A little over a year ago I decided to buy a new digital camera. The Canon Digital Elph I’d been using was still giving me good stuff and the portability was (and is) fantastic, but I felt like I was missing some great shots because of its minimal optical zoom. I’d always had good luck with Canons both personally and professionally, but I was enticed by a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 and it’s shiny 12x optical zoom.

The Panasonic wasn’t as easy for me to use as the Canons, but that could be my familiarity with Canon rather than any particular deficiency with the Lumix. For about 6 months, I really enjoyed the shots from the new camera. It wasn’t as portable, but it was small enough that I took it most places and the 12x optical was every bit as cool as I’d hoped.

Unfortunately, the camera stopped working. I have no idea why, but one day it simply refused to turn on. I bought a new battery to see if it was a battery issue, but nope, it seemed like a camera issue. So I called Panasonic for service under their 1-year warranty. They gave me an RMA number and had me send in the Lumix.

The next communication I received from them was what appeared to be a form letter informing me that the camera had a dented lens and would not be covered under warranty. I could spend almost $200 to buy a refurbished model from them or they’d just send me back my nonfunctional unit.

I’m a computer consultant by trade, which is to say that I’m well-versed in the proper and careful handling of electronics. If this camera has a “dented lens” it got it as part of normal use, not because I tossed it in the back of my car. (Subsequent investigation of online reviews reveals I’m not alone in having this “dented lens” issue). I explained this to Panasonic in a letter, but to no avail. They returned my broken camera unfixed and washed their hands of the matter.

I realize there are legal options available in this sort of thing, but frankly it’s not worth my time. I’d sign up for a class action lawsuit in a heartbeat, but

What I will do is this:

  • Never again purchase Panasonic electronics of any kind—not an idle threat since I buy a lot of electronics;
  • Tell my story as far and as widely as the Internet allows, which I’m happy to say is fairly far and fairly wide.

All manufacturers will have the occasional lemon. It’s part of any mass production process, and I accept that. I’m not even terribly concerned that my camera happened to be one of those. What’s unconscionable, however, is for a company to not stand behind its products when they fail. That I won’t abide, and I recommend you don’t either.