-- Important! Please enter your experience with the Canon E18 error into the database. thanks!

I stumbled upon this story in the comments of a blog. It was from "Tom McDonald". However, I have no way to get ahold of the author and don't know anything about the story's validity, it seems too long and detailed to make up. Tom, if you don't want this posted here, please let me know. skot at bitnet dot cx.

2005/05/21 - I was filming my child using my Canon Powershot s500 Digital Elf and walking down stairs. I was also holding my youngest child in my other arm. When I neared the bottom step I fumbled my camera and it fell about 3 feet to the carpeted stair, tumbled down the remaining 3 stairs and then skidded across the carpet and skidded to the wall opposite the stairs.

I picked up the camera and it was still filming, but everything was out of focus. I was relieved that it was still filming as I thought this meant it was still working. I reviewed the accident in my mind and thought it wasn't that bad and that a Canon camera should be able to handle the shock of a 3 foot fall to a well padded carpet and 3 other minor shocks from the smaller tumbles and skids it took after the main shock. I figured it would be sturdy like my cell phone which I've dropped many times with no ill effects.

Unfortunately, the lens was extended during all these shocks and as you will see later in this blog that was very relevant. In any case, I thought if I toggled my camera on and off I would get my focus back.

However, I got the mysterious E18 error when turning on my Canon Powershot camera. Thereafter it would do nothing but show E18 in the view screen.

I searched the web and found reams of pages from other Canon customers who have had the same problem. Essentially it is a problem with the moving parts of the lens housing and that it can be triggered by such silly things as touching the lens while it is in motion or turning off the camera while it is retracting or extending.

In this particular instance I felt that I deserved most if not all of the blame for dropping the camera. However, I was shocked by the sheer volume of customers experiencing this error and the whole cottage industry that had popped up on the Web to help people fix the error who were out of warranty.

Most of the people who had the problem explained, to my horror, that it happens repeatedly, especially after the first time and that Canon will take about 2 weeks to fix it (if you are lucky enough to be in the 1-year warranty period) during which time you will be cameraless. Canon will provide no refunds or exchanges and will not fix it after the warranty period.

I decided that now would be a good time to end my Canon ownership experience before this happened out of my warranty period. In a way, I felt luck I had dropped the camera for if I hadn't dropped it during the warranty period I would have been SOL if you know what that means.

I was not going to put up with 2 weeks without a camera and a big bill (after the warranty period was up). I mean, yeah, it was my fault now, but in the future this could happen if I fat-finger the lens during extension or retraction. Give me a break! It apparently can happen for seemingly no reason at all according to some customers.

I resolved to get a complete refund from Canon for the E18 design flaw: $400 bucks!

2005/05/22 - I spoke to a Canon customer service rep who said that all he could do is offer to repair E18 errors and that they would not refund any money. I asked to speak to his supervisor as he clearly could not waiver from Canon's official policy on E18 errors.

2005/05/22 - I spoke a customer service supervisor who said the same thing as his employee. Since I didn't want to continue the same conversation I just left, I quickly asked to speak to his boss and was connected to 'James' 757-222-9002 x2226.

While I waited I listened to nearly subliminal messages from an attractive sounding lady. One of her lines was 'At Canon we are committed to giving our customers the best customer service possible.' Suddenly I realized that the word 'possible' gives them a lot of leeway.

2005/05/22- James told me his title was 'Corporate Customer Relations.' I said that sounded more like the name of a department and not an employee title, but he insisted that it was his title. We were off to a bad start.

James repeated the 'we will only fix it' line of the earlier reps when I asked for a complete refund due to the E18 error. I told him it was a design flaw and there is ample evidence online from dissatisfied customers. He seemed prepared for this argument and spouted a line something like 'you can find anything you like on the Web and we can't verify its accuracy.'

I had read on Bitnet that they would say this and I told him that one Canon E18 bitch site is getting approximately 60 unique visitors a day (http://www.bitnet.cx/canon.html). What they are saying about Canon and E18 may not be verifiable, but the fact that 60 unique visitors per day are hitting the site is verifiable by objective third parties who monitor web traffic'it means that 60 people searched on the terms 'Canon' and 'E18' and went to the site.

He seemed unprepared for this line of reasoning, but implicitly conceded me the point by saying that out of the 'millions' of units that Canon sells, 60 E18 errors a day doesn't seem like much.

