotten so bad that I've even seen proprietary light bulbs for some vehicles.

          [citation needed]

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          The difference there is all the parts are available (as required by law). What the makers did was change diagnostics to require specific tools they own and are illegal to replicate (patented, trademarked, copyrighted, etc.) to prevent independent repair shops from having the same capabilities as the dealerships. That obviously anti-competitive behavior is explicitly within the law, as there are no tool restrictions, just parts.
    • by plover (150551) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:56PM (#42788337) Homepage Journal

      Braun is doing something related with their shavers. I bought one a few years back, and on the shelf next to it were replacement blades, along with information in the packaging telling me to replace the blades every year. So I bought the blades annually as advised, and one year I start having a horribly uncomfortable shave. Upon further inspection, I discovered their replacement blades (advertised as being correct for my shaver) were no longer of the same geometry, and not sharpened the way previous blades were. So a product that should have lasted 15 years or more was binned after only six years because the replacement parts were substandard. This was a barely visible change, and I suspect a lot of people simply assumed their shavers were "worn out" and needed replacement (by a new $150 model).

      To me, this was a completely unethical move. But now I'm trying to figure out how you would propose we deal with this kind of situation. Caveat emptor? Regulations on replacement part availability? Capitalism and competition?

      • by whoever57 (658626)
        Many years ago, I owned a car for which I bought a new oil filter from the dealer. The filter came with a notice that I had to check the length of the spigot, and, if it was too long, I should shorten it. The spigot on my car was indeed too long. This was not a recall item -- no assistance was provided by the manufacturer in fixing the length of the spigot. Apparently the manufacturer felt free to change the specifications of my car after selling it. I complained about this, but to no avail. However, afte
      • by Applekid (993327)

        Braun is doing something related with their shavers. I bought one a few years back, and on the shelf next to it were replacement blades, along with information in the packaging telling me to replace the blades every year. So I bought the blades annually as advised, and one year I start having a horribly uncomfortable shave. Upon further inspection, I discovered their replacement blades (advertised as being correct for my shaver) were no longer of the same geometry, and not sharpened the way previous blades were. So a product that should have lasted 15 years or more was binned after only six years because the replacement parts were substandard. This was a barely visible change, and I suspect a lot of people simply assumed their shavers were "worn out" and needed replacement (by a new $150 model).

        To me, this was a completely unethical move. But now I'm trying to figure out how you would propose we deal with this kind of situation. Caveat emptor? Regulations on replacement part availability? Capitalism and competition?

        It's more than just replacement parts, it's entire replacement units.

        I had a shower pump from Simple Human break on me, the handle just came off in my hand. After contacting the manufacturer because it was under warranty, they sent out a whole new unit. I was kind of surprised they wouldn't just ask for it back and replace the arm.

        When I got it, it was slightly different. The arm was much thicker and it made me happy they revised the design for the design weakness. But there was more different. The fit and

    • The point is, a manufacturer should be obligated by law to provide repair parts for reasonable prices, or, at the very least, let others provide them.
      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        As a very small time hobbyist manufacture (3-10 items a month sold typically on ebay) I would see this as crippling and would stop bothering to build my product at all. Thus thrusting the few customers I have into not having it at all. I'm sure they would thank you for your regulation.

        • Because you are an asshole. You want not only to be able to refrain from providing replacement parts to your customers, but to sue anyone who does. If you can't do the job right open space for those who can.
          • by ArsonSmith (13997)

            Sorry in my niche, there wont be anyone else who can/will. It's get stuff from me or effectively not at all. In stead of the $150 that I sell it for I'm sure you could go to a manufacturer and have the dies made and molds cast and begin building the parts but it'll be close to $15k minimum by the time you're done.

        • by sys_mast (452486)

          I'm guessing your point is that you can't make spare parts for EVERYTHING, due to scale, and costs of doing that.

          This is a different situation, they are making the parts, but just refuse to sell them to certain people. How the law should be written to distinguish between those two is beyond me, but I'm fairly sure we have a small army of law makers that can figure out how to word it.

          • by Applekid (993327)

            This is a different situation, they are making the parts, but just refuse to sell them to certain people. How the law should be written to distinguish between those two is beyond me, but I'm fairly sure we have a small army of law makers that can figure out how to word it.

            Perhaps the scale is different, but it's really the same. He is making parts, but just refusing to sell them except in the form of a finished product.

    • But, the manufacturer does not necessarily have to make it easy for the owner to get the broken-out-of-warranty camera fixed either.

