Olympus Goes Pro

Olympus has announced a new service for professional photographers that will cost US$99 a year, Olympus Pro Advantage. The service includes expedited repairs with free overnight shipping both ways, two free clean and check services, a six month warranty extension on camera bodies, a 15% discount on out-of-warranty repairs, and loaner equipment if repairs will take more than three days.

The service isn’t yet available, but you can sign up now to be notified when it goes active.

For some time (at least ten years) I’ve been saying that the camera companies are doing pro and serious customer service wrong. Canon Priority Service (CPS) and Nikon Priority Service (NPS) have long been similar free services to pros—Canon now has some additional levels you pay for—though they can be difficult to qualify for, particularly NPS. And they don’t necessarily provide you a lot other than faster repairs and sometimes loaner gear.

Like CPS and NPS there is a minimum equipment requirement for the upcoming Olympus Pro Advantage: two bodies (E-M1, E-M5, or Pen-F) and three Pro or Premium lenses minimum. 

But the Apple Care approach would be a far better choice, I think: charge a reasonable price for priority service and better support for a reasonable period, and offer it to all willing to pay. It isn’t that sophisticated and serious users aren’t willing to pay for good service and support, it’s that the level of service and support they currently get—sometimes even with the professional services—is shallow, tough to reach, sometimes slow, and not always helpful. Moreover, if you’re not a working pro, most of the camera companies want little or nothing to do with you, because it costs them money to help you.

Olympus Pro Advantage is a step in the right direction, but the restrictions in it do the same thing that the other pro services do: create dual classes of camera users, one of which is advantaged, the other of which tends to be shunned and relegated to the back of the bus. Not. The. Way. To. Treat. Paying. Customers. 

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