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How Best Buy Weaseles Out A Contract
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PookJP
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Jan 31, 2006, 01:51 AM
 
I purchased a Canon SD550 ($550) and a 4 year protection plan ($80) in September of 2005. The other day I found it refused to focus. No problem, I thought, this is why I bought the protection plan. The Best Buy technician inspected it, confirmed the damage was all covered, and began taking my information. Name, mailing address, serial number...

He paused on the serial number. While in my pocket, 4 of the 9 numbers had rubbed off, leaving only the first five legible. I had no idea just how big a deal this was to become.

"I'm going to have to get a manager for this." In my naiveté I believed that having a receipt, protection plan, and confirmation the malfunction was covered was enough. How wrong I was. I learned the following:

- Best Buy will not deal with any product whose serial number has been compromised in any way

- Best Buy does not scan serial numbers of products into the store so they can be linked to a specific receipt, credit card, or individual.

I did the only reasonable thing I could think of at that moment: I went above the manager. I called Best Buy's corporate office, plead my case, and was given the same answer. I talked to that woman's supervisor, who told me he had no reason to believe I hadn't stolen that camera, and then hung up on me.

That left me standing in Best Buy holding a $500 camera with damages covered under my $80 protection plan that was a complete write-off because Canon decided to print the serial number on their pocket camera in an ink that rubbed off in my pocket within 4 months. Nobody would take responsibility for the systematic breakdown, so it became my $500 problem (they generously offered to refund my protection plan).

Unbelievable. Customer service, doing the right thing, ethical business... these are practices being swallowed with each small mom and pop store a big chain devours. They could have given me a new camera as they knew they should have, but why would they? I have no power, they don't need my business, and the people I tell about my experience won't make any difference to their bottom line.
( Last edited by PookJP; Jan 31, 2006 at 02:09 AM. )
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Mr Kino
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Jan 31, 2006, 01:57 AM
 
make the best of it. next year, take it apart carefully unplug something and take it back. They usually replace it with a newer model. they rarely send it in for repair. That is how i upgraded my ipod the first time. i took it in and told them the battery was not holding a charge. I think i went from a generation 3 to a generation 4.

that is how mr kino sticks it to best buy.
     
Rolling Bones
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Jan 31, 2006, 02:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by PookJP
Whoops... accidentally hit "return" and posted this before it was complete.
Use the "EDIT" button.
     
PookJP  (op)
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Jan 31, 2006, 02:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Rolling Bones
Use the "EDIT" button.

I am! Hold up!
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PookJP  (op)
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Jan 31, 2006, 02:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by Rolling Bones
Use the "EDIT" button.
You just HAD to post that before I finished my edit, didn't ya! Now reread and express outrage!
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euchomai
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Jan 31, 2006, 02:18 AM
 
That is unbelievable, I'd try to go up the ladder again. That is just crazy, sorry to hear about that! What are you planning next?
...
     
Rolling Bones
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Jan 31, 2006, 02:25 AM
 
Every once in a while go into the store and defecate (to void feces from the bowels) in one of the aisles.

It must be somewhere else than just on the camera?
     
Tee
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Jan 31, 2006, 02:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by PookJP
I purchased a Canon SD550 ($550) and a 4 year protection plan ($80) in September of 2005. The other day I found it refused to focus. .

Isn't it still covered by the Canon 1 year warranty?
     
PookJP  (op)
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Jan 31, 2006, 04:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by Tee
Isn't it still covered by the Canon 1 year warranty?
Naturally! But what's this? Canon will not service any product whose warranty has been removed or compromised. Isn't that just gloriously convenient for them?
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Salty
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Jan 31, 2006, 05:20 AM
 
Go back and scream at them loudly on the sales floor they can help you, they should have scanned the serial number in, or they might not have even done that. But either way they're responsible. If you purchased the service plan best buy is obligated to help you. After having worked for them, they are able to help you trust me.
     
11011001
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Jan 31, 2006, 05:39 AM
 
Is there any way to perhaps check the serial number from the Cameras own interface? Or what about when it's connected via some camera software?

What about in the images, if you take one of your images taken from the camera, and unedited, open it in Preview, and select Tools->Get Info. Under details their might be a field that has this information. Unfortunately picture serial number is not related to the Camera serial number.

Good luck.
     