My first thought was he was stretching things a bit with 'million' (maybe including other cameras, printers and electronics, but not just digital Powershot and Digital Elf cameras that experience this error). I thought I had made a good point (backed up by hard facts) and was unprepared for his lack of concern and outright belittling of the size of the problem.

It didn't occur to me then, but I did the math (60 * 365 days per year) and found that approximately 20,000 people per year are having the E18 problem. And that is just the people who search the web for it! The actual number is probably twice that. That doesn't seem insignificant to me. I'd be interested to find out what percentage this is of Canon Digital Powershot / Digital Elf total sales per year.

Anyway, back to our conversation, he then challenged me to search the web for other manufacturers' products and he said that no matter what product I searched on I would find there are many unsatisfied customer reviews on the web.

I asked him if it was Canon's official E18 policy to challenge their customers to do web searches to prove Canon's relative suckiness versus other manufactures. He quickly backed down from his challenge and said that it wasn't a challenge at all.

I asked him what it was (if not a challenge) and he stammered to define it as a rhetorical challenge and that he wasn't really telling me to do the search. I suppose he still wanted credit for his point about Canon being relatively less sucky even though neither he nor I were going to do the searching to prove it. Actually, it is an improvable argument and that is the beauty of it from Canon's point of view.

We left the web topic and he said that Canon cannot provide a refund to me because they never received any money from me, thus putting the onus on my retailer, ElectricSam.com.

He was correct in that I purchased the camera from ElectricSam.com and they had said that I couldn't receive a refund after 10 days (nor could I do an exchange). I was 6 months past my exchange date. ElectricSam.com sucks, just like Canon.

I told James that Canon did indirectly receive the money from me, but apparently this wasn't good enough for them. This rationalization reminds me of the old 'touched it last' childhood argument.

Did you ever try that on your bothers and sisters? 'You have to put the peanut butter away because you touched it last'. Canon was saying that since ElectricSam.com touched the camera last that ElectricSam.com was responsible for E18 errors. Never mind that fact that E18 is a Canon design flaw'ElectricSam.com touched it last so it was their problem.

I wish I had thought of the 'touched it last' retort above during the E18 phone call, but (like all killer responses) it occurred to me the next day. Oh well, through the power of the web perhaps some of you can use it on the spot.

Anyway, I was getting bored of our debate and I asked him to speak to his boss and he said he would have Elizabeth Wood, Corporate Customer Relations Supervisor, contact me. Her direct number is 757-579-7188 x9973.

On a parting note, I told him that things have changed and even though he was being paid to lie, i.e., 'it isn't a design flaw'; he might want to push back on management given the overwhelming and easily available evidence that it is a design flaw.

He thanked me for the condescending suggestion as I am sure he was trained to do.

2005/05/24 - Elizabeth Wood didn't call back within 24 hours so I called her. A representative said that 'she was in a meeting' and that she would contact me ASAP. I asked if it was Canon policy that all customer service calls be returned within 24 hours. He replied that this was true.

2005/05/25 - Elizabeth Wood called me and immediately defended Canon's policy not to provide refunds for the E18 error. She equated the error with a car's 'check engine' light.

I replied that their own maintenance manual says the error is due to faulty mechanisms for retracting and extending the lens and that is much more specific than a general error like 'check engine.' I guess Canon is trying to get me to believe it isn't a design flaw because it doesn't refer to one particular component, i.e., it could be a faulty power button, memory card or some other such problem. Unfortunately, Canon was a bit too specific in their troubleshooting manual.

She also said that if there were 40,000 people a year experiencing this problem as I suggest that it was not a big problem. I couldn't believe my ears when she said that and I quickly asked her to confirm what I had just heard. She then backtracked and told me that she hadn't said it.

Moreover, she went on to say that E18 isn't a 'problem' it is just a code that the camera flashes on its view screen. Apparently, they feel calling it a 'problem' or 'issue' is implicitly admitting a design flaw so they try with all their might to use the 'code' word instead. As we continued our discussion she slipped and referred to it as the 'E18 problem' by accident (again).

I asked to speak to her supervisor and she referred me to Brian Griggs, US Account Director, Cameras and Printers; 757-579-7100.

