Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Next Step for my Leica M9 - Returning from Leica Service USA

Back on December 13, 2014, I wrote about the newly-acknowledged sensor coating corrosion problems with the Leica M9. (Click Here) to read about Leica's announcement and "goodwill arrangement" to replace affected sensors.
I sent my M9 off soon after, and began inquiring about options. As of today, here's the situation:
  1. Leica USA Service has checked my camera, cleaned the sensor, and shipped it back, free of charge.
  2. Leica USA Service has indicated that my camera does not have the sensor issue. I'm surprised, but must assume that they're better equipped to diagnose it than I am.
  3. In Leica's announcement, they promise "an attractive offer" to upgrade. Despite trying as nicely yet persistently as I can, no information about my options for upgrading to a new model with different sensor has been forthcoming.
I was not, and still may not be in the market for the new Leica M240. I really like a lot of things about my M9, and for the way I use a digital rangefinder, see no need for a costly upgrade. However, this widespread sensor problem does worry me. If I could assume that Leica will continue this "goodwill arrangement" for several years, I would stop worrying about it, and simply keep shooting my M9. Perhaps that's what I'll do.
Or, maybe I'll step out of Leica's digital rangefinder world for a while, and sell the M9, straight back from service. At least I could sell it with full certification from Leica regarding its condition.
The truth is I've used this camera and enjoyed it very much. If it were not the most expensive camera I'd ever purchased, I would consider it money well-spent, and use it as long as I can. I've made a lot of pictures with it, and definitely enjoyed the process. I'll just have to wait until it returns, see if the rest of the goodwill arrangement (the upgrade offer) ever materializes, and decide.
I have mixed feelings about Leica's handling of this so far. I respect that they acknowledge the issue, and checked and cleaned my camera for free. I paid for the same service one year ago, just because it needed cleaned. However, it's pretty clear that Leica was not ready to actually make the attractive upgrade offer they promised in their announcement, and no one at Leica USA or the Leica Store have any information with which to make an offer. The company needs to get this part coordinated, quickly.
So, do I feel I've been treated fairly? Kind of. Do I feel that I've been treated as I would if I were a Mercedes-Benz owner with a known, acknowledged potential defect in my car? Absolutely not. Leica, at least to me, is a premium camera seller. I paid more for the features on this camera than I would with any other camera manufacturer, just as a Mercedes owner does with their car. Leica, you need to take a page out of the premium car manufacturer's book in terms of customer communication and retention.
My M9 story's not over yet, but even I don't know exactly where it's going.