Tee
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Jan 31, 2006, 05:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by PookJP
Naturally! But what's this? Canon will not service any product whose warranty has been removed or compromised. Isn't that just gloriously convenient for them?
So, in addition to Best Buy - Canon has also said that they won't honor the standard 1 year warranty because the serial number is smudged??
     
His Dudeness
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Jan 31, 2006, 05:43 AM
 
Contact the State Attorney General's office.
     
meelk
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Jan 31, 2006, 07:34 AM
 
this is why every time the opportunity comes up to screw best buy, Im there.
     
production_coordinator
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Jan 31, 2006, 08:39 AM
 
IMHO, I would simply go to the next best buy down the road. Or even go to your best buy at a different time (when someone else is working).

Also, Best Buy has items that are DEVO which means that they do not repair them, they replace them. Lie and say you once worked for Best Buy and want to know if the camera is a DEVO item, if it isn't, never buy the warranty. If it is, IMHO, the warranty is good (on select items like cameras, video equipment, etc.)
     
Gankdawg
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Jan 31, 2006, 09:14 AM
 
Once again, www.bestbuysux.org.
     
Dork.
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Jan 31, 2006, 09:47 AM
 
What Best Buy is doing is lame, but at least they refunded your protection plan money. That's probably the only concession you can get out of them. What Canon is doing sounds very fishy. I would pursue that avenue further if I were you.
     
Dakar
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Jan 31, 2006, 10:04 AM
 
Doesn't them refunding the protection plan money basically say, "We know you bought this plan with us for that product, but since we found a loophole not to honor it, we'll toss you a bone and refund your $80" ?
     
Y3a
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Jan 31, 2006, 10:28 AM
 
What does Canon say about how you were treated? You got any consumer radio programs in your area? Whine there and say Best Buy must be selling STOLEN or FAKE canon cameras or they would have taken care of the problem.
     
Kevin Moon
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Jan 31, 2006, 10:34 AM
 
File a complaint with the better business bureau as they seem to get quick action from companies. http://www.bbb.org/
     
m a d r a
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Jan 31, 2006, 10:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by 11011001
Is there any way to perhaps check the serial number from the Cameras own interface? Or what about when it's connected via some camera software?.....
disnae work, i'm afraid. i just ran a canon digital image of my own through EXIF viewer and it seems that only the camera model and firmware version are saved.

i'd say your best bet would be to dig out the old packaging if you've still got it. most electrical gadgetry has the serial number printed on the packaging and guarantee card inside.

Originally Posted by PookJP
...I have no power, they don't need my business, and the people I tell about my experience won't make any difference to their bottom line....
maybe not as an individual - but if you start posting your experience around as many forums as you can find, you might influence a couple of thousand other individuals to take their custom elsewhere, as well. no company - no matter how arrogant - can ignore that kind of trickle-down eating away at profits.
     
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Jan 31, 2006, 10:55 AM
 
Go into the best buy, and get pissed off at the service desk. When the manager comes out, be calm, explain your situation again. He'll refuse. Explain it again. He'll refuse. Explain it again. He'll refuse. Now start raising your voice and making a scene. He'll still refuse. Now start yelling.

He'll accept. I promise. I had to deal with some of Best Buy's shenanigans a few years ago. It took about an hour and a half, but I got what I wanted.
     
andi*pandi
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Jan 31, 2006, 11:00 AM
 
they are bastards. I would not leave the store until I got a replacement--or a refund. You have a receipt, and the ^&*( extended warrantee, and they're treating you like a criminal. What, like you went and found a broken camera the same model as one you bought, just to return?

bastards.
     
Dork.
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Jan 31, 2006, 11:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dakar
Doesn't them refunding the protection plan money basically say, "We know you bought this plan with us for that product, but since we found a loophole not to honor it, we'll toss you a bone and refund your $80" ?
Well, it's more like "Gee, we didn't realize that this protection plan we sold you would be worthless because we can't verify the serial number. Here's your money back." I agree it's lame, but it's better than I expected.

Canon is a different issue altogether. They are the ones responsible for printing the serial number on the unit in the first place. And if they advertise a warranty on a product, it should be honored as long as the customer can prove that the unit is within the warranty period (which he can). Personally, I think he'll get better results going up the chain at Canon rather than Best Buy.

Regarding posting about your experience on the Internet: make absolutely sure that everything you post is 100% truth! It would suck to get sued.
     
