Tuesday, October 26, 2004

What the hell happened to Olympus? [+ updates]

I've owned an Olympus C3000Z camera for, oh, five or so years. It's a good workhorse - bit bigger than I'd like it to be, but I can add lenses if I'm so inclined, the quality is great, and I've been very happy with it. Someday I'll get a nice little micro that I can port around, but not now.

With my old computer, I used Olympus's software, Camedia Master, to connect to the camera and download images. It was fine for my purposes, but I only had it for OS 9; when I bought my new computer I needed software for OS X. I went to their site to download it; of course, I couldn't just download the new software, I had to buy the new version, 4.2. And I couldn't even download THAT - they had to send it via Purolator in an old-fashioned CD case. Well, whatever, such is the way of things; I coughed up the money and hit Submit.

A few weeks later, I still hadn't received the software; Purolator had no record of the software being shipped, although I had a tracking number. I called Olympus and a sullen woman said she'd check with shipping. A few days later I got a notice of the new shipment. It arrived in due time but I had to drive out to the airport to get it.

Camedia Master 4.0's interface is astoundingly nonintuitive. It has cryptic icons that do not describe their functions with text or rollovers. I do like the fact that you can view your photos by album OR by file folder, something I wish basic iPhoto would do. But when I downloaded some images from the camera, I could not for the life of me find how to delete the images from the camera! No reference to it in the help files. This is fairly fundamental functionality that was available in Camedia 2.0. And while I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for the initial shipment of the software, I discovered that I didn't really need this software at all: iPhoto can connect to my camera and download the photos just fine.

Feeling like an idiot, I emailed Olympus to ask them how I can get the software to delete the images from my camera. It took them two days to get around to telling me that it can't be done:

> The only way to delete picutrers from the camera is on the camera.
> The software has no way of deleting picuters.

I emailed them to ask for a refund; I feel a bit ripped off paying for an upgrade of software I don't need that has less functionality than it started with. I got a response, the same day this time, that asked me to call their Emporium phone number, and added:

Also let me inform you that deleting pictures from the computer can
damage and corrupter the card.

Now, this may be true, but I can't say I ever had a problem with it in the years I've had the camera and the previous software. But I'm just one example. Maybe it goes wonky on Windows machines.

I called the Emporium around 9:30 AM PST and sat on hold for twenty minutes. The woman I spoke to did not seem to have much technical knowledge; when I told her that the software I used in OS 9 had the delete functionality but it had been removed in OS X, she asked "So you're using something called Oh.. Ess Ex?" (I informed her it is the standard Macintosh operating system.) She told me I probably couldn't get a refund since I'd opened the software package, and she would get her supervisor to call me after lunch. It is now 2:15 PST, and after closing time on the Long Island, where Olympus is located; I never received a call.

I can understand that, to prevent piracy, Olympus might not want to give me a refund. But at the very least they could put a little effort into their customer service, particularily when they know they've got a disgruntled long-term customer waiting for a response. It's not abysmal - at least they answer their emails, and they haven't sworn at me yet - but it just comes across as rather shoddy and haphazard.

I'll keep you posted if I get any kind of response from them, but I've already blacklisted them as a source for future cameras, barring a Herculean effort of customer support.

UPDATE 10/26: I just got an email back from an Olympus representative giving me instructions on how & where to return the software. Hooray! So they get a few points back for that. I'll send it back this week.
UPDATE 10/28: The representative told me to go to the Olympus store online to get the return form, and gave me the link. Currently, the link goes to a page titled "Error" on which the only text is "Not enough storage is available to complete this operation.". This is becoming a saga.


At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Kb, does your Mac recognize your camera as a USB drive when you plug it in? If so, you don't need any software to transfer photos if you don't mind doing it manually, though you might as well let iPhoto take care of it if you already use it to organize your photos.

(Yes, it is sad that I, the big Mac advocate from 10+ years ago, currently do not own a Mac and don't know how they work.)

But I know what you mean about camera software taking steps backward - Nikon recently did the same thing when they changed from Nikon View to Picture Project.

Say hi to G and give D a big kiss for me.

Greetings from Los Angeles,
JC (don't blame me, I voted for Kodos)

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Kb said...

Yo JC!

Alas, my Mac doesn't see the camera as a drive - I think it may have more to do with the camera than with the Mac itself, since it's a pretty recent computer and a pretty old camera.

Ironically, after reading a few things about iPhoto mangling peoples' photos when deleting them, I've decided to use the photo-deleting function on the camera itself... which is exactly what Olympus wanted me to do in the first place. *blush* But the whole deleting thing was really more the last straw - I was dissatisfied with the software and their service in a very general sort of way.

I really want a little Canon mini that I can port around with me. *whines* Not gonna happen for a while, alas...


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