Gitzo Lifetime Warranties??? No, not really : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Had to send in a Gitzo tripod head that wouldn't tighten any longer. Bought it some time ago when they had a "Lifetime Warranty". Well, that warranty isn't honored any longer by Bogen, the jokers who have Gitzo now. They said it was 'worn' and I had to pay. Oddly enough, the Velbon P270 tripod head I have has a lifetime warranty & I have had it serviced twice, at NO CHARGE. Both times I informed them the problem of broken handles was my fault, not any kind of defect. The problem was me falling down on scree & talus slopes & breaking the handles. The Velbon people fixed it both times with me only paying shipping. Their response to my surprise was 'these have a lifetime warranty to the original purchaser'. And, I was the original purchaser. This is more a frustrating experience than anything constructive, but if you are looking to buy, be aware Bogen doesn't back the products.

-- Dan Smith (, December 02, 2001


Now this really stinks. I too remember the Gitzo "Lifetime Plus Reincarnations" warranty adds that Gitzo used to run. I also remember several "warnings" they ran in magazines telling us to beware of buying our Gitzo products from anyone but an authorized Gitzo dealer. That the vaunted Lifetime Warranty was only good if we purchased our products though one of their authorized dealers. In other words, no lifetime warranty on gray market goods. So, when it came time to buy my Gitzo carbon fiber tripods (two of them), I paid considerably more and bought them through an authorized Gitzo dealer (B&H). I could have saved hundreds of dollars and bought them through Robert White - but I would not have gotten the Lifetime Warranty. When I bought these tripods, I considered them an investment. Something I would never have to replace. Something that would last my lifetime - complete with warranty service. Now I'm wondering if the extra bucks I paid for that warranty was a sound investment.

So, this begs several questions. Dan, did you buy your Gitzo head through an authorized Gitzo dealer? Are you the original purchaser? Do you still have a copy of your original receipt and warranty? Assuming the answer to all is yes, what basis do they have for denying warranty service? And if they do refuse to honor the lifetime warranty for Gitzo items purchased through authorized Gitzo dealers, exactly why would anyone pay more for the privilege of buying through a Bogen sanctioned dealer? Geez, I thought warranty service was the one remaining reason to pay higher prices and support distributors like Bogen. If they won't even provide that service, I see absolutely no reason NOT to buy gray market from dealers like Robert White - and save a lot (potentially hundreds of dollars on carbon fiber tripods) of money in the process.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, December 02, 2001.

Karl Heitz was the Gitzo distributor who offered the lifetime warranty; I don't believe Bogen ever offered that once they took over the distributorship.

So...presumedly Bogen isn't under any obligation, assuming the warranty is an obligation of the distributor and Bogen didn't assume prior warranty obligations. Heitz may be (he has a reputation as a good guy) and Gitzo may be.

Of course Bogen _should_ honor that warranty even though "normal wear and tear" would be excluded; they should simply be good guys and ensure that a past customer would also be a future customer.

So I'd suggest you contact Heitz, tell him you bought the head back when he was the distributor and ask him what to do.

-- John Hicks (, December 02, 2001.

Geez Dan! Fallen over cliffs twice? Where can I buy your prints. They're going to be worth a fortune after you kill yourself. Jim

-- Jim Galli (, December 02, 2001.

Not to worry. Obviously Dan landed on his head.

-- Wilhelm (, December 02, 2001.

I had just the opposite experience with Bogen. My 1300 series carbon fibre tripod had a leg come unglued about a month ago. I called Bogen and they informed me that if I would send them the whole tripod, they would replace the legs (all of them) and have it back to me in 4 bussiness days. Since I assumed I would have to pay, I mentioned nothing about warranties and they did not ask. Received the tripod back with new legs as promised with no charge. Invoice was marked under warranty. Don

-- Don Hall (, December 02, 2001.

"Karl Heitz was the Gitzo distributor who offered the lifetime warranty; I don't believe Bogen ever offered that once they took over the distributorship."

I'm not sure how it works with a distributorship, but usually when a company aquires the assets of another, that includes providing service under the original warranties. That's when one company buys another outright. Probably different in the case of a distributorship. Still, as John mentions, it's tremendously shortsighted to alienate past/current customers by refusing to honor the warranty in force at the time of their purchase.

So, again, that begs the question... Why would anyone pay so much more to buy through a Bogen authorized dealer, when the same products are availabe elsewhere for so much less. In this day of the global marketplace distributors like Bogen need to offer some value added service to justify their mark-ups and higher prices to the consumer. I thought the so-called lifetime warranty was the distributors one last value added trump card. If Bogen doesn't even offer that, what exactly do you get for paying their higher prices?

For example, just looking at some of the popular 1300 series Gitzo carbon fiber tripods and comparing the prices from an authorized dealer (B&H) and a "gray market" source (Robert White - at current exchange rates) we see:

Gitzo 1325MK2: B&H = $755 Robert White = $390.45 Gitzo 1329MK2: B&H = $837 Robert White = $434.45 Gitzo 1348MK2: B&H = $931 Robert White = $465.78 Gitzo 1349MK2: B&H = $992 Robert White = $499.62

The base prices through B&H are almost twice as much, and even after you pay international shipping (keep in mind, B&H doesn't ship for free) and any small import duty the savings is in the neighborhood of $300 - $400 on one of these carbon fiber tripods. Without some sort of added warranty service, I see absolutly nothing that Bogen provides the consumer to justify that $300 - $400 additional mark-up. Am I missing something here? If not, how exactly does Bogen expect to be able to continue with this antiquated business model? Most homes now have interent service and access to much lower prices through dealers like Robert White and other international sellers - and more people are getting online every day. Distributors can only rely on uninformed consumers keeping them in business for so long. Eventually, unless they offer something more to justify their higher mark-ups, they will lose too much buisness to stay afloat. Bogen had a chance to keep Dan's business by honoring the Lifetime Warranty on his Gitzo head - even if he bought it before Bogen assumed the Gitzo distributorship. They didn't and they blew an opportunity to establish good will with a former and potential future customer. So tell us Dan, will you pay more for your next Gitzo purchase through a Bogen authorized dealer, or will you be looking to save some money and go gray market?