2005/05/25 - Mr. Griggs returned my call right away (to my great surprise). He said he has 'several avenues' for solving my problem and that his main concern was to keep me as a Canon customer (to my great surprise again).

As the conversation continued I realized that he really only had one avenue''send it in and we'll fix it'. I told him that I've read what happens when you go down that avenue and it isn't really an avenue - it's a dead end. As soon as the problem happens again (and I've read that it happens often) and I am outside of the warranty period then I will be stuck with a dead camera.

He tried the 'check engine=E18' analogy which was easy to shoot down (now that I had thought about it) as being a bad analogy: E18 is specific to the extension and retraction of the lens and that doesn't equate with 'check engine' because 'check engine' could be almost anything have to do with the engine.

I shared with him my math that estimated that 40,000 Canon users experience this problem a year. He said that they sell 'millions' of the cameras per year and hence 40,000 cameras with the E18 error isn't a major concern.

I did some math (on the spot) and said that 40,000 divided by 1,000,000 = 4 percent. I then asked him if Canon believes a 4% failure rate is acceptable. He said 'yes' it was acceptable which was surprising to me because a corporate chieftain shouldn't admit things like that (even if he believes it). I asked him if that was Canon's policy and he backed off the statement by changing the subject to getting the camera in for repair.

I pressed the point though and made my own analogy that if the airline industry accepted a 4% failure rate there would be a lot of dead travelers. He said that this isn't the airline industry and it was a bad analogy. I reminded him of the 'check engine' bad analogy he made earlier and he let out an exasperated sigh.

I asked for his boss and was told it was Raymond Moritz, President and CEO of Canon Information Technology Services Corp. 757-579-7100. (I found out later that Ray is just VP of Customer Support, sigh)

When asked why Canon tacked on 'Information Technology Services' to its name Brian told me that he was part of a subsidiary of Canon that handles customer service (not part of the parent organization). Apparently customer service isn't a 'core competency' of Canon (duh) and they've chosen to farm it out.

In preparation for my call with Raymond Moritz I calculated that he made approximately $100 an hour, assuming a salary of $200,000 per year. I think that is a safe salary to assume for a President and CEO of a major international company (even if it is a subsidiary). I fully expect Ray to waste his time (and Canon's money) arguing with me.

I called his office after hours and attempted to leave a voice mail for him using their automated 'dial-by-name' telephone system. It did find Mr. Moritz, but then the system suddenly bombed when it attempted to connect me and gave an error message saying something like 'illegal option'. Hmm, Canon's voice mail system doesn't work either'shocking!

2005/05/26 - I did some Googling and found 32,000 hits on the search term 'Canon 18'. I also found out that the E18 error refers specifically to the zoom lens being stuck and that it can be caused by any shock to the camera while the lens is extended, sand or dust in the opening or closing mechanism, turning on or off your camera with a low battery or for apparently no reason at all. CANON CHARGES $250 TO FIX THIS once it is out of warranty, so I consider myself lucky that this all happened inside the warranty period, but unlucky I bought the camera at all (I didn't really read the reviews it like I should have'dang!). If this happens outside of the warranty you'll have to fix it yourself or junk it'at $250 per fix it is junkable on E18.

I also found that this is being investigated and there is a possible class action law suit. 'Please call attorney Jim Smith at 1-877-667-9489. There is no cost to you. Thanks'

2005/05/26 - I left a message with the night answering service 'general message box' for Raymond. I doubt I'll hear from him, no biggie, I'll just call back tomorrow.

2005/05/26 - I got impatient and decided that I would call again today. This time since I called during working hours I got a live person who put me into Ray's voice mail without my experiencing the error.

2005/05/26 - Amazingly, Ray called me right back. He refers to himself as Ray so I did to although I had the almost irresistible urge to call him Mr. Moritz. I suppose I felt he had earned that title since he was a CEO. I was able to resist by reminding myself that this guy is standing between me and ending my E18 nightmare.

I asked Ray if he had spoken to Brian Griggs and he said he hadn't. He also said that was unfamiliar with the E18 error which, given the volume of Web complaints about the issue I took to mean he was completely out of touch with his business or he was lying. Either way we were off to a bad start.

I gave Ray all the information about E18: the meaning of E18 (the zoom lens is stuck), the 32,000 hits on Google, the E18 cottage Web industry and my estimate that it affects about 4% of all Canon cameras.