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Jan 31, 2006, 11:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi
they are bastards. I would not leave the store until I got a replacement--or a refund. You have a receipt, and the ^&*( extended warrantee, and they're treating you like a criminal. What, like you went and found a broken camera the same model as one you bought, just to return?

bastards.

Indeed. Just start getting pissed off. They'll change their tune to avoid making a scene and having customers hear you yelling your story across the room.
     
turtle777
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Jan 31, 2006, 11:55 AM
 
I agree, it seems like BB is just trying to weasel out.

Go in, start friendly and then subsequently raise your voice, building up to making a scene. They'll give in at some point.
     
olePigeon
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Jan 31, 2006, 12:38 PM
 
Here's what you can do:

Call Canon's corporate office. Explain to them what happened to the serial number. I think that would fall under a product defect especially if it'll prevent you from getting the camera serviced under warranty.

That's not "usual ware and tare." The SN shouldn't rub off just from being in your pants pocket, especially if it's a pocket camera.


Even then, perhaps there's another way of getting a SN off the camera. Maybe it's on the inside of the case somewhere, or perhaps, there's a digital signature that can identify the camera. Those are things you may only be able to find out by calling Canon.

In any event, call Canon.
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Salty
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Jan 31, 2006, 03:39 PM
 
If you are in the dept making a fuss, start talking to other customers and yelling, "What you're telling me this service plan is F***ing worthless!?' Keep in mind BestBuy makes most of their cash off those bloody plans (which are sometimes and sometimes not worth the money). They do not like the idea of someone in home theatre hearing that the service plan they were about to buy on their 5000 dollar TV will be worthless. They will help you.
     
ThinkInsane
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Jan 31, 2006, 03:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by m a d r a
maybe not as an individual - but if you start posting your experience around as many forums as you can find, you might influence a couple of thousand other individuals to take their custom elsewhere, as well. no company - no matter how arrogant - can ignore that kind of trickle-down eating away at profits.
Do that and get it linked on a site like digg.com, where the vigilante masses will launch a cyber-jihad against the offending company. Look how well that tactic worked against pricerightphoto. Everyone loves vigilante justice. Everyone.
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itistoday
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Jan 31, 2006, 04:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by ThinkInsane
Do that and get it linked on a site like digg.com, where the vigilante masses will launch a cyber-jihad against the offending company. Look how well that tactic worked against pricerightphoto. Everyone loves vigilante justice. Everyone.
What happened with pricerightphoto?

Edit: never mind
     
PookJP  (op)
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Jan 31, 2006, 07:13 PM
 
First to answer a few questions:

1. Yes, I have the original packaging with the serial number on it, but they said they have no way of knowing if the camera I brought in is the same one that came from the box. Since Best Buy chooses to not record serial numbers when they scan items out, there's no way of linking this box with my credit card, receipt, or identity. All they know is I bought a Canon SD550, but they don't know if I stole this particular one.

2. I also have a Canon service repair receipt that has my serial number on it. I had a small problem that Canon fixed under warranty a month into ownership. However, like the box, they said the existence of a serial number on a receipt does not prove I legitimately bought this unit.

3. I yelled, and I yelled properly. For the first time in my life, I made a true scene in a store. It got me more managers, a higher person a BB Corporate, and the offered refund on the protection plan.

4. Canon's warranty paperwork explicitly states that if the serial number is in any way made illegible, coverage is voided. I got pretty high up the customer service ladder there, and all I could get from them was an apology for not printing a better serial number. My threats to take it to the BBB and such were met with indifference, as were my accusations of deliberate incompetence and loophole rigging. After all, they have the agreement on their side; even a court would find in their favor because I was technically warned of this issue before usage. Never mind the fact that'd be like a car warranty's being voided for getting dust on the paint.


However, tentative progress has been made. I got Best Buy to agree to ship the item to Precision, their repair service company. They told me it most likely won't be serviced because of the serial number issue, but I figured I'd at least go down that route to see what happens. I managed to steal Precision's direct line from a BB call sheet, so I'll call and deliver instructions to service the item.
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turtle777
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Jan 31, 2006, 07:22 PM
 
Well, there is one more way. Not really legal, but here it comes.
Only works if your camera is looking new, besides, of course, the serial# problem.

