Being into a number of hobbies can be a curse sometimes. For most people, myself included, the likelihood of doing extremely well in one of them can be quite low. But right now, the biggest problem entailing them is the amount of money one can spend because of these hobbies.
It was particularly bad for me, I think. Thankfully, I easily gave up on cars well before the real spending started. It would’ve been too much for a teacher on government salary to support. For the most part, I’ve already given up on being a computer enthusiast. I wouldn’t even know what I’ll do when my Nvidia Geforce GTX460 video card finally dies on me. Unfortunately, that still left guitars and photography.
I’ll be writing about the latter.
I had a lens cleaned for the very first time back in 2010. My Nikon 18-200 was growing a lot of fungus from the inside. I had no idea where to have it serviced. Eventually, I stumbled upon the Pinoy Photography forums. Someone named Mang Ady was starting to make a name through word of mouth over there. I admit to feeling anxious about entrusting a P33,000 lens to someone I’ll be meeting for the first time somewhere in the TriNoMa food court. But I felt I had little choice, so I took a leap of faith. So, I made the trip, met Ady Balce, the man and talked a bit. I found him soft-spoken and amiable, and felt comfortable with the whole thing at the end of the day. I met him again a week after, with my lens handed to me impeccably clean. So, I happily paid for the very reasonable service fee and went my own way.
One year and several trips after, the same lens got dirty again. But by this time, I heard that Nikon finally had an authorized service center in Manila, care of Columbia Digital Service Center (CDSC). Now, I wouldn’t have really minded going back to Mang Ady, but I was curious about the new service center. Being in SM Megamall, it would be easier for me to go to, and I could go there anytime I want (Mang Ady only meets up at Trinoma on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons). And I wanted to see the results of authorized servicing first hand. It felt appropriate, anyway. I was excitedly anticipating my very first trip to Europe and was willing to pay for the best service. That perceived best service ended up costing me P3,500. The technician assured me that the cleaning will be done in two weeks and I should expect a call or SMS from them by then. That cost nearly thrice as much with a waiting time twice as long as it would be with Mang Ady. But that was still ok with me. I waited two weeks and no word from CDSC. I had to follow up on them repeatedly at that stage with my flight to Holland looming over me. At this stage I was getting concerned and a little mad. Is this the vaunted Nikon service, overpriced and unable to keep their word regarding timetables?
I was eventually notified they were done with me lens by the third week or so. In the shop, I immediately inspected my lens. It didn’t look any cleaner than it would have with Mang Ady. It’s not a knock on CDSC’s quality of service per se. They were late, but the lens really was cleaned well. So, I didn’t leave the shop angry or anything. My lens made it in time for my trip to Europe, which is what was important. Still, I do not look forward to going back to them.
True enough, when it was time for this easily-dirtied lens to be cleaned again, there was no one else for me to consider. I sort of heard before that clients can send lens to him by courier, but I wasn’t sure. Besides, I thought it would be good to meet Mang Ady in person again. It wasn’t just the 18-200, but also my wife’s Nikon 18-105 too, which required servicing. So I did. I also told him about my experience with the service center in Megamall and he smiled. We agreed it would be more convenient for him to just send me back my lenses by courier and I pay him through his bank account when he’s done. Both lenses made it back to my office desk within five days and cost me P3,000 total, including shipping cost. Not bad at all, no?
Nope. Unless absolutely necessary, I’m never going back to CDSC. Ever. Not as long as I have a better option.