-- Kerry Thalmann (, December 02, 2001.

"Received the tripod back with new legs as promised with no charge. Invoice was marked under warranty."

Now this is EXACTLY the type of warranty service I would expect from Bogen - and is exactly why I bought my two Gitzo carbon fiber tripods through an authorized dealer.

If this is indeed the type of warranty service Bogen provides, it helps justify their higher prices and creates a lot of good will with their customers. Still, it make me wonder why they gave Don such exemplary service but refused to honor the Lifetime Warranty on Dan's Gitzo head.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, December 02, 2001.

Kerry I think there was a thread on a similar topic about buying lenses from an authorized dealer, you dont get much from all that additional money you pay . I figure by the time I wear out my Gitzo it would have been out of warranty, so I bought it from gray market and I am happy to have done so. I make sure I dont tighten the legs too much and I the same goes for the head, and have been happily shooting my 8x10 for sime time now. Then again I dont have the habit of falling from cliffs like Dan does, but I think in his case life insurance is more appropiate than a life time warranty....:-)))

Dan I second Jim's notion, post where to send money for prints.....we plan to make a killing (one way or another..:-))

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 02, 2001.

I'll second that motion!!...or is it third? Ken

-- Ken Woodard (, December 02, 2001.

Even though Robert White is out of the country(which might make you hesitate at first), and since I live on the west coast, ordering from B&H almost amounts to the same thing except for the PRICE!

B$H has been pretty good to me, and I still order from them, but it involves phone calls, e-mails, packing, shipping, and waiting for the stuff to show up, just like you would go through with Robert White.

I ordered substantial stuff from Robert White and Mr. Cad out of the UK. I e-mailed Mr. Cad on an inquiry regarding some equipment and was surprised by them calling me long distance the next day about my inquiry!

Robert White did me a favor on one big ticket purchase just because I was a customer, and he will answer every one of you questions no matter what. They'll find a way to make you happy, and even though you might have to send stuff back to them(rarely!), they're well aware of the hassle of this, and they'll try to send you the best from the 'get go'.

Robert White himself or his brother will answer you personally if you request it, and you are talked to with a personal touch. You eventually lose all fear of the distance, and Robert White is easy on you wallet while still treating you like a king, and that ought to tell you something. Although this is not true of all his equipment, you can just about divide in half what you'll pay him for gear as compared to here in the States.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, December 02, 2001.


WRT Robert White...

Well said. I couldn't agree with you more. Outstanding, hassle free service with a personal touch.


I recall that thread on lens warranties. Still, a tripod is a little different than a lens. The only moving parts on a lens (and hence the only thing likely to wear out or go out of adjustment) is the shutter - and it's not covered bythe Lifetime Warranty anyway. Although a tripod is intended to hold a camera motionless during exposure, it is made up of nothing but moving parts. The sorts of things that can become loose or need adjustment eventually - especially if you intend to keep it for your lifetime (which I intend to do wih both my Gitzo CF tripods).

I bought my Gitzo tripods after Bogen had become the US distributor for Gitzo. But just to show you how effective those "Lifetime plus Reincarnation Warranty" ads were all those years ago, I think they still influenced my decision to go with genuine US warranty, authorized dealer Gitzo tripods. I don't have the exact text for those ads handy, but I remember after reading them having the impression that if you bought a Gitzo tripod through an authorized dealer, you'd never have to buy another tripod as long as you lived. In other words, I believe (but may be wrong) that at that time, the warranty even covered wear and tear from normal use. Bogen's warranty may be less comprehensive. I still have the copies of the warranties that came with my Gitzo tripods, but they are filed away in a box somewhere (I bought them several years ago). Anyone have a current Gitzo/Bogen warranty handy?

In any case, I may have paid more for nothing, but am still happy with my purchases. Whether or not the Bogen warranty is good, I haven't had to use it (so far). Out of all the equipment I've used, I have found my Gitzo carbon fiber tripods to be the best investments I've made in equipment. They are lightweight, rigid, and reliable. Everything I could hope for in a tripod. I've owned a number of cameras and lenses over the years, and just consider them tools. I do have some favorites, but I don't have an emotional attachment to them. I tend to hold onto my tripods longer than most of my other gear. That said, my Gitzo 1325 is the best darn piece of photo equipment I've ever owned. We all have different needs and likes/dislikes, but for me, I could not imagine a more perfect tripod. I also think my modified 1227 is the best tripod for my backpacking needs (YMMV). I really don't intend to ever buy another tripod. Other than offering my 1227 modifications as a factory option, I can't imagine how these two tripods could be improved (well, maybe lower prices, but that's already available through Robert White).

I was initially taken aback by the lack of service that Dan received, but my faith was somewhat restored after reading Don's post. In either case, I did not mean to imply in any way that Gitzo products are in any way inferior. They are not - quite the opposite.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, December 02, 2001.