Buy the same camera new from a different BB. Take it home, swap out the camera and make the whole package look like never even opened. Take it back and say you want to return it. They will look inside the box, but if everything looks neat and clean, they won't even bother to check the serial. They'll take it back, et voila, you got yourself a brand new SD550
     
Dork.
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Jan 31, 2006, 07:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by PookJP
4. Canon's warranty paperwork explicitly states that if the serial number is in any way made illegible, coverage is voided. I got pretty high up the customer service ladder there, and all I could get from them was an apology for not printing a better serial number. My threats to take it to the BBB and such were met with indifference, as were my accusations of deliberate incompetence and loophole rigging. After all, they have the agreement on their side; even a court would find in their favor because I was technically warned of this issue before usage. Never mind the fact that'd be like a car warranty's being voided for getting dust on the paint.
It would be more like if your insurance company refused to pay out after an accident because the VIN number on the dash was made illegible in the crash; luckily, it's printed in more than one place on your car.

Canon's attitude, incidentally, is pure BS. That clause on their warranty is obviously meant for people who try to alter or remove the serial number for fradulent puropses, and it is easy to tell the difference between that and a serial number that is faded due to wear. And I'm shocked that the number isn't in another place, like the battery compartment or even in a ROM. As for the warranty agreement, just because there are a bunch of BS terms in the agreement doesn't mean that they're all enforceable. There are consumer protection laws that trump this agreement (although I'm no lawyer, I just spew verbal diarrhea like one. )

(FWIW, I had to send a Palm V back to Palm at one point years ago for a warranty repair. The serial number was faded beyond recognition, but of course it could be read via software, and when Palm sent the unit back they has put a sticker with the serial number on it.)

Even if you're sucessful at getting it fixed (and to you for your mad Social Engineering skillz), you still ought to write a letter to the BBB and the state AG, and send a copy to Canon USA corporate relations, detailing your story. It's just bogus, and they ought to know.
     
rparke1
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Jan 31, 2006, 07:36 PM
 
the yelling thing works. i bought a dvd at best buy (high fidelity) and i bring it home, open the protection sticker things, open the box, no dvd is inside. i go back to best buy and wait in the return line for a good 30 mins, so i get to the person and asked if they usually sell dvds without the dvds and i told her i opened it and no dvd was inside and she was like, how do i know you didnt just take it out and wanting another? i looked at her kind of annoyed and said that i would like to return the box i bought (showed her the receipt) and get an actual dvd. again the girl said the same thing, so i asked for the manager and after asking a couple of times, she called up for the next person and started with the guys return. i went nuts, no swearing or anything, anyways a manager and some other employee came up to me and asked what was going on, i tell them what happened, the manager looks at the girl who was "helping me" and barked at her to go get a replacement dvd for me and to take the rest of the day off, and he also let me get a free dvd along with the replacement (twister) :-)
     
euchomai
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Jan 31, 2006, 07:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by what_the_heck
Well, there is one more way. Not really legal, but here it comes.
Only works if your camera is looking new, besides, of course, the serial# problem.

Buy the same camera new from a different BB. Take it home, swap out the camera and make the whole package look like never even opened. Take it back and say you want to return it. They will look inside the box, but if everything looks neat and clean, they won't even bother to check the serial. They'll take it back, et voila, you got yourself a brand new SD550
Sad to say, he is right. Chances of them opening the box and really looking that closely are 50/50. Now, at Walmart your odds of them just tossing the box into a heap on the floor are pretty high. I don't know if WM sells your camera there, but if they do, just go there and trade it in for a newer one. The one near me will just swap it out easily if they have one in stock, even without a receipt. They just won't give you cash back with no receipt.
...
     
turtle777
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Jan 31, 2006, 07:45 PM
 
Thing is, a defective camera, no matter of where returned to, will go back to Canon. Walmart, BB, CC, they will get the credit from Canon. Since ultimately, Canon is f****** you, I'd have no shame...
     
TheUnmember
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Jan 31, 2006, 08:14 PM
 
Seriously. Just start making a scene. They'll change their tune rather quickly.
     
ghporter
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Jan 31, 2006, 09:24 PM
 
Interesting how a valid loss-prevention technique becomes a "rip off" when you don't like how it works.

