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An Open Letter to Canon

February 14th, 2007 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Dear Canon,

I wanted to let you know that I am disappointed in two things regarding your company: your warranty policy, and the fact that you wouldn't disregard your warranty policy to make me as a customer happy.

Regarding the first, you win. The pertinent sentence reads: "Defective parts or a defective Product (such as my 4-month old multi-function printer)...will be repaired, exchanged for new or comparable rebuilt parts, or exchanged for a refurbished Product." I pointed out that if the new one broke after four months, I have little reason to trust that a refurbished item will last much longer. Of course, your printer broke down three days after we took my wife's wheezing Hewlett Packard 950 (yes, it was 7 years old) out to the trash. Man, I miss that guy. But I digress. If a new product breaks, it seems appropriate that you should replace it with a new product, and if you don't have one in stock, you should replace it with the next model up. You obviously disagreed. But I think you're wrong.

But you win. You are abiding by the terms of the contract, a contract that I didn't get to read before I bought the printer. Nevertheless, I wanted extraordinary service, to believe that Canon was willing to make exceptions to its rule, to go to great lengths to make a recent convert as happy as possible. I'm fiercely loyal to such companies. It is a new media world, and I even take pains to promote companies that I am pleased with. You can see for yourself at I am disappointed that Canon won't be one of those companies, as I won't be buying another Canon product for a long, long time. In an era of mass production and mass marketing, I want companies to remember that I'm an individual, and respond as such. I think that my request for a new printer was simple and sensible, and even if it failed both of those criteria it was still your opportunity to build a loyal fan base a customer at a time. I'm sorry that you blew it.

Your people (the five that I talked to--a problem in itself) were gracious when I contacted them, but unrelenting. I went up the chain until I was told I had to write a letter to go any higher. No phone calls--no emails. Pen and paper. Making the higher levels intentionally inaccessible in a communications age suggests that you aren't really that happy to hear from customers. And given the way your company didn't work very hard to keep me happy (yes, it would have meant going above and beyond what the warranty specified, but this is customer service, not customer obligations!), it makes me think such attitudes start at the top. Regardless, this is that letter I was told to write, appropriately posted to my blog. I posted it before mailing it because, of course, I'm still waiting for my refurbished printer.

All the best,

Matt Anderson


Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.