I agree with you Kerry, I also think my Gitzo CF and the magnesium head are the best thing since sliced bread. I was just wondering if there is really any point into paying regular prices for "authorized" items. Look at the trend, lenses are covered like you said, but not the shutter (the one part most likely to break), tripods, well I do have a little different view than yours, shure the are moving parts, but these moving parts consist of simple movementes easily engineered to withstand the use. I hope you agree with are not talking about soemthing as complex as a, in that vein, why do these "authorized" dealers expect us to pay almost twice as much for an item just for the priviledge of getting a "warranty" that they might or might not honor? I used to think like you...I rather buy something and pay for the US warranty, but after I while I noticed a few things, one, all my lenses are at least 8 years old....not one had broken. All my tripods, are at least 6 to 12 years old, with exception of the Gitzo....not once have they broken. So I started thinking maybe there is something to just buying gray market.....and save enough so that I could buy 2 lenses instead of one...:-))

in any case, all tha rambling to say I agree with you...these CF tripods are absolutely wonderful. SPecially with the magnesium heads.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 02, 2001.

Hi Jorge,

I basically agree. After owning my two Gitzos for about four years now and exposing them to some extremely tough field conditions, I'm convinced that they are very durable - and very easy to disassemb0le, clean and re-grease as needed (I often do this after returning from a trip to the desert or coast when sand gets in the leg joints). Obviously very well designed and built to last.

However, my prior tripod experience led me to go for the Lifetime Warranty. I literally wore out my previous tripod - a Bogen 3021. After breaking and replacing several of the leg locking levers, the spirit levels, constantly re-tightening things in the field, it finally just wouldn't hold my camera steady anymore. I think it was a combination of metal fatigue at the joints and just plain wear. I demand a lot from my tripods and given that I paid less than $100 for the tripod and head when I bought it, I certainly got my money's worth. It was no Gitzo in terms of quality, but still a very good value for the money that stood up to 8 years of very heavy demanding use under so pretty rough conditions. So, after wearing it out, I wrongly assumed the Gitzos would suffer similar fate. After over four years of equally heavy use, they are just as rigid as the day I bought them, showing no signs of wear or fatigue. Of course, they cost 5 - 6x what I paid for that old Bogen. So, it's really not a fair comparison. Knowing now how well the Gitzos are designed and built, I'd probably save the money and go gray market as well. Although I can't see into the future, I do have perfect 20:20 hindsight.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, December 02, 2001.

In response. I purchased a number of Gitzo heads & tripods a number of years ago, expecting to use them for some time. My Husky Quick- set's got stolen. So, I bought Gitzo since I had already been in the process of getting some. I matched them with Husky heads which I like better than most of the Gitzo heads but when the Husky stuff was stolen I just got Gitzo. I did get one other head in a pinch, a Velbon 270 'pro head' and it has held up very well and is easier to work with & more solid than the Gitzo heads. I will buy another of these shortly. I bought the stuff from an authorized dealer and expected the stuff to last. Replaced the inserts on the legs a couple of times & have been quite pleased with them overall. Especially since they are used in the 35% mineral laden waters of Great Salt Lake a few dozen times a year and still work very well. But the head pisses me off. Husky & Velbon haven't worn out & both have seen a lot more use than the Gitzo heads. As for original receipts... a disaster took care of all that a number of years ago. I have pretty much come to the conclusion that too many warranties are nothing more than excuses. I know Keith Canham stands behind his cameras as I have seen it. I know some other makers are the same. But this Gitzo/Bogen failure is frustrating. No, it wasn't much money. It is just the idea of buying 'lifetime warranty' and finding it isn't honored. What do these guys think they are, computer or software makers??? Almost expect them to say 'it isn't the head that is broken, the problem must be with that 8x10 Deardorff you put on it'. Maybe a good look at warranties in general is a good thing. We pay for service and occasionally actually need it. Sure would be nice to get it & the companies I know will provide it are those I prefer to deal with. Bogen/Gitzo isn't on my list any longer and I will use the four tripods I have until the fall apart but sure won't pay for the US warranty models in the future.

-- Dan Smith (, December 02, 2001.

Maybe some basic photo history might help.

Gitzo was a private company making tripods and heads in France. Karl Heitz was an importer/distributor based in New York. They were the importer of Gitzo.

Vinton is a manufacturer of professional video heads, tripods, pedestals based in England.

Manfrotto is a manufacturer of tripods, heads, stands, etc based in Italy.

Bogen was an independant importer and distributor who was the distributor of Manfrotto products, At one point Bogen was also owned by Victor Hasselblad.

Vinton in the uK purchased Gitzo at which time Karl Heitz lost the line. Vinton also bought Manfrotto. Vinton also bought Bogen.

So today, in the U.S. Bogen is the distributor of both Manfrotto tripods and other products as well as Gitzo. They also distribute products that they have no ownership (or Vinton has no ownership in) like Gossen, Metz, Rototrim, etc.

Karl Heitz today is the repair center for some of the products that they distributed like Robot, Tessina.

It is the importers responsibility to warranty a product in the country they are granted distribution rights in. The importer can place whatever warranty they feel appropiate.

In Karl Heitz's case he felt that Gitzo deserved a "lifetime" warranty and so priced the product so that it could be covered by this warrnty.

However he had no way of anticipating that his major line (Gitzo) would be sold to a competitor and that he would lose the right to distribute it virtually overnight.

When the new distributor took over (remeber they were owned by the same company that owns Gitzo and Manfrotto) they decided that they would put a more conventional warranty on Gitzo and priced the product accordingly.

At the time the distribution chaged I believe the price also dropped from that of the previous distributor.

Hope this might help you to understand the relationships betweem Gitzo, Bogen and Karl Heitz.

-- Bob Salomon (, December 02, 2001.


Thanks for the history lesson. I was already familiar with much of it, but thanks for filling in all the details. That said, I don't recall any price decrease when Bogen took over the US distributorship of Gitzo. If anything Gitzo tripods sold through Bogen authorized dealers in the US seem to be disproportinately more expensive now than when Karl Heitz had the US distributorship. If Bogen does not provied the same level of Lifetime Warranty formerly offered by Karl Heitz, why then do Gitzo tripods sell for almost twice as much in the US as they do in Great Britain? In other words, what value added service does Bogen proved for the nearly 2x cost to their US buyers that buyers in the UK and elswhere don't get? They are, afterall buying the exact same products, built in the same factory, by the same people for half as much money.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, December 02, 2001.

