Yes I caved and bought myself a new Zeiss lens. It was after lots of self justifications and convincing Claire and some financial planning before I finally went and bought myself a new lens.
But alas, the simple act of simply buying a lens from a brick and mortar shop proved to be laden with troubles.
Shopping for the Right Price
Like a lot of people shopping for an expensive piece of branded glass, I went around asking for quotes from different shops. Then when they came back, I’ll compare the prices and see which shop should I get it from. The shops I email/call or texted have generally enjoy good reputations here in Singapore. But I do have a preference. It’s too bad my favourite shop don’t have stock for my lens in question: Zeiss Loxia 35mm f2 for Sony FE mount. Then a shop I’ve always known but never went before came up with a really good price. So after some planning, armed with that quote, I went to the shop a few days later and asked to buy the lens.
Many people will tell you, when something seems too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true. Well, heed that warning people, for I learned it the hard way…
Suspicious Behavior in the Shop
When I showed the shop assistants the quote, they were dumbfounded. Telling me it’s not possible. Yeah probably, I was quoted about $200 lesser than their ‘market rate’. But after they validate the legitimacy of my quote, they decided to honour it. They have to. It was a mistake their marketing person made, but that’s not my problem, it will be a breach of trust. Then that will become my problem and I will potentially make it their problem.
They took a long time looking for the lens. I think I see the lens in the shelf right in front of me, but I can’t be sure. Since I don’t work here so I shouldn’t doubt them. Then after what seems like 15 mins, they finally cough up the lens and let me check it. I took brief look, the box appears real old so I just had to ask:
‘is there a newer copy?’
The sales guy hastily replied:
‘oh.. oh.. no this is the only one we have, this lens isn’t very popular so we didn’t have many stocked here.’
Well that’s odd, because I kinda read many reviews about this lens and with the retro trend in force, many wannabe hipsters (like me) are looking for good quality fully manual/mechanical lens options. All the staff here are also acting suspiciously, fretting over my purchase. But I just thought to myself: very little things can go wrong with a mechanical lens, especially with Zeiss, so i paid up and left.
When I was home, I quickly registered online for extended warranty and mounted the lens on my camera like an excited kiddy with his new toy. I need the weather sealing and the quality, because to me, it’s either a Zeiss or no lens at all. But as I was turning the aperture ring, I noticed a soft ‘whizzing’ or ‘rubbing’ sound. It was so faint I didn’t notice it at the shop. I demonstrated to Claire just to be sure I’m not hearing things, her response after hearing it Claire exclaimed:
‘that s why they were behaving suspiciously!!’
Claire noticed it too! So I’m not over thinking things! They sold me a lemon!
If you’re holding a fully mechanical piece of modern precision machine and something is rubbing against something, you better be worried.
So I decided ok I’ll just send it in for servicing. I went through the warranty information and they all pointed back to the sneaky retail shop. So I called them and went down. When i was there, they told me I have to wait for a long time for the servicing to be done, because they will be ‘doing me a favour’ by sending the lens for me. And it’s going to take a long time most probably because they are going to take-their-own-sweet-time-and-see-their-mood-of-the-day-whether-they-happy-to-send-it-themselves-instead-of-lazing-around-in-an-empty-store.
So going directly to the service centre will be much faster. I needed this lens for a trip soon, so I told them I’ll go to the service centre myself (instead of depending on your sneaky arses. Thus, I went to Zeiss Singapore, where they checked my lens and told me they will do a 1 to 1 exchange for me. I was glad.
Only there was a problem.
…with Warranty Claims
He told me my lens wasn’t on the local database. They then asked me where did I buy it. Well I bought in a local retail shop and it wasn’t made known to me that it was an imported set. I just assumed it was a genuine local set. The Zeiss guy told me to go back to the retailer and ask for a 1 to 1 exchange, because as much as he wanted to help, he can’t do anything for a grey set. Now are you guys starting to see the light? That the retailer sold me something they couldn’t sell off because it’s either faulty or came from an unknown place?
Playing Catch all over Singapore
So I went down to the retailer, fueled with anger. But while on my way there, they were some distractions that lowered my angry meter. So by the time I went into the shop I’m just simmering slightly. I told them my issue that I can’t get warranty because I was told this is not a local set. In other words ‘I got conned, by you guys.’. I guess they understood the severity of the issue because they were really nice when they talk to me, because I’m determined to ruin them… Via social media… 😛
Then! In another turn of events, they told me I went to the wrong place for servicing. I should have gone to the local distributor. I’m stumped. You mean Zeiss Singapore isn’t for Singapore?? Well as it turns out, Zeiss Singapore deals with Asia-Pacific region, there’s an official local distributor under for Zeiss lenses here instead. So I called the Zeiss guy up, he told me well yes that’s true. But he said he is going to the distributor to talk about the issue about my lens, so I assumed my lens is a stateless fugitive sold as a local set or somebody forgot to include it into the database. He ask me to go to the distributor and argue my case.
Ok, yet another detour.
Thus, again, i travelled all the way to the local distributor’s place. He told me every service request has to be sent to Germany because Zeiss doesn’t have any service centre in Singapore. Means it will take damn long to come back. All the more I need the 1 to 1 exchange.
He assured me that he will call the relevant parties and get me the exchange. Damn right you should, because my set is barely a month old and the grinding noise is not natural. And because all these is grinding on my patience, I am very patient mind you, when I’m losing it means shit is getting serious.
So in conclusion, I could have avoided this saga if I didn’t take the deal. But it will be stupid of me not to, right? So I guess if you wanted to take such a deal, made sure you did all your homework researching on known issues before you go down. And test the lens extensively if they let you. I should have seriously tested it before showing them the money.
Overall, I’m still happy with Zeiss, they actually tried to help me even when I was supposed to go to the local distributor instead. Zeiss rendered excellent service for me by going the extra mile to help me, if not for the lens’ missing ID, my journey would’ve ended at Zeiss Singapore instead of this back and forth, to and fro, up down left right detours after detour kind of roller coaster ride. It’s more like my heart is riding the roller coaster I guess, since I only made like about 5-6 trips going between home and these places. Sense my sarcasm?
Further thoughts and the Waiting Game
I hope to have some collaborations with Zeiss, though I know I’m a nobody… Well, everyone is allowed to dream right! It will probably be a dream coming true, with new Zeiss lenses to test and play with. Bloody awesome!
Anyways now it’s back to the waiting game. The distributor told me he will get back to me soon. I have every intention to call him daily, just to show how urgent I needed that lens.
Good news! Got a call from the distributor and I went down after work to collect a new lens! I’ve got the 1 to 1 exchange. I was told that the original lens has some ‘issues’ and to be fair to me, they did a 1 to 1 exchange so I can enjoy my purchase. I agree of course, I bought the lens to use it, not to carry it around trying to get servicing done on it.
Now that I got the new lens, I hope it’s happily ever after with it. In the case of my original lens’ status, no one is willing to tell me what’s wrong with it, where it came from and why it ended up like that. I don’t know who is to blame here but I guess it’s none of my business so I’ll leave it at that. My problem is resolved, that’s what matters to me.
Still have faith with Zeiss. So, yeah.
Moral of the Story: If you want something good; excellent from the day you receive it and avoid all troublesome situations like mine, pay for it. A cheap deal has its risks, so go for it only after you calculated the cons and think it’s still worth it.
Take care guys.