About a month ago, I returned from my photography trip to Wisconsin. I knew it would take me a while to edit all of the images from that trip, so I figured that it would be a good time to send my tripod in for repair. I own a Gitzo tripod (3540XLS Systematic 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod), and I was aware that it can take a long time for such repairs. A few years ago, I wrote a blog entry about why using a tripod is so important to most of my photography.
My tripod is probably just over ten years old. Over the years, it's become increasingly difficult to tighten the extended legs. As I'm shooting, a leg will sometimes slowly collapse--which can be very frustrating. When tightened enough, the legs will hold--but it should only take an easy quarter turn to tighten the legs on this particular tripod.
I sent my tripod into the Chandler, Arizona repair facility via UPS Ground delivery. It took a week for the package to get there from Chicago. Once it arrived, I was promptly provided with a work order for tracking the progress of the repair through the website.
A week passed without any further updates on the progress of the repair. Apparently, the facility was shut down as an inventory was being conducted. Finally, I learned that the cone collets within each of the leg extensions needed to be replaced. Additionally, the leg locks were to be cleaned and lubricated, and a clamp replaced. For $200, plus shipping & handling, the tripod would be returned to like new condition.
Although the repairs weren't cheap, I determined that approving the repair (which extends the life of my tripod for another 10 to 15 years) was better than purchasing a new tripod. This tripod was $700 a decade ago...and is closer to $1,000 today. Given how often I use my tripod, it's not too surprising that it would require some maintenance. I estimate that my tripod's legs have been extended and collapsed at least 10,000 times over the past decade!
Now that I approved the repair, the next challenge was waiting to see if the replacement parts were in the Chandler facility. I was told that if the parts for my tripod were on hand--it would be about three days for the repair. Otherwise, parts would need to be ordered from Italy--and it would be about a month before the tripod repair was completed!
After not hearing anything for a few more days, I called the repair facility again. I was told that it looked like the parts would need to be ordered from Italy. But, just hours later I received a UPS tracking notice that my tripod was already on its way back to me and that it was fully repaired.
I was anxious to get my tripod back...so I was disappointed that it was sent via UPS Ground--especially considering that I was charged $35 for shipping! That meant another week of waiting. So, delivery was set for December 14th.
December 14th came and went...and my UPS tracking information showed that the delivery was still ON TIME. On December 15th I called UPS...the package hadn't been scanned since December 11th. Back then, the last time it was accounted for, it was just ten miles from my home address! So, it was now missing in action.
Last night (December 16th), the tripod was finally delivered at about 7:00 PM.
So, my tripod's repair journey took more than a month (and that could have been far longer if the parts weren't in Chandler) and just over $200...but I have it now and can finally get back out shooting!