There is any easy answer here....always buy grey!! Only by using dealers like Robert White and by benefitting from not only lower prices but first class service will prices be forced to come down. The best way to hit the big boys is in their pockets!! I've always bought grey and always will. Common sense mens that we look for bargains!! But there is something to be said about the service you get too. Dealers would have to go a long way to rival the service from Mr White.

-- paul owen (, December 03, 2001.

To pay almost double the price for warranty does not make much sense. Dont they just sell replacement parts. I've seen Gitzo catalogs with some "makeover" kits. (Dont know if they have it for the CF series.) Seems like you can upgrade tripod legs, spikes, handles etc. Should be cheaper than the paying double for warranty. Heck at twice the price, might as well get two tripods from Robert White.

-- (, December 03, 2001.

This is probably somewhat beside the point, but I can't help feeling inclined to correct the repeated implication in this thread that Robert White is a grey market dealer. To the best of my knowledge that is not the case.

I think the confusion is over the definition of a 'grey market'. As far as I am aware it means the same in the US as it does here in the UK, which is to say that it refers to the reselling of goods sourced other than through the official importer/distributor. Simply buying a camera, as an end-user, outside of your own country does not make it a grey market camera - although it may well result in the usual problems with regard to the warranty. Only if you sell it on as brand new goods does a grey market come into being, and it is the reseller who is the grey marketeer.

I'm sorry to be largly irrelevant to the real point of the discussion, but I do feel that the 'grey market' tag is somewhat pejorative, and based on my own experience I'd say that Robert White deserves about as good a reputation as it is possible to have.

-- Huw Evans (, December 03, 2001.

Hope I didn't give the impression thst RW is just a grey dealer - his merchandise is covered by all the usual warranties etc.

-- paul owen (, December 03, 2001.

Showing this issue in the extreme, I called up the German filter makers distributer here(you know the brand) about the availability of a filter, and they quoted me an eternity before it was available. I asked them about the delivery time of the biggest dealer in New York(you know the outfit), which was not as long, and they replied 'yeah but their filters are 'grey market'.

A filter is pretty much good when you get it or it isn't. Your either keep it or you send it back. The price difference between 'grey market' and here, in the filter I got, on paper, is about $50.00! $50.00 more for the privilege of buying a filter that they don't consider grey market!

Consider this, Robert White obviously makes a profit, or he would n't be in business, and at his low prices he is still able to give you 'red carpet' treatment. So what does that tell you about the other dealers? Some of Robert White's deals for gear are less than what you would pay for used gear here.

He is not a 'grey market' dealer by any means, but you'll have to use his warranties which are in force back there because some folks here consider the gear you get from him 'grey market'.

The web and e-bay(you gotta be careful), accessibility to gear is now global, and I think the dealers and distributer are going to have to bend. What makes me laugh is that they are on e-bay themselves dumping the same equipment at rock bottom prices that you would pay a premium for if you called the store. You know, the guy with 5000 positives feedbacks, now how does he find time to shoot between sales?

-- Jonathan Brewer (, December 03, 2001.

I'm continually astounded by the quality and workmanship of the LF gear I've purchased. LF gear is well machined, with serious attention to detail, yet very simple as compared to MF. I don't see a lot of this gear going wrong.

The warranty on this stuff is a bet that they get to pocket your money since their statistical analysis says that nothing will go wrong with the stuff until it is off warranty.

I buy and stay loyal to the same dealers because many times(not always) they will take care of a problem with your gear off warranty excepting maybe the you drove your car over it.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, December 03, 2001.

Huw Evans:

It is a matter of interpretation, I am sure RW is an authorized dealer for a lot of these items, but, if you purchase an item from any other source than the US authorized dealer, then we say we are buying it "gray market" since the US dealer will not honor the warranty that comes with the item, so....what someone mentioned before is very the US prices, I rather buy 2 tripods from RW.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 03, 2001.

NO NO NO! Grey market refers to stock imported from outside the US by a re-seller - they sell it on the US Market more cheaply - the buyer may or may not know why it is so cheap - but may well discover why, because they will not be able to get US Warranty repairs done (among other things - items such as film may not have been stored in ideal conditions if they are grey market).

Buying from the likes of Robert White, or Vistek in Toronto or whatever, is NOT buying Grey Market goods. The seller is not importing them into the US for resale. They are not trying to scam you. You will usually have a perfectly good warranty - but honoured by the UK, Canadian distributor. It's just the same as buying something while you ar on vacation or whatever. Just slightly more incovenient for repairs (though in my case in Canada, that just means a touch more expensive shipping - turnaround times for sending something to the UK for repair, are far faster than here...).

I constantly buy items from the US - these aren't grey market - I just chose to shop there because of price or availability.

"Grey Market" usually implies something underhand - the buyer isn't usually informed about potential problems with warranty, repairs etc. Robert White, Vistek or whoever provides full-service warranties etc on what they sell to you - just not here (unless the product has a worldwide warranty). And if the buyer has an ounce of brains, they obviously realise this.

They really are two very different things.

-- Tim Atherton (, December 03, 2001.

