Buyer Beware: My Unfortunate @BorrowLenses Buying Experience | life

You remember that beautiful 24-70mm lens that I wrote about being my new favorite last week? Yeah, that’s the one. Well, it’s turned out to be a complete nightmare and a huge waste of money for my business.

I was super excited to sell my rarely used 24mm f/1.4 L lens by Canon in order to purchase this lens used. I found it on but was skeptical of the quality of the used lens as I have never purchased or rented from them before. My used lens purchases usually go through where they rate the lenses and give you a grace period to make sure the lens is in working condition (without cost).

Since Borrow Lenses has been highly recommended by major photographers, I thought they were a reputable company to work with. I went on their website, attempted to buy the used lens and kept getting an error. I called customer service only to be told to try another browser. I said, okay, no problem. Same issue on three browsers. I called back and they said they’ll talk to their computer people to fix the problem. This is when I ingeniously thought, why can’t I place the order over the phone? They said it just doesn’t work like that. So, confused, I agreed to try the website again later that night or next day to see if it worked.

The next day it finally worked and my lens was on its way to my house. I was excited at the prospect of a whole new shooting dynamic in my sessions.

When the lens arrived it was in a beat-up box that had been used many times before. I could still see the other people’s addresses on the box (a little creepy if you ask me). I chopped it up to a busy business keeping costs low.

The lens came wrapped in a bunch of bubble wrap, but looked like it had just been tossed inside whatever box it fit in, taped and shipped. I felt like it fell off the back of a truck. Okay. I get it. Busy, fast service.

Once I opened it up, the lens looked quite dirty and very well worn. I blew that off thinking that it’s just because it’s used. My other used lenses were like new, but it doesn’t have to look pretty, right?

When I popped it on my camera, the first moment it gave me an Err00 code. Hmmm.. I took the lens off and reset it on the camera body. It worked, but felt like the lens connection was a little loser than I’m used to. I ignored it and shot a little around the house.

I put the camera aside for a week or so, because life got in the way as usual. When I picked it back up, it was Saturday afternoon to shoot portraits at apple picking with family. I thought, man, this is where I’ll get to see the beauty of this lens.

And that’s where this story gets ugly. Immediately the lens began to fail. The Err00 code wouldn’t go away, no matter what I tried. I reset the lens, I wiped the sensors, I shook it, I talked to my camera and said please work darling… and nothing. Randomly it would work, but most of the time I walked around frustrated and upset at how much money this lens cost and how the return process will go.

The lens connection sensors had seen better days. This baby was past her prime, big time.

Luckily, I was within the 10th day return period. With Lens Rentals, you have a grace period where you return the item if you don’t like how it works without a cost to you as far as I had experienced. Borrow Lenses, um, not the same policy and not exactly easy to find how their returns work for used merchandise. Heck, it was just a problem for me to even get the ordering to work!

When I tried to call Borrow Lenses to return the lens, all I got was voicemail after voicemail. I left messages and waited for a phone call. Thank goodness in the time I waited I sent off an email explaining what happened to their customer service. I did NOT want to lose my grace period return option and have to pay any more fees than I already racked up.

They told me to clean the sensors and it would be fine. Nope, not so. I also put my other lenses on my camera to make absolutely sure that it was the lens, not the camera body. Then they hit me with returning it minus fees.

I have to now pay return shipping with insurance AND a restocking fee to return it that amounts to over $150+ spent on a USELESS lens. That doesn’t even include the taxes and shipping I paid to get it in the first place. Wahoo!

I realize it’s what I get for taking a risk on used gear (and a new company to me), but I am highly disappointed in their customer service. I now wasted over $150+ to have nothing. I took a few photos and that’s it. I would have better spent that money on a brand new simple lens, or saved it towards this lens, but new from a reputable company. Heck, I would have rather spent the money to take you out to lunch 🙂

The point of this post is to forewarn you about Borrow Lenses, their policies, and their service. I would not recommend ever purchasing used gear from their company, and I’m not sure if I’d even recommend renting a lens. Thank goodness I did not rent or buy this lens as a main piece of gear for a wedding. I am thankful I have other lenses and cameras always available to pick up the slack when things like this happen and did manage to get some great portraits at apple picking despite my frustrations.

Lesson learned. Maybe new is going to be the only way for me to go now. Let’s just hope they return my money minus their ridiculous fees sooner than later.

I’ll keep you posted if they change their tune.


“Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.” – Unknown

p.s. I used my Canon 5D Mark II and 50mm lens for the photos in this post to show you it’s not my camera, but the whole problem is in fact this lens.

Update 9/29/13: They offered to give me a return shipping label on Monday.

Update 10/2/13: Apparently they must have realized the lens DOES NOT work. I received a refund of my costs without their re-stocking fee charge. I’m not sure how their refund worked, but thank goodness. They never emailed me to say anything more. Instead, just received the standard “refund” email.

Update 10/3/13: I received an email from a supervisor apologizing for the issues and a full refund. I appreciate that and thanked them, but I wish the whole issue didn’t take place to being with. Had I not advocated for myself continually, I would have lost over $200 on a useless item and been ignored. I’m glad I fought, but I never feel wonderful being a negative nelly.

equipment used: Canon EOS 5D Mark II | Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L

2 thoughts on “Buyer Beware: My Unfortunate @BorrowLenses Buying Experience | life

  1. I ended up tweeting their company several times before I got a response to my issue. No one answered the phone ever. I believe if I didn't use social media they wouldn't have given me a refund.

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