Ray took umbrage to the 4% number and said that Powershots have a much lower 'failure rate' than that. I asked him if he could provide me data to back up that claim and he said he would not. I explained that it was a bit hard for me to accept his statement without supporting evidence, after all, I had given supporting evidence for my 4% number, but Ray wouldn't provide any evidence.

I'm sure he doesn't consider E18 a 'failure' so it doesn't appear in his 'failure' rate. Isn't it wonderful how you can get rid of a problem by just changing the meaning of a word! Too bad for Canon that Webster invented the dictionary.

In any case, I said I wanted a refund and he gave me the 'touched it last' argument which, having heard several times before, I complete shot down as childish and then I told him I expected better from a CEO which I'm sure he didn't want to hear, but it needed to be said. I was getting so frustrated with Canon, it seems like the 'touched it last' argument must be part of their customer service training manual.

Then Ray said that he wasn't going to debate me. He was entirely correct in saying this, he just wanted to make broad unsupported assertions, never mind rational debate, and he didn't give a hoot what I had to say.

Ray went babbling on about quality awards that Canon had won. Which I don't doubt, after all I had bought the camera purely on Canon's brand name alone. I conceded to Ray that Canon did have a quality reputation, but, had I done my research when buying the Powershot S50 camera, I would have found the E18 problem highlighted in the reviews and the warnings by prior customers to stay away from the camera. The E18 warnings were on every review site I visited. 'Why didn't I do my research before buying the camera,' I lamented to myself.

Anyway, Ray said that he would 'honor the warranty' a phrase which he repeated about 3 times thereafter in a self-aggrandizing tone that said 'I honor my agreements and you, Joe Customer, are NOT honoring your agreements.' For, if I were, I wouldn't be asking for something that was never promised in the warranty'like a refund! Well, as I once heard on SNL, 'Excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me!' for being so dishonorable as to asking for my money back when I am dissatisfied.

The warranty isn't a customer service document'it is a legal document written to provide Canon cover from customer complaints. Is that where good companies go, i.e., do good companies go running to the courthouse for refuge from customer complaints? No! Obviously no! However, that is where Canon is in regard to E18.

I asked for Ray's boss and he gave me the name of someone in the parent company (finally): Yukiaki Hashimoto, Senior Vice President of Canon USA, in Lake Success, NY (my home state). Lake Success is such a wonderful name and I'm sure such a wonderful place although I've never been there. I think it is near the Catskills downstate. It is too bad that Canon is besmirching the town's reputation by hiding out in the Lake Success Courthouse.

I called 516-328-5000 and left a message for 'Hashimoto san'. I was proud of myself for having had a business trip to Japan where I learned about Japanese things like adding 'san' to the end of someone's name to signify respect.

From what I remember the Japanese are very sensitive to accusations undermining their honor. I think that's where I'll start. I'll say that Canon following the warranty to the letter might be legal, but it is dishonorable. That would have pissed off Ray, but the Japanese are well known for not losing their cool, it's a cultural thing. A cultural thing that I feel is holding their culture back from great creative achievements, but that is another topic for another day.

In any case, I seem to be getting better with each call: Having heard all the Canon B.S. I'm more prepared for next truckload that they dump on me.

2005/05/27 - I called Canon back and got put on hold and interestingly the friendly announcer person read a brain-washing waiting message that said, 'At Canon, our goal is your total satisfaction.' They should add, 'in situations where we are legally bound to do so' to the end of that.

I left a message (again) with Hashimoto.

2005/06/09 - Hashimoto hadn't returned my messages so I asked his secretary, Marylyn, for Mr. Hashimoto's boss (I was weary of calling him Hashimoto san, especially since he wasn't returning my calls). After explaining that I should really be talking to someone in the service organization she gave me the number of Yoroku Adachi, CEO Canon USA (516) 328-5210.

Mr. Adachi hasn't been in the post very long according to the main receptionist at Canon (who had also given me Mr. Adachi's name). This is probably a good thing as he may not have had the Canon 'E18 indoctrination' class that Canon seems to give all its photographic employees.

I spoke to Mr. Adachi's secretary Dorothy and she immediately tried to direct me to Canon customer service, but I explained that I had already been there that Ray Moritz referred to Mr. Hashimoto and that Mr. Hashimoto hadn't returned my calls despite 2 weeks of time in which to do it.