Tim I have to disagree with you, suppose a camera store...lets say "big red" buys 10 tripods from RW and resells them, that is gray market, as one very knowledgeable friend of mine told me, "if you bought it from someone other than the authorized US dealer, it is gray market" Sure, as to the warranty, if I send back my tripod to RW then he would probably honor the warranty given to him as an EU or UK authorized dealer, but I am sure they would not touch it the US, even though it was purchased from an Authorized dealer in the UK, so everything bought outside of the US, even if the outside dealer is "authorized" in that region, is gray market because the warranty wold no be valid here. Here thus is the confusion, and the reason that begs the question, why are prices so high in the US? if RW is able to retain these items and sell them at such prices and still have a warranty in the UK or EU, then why in the US we are paying double? I beleive Kerry already expressed this question in his answer to Bob. I think we all know the answer, the have to pay for salesman, etc...

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 03, 2001.

I think we're all in agreement about that here. The distributers are the folks that slap Robert White w/that moniker. I believe it's been stated here several times, that he provides perfectly good warranties that are honored at the point of sale. Above and beyond that, I'll restate again that he'll do whatever is necessary to make you happy over and above his warranties. He'll back you 100% because you are a valued customer.

There have been some earlier posts about this very point where some folks have pointed out how unreasonable it is for the distributer here in the States to refuse to honor these warranties with the claim that they are 'grey market'.

Some folk in their threads have referred to 'grey market' and that they were going to buy from RW, but I think they were using this as a generic term, but I don't think they were trying to paint RW with that brush. I think you are right though, it would be better if we all quit referring to 'grey market', which is a term the distributers and dealers have foisted upon us when it suits their purposes.

It also goes w/out saying that there are some here in the States who try to work reasonable deals, RW just has it down to a science.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, December 03, 2001.

" It's just the same as buying something while you ar on vacation or whatever. Just slightly more incovenient for repairs"

Not quite.

If you go on a trip and buy something, for your own use on that trip, it is covered by most U.S. warranties.

Of course you can supply a bill of sale showing that it was picked up in that country while you were on the trip.

If you buy something from out of the country that is shipped into the country from a dealer outside the country then you do not have warranty coverage in the U.S. in many cases.

The foreign dealer does not pay the repair people to do warranty service in the U.S.. Official importers/distributors supply the warranty.

The worldwide warranty, if there is one of course, is supplied by the factory in the country where the factory is located or where the dealer is located.

So the term gray while meaning merchandise shipped from a foreign source to a dealer in the US for resale is correct the terms of the warranty may preclude you from being eligible for warranty (or any service or parts) if the sale was through a foreign dealer who shipped the product to you from outside the US.

In that case, like all other warranty cases, the importer is responsible for the service and in this case the importer is the person who purchased the merchandise.

It is like being self insured. You take the responsibility for service, damage, etc.

-- Bob Salomon (, December 03, 2001.

Bob Salomon......but that does not answer the question of why the price including the warranty is more here than when you buy somewhere else? Could you address the difference if price, since this is what this is all about.

Since buying gear is now a global affair, the old days are over, so what do the manufacturers and distributers plan to do about it?

-- Jonathan Brewer (, December 03, 2001.

Again NO No No! you are still mssing the point!

We are NOT talking about someone buying 10 tripods and re-selling them - yes - that is grey market. Grey market is about re- distribution.

We are talking about single well informed customers (photographers) chosing to buy directly from a supplier outside the country. That isn't grey market (actually it's free market! - in this global economy)

Tim A

-- tim atherton (, December 03, 2001.

"Bob Salomon......but that does not answer the question of why the price including the warranty is more here than when you buy somewhere else? Could you address the difference if price, since this is what this is all about. "

Sit down, breathe slowly and repeat after me: C-A-P-I-T-A-L-I-S-M. if someone came up with an equivalent product and was able to sell if for 30% less and develop Bogen's massive distribution and marketing network, Gitzo prices in thrUSA would come down.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, December 03, 2001.

"We are talking about single well informed customers (photographers) chosing to buy directly from a supplier outside the country. That isn't grey market (actually it's free market! - in this global economy) "

Didn't say it was.

It means that YOU are the IMPORTER and YOU may have to bear the costs and burdens of warranty repair if you elected to become the importer by having it shipped to you from overseas or from another country. Even if you did it without the idea of re- selling you imported it directly yourself.

-- Bob Salomon (, December 03, 2001.

"more here than when you buy somewhere else? Could you address the difference if price"

Has been frequently.

When was the last time you were able to merchandise demoed to you at a US show by a foreign dealer? When was the last time you called a foreign dealer toll free with questions? When was the last time you had any service, other then an item shipped to you from a foreign dealer?

When was the last time you received free literature from a foreign dealer? When was the last time you were able to rent merchandise from a foreign dealer.

When was the last time you were able to read a test report or PR on a product you were interested in that a foreign dealer supplied?

Business has costs. Do you think that rent, utilities, saleries, sales costs, advertising, promotions, shows, samples, freight, etc are without cost?

If fact just today we were informed by Certified Mail that Shutterbug is raising their advertising rates as they had a 4.6% circulation increase by the end of June.

Do you think this effects the cost of doing business for a foreign dealer?

BTW, do you think that someone living whereever the dealer is that does the same thing as you makes more or less then you in $.

-- Bob Salomon (, December 03, 2001.

"It means that YOU are the IMPORTER and YOU may have to bear the costs and burdens of warranty repair if you elected to become the importer by having it shipped to you from overseas or from another country. Even if you did it without the idea of re- selling you imported it directly yourself."

Absolutely - which just about brings us back full circle to where we started!

If you bought an item (the by now mythical Gitzo tripod)for half the US from a reputable foreign dealer (eg RW), then the few extra dollars to ship it for warranty repair are still a small price to pay (and bear in mind the EU already has a much more open system on such things). I think part of the problem on this is that people in say Canada or Europe are much more used to purchasing items from abroad than are people in the US, who are - dare I say it, a little afraid of the idea. The global market is just taking rather longer to sink in perhaps.