      There's a difference between making it easy and making it harder to obtain OOW camera repairs. This is Nikon doing the latter. It would appear they're clamping down on the supply chains for replacement parts to only those "authorized repair stations" (read: approved money funnels) to either increase the cost of ownerships for OOW cameras or to make it so difficult to get OOW repairs that you're nearly forced to purchase a new camera.

      Also, anyone who says "Nikon doesn't have a monopoly" isn't familiar with

      • by Applekid (993327)

        Also, anyone who says "Nikon doesn't have a monopoly" isn't familiar with the way camera systems work. Nikon, Canon, etc have a pretty strong monopoly on any non-rich photographer who has bought into their lens system over the years. You can't easily jump ship to another manufacturer when you've got 3 years worth of salary sunk into proprietary glass.

        I'm not a photographer so this will probably sound ignorant (because it is), but what makes lenses proprietary? Isn't it just physics, light input/output? Is it really impossible considering the pro-level costs to build mounting adapters to mate different branded components?

  • Making devices smaller and smaller means a tighter integration of components. Because cameras are getting cheaper and cheaper, It's often less expensive to simply buy a new device than to get it repaired. That being said, the choice there should be the consumer's, not the manufacturers. It really irks me that Apple can get away with preventing people from replacing batteries and upgrading storage so that they can rope the consumer in to having to constantly upgrade. Good for this guy.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      I have not been required to upgrade a single Apple product. I just no longer buy any of their well advertised and known lockin products any more.

    • When a new SLR body can be upwards of $6000, it's NOT going to be cheaper to get a new one.

  • In many cases, it's cheaper to buy a new camera than to have the old one repaired.
    • by sharkytm (948956)
      This is a response to both the "Buy New" and "Smaller and smaller" comments. You are both correct with regards to consumer-level point and shoots. HOWEVER, you are incorrect when it comes to DSLR cameras. Digital SLR's are expensive, and hold their value relatively well. A simple shutter malfunction, which can be repaired by Nikon (including shipping and tech-time) for $200, could save a camera that would cost $500+ to replace. Ditto with a bad button or cracked LCD. Cheap parts, which if available, could s
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        This is a response to both the "Buy New" and "Smaller and smaller" comments. You are both correct with regards to consumer-level point and shoots. HOWEVER, you are incorrect when it comes to DSLR cameras. Digital SLR's are expensive, and hold their value relatively well. A simple shutter malfunction, which can be repaired by Nikon (including shipping and tech-time) for $200, could save a camera that would cost $500+ to replace. Ditto with a bad button or cracked LCD. Cheap parts, which if available, could s

    • by plover (150551)

      So if I break the strap clip, you're saying my choices should be limited to buying a new $4,000 camera body, sending it to Nikon for $200 in repairs, duct tape, or "suck it up."

      I don't see any reasonableness in your statement.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      In many cases, it's cheaper to buy a new camera than to have the old one repaired.

      The problem is, pros (generally) use pro cameras, which can cost from $2,500 to $6,000 (street price, body only, standard SLR -- for medium format, add a zero), so simply buying a new camera when something non-catastrophic happens is out of the question.

      Mind you, cameras in that class tend to be ruggedized and weather sealed. (Mine has survived tens of thousands of clicks in rain and dust, uncountable bumps, and falling out of the rental car. Twice.) However, when something fails, for that kind of money,

      • This isn't an iphone, fer chrissake. It's not some disposable toy that you replace every 18 months.

        This makes me sad :(

        Not because you call an iPhone a "disposable toy," but rather because I never thought I'd live in a society where some folks still starve to death in the streets, meanwhile others think throwing a $500 piece of electronic equipment in the trash is no big deal.

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:23PM (#42787931)

    CES is not a political show

    Wow. Set off my bullshit detector in the first sentence.

    Former President Bill Clinton pushes for stricter gun control during Consumer Electronics Show speech [nydailynews.com]

    I suspect we witness here a case of a political view, and even a politician, that is considered so mainstream that they no longer suffer the "political" qualification.

    Just for the record, any "show" that has Bill Clinton as a featured speaker is political.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Point to Tailhook.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      what does politics have to do with a company not willing to sell spares anyhow?

      frankly I'd be surprised if they'd be able to source spare parts for their own warranty repair centres...

      • by Applekid (993327)

        what does politics have to do with a company not willing to sell spares anyhow?

        frankly I'd be surprised if they'd be able to source spare parts for their own warranty repair centres...

        It's political because it advocates for changes in policy and law in consumer electronics, a defense similar to the auto indusry's "right to repair" laws.