Further, the extended service plans I've bought with Best Buy have all said "don't take the product to the store, call this toll free number." They send you a paid mailing label, and you box up the product and send it in. When they see that it is indeed faulty, they issue a voucher for the full purchase price including tax. You can use this voucher for anything in the store. Do you still have the service plan reciept? You may be able to call the number in the service plan folder (1-888-539-6883) and still get your camera replaced.

And I agree that if you'd put the thing in its box before you took it into the store you probably wouldn't have had any trouble at all.

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Salty
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Jan 31, 2006, 09:33 PM
 
As I said, go in and flip out. If you're bad at flipping out, hopefully you're married to someone who is good at flipping out. If you're not then find someone who is good at flipping out, and pretend that you're married to them. Go back, and have them flip out at Best Buy. Flipping out is the best way to get customer service when the managers try and screw you over.
     
PookJP  (op)
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Feb 1, 2006, 03:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter
Interesting how a valid loss-prevention technique becomes a "rip off" when you don't like how it works.

Further, the extended service plans I've bought with Best Buy have all said "don't take the product to the store, call this toll free number." They send you a paid mailing label, and you box up the product and send it in. When they see that it is indeed faulty, they issue a voucher for the full purchase price including tax. You can use this voucher for anything in the store. Do you still have the service plan reciept? You may be able to call the number in the service plan folder (1-888-539-6883) and still get your camera replaced.

And I agree that if you'd put the thing in its box before you took it into the store you probably wouldn't have had any trouble at all.
The store manager proudly showed me a Sony with the same problem that had been shipped off 3 times, once with the GM's signed certification, and the unit was sent back. The trouble is that if the number isn't on the unit, they refuse to work on it. My having the box, sending the box, having the serial number, and including the serial number with the unit become irrelevant.

"valid loss-prevention technique" -- yeah, but not how you mean it. They prevent loss by dodging their service obligations.

For the rest, I'll update at the next step.
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meelk
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Feb 1, 2006, 03:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter
Interesting how a valid loss-prevention technique becomes a "rip off" when you don't like how it works.

Further, the extended service plans I've bought with Best Buy have all said "don't take the product to the store, call this toll free number." They send you a paid mailing label, and you box up the product and send it in. When they see that it is indeed faulty, they issue a voucher for the full purchase price including tax. You can use this voucher for anything in the store. Do you still have the service plan reciept? You may be able to call the number in the service plan folder (1-888-539-6883) and still get your camera replaced.

And I agree that if you'd put the thing in its box before you took it into the store you probably wouldn't have had any trouble at all.
it might be a valid loss prevention technique, but in this case both best buy and canon are in the wrong. I'm sitting here looking at my Canon S50, and the serial is indeed on the bottom of the camera right where it would easily rub off. I can imagine that taking the camera with you routinely would cause this.
I'm willing to call Canon and reference the original posters problem along with his name/address/telephone number if he would care to message me that information. It would be something along the lines of "well, this guy is having this problem, he has all this other information pointing to the obvious fact that he isnt lying, and as someone who has a Canon scanner, and Canon camera myself, I'd really like you to help him."
I bet if enough of us call on the same day or speak to the same person we can make something happen, if not, I wasted a few minutes on hold. No biggie.
     
ThinkInsane
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Feb 1, 2006, 03:27 AM
 
Well, if that's the case, and granted, I've got a half a blottle of Red Breast in me, so this advise must be taken with a grain of salt, but at this point, I don;'t think you have any option but to go back to that store, barricade all the exits, and burn it down. Remeber, grain of salt and all that...
Nemo me impune lacesset
     
Tardbus
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Feb 1, 2006, 11:48 AM
 
Seriously. Go start yelling. They'll help you out just to shut you up.
     
Eug Wanker
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Feb 1, 2006, 12:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by m a d r a
disnae work, i'm afraid. i just ran a canon digital image of my own through EXIF viewer and it seems that only the camera model and firmware version are saved.
Which camera?

The serial number is included in the EXIF data in pix from my Canon 20D. You don't need that EXIF viewer though. You can just use Preview.
     
jonn804
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Feb 2, 2006, 09:45 PM
 
Or call the police and have you arrested.

Originally Posted by Tardbus
Seriously. Go start yelling. They'll help you out just to shut you up.
     
m a d r a
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Feb 2, 2006, 10:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug Wanker
Which camera?

The serial number is included in the EXIF data in pix from my Canon 20D. You don't need that EXIF viewer though. You can just use Preview.
ixus
     
   
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