Dorothy defended Mr. Hashimoto's shirking. She said that he had been on vacation for 'a long time.' I'm not sure how long 'a long time' is, but she said that he had been back since Tuesday. According to my calculations that was 72 hours in which he could have returned my call since his return (well beyond the 24 hours that Mr. Hashimoto asks of his employees in the service organization).

So, Mr. Hashimoto takes 'long' vacations and doesn't return calls. Sounds like management material to me Actually, I'm just kidding. Most of the people I know in management are hard workers and I'm a bit surprised Mr. Hashimoto didn't promptly return my call.

At the very least his secretary, Marylyn, should have returned my call. Two weeks is sufficient time to get to even the lowest priority. I think there is no doubt they are trying to avoid me.

Anyway, Dorothy said that someone would return my call, but not Mr. Adachi. I said that was fine, but stipulated that it not be anyone from Ray Moritz's organization as I had already spoken to all levels of management there. She said 'OK'.

2005/06/13 - I called Dorothy again (she goes by 'Dot') and she didn't remember who I was. I reminder her of my Canon E18 issue and told her that no one had called me despite her assurances that someone would.

She said that she Mr. Adachi referred the issue to Mr. Hashimoto and that Mr. Hashimoto should have called me. She said she would remind Mr. Hashimoto to call me.

2005/06/14 - Ray Moritz called me and left a message saying that he would help me, despite the fact that we already concluded that he couldn't help me in our earlier call. I think this is what they call the run-around. Can you say punitive damages? Anyway, I'll call him back to see if he has anything new to offer 516-328-5531.

2005/06/14 - I called Ray back and he did have something new to offer'a new excuse. He said that the Canon E18 error was 'caused in any number ways' and then enumerated the ways, e.g., dropping while the zoom lens is extended, powering on while still in the case, sand in the zoom lens housing, etc.

His point was that since the error is CAUSED in many different ways it means there is not a design flaw in the zoom lens, i.e., if the error had only one cause then it would be a design flaw. 'How absurd,' I thought. Then I came up with one of those arguments that you remember the next day and wished that you had thought of during the debate.

I said, suppose a car manufacturer puts a cheap set of tires on a car. The tires may pop 'in any number of ways,' (I just love beating people about the head and shoulders with their own words) but there is still a design flaw. If they had put a good set of tires on the car the tires wouldn't have popped and, likewise, if Canon put a better zoom lens on their cameras they wouldn't have so many E18 failures.

I then told Ray that he was insulting my intelligence with such arguments (and he really was). Ray is a nice guy or, at least, he seems that way, but he's a nice guy that's been given orders to be a bad guy.

Anyway, he offered to fix the camera, repeatedly, and I refused. Since we had already had that discussion before we ended the call. This one took about 20 minutes. Canon is really investing a lot of time to make sure that I don't get a refund. I think they can afford the time to argue with customers, but if they were to do a recall they can't afford that.

Perhaps Canon hadn't considered that legally they might be setting themselves up to pay even more for the aggravation they are causing their consumers. A jury might want to send a message to companies like Canon who, despite vast objective evidence of a design flaw, continue to deny, deny, deny.

In any case, I told Ray that I was going to call Mr. Adachi because his solution was unsatisfactory. Ray made the usual final pitch to fix the camera and I made the usual final request for a refund. No dice.

I called Dot and she explained that Mr. Adachi, 'does not talk to consumers' and that he delegates these problems to the people who work for him. I reminded Dot that I don't work for Canon and I am not bound by what Mr. Adachi wants me to do.

I offered a compromise, though I didn't feel I owed them anything, and said since Mr. Hashimoto and I hadn't spoken that I would agree to speak to him. Dot said she would give him the message that I called and she hung up. I could tell Dot was frustrated with me long before she hung up, but why should I care about her frustration if she doesn't care about mine?

2005/06/15 - Mr. Hashimoto called me, surprisingly, and left a message. I return his call and he apologized for not getting back to me a few weeks ago. I accepted the apology because his excuse about vacation seemed sincere when I heard it from him.

Unfortunately, things went badly from there. He started in with the 'any number of ways' defense which I quickly dispensed. Then I shamed him for taking up such an illogical defense. It really is shameful for people as accomplished and educated as Ray and Mr. Hashimoto to cling to such flimsy defenses.