BTW - the international warranty on my Lecia M6, bought in England when I lived there, was honoured by Leica Canada. But I think, from comments on other lists about similar issues, trying to get say Nikon USA to honour the warranty on a Nikon you bought in France while on vacation, would be a hard fight - doesn't matter where you are resident, it's where you bought it... Though generally I have found manufacturers and importers in Canada and Europe, to be more generous on this(with high end products) than the US, which has always tended to have something of a closed market in such areas. (again Nikon UK were happy to deal with my Canadian bought F100 under warranty)

Okay - way off topic, so, to bring it back, as 90% of my LF stuff is bought from abroad, there really isn't too much to worry about in my experience...

Tim A

-- tim atherton (, December 03, 2001.

I breathe deep all the time, and I've had the profit idea down pat since about 6, but I still wanted to hear the reasons from the 'horses mouth'.

It costs money for the distributers to brush their teeth, so what?

In answer to your question, Robert white did but it wasn't at a US show.

Mr. Cad called me long distance here from the UK, the next day after my e-mail inquiring about the Docter Optics 360mm Tessar(which I bought for $737.00) and the long distance phone call was on them.

Robert White himself, the owner, contacted me several times in an effort to secure me a Toyo 810MII. Sent at least a dozen unsolicted e-mails to me, to keep me apprised of the situation.

Last time I had service on equipment bought here it was for one of my 35mm cameras, the service dept. fixed the camera off warranty. Robert fixed a piece of gear for me that I hadn't even bought from him. I don't rent equipment.

It costs everybody money to do business, including Robert White who has mentioned to me that he does not go after a big profit margin. A hell of a thing to tell a customer, and I've never heard it from anybody here. Anything else?

Oh yes, answering your last question, I end up with a hell of lot less money when I buy gear here in the States than when I buy someplace else, regardless of what they earn in the UK.

Somebody thinking you have more money, or make more money(which doesn't include the kid starting out), isn't a justification for higher prices and it never will be.

Robert White gives you premium service at discount prices despite his costs. A lot of folks here refuse to do that. Robert White doesn't lie, a lot of folks here have lied to me straight to my face. Robert White sends what he promises, always, but I've had people here agree to sell me one thing, and then send me something else.

I was devoted and loyal to only US gear for year. Up until sometime ago, all I bought was US, and never thought of buying elsewhere. Though it all I was abused, lied to, bullsh*ted, and overcharged more times than I should've been.

I won't lie, there are good folks here who'll treat you right, just not enough of 'em. None of them treat me on a consistent basis like RW does.

I knew all this before I asked you, I just wanted to know where you were coming from, now I know.

-- (, December 03, 2001.

Sorry to hear about your misfortune, but hey, 'lifetime warranty', did you ever wonder which lifetime this is? If it's the product's lifetime sending back the dead product won't help....

-- Marcus Leonard (, December 03, 2001.


You're beating a dead horse. I already know it costs money to run a business - whether that business is in the US or Europe. Companies in Europe have to pay their employees, their rent, their utilities, their advertising costs, their freight. In fact, many of these expenses are greater in Europe than here in the US (just compare fuel prices). So, why is it they can sell many items for 30 - 50% less than what we pay here in the States? Obviously, it has nothing (more accurately, "little") to do with import duties or exchange rates. After all, when I look at the prices European dealers charge for US made goods they are nearly identical to the prices here in the US (marginal differences due to fluctuating exchange rates, but generally within a percent or two). However, when I look at many European made goods and some Japanese made goods, they are 30% - 50% less in Europe. Why the huge one-way price discrepancy? If the European manufacturers and dealers can afford to sell the goods for so much less in Europe and still pay their overhead and make a profit, why can't dealers in the US offer comparable prices and still make a similar profit?

BTW, to all who have praised Robert White, DITTO, DITTO, DITTO. However, I don't want a dealer here in the US who offers similar prices and a similar level of service to get overlooked. That dealer is Badger Graphic Sales. I've bought products from both Robert White and Badger Graphic Sales and have always been extremely happy with the friendly, knowledgeable service, prompt deliver and great prices. Badger does have a toll free 800 number and always sends me product brochures for anything I request. And although I don't believe Robert White maintains a toll free line for US customers, I've never felt the need for one. They have always answered my email inquiries promptly (the only delays attributed to the 8 hour time difference between West Coast US and Poole), thoroughly and accurately - and yes, they have sent me product literature when requested. Both of these dealers are models for doing business in the 21st century. They maintain web sites with pricing and product info, respond promptly and knowledgeably to both phone and email inquiries, offer global shipping and globally competitive prices. Between the two of them, I have little reason to shop elsewhere when purchasing new large format equipment.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, December 03, 2001.

Yes..... .Ries and S.K. Grimes, and others will treat you right while charging you LESS money than others which helps all of us, NO MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY SOMEBODY THINKS YOU'VE GOT!

-- Jonathan Brewer (, December 03, 2001.

To borrow your phrase Tim, NO NO NO, free market place has nothing to do with gray market! Sure, those of us who are not afraid to fix a tripod don't care about the warranty, but some people do, and it is the reason the "authorized" dealers get away with what they charge, but again please read my sentence carefully, "if you bought it from someone else other than a US authorized dealer it is a gray market item" It has nothing to do with how great RW is, we all agree with that, given I choice I get it from RW or Badger Graphics, but then again BG is NOT an authorized dealer for many items they sell, so you see, although BG is a great company which I greatly endorse, they carry and sell gray market. Although the term does not have a good connotation, I think what Dan and all the rest of us want to know is, why Bogen did not honor the life time warranty if they bought the authorized dealership of Gitzo? and second why are "we" in the US having to pay twice as much for the same warranty as in other countries? considering those other dealers ALSO have business expenses, payrolls, etc, just as the dealers here.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 03, 2001.

