Well, that went better than expected!
I refer of course to my plan to take the Panasonic LX100 camera to Panasonic's official repairer in Horley (on the extreme southern edge of Surrey) and get the ingress of dust or pollen dealt with. I just hopped in Fiona and drove up there. It took forty minutes, along mostly country roads. I rarely venture into the northern parts of Sussex, or the southern edge of Surrey, and I was reminded again that although this is not 'real' countryside - it's mainly woodland and horse pastures - it was nevertheless attractive in its own way, once away from the vicinity of Gatwick Airport. It would drive me potty if I heard the muted scream of jet engines taking off and landing every few minutes. I don't know how people can live around there.
The repairer was DK Audio Visual Services. They were on a trading estate. I found them easily, and there was an empty parking space, the only one, right outside. A good omen. I walked in, rang the bell, and a young man came out to see me. He looked on the ball.
I explained what seemed wrong, and what I would like done. I had with me not just the camera, but copies of all the documentation needed, including the Extended Five-Year Warranty Certificate and the Terms & Conditions. I'd also printed off a specially-taken photo of plain white paper, at the smallest aperture on the camera, f/16, which clearly showed what kind of spots or specks were now affecting my pictures.
Yes, they could clean the camera up for me.
I now drew attention to the Extended Warranty. Did the Warranty cover particle ingress? Yes, no problem. So the job would cost me nothing. Hurrah!
And when might the camera be ready for collection? Maybe only a week. Hurrah!
I was highly relieved to hear all this. I could see the repair cost robbing me of my £100 cashback on buying the camera last year. But not so.
The odd thing was that when looking on the Internet the night before I had come across loads and loads of negative comments about Panasonic quibbling over their guarantees, and basically not honouring them. So I'd half-expected DKAVS to tell me that cleaning dust out wasn't covered, and I'd have to pay. Certainly, the Terms & Conditions seemed to exclude most things, and suggested to me that I was going to be refused a repair under guarantee. But I'd been pushing at an open door here.
It must be that most Internet comments are negative because they are made chiefly by people who fumble their approach, or are too belligerent, or too unrealistic, and who generate heat and frustration not success. A post rubbishing Panasonic would be an outlet for their frustration. Satisfied customers who got what they wanted wouldn't have the same motivation to sound off afterwards.
My own experience is that it pays to prepare carefully, and to adopt a diplomat's suavity and lack of aggression. It's hard to explain, and win an argument, over the phone. So I avoid it. The face-to-face method - two human beings communicating normally - is always much more likely to get the desired result. Which is a rapid agreement to deal with the matter in accordance with what the customer is looking for.
Mind you, DKAVS will have to live up to expectations. One week, they said.
The particle-ingress problem will recur of course, but I can protect the camera better than I do at present. I think I'll keep it in a proper camera case, hopefully small enough to get said case inside my ordinary bag. I will miss a few grab-shots if the camera is zipped-up like that, but if it keeps dust and pollen and other stuff away, then I can't complain.