Thursday, June 7, 2012

Canon Professional Services

I've had to make use of Canon Factory Service several times in the five years since I got my first DSLR.  I discussed those experiences in a previous post.  I recently learned that (not surprisingly) Canon has a special program called Canon Professional Services that caters to professional shooters who use Canon gear.  It's a cool program, and anybody who makes money with their Canon camera equipment should seriously look into it.

At a minimum, CPS provides its members with exclusive 24x7 phone and email support contacts as well as expedited repair service.  The basic ("silver") level is free, and the aforementioned services are about all you get.  Oh, and I can't forget about the snazzy "CPS" lapel pin.  The gold and platinum levels (which have annual membership fees) receive faster and cheaper repair service as well as loaner equipment during the repair.  The paid levels are also eligible for evaluation loaner equipment, which allows you to try out an item for free before you buy it.  Pretty cool.

The program is open to any full-time imaging professional (which they don't verify) who owns a certain amount of Canon gear.  How much gear, you ask?  Each piece of Canon photo or video equipment is assigned a certain number of points.  My 7D body is worth 5 points, for example.  An inventory worth at least 10 points entitles you to membership in the silver (free) level.  Gold membership requires 20 points, and platinum membership requires 50 points.  Those totals aren't really a big obstacle.  You'd qualify for silver membership by owning only a 7D body, a 28-135mm lens, and a 430EX flash.  Just enter your product serial numbers on their web site when applying.

In my opinion, the expedited repair service alone is worth having a basic membership.  The lapel pin is just icing on the cake.  You can apply online by filling out the form on the CPS web site:

Once that's done, it'll take them the better part of a week to FedEx you your membership info, which consists of a lapel pin, your membership card, and some repair forms and stickers.  The stickers are to be placed on the shipping container when you send in your dead gear.  They indicate to Canon Factory Service that they need to light a fire under this package (figuratively, of course).  The repair forms indicate that you're authorizing any necessary repairs and providing a credit card number for payment.  Without this form, Canon will have to contact you to get repair authorization after receiving your equipment.  CPS eliminates that step.

Not realizing the above paragraph, I signed up for CPS the same evening that I packaged up my 7D to send it in to repair a faulty shutter.  Of course, by the time I got my packet of stickers, the repair was already complete and the 7D on its way home via FedEx 2-day air.  Canon's repair service has always been very speedy, even for me in my consumer days (as which my current 7D repair still qualifies).  I'm not sure how much better it will be with my CPS membership.  With any luck, I'll never find out (yeah, right).

One catch that annoyed me:  because the CPS packet includes an ID card for you, FedEx requires a signature when they deliver it.  If you're not present when FedEx comes, you'll have to go to their office to pick up your package during their business hours.  They want a signature for this packet of stickers, but B&H will leave a $2000 camera sitting by itself on my porch.  Go figure...

I hope that I never have to post a follow-up describing how well CPS worked for me, but if that does happen, I'll make such a post.

Not surprisingly, Nikon has a similar service called... wait for it... Nikon Professional Services.  There is no charge for NPS membership at any level, but they appear to be a bit more rigorous about only accepting full-time pros.

What's your experience with Canon or Nikon Professional Services been like?  Do tell in the comments below.

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