He then started a new defense, this one trying to undermine the evidence available at Google. He said that most of the tens of thousands of 'Canon E18' hits that I get on Google are unrelated to Canon and E18. 'How could they be anything but related,' I thought and I asked him to give me one example of an unrelated hit.

He started going through the list of hits. He said he had found a German site that was unrelated and then went on to explain to me that the site tells how to fix Canon E18 errors at home. I couldn't believe my ears. I was talking to the second highest ranking man in Canon USA and he was telling me that a site that discussed how to fix Canon E18 errors at home was an irrelevant hit.

I pointed out that what he was saying defied common sense, but he was in a kind of fog grasping for arguments. He went down the list at Google and gave me the play-by-play of his surfing, but each site was related to 'Canon' and 'E18'. How could it be anything but related? Google would be out of business if the hits it gave were irrelevant to the search terms.

After two failed attempts to defend his position, Mr. Hashimoto fell back to the standard, 'we will fix it, but not refund it' Canon policy. I asked him who makes the policy for Canon in regard to this issue and then things got really weird.

He said he makes the policy. I said that if he makes Canon policy then he can change it and give me a refund. He replied that he DIDN'T make the policy and it was impossible for him to change the policy. I reminded him that he just told me that he DID make the policy. He then said that he DID make the policy for 'all of Canon USA.' I asked him which was it 'did' or 'didn't' and he stammered.

He seemed like he was trying to figure out on the spot whether it was more advantageous for him to say he 'did' versus 'did not' make policy. Unfortunately for him his mind was directly connected to his mouth.

He then changed the subject and repeated that they will fix it. I had had enough at that point and thanked Mr. Hashimoto for his time and informed him that I would call his boss Mr. Adachi because the 'fix it' solution was unsatisfactory to me.

This call took about 20 minutes too. This guy must make millions a year. Canon has already spent far in excess of my refund on wasted executive time talking to me. I think it is clear they are balancing the investment of executive time versus the cost of a recall.

They wish to avoid the latter at all costs. I think a large punitive judgment against Canon for this decision, if that was their decision, would discourage this sort of corporate behavior.

6/16/2005 - I got a voicemail from Dot Augustine, Mr. Adachi's AA, saying that Mr. Adachi and Mr. Hashimoto had instructed her that if I was to call again I was to be referred to their attorney Seymore Liebman. She said it in a 'you naughty boy' tone. Her tone made me think that, should call back, I will get charged with some sort of crime, as if Seymore was a police officer instead of an attorney serving Canon.

Well, I'm going to call anyway. I didn't waste all this time to stop now. Although I think Mr. Liebman will probably threaten me with something like harassment. I suppose asking for your money back is harassment in Mr. Adachi's eyes. I guess Mr. Adachi can charge all the people complaining online with harassment, but he'll have to register a lot of complaints.

6/17/2005 - I got a snail mail on Friday from Canon saying they received my camera, but, since there was no proof-of-purchase enclosed they would do nothing to the camera.

I called 1-800-OKCANON and spoke to a rep and told her that no one had told me to enclose a proof-of-purchase. She apologized for the oversight and said if I had access to a fax machine I could fax it in. I don't have a fax machine. I have access to one at work and told her I would fax it in on Monday. Arrgh. I guess it doesn't matter that it will have to wait until Monday because she said they don't work on the weekends.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it in this blog, but I asked Canon to send me a mailing label so I could send in my camera to get fixed. They sent it to me per the approval of, I think, Ray Moritz, but they normally don't send the labels and make you pay for shipping. I sent the camera in over a week ago.

The funny thing about all this is that none of the executives I've spoken to since I was sent the label know that my camera was already submitted to Canon's repair shop. Even Ray didn't know when I called him the second time. A customer rep sent me the label when I called 1-800-OKCANON. The rep sent it to me because Ray had preapproved it, but Ray never bothered to check if I had taken him up on the offer.

Hashimoto was comical. He kept asking me to send it in, but if he had checked my customer service record he would have seen that I had already sent it in. I like the fact that the execs are clueless because it seems to give me leverage in our negotiations, i.e., if they knew I sent the camera in then they might just say that my case is 'satisfactorily' closed even though what I really want is a refund.