"why Bogen did not honor the life time warranty if they bought the authorized dealership of Gitzo?"

Bogen bought nothing.

Vinton bought Manfrotto, Gitzo and Bogen.

Bogen is owned by Vinton. The "lifetime" warranty was not from Gitzo. It was from Karl Heitz.

Bogen and Vinton and Manfrotto did not buy Karl Heitz. They did not buy a company offering a "lifetim" warranty.

They bought some factories and have their own warranty policies.

And, as someone else pointed out, what lifetime? Your lifetime, the distributor's lifetime or the product's lifetime?

Was the warranty for manufacturing defects or for failure to perform after being well used and defective from wear and tear?

Are you really asking about a warranty against manufacturing defects or about repairs from use that may be covered by an insurance policy?

-- Bob Salomon (, December 03, 2001.

Ok Bob, I think this is a technicality, in the end whoever acquired the Gitzo dealership had the choice to honor the previous arragents the Gitzo dealer had agreed to. For example, although I would never buy a Zone VI camera, I do think their darkroom equipment is without par, and I bought my enlarger, timer, developer timer, print positioning jig, etc, all the the time Fred Picker was the owner. At that time Zone VI had a lifetime warranty for the original owner. Subsequently when Calumet purchased ZOne VI, they dropped the lifetime warranty but still honored this commitment for those of us who had purchased from the original Zone VI. I had a couple of occasions where I called Calumet and asked them to honor this lifetime warranty on my developer timer, they were glad to do it and even paid for the shipping back to me. Needless to say, the order in which I do my business is, Badger graphics (great price, great service), RW (great price and service), Calumet (not so great price Great service), B&H (not so great price, not so great service). If I have a choice to deal with Calumet and/or B&H I always go with calumet, even when Calumet's price is a little bit higher, the reason.....SERVICE.... I think with respect to Dan, Bogen might have saved a few buck in the warranty work, but have lost more money by loosing a customer, specially one that keeps falling off of cliffs and breaking tripods....:-)))

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 03, 2001.

"Ok Bob, I think this is a technicality, in the end whoever acquired the Gitzo dealership had the choice to honor the previous arragents the Gitzo dealer had agreed to".

Oops - missing the point again i think. Because in this particular case, no-one aquired the US distributorship. Vinton bought Gitzo AND Bogen. They own Gitzo and distribute it through Bogen - whhich they also own - part of the same group of companies. In effect they did away with a US dealership (along with any warranties that particular dealership had...). Dumping a dealership is rather different than buying out a "Manufacturer" (if you want to describe ZoneVI in that way). Gitzo never offered the warranty and they still dont.

-- Tim Atherton (, December 03, 2001.

PS - another thought on this - why would gitzo decide to put a "lifetime" warranty on their products and compete with themselves (ie Manfrotto) in the US? They already own what must be the lions share of the market - who are they competing agains? Slik? Velbon? not much competitions. Ries? Small numbers and over priced (seen their latest huge price leap! + they have never replied to my enquiries about getting a aprt for my old Ries Tripod - so much for customer service...). Gitzo in the US (which is what Bogen is) have no need to do a "lifetime warranty" - it's not a customer service thing, it's just a marketing tool, and they don't need it now.

-- Tim Atherton (, December 03, 2001.

If they own Gitzo and distribut it through Bogen then BOGEN is the official US As such bogen either as a divison of Vinton, and with their approval could have honored the promises made by the previous distribuitor in order to continue GOOD SERVICE..... Tim, I think you are the one missing the point, it is almost as if you enjoy paying more for the same items that people pay half as much in other countries. Or that you think their business model is the appropriate one. If so then I guess no amount of my post will covince you that as customers we should get better treatment and actually a little more respect for our intelligence.

Again, these business decisions are made with profit in mind, but one thing is to profit another to rape and pilage....when I see RW with a price for a tripod that is half of what I would have to pay here, and the only "reason" for this is the US warranty, well I think they should at least try to continue good service so people at least "feel" they have gotten something for their money.

So in the end, whether is Vinton, Bogen, etc, someone ultimately is responsible for these items and their warranty, and as a continued good service and good will towards previous customers, they should have honored the warranty. If I choose to accept your point of view then I guess we are all in our own since you seem to beleive that Bogen's behavior was correct.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 03, 2001.

Since I am the one who brought this up and some have emailed me off list asking about how hard I am on gear, maybe I ought to respond. I have cracked one ground glass since getting my first LF camera in the early 70's. It is still on my Ikeda Anba 5x7, scotch taped together... one of these days I will get around to replacing it I am sure. I did drop a 600 f/4 Nikon lens when the tripod thread came loose somehow, bent the shade & gummed up the focus ring, but all was fixable. Not a warranty problem and I got it fixed OK. Have dropped a few Nikon bodies as the lens mounts start to wear. Replaced the mounts & the problem goes away. Broke two handles on the Velbon 270 pro head (tripod head... one of the products Velbon makes that I would buy any time as it works even with the 600 f/4 or an 8x20 View Camera). This is the head Velbon has fixed both times even though I would not have expected them to under any warranty. I was surprised when they did it the first time, much less the second. The Gitzo head just pissed me off, it is so damned 'Kodak' of them.

I am very glad though to see the discussion of 'USA' and 'grey market' and 'goods purchased out of country & brought back home'. I have run into this as well as many of you have. Kodak was the culprit the first time with film bought in Germany with processing paid... seems I ran out of film while shooting F1 racing in Germany & got a few rolls there. Paid a premium for it I thought but the processing included made up for it. Shot most of it there & on Monaco & then came home with 2 rolls & guess who refused to process it. Yep, The Yellow Peril.