  • by schneidafunk (795759) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:28PM (#42788003)
    Here is the link [change.org] for the petition, if anyone feels inclined in wasting some time.
  • Middlemen (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sjbe (173966) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:36PM (#42788113)

    at least one major camera manufacturer now refuses to sell parts to independent repair shops. So Kelly Chong seems to have a legitimate beef. Will anyone listen to him?

    Probably not. If you build a business based upon the faults of someone else's products, do not be surprised when they decide to handle the problem themselves and put you out of business. If there is money to be made in repairs then you should not be surprised when the manufacturer gets into the repairs business. It's fine to make money on repairing and selling other people's products but if you are a middle man they WILL cut you out if they can.

    • by Applekid (993327)

      Probably not. If you build a business based upon the faults of someone else's products, do not be surprised when they decide to handle the problem themselves and put you out of business. If there is money to be made in repairs then you should not be surprised when the manufacturer gets into the repairs business. It's fine to make money on repairing and selling other people's products but if you are a middle man they WILL cut you out if they can.

      The way a manufacturer ought to handle the problem themselves is to make their product more reliable so they need you less. Not build a parallel repair infrastructure and lock you out of what you need to repair their stuff.

      I guess mob tactics are cheaper than better engineering, though.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      So anti-competitive vertical integration of your business is fine, so long as you hurt the consumer as much as possible.
  • If more or all people were so proactive and brave (for a loose definition of bravery, anyway), this in the US would be much better for consumers. For one thing, mobile operators would have saner policies and there would be competition instead of a cartel of internet providers. GM food would be labeled as such and the composition of your food will also be declared (like it is in Europe).

  • by macraig (621737) <mark DOT a DOT craig AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:00PM (#42788393)

    In this case, the word "independent" has a different meaning than it has in any other context: it means that a business isn't certified by a product's manufacturer as competent to service that product. What form that certification takes may vary from one manufacturer to another, but certainly it always costs money; is it an egregious profit-seeking amount, or is it limited to covering the cost of administering the process? That probably varies, too, but you might expect a manufacturer like Nikon to price the certification process quite selfishly. It's not entirely unreasonable for manufacturers to want to protect their own reputation by ensuring that people who attempt to maintain their products in the field are competent to do so. It's also not unreasonable for them to expect to recoup their costs to ensure that (though using it for profiteering would be sleazy).

    So ultimately the real beef of people like this fellow is that they either can't afford to cough up what it would cost to maintain the various certifications or simply choose not to do so because it goes against their religion or politics.

    • In this case, the word "independent" has a different meaning than it has in any other context: it means that a business isn't certified by a product's manufacturer as competent to service that product. What form that certification takes may vary from one manufacturer to another, but certainly it always costs money; is it an egregious profit-seeking amount, or is it limited to covering the cost of administering the process? That probably varies, too, but you might expect a manufacturer like Nikon to price the certification process quite selfishly. It's not entirely unreasonable for manufacturers to want to protect their own reputation by ensuring that people who attempt to maintain their products in the field are competent to do so. It's also not unreasonable for them to expect to recoup their costs to ensure that (though using it for profiteering would be sleazy).

      So ultimately the real beef of people like this fellow is that they either can't afford to cough up what it would cost to maintain the various certifications or simply choose not to do so because it goes against their religion or politics.

      Doesn't matter; as the consumer who owns the device in need of repair, it is my right to decide whether I want to have the device repaired by a "certified" shop, or a non-certified one, or fix it myself, or put 40 rounds of .223 through it, if I so desire.

      Once consumers have exchanged their money for a product, the manufacturer should not have any say in how the product is used or serviced. Period.

  • Right to Repair (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:07PM (#42788487)
    The Right to Repair proposals http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-repair_act [wikipedia.org] should extend to all consumer products.
  • People and companies should be able to sell or not sell to whomever they want. Yes they are doing it because they are trying to make more money. Is that a bad thing? Are the camera companies obligated to prop up a secondary market out of charity? The customers decide if they want to buy a camera from a company that limits repairs to official repair centers (that have whatever customer service, costs they have).

    If the customers don't care about the choice to bring their camera to a local repair shop, the

  • I wouldn't mind "Ending is better than mending," except I have no soma. Where's my soma, dammit?
  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:55PM (#42789065) Homepage Journal

    on a Nikon d200. For starters, he did top notch service and was in constant contact with me the entire time. He apologized for the delay as he had to source parts from Canada.

    Camera works great now (bad CF slot) and I can't tell it was ever taken apart.
    I understand his POV, and shame on Nikon for making him protest.

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