13 December 2013

Cases where things have gone right

Another year is close to an end, and another birthday has come and gone. This time, there were some interesting observations about how smoothly some technological innovations have been implemented.


My wife decided to treat me to a birthday lunch at the CN Tower. It was originally intended to be a supper on the night before, but I wondered whether we could just walk in and get a table. On investigation (and Google does make that easy to do), we discovered that the restaurant, which is now known as 360, has set up automated reservations via Opentable.com. We were able to confirm that all tables were booked for that Saturday night, as well as for Sunday noon, but slots were still available for 11:30, 11:45, 12:15 and 12:30.

We opted for the 11:45 booking, and instantly received a confirmation with a reference number, which was also sent out by e-mail. Upon arrival, we walked straight over to the restaurant's reception desk and showed our confirmation, which allowed us to bypass the regular queue and go straight to a dedicated elevator to go up to the restaurant. I must also note that the food and the service were excellent.

Several days later, an e-mail arrived from Open Table, asking for a review and giving an option for the restaurant to reply back.

I liked how the entire process worked, and the Open Table site appears to make it easy for other restaurants to sign on. Of course, this calls for integration of their software into a restaurant's table management system, and in this instance it was very smoothly implemented.

Cross-border reverse logistics

On the other hand, I must confess that, two weeks before, I had gone down to visit family in Stratford, and took the Nikon digital camera with me. There was a fresh snowfall the night I arrived, and there were many stunning pictures as a result. The following day, I had the misfortune of dropping the camera, and the aperture and zoom controls were damaged.

The one saving grace was that this occurred just prior to the warranty's expiry. There was one slight complication, however: the camera was purchased in the US during last year's Black Friday sales in the Boston area.

During the following week, I did some investigation to see how Nikon handles their warranty claims. In summary, Nikon's policy is that repairs are handled in the country where the camera is purchased. It doesn't matter whether it is under warranty or not, and Nikon Canada is one of the most stringent enforcers of the policy.

Fortunately, their procedure for initiating and processing cross-border returns is quite well thought out, and following it eliminated any hassles with US Customs and Border Protection:
  1. Register the claim with Nikon US on their website (and make sure you input the correct model and serial numbers), and print out the resulting forms package.
  2. Place the claim sheet, together with a copy of the warranty (which contains the serial number) and proof of purchase, inside the box with the camera.
  3. Pack that box inside a shipping box, and attach the shipping label generated in the forms package on the shipping box.
  4. Take it to the nearest UPS shipping outlet. This is important, as Nikon has worked out an arrangement with UPS for handling these shipments, and the shipping label is designed to accommodate it. For shipping, you must fully describe what you are sending (ie, "Nikon digital camera, Model X, Serial #, Warranty repair"), and you have to agree to pick up the freight and inbound customs clearance to the US. That part is crucial, as Nikon will otherwise refuse to accept delivery.
  5. As I discovered later, for clearance purposes Nikon supplies UPS with confirming data from the original claim you filed, in order to have it cleared as an item that will be undergoing repair. That is necessary in order to prevent it from being rejected at the border, and to have it cleared duty-free.
  6. From shipment to arrival at Nikon in Los Angeles took exactly one week. This is amazing, considering I sent it out on Cyber Monday, which would have meant it would be caught in the onslaught of the other traffic happening at that time.
The complete documentation will allow the camera to return duty-free as well, and Nikon will pick up the freight on the return leg. I am currently awaiting for that to occur, and will discuss that process in a forthcoming post.

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