I generally purchase used equipment because much of what I buy I don't feel the need for warranties or guarantees. When I do buy brand new I generally buy from solid outfits like Calumet or pro stock houses where I know the owners. The Gitzo's were some of the few items I have bought new from a dealer that I didn't know personally. Some gear had been stolen & I needed replacements immediately so I bought brand new stuff, from a US Dealer, with the 'full lifetime warranty'.


Lester Bogen, may you slip down a bit on that damn tripod you sit on.

-- Dan Smith (, December 03, 2001.

Some people just enjoy getting SCREWED when making a purchase! They are usually the same people who enjoy being VICTIMS. Well, for me I don't give Rats Ass if you call it Gray, Black, Blue, and Aqua Marine.... It is not how I want to do Business! If I have to go overseas to do business my way, then so be it. I don't mind being treated like a customer, even if it does take a few days longer. I get that many more days of satisfaction knowing they really want my business, this time and the next time. And for me it's a lot more fun than being told by some Bimbo at B& H that the part that should be cover by warranty will be 8-10 weeks away and my cost will be $35.00 plus shipping and we will have to have your credit card # before we do anything "SIR" ....

Once Screwed and Victimized, NEVER TWICE!

R.L. (Mac) McDonald

-- R. L. (Mac) McDonald (, December 03, 2001.

This whole issue boils down to one thing - GREED! Some dealers are greedy and rip off their "customers", others, thankfully, are the complete opposite. If RW is selling at a small profit he is making in the long run with the business that satisfied customers give him. I've used his services for 90% of my equipment requirements over the last 10 years or so and will continue to do so. BUT he doesn't do this out of "LOVE", he is a businessman and appears to be conducting business in a way that benefits all, especialy RW!! If he can do it and make a profit....I rest my case!!

-- paul owen (, December 04, 2001.

Interesting. Back in the mid 80's I was a salesman at on of the big camera stores in Los Angeles where the manufacturer's reps would do seminars on their products and then usually take us out for sometimes extravagent meals( bribes? ). Karl Heitz gave one such seminar wherein he told us that if our customers could not afford to buy a Gitzo tripod then make sure we sold them a Bogen ! This was at a time he had nothing to do with Bogen, Manfrotto or any other connection that I know of, he just wanted us to make sure the customer got a good product. So this is how Bogen repays the man who had nothing to gain by saying such a thing?

By the way I have a Gitzo catalog from that same era and it says "Full Gitzo Warranty Buyer Protection Plan For Life-Plus Reincarnations". In the instruction manual I have for Gitzo Products it also says "Lifetime Warranty For Defective Materials And Workmanship", "You are covered by the full Gitzo warranty buyer protection for life - plus reincarnations. If it's a Gitzo it's under warranty: you do not need any warranty card, sales slip or other proofs." Now granted, both the catalog and instructions do have Karl Heitz's name on them since he was the distributor at the time but nowhere does it say "Karl Heitz Warranty" only "Gitzo Warranty"; to me that implies Gitzo the Company warrants the product, not the distributor. Plus this is a Gitzo catalog, not a Karl Heitz catalog featuring Gitzo products !

-- Jeffrey Scott (, December 04, 2001.

"Lifetime Warranty For Defective Materials And Workmanship"

So how does that imply that it is covered by someone falling down and breaking it?

falling down scree and breaking handles is not a manufacturing defect.

It might be repaired/replaced as a business decision if someone politly spoke to management and was complimentary about the excellent use he has received over the years from the product.

But this by definition is not a defect. Insurance is more useful here.

-- Bob Salomon (, December 04, 2001.

I agree with you on that Bob, I was just commenting on the general thread running through this on whether Bogen should honor the Gitzo warranty to early customers, before they distributed the product. If I broke something that was not obviously a defect as such I wouldn't expect it to be covered under warranty. Actually I have a Gitzo 226 and 224 that have been through quite a lot over the years and still function very well; I'd recommend a Gitzo any day.

On another matter but one that is relavant I think, is the Linhof Technika III I own that I sent to the official service center(SC), which shall not be named, to have a new bellows installed. When the camera was returned to me after two and a half months at the last minute before leaving on a trip with it, I found the bellows was not properly installed and I also found a part on the back was broken. The SC claimed the part was in that condition when the package was opened; I know that not to be the case. After a lengthy claim against them, the SC did not dispute the case. I reglued the bellows in place (the improper installation referred to above) and found someone to custom make the broken part, and the SC lost out on an extremely healthy profit($ 472.00 to replace the bellows !?). The camera is an earlier one that, with the exception of the bellows, no parts are available for; since the part could not be replaced it allegedly seems that it was denied that the fault was theirs. If they had owned up to the alleged infraction, they would have all their money minus $35.00 for getting the part remade. Is that Good customer service? Is this something that would want me to buy another Linhof or Rollei, or any other product they service for the distributor, who I think you are intimately familiar with? I sincerely hope that this SC gets their act together because they service the finest products made which deserve a better reputation than this.

-- Jeffrey Scott (, December 04, 2001.

I think both Bob and Jeffry have changed the initial statement made by Dan, in his original post he said he wanted the head fixed because IT WOULD NOT TIGHTEN ANYMORE....that is not breaking it or abusing it, it is only bad engineering since this should not happen.

Tim, I tried answering your e mail, but your sympatico address does not accept the mail....basically I think we are in agreement.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, December 04, 2001.


Sorry you had a problem with a repair to a camera that is between 51 and 41 years old. If you have an issue regarding service that you would like us to resolve you have to send us the details with a copy of the repair slip.

As for the time it took we apoligize but the factory was not able to ship bellows for a considerable period of time.

You will not have problems resolved via internet posts. That will only antagonize. The proper approach is to contact the parties directly and I don't remember ever seeing anything from you that could let us track the problems down.

-- Bob Salomon (, December 04, 2001.

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