Sending it in will also give me leverage if I find that they don't fix it as quickly as they claim. I sent the camera just over a week ago (maybe 10 days ago) and they haven't begun to work on it so I am beginning to doubt they turn these things around in two weeks as I was promised. I'll fax in the receipt today so they can't claim that I was holding up the process.

Meanwhile, I have no pictures from some big events! I've missed my son's first birthday, my other son's 4th birthday, my birthday, Father's Day and I'm going to miss the 4th of July and a week vacation with my family at their grandparent's cottage in the 1000 Islands. I have a few pictures from these events from our old camera, but that uses film and it is bulky and inconvenient to use. Obviously it doesn't video tape. How frustrating. This couldn't have happened at a worse time.

There is no urgency at Canon to get my problem fixed. I even asked if they would be willing to give me a different camera that didn't experience E18 problems, if they have such a camera, and they wouldn't do that. Meanwhile I'm losing out on memories that I'm sure I would have cherished. Arrrrgh! You don't realize how important a camera is until you don't have it.

2005/06/20 - I tried to fax the proof-of-purchase to 847-439-5628 with my repair number CI408486. All I had was my electronic invoice that ElectricSam.com emailed me. I'm sure, given all the difficulty Canon has given me to date, they will give me more grief because the invoice isn't on company letterhead or some such thing.

Unfortunately, my office fax requires a billing code so I can't use it to send a long-distance fax. Argggh! I'm sure Canon will blame this delay on me, as if every person should own a fax machine. I guess I'll have to snail mail it or find a public fax machine at Kinkos or something. Great, now I'll have to drive 20 miles to find a Kinkos. I think I'll just mail it and save the $10 I'm sure Kinkos will charge.

2005/06/20 - I called Seymore Liebman. All of this is on 'my nickle' by the way as I'm going over my allotted minutes for the month making calls to all these executive types. You'd think they'd offer me a 800 number.

Anyway, Mr. Liebman and I got off to a bad start as he needed to be educated on everything that had happened before. He was familiar with my conversation with Mr. Hashimoto, but that was about it.

Anyway, he was prepared enough to present what at first seemed like a new Canon line of reasoning. I'll call it the 'spread' argument. Mr. Liebman said that Canon couldn't provide me a refund because if they did so they would open themselves up to consumers who wanted to return their cameras to make money on 'the spread' between the wholesale and retail price.

He gave me an example that went something like this: Suppose someone buys a camera and later sees that same camera offered somewhere else for $100 dollars LESS. They could call up Canon and request a full refund and then purchase the other camera for the lower amount. Canon would lose money because they paid back the full retail price even though they only received the wholesale price when they sold it to the retailer. Thus Canon loses on 'the spread.'

I explained to him that that wasn't my situation, i.e., I am returning it for design defects that Canon is responsible for. However, he was prepared with a new line of reasoning I'll call the 'liars and cheats' argument.

He said Canon had no way of guaranteeing my or any customer's sincerity, i.e., they are all liars and cheats. He said Canon has had people call in requesting a refund of 'the difference' (in the example above 'the difference' would be $100) and when Canon tells them they don't offer differential refunds the customer sometimes calls back a few minutes later and says their camera is broke and they want a full refund.

I told him that I wasn't trying to cheat Canon and that he could verify it by looking at my camera and seeing the E18 error message. I said that his verification of my E18 claim wouldn't matter though as everyone I've talked to has said they won't offer a refund under any circumstances.

I then asked him if he was saying that in my case Canon might offer a refund upon verification of the E18 error. He confirmed that this was the NOT the case, i.e., no refund under any circumstances. I then chastised him for bring up the 'liars and cheats' argument because even if Canon proved I was telling the truth they won't offer me a refund.

At that point, what he probably wanted say that a customer could easily generate an E18 error to get a refund. After all, there are instructions online on how to produce an E18 error. Its easy, all you have to do is put your thumb on the lens when it is extending or retracting and wha-lah! Confirming this, however, would be an admission of design failure and he wasn't going to go there. I felt he might though, but he didn't.

Anyway, he offered to fix the camera (repeatedly) and I admitted to him that Canon had my camera (he didn't know that either). I told him to go ahead and talk to his maintenance people and they will confirm the E18 problem. He said he would, but by the tone of his voice I could tell it wouldn't matter a hill of beans in regard to a refund.

