Wednesday, June 17, 2015

GoPro Cameras DO Fail! My Warranty Story

Why no recent posts?  Other then life getting insane recently, my wife and I took our brand new shiny GoPro Hero 4 Black to Key Largo, FL on a diving trip to cut out teeth on it.  We wanted experience playing with it before traveling internationally with it, in case we discovered we needed some random accessory.  What started with the best of intentions lasted about 4 minutes and ended in panic.

We put the GoPro in the Dive Housing, attached the Flip 3.1 filter assembly to it, put it on a mount, and jumped in the water.  At about 5-10 ft, my wife showed me the camera: tiny bubbles were making their way into the housing all along the bottom of the case!!!  We quickly surfaced and passed the camera to the boat captain.  He opened it up and water came out.  It filled with sea water completely.  There wasn't one dry spot on (or inside) the camera.  We went back down and did our dive while the captain examined everything and took it all apart for us.

When we got back on board, we examined the damage:

  • Camera was wet, including inside the battery compartment
  • The SD card's gold pins were already partly corroded
  • The TouchBac had clear damage to it with water still in the LCD
It was like we just watched over $600 dissolve in the ocean.  Upset and aggravated is an understatement.  The captain said he'd never seen anything like it, and he sees a LOT of GoPro cameras every day.  There was nothing wrong with the way we sealed it, and he found no signs of something stuck in the gasket.  The determination was that this must have been a defect.

We got back to our hotel and I immediately called GoPro to open a case.  I explained everything that happened in detail.  The first person I talked to agreed it sounded like a defect and said since this is not typical there's a form I need to complete and send back for them to review my case.  They also added that the warranty doesn't usually cover flooded cameras since there is no way to determine if the housing was sealed properly.  I filled it out and quickly returned it (via email).

2 business days later I had my response: It was ruled a defective case and I should send back the camera, TouchBac, battery, and housing (basically everything that GoPro made).  I was on my own for for the microSD card.  I really didn't care too much about the microSD card; cost wise I'd be happy if they just replaced the camera.  There was some ambiguity about which parts to send back, so I called.  They wanted the camera, battery, and the exact dive housing parts that failed (standard front and the BacPac backdoor).  We wrapped it up and off it went.

I called a few days later and asked about a cross-ship of the replacement since we were leaving soon for our "real" trip and wanted to have a chance to test the new housing, since my confidence in it has been shaken.  They explained that they only do this in emergency situations (what an "emergency" is for a GoPro is beyond me...), but they'd make an exception and send it out.

About a week later I got the replacement equipment...almost.  They sent me an extra battery, but not the housing parts needed.  They sent me a a standard backdoor instead of the BacPac backdoor.  Since they gave me an extra battery I just went with it and ordered an entire new dive housing from Amazon.  This MAY have been my fault by asking that they cross-ship the replacement, before them seeing what I sent them to make sure they are replacing what they got.  I didn't care though.  They replaced the camera, and that's all that mattered.

Overall dealing with GoPro warranty support was OK.  I wouldn't say "great" because my experience was inconsistent.  Some people I talked to were nice and would do anything to help me out, while others made it seem like I was asking them to donate me one of their kidneys.

We've got the new housing and our local dive shop (SeaVentures) pressure tested it for me and it held to ~130ft without leaking.  So we're now getting the video compiled and edited, getting it ready to publish.  More reviews of the camera will be on the way as well, so stay tuned!

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