He said he would follow my case and get back in touch with me. I wasn't sure if he might be leaving the door open for a refund, but I'm sure he wanted me to think that. Doing so buys them some time to think up new arguments.

2005/06/22 - Someone in my department at work gave me a fax billing number. I sent an email to my client and offered to reimburse the company for the cost of the call, but my client isn't here to approve it. I sent it anyway, hopefully she'll be OK with that.

2005/07/05 - I returned from my vacation and found a note saying that FedEx had tried to deliver the camera. I called FedEx and they returned it to Canon. Argh!

I'm sure Canon would blame me for this as I wasn't home to receive the camera, but I told the lawyer, Liebman, I was going on vacation and I would like it before I left. Of course that didn't happen, but nobody called me when it couldn't be delivered even though they had my cell phone number.

In any event, I should get the camera by July 12 which will make it almost one month since I sent it to Canon. So, even after Liebman expedited my request I still had to wait another two weeks. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what Canon would say–its my fault.

Right, its my fault that Canon makes a lousy camera'try and blame that on me. I just have to live with the consequences'Canon bears responsibility for all the logistical problems. I just want a camera that works.

I'm not a shipping and receiving company! For God's sake, it took me days to find packaging that I could send the camera in so it wouldn't be broken. Do these guys think we consumers just have all this stuff laying around like they do. Do they think it is easy for us to get to UPS? Have they ever heard of a job and kids? I'm not even going to talk about the shipping charges which they make us pay.

10/15/05 - Arrgh, we dropped the camera again. I was handing it to my wife and the plastic ring on the strap caught my wedding ring. She thought she could just pick it out of my hand, but then it caught the ring and it pulled through her hands. It dropped 3 feet and then hit the ground. It made an ugly 'smack' noise when it hit the ground, kind of like the sound of someone doing a belly flop. Maybe that was how it landed'like a belly flop.

I was relieved because the lens was retracted and so I felt it should be OK. Anyway, my wife picked it up and started looking it over. She didn't see any new damage (we had been made well aware of each tiny scratch and dent as the anal techs from Canon sent us color photos with arrows highlighting each nick). I said, 'who cares about the scratches try to turn it on.' Of course as soon as she tried to turn it on 'nothing. Totally dead this time'not even e18.

I've dropped my cell phones dozens of times. They all still worked when I picked them up'and some of them have had cameras. Drop a Canon S550 and 'poof' end of story.

10/22/05- I called, 1-800-OK-Canon and spoke to a CSR (presumably Canons, but on second thought I think they farm out that function'I can't remember). 'Ian' told me to send it in. I said no way'send me a shipping label. He said that isn't the way Canon does it. I told him they did it the last time I returned the camera. I think he caught on when I said 'last time' that he shouldn't push it with me (or I would certainly get pissed) and he said he would call the factory on Monday to have them send me a label and I would get it in 5-7 business days.

10/29/05 - Called 1-800-OK-Canon and told them that I hadn't received the shipping label and the guy (who sounded like an out of work Mafioso) told me he had no record of a Tom McDonald at phone number 867-5309. 'Sigh, here we go again,' I thought.

Next we tried the serial number on the camera (it was blurred from greasy fingers touching it'no luck), then he asked for my warranty card number, which I probably have somewhere in my filing system, but it would take at least 10 minutes to go down to the basement and dig it out which I told him. I said it would be easier to give you the name of the guy I spoke to and the date I called. Then he said 'hold-on' and he proceeded to put me on hold for 10-15 MINUTES!

Finally he returned and he said he had no way of confirming that I called in the prior week as the only thing his database showed for my phone number was that I did buy a camera about a year ago. I couldn't believe that I've spoken to these people about twenty times now and they have no record of it. I guess, by now, nothing Canon does should surprise me. 'But,' Guido said, 'I spoke to my supervisor and he said to send you the shipping label'it should be there by Wednesday (11/2).' 'Thanks,' I said . . . 'for nothing,' I thought.

He asked me if there was anything else and I said, 'tell Ian I am upset with him' and 'would like to wrap a phone cord around his neck and hang him from the Brooklyn Bridge.' Of course I only thought the last part, but Ian is a jerk'the guy promised me, yes, he said 'I promise to call the 'factory' on Monday' to have them send me a shipping label. As I heard those words I knew almost instantly he wouldn't do anything.