How I Got a New GoPro Hero5 for Free

Disclaimer: Before you start reading this long post, I will be honest first, the title is true, but this is a replacement camera after my supposedly waterproof Hero 5 was damaged after getting wet.

I got my GoPro Hero 5 last year and have not utilized its water proof capacity yet. One, I am afraid to use it underwater without the casing, and second, I have not been in any water activity recently that is worth taking a photo or video underwater with the GoPro.

Until my recent travel to Cebu. I have prepared my GoPro for the Sardine Run in Moalboal, Cebu. Unfortunately, just on our first stop (Sardine Run is on the 3rd stop), and after about 20 minutes of underwater video while snorkeling, the camera just died. Just like that, the screen was pitch black and I saw a moist portion inside the glass display in front.

I was so disappointed but nevertheless, the
breathtaking site I saw in Moalboal took away my anxiety. Anyway, after we got home, I immediately wipe it with distilled water and and air dried it. I observed that one battery terminal was corroded and kinda burn (maybe it short-circuited after water got inside). I tried to turn it on again but it was unsuccessful.

One terminal of the battery is corroded.

I immediately researched online on similar instances and I read somewhere that it is the common problem for the Hero 5 and Gopro will give a one time replacement. Following are the steps I did to get the one time replacement camera.

How to Get a Replacement Unit:

1.Contact GoPro Support (Call and/or chat)

Go online and contact GoPro Support here. I chose the chat option as I am more comfortable with it. If I remember correctly, the official hours that it is available in the Philippines is Mondays to Fridays at 4PM to 1PM. My camera is still within the one year warranty but I have read somewhere that even if it is beyond the warranty period, most of the time, GoPro will replace the unit. The customer service agent is very polite and I immediately became at ease even though I am still anxious.

2. Explain what happened.

No need to elaborate, just go direct to the point, honestly. It is also best to have the receipt in handy to be prepared on several details. In my case, I was asked when it was bought, where it was bought and the serial number of the unit, which is on the receipt and also on the unit itself.

3. Do what the agents instructs.

If confirmed for a replacement, the agent will then send several emails on what to do and what forms to fill up. Read the instructions carefully and ensure that you do it so that there will be no problems during shipping. I got confused on the instructions and was even more confused when I read other blogs with different instructions! So I contact the chat support again and finally understood, and printed the following documents in triplicate. And don’t forget, you have to send the damaged unit.

4.Print and Pack!

I printed the following documents in three copies, just to be sure.

  • UPS return label
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Return Authorization form (RMA Form)

I packed the damaged GoPro (be sure to removed the battery and memory card), secured it with a bubble wrap and placed it in a small box. I pasted the UPS return label outside the box, placed the RMA and Invoice inside, and called UPS.

How I packed the damaged unit.

5.Call UPS for pick up

Now this is the tricky part. There are very limited UPS branches in the country. I even had someone go to Manila to personally hand over the package to UPS. Apparently, they wont accept the package and you have to arrange for its pick up. Yes, anywhere in the Philippines! Apparently they are tied up with Air21 so they are anywhere in the country.

The number I called to arrange the pick up is 045-308-4200 (you may also call 045-598-3333). Pick up was arranged and they went all the way to Nueva Ecija (thank you to my friend who brought my unit to Manila and then brought it home to Gapan) to pick up my unit, and I only paid 189 pesos.

6.Wait for the new unit.

There is a tracking number included in the UPS return label so I used this to track the package online. On June 17, 2019, the package was receive at GoPro’s facility in Singapore. Initially on the first chat, I wast told that the replacement unit will be processed within three days after the receipt of the damaged unit.

On June 21, I contacted the chat support and I was told that it was received and will be processed within seven days and that I will be sent an email with a tracking number when my replacement unit is sent so that I can track where it is.

On June 27, since I did not receive any email, I again contacted GoPro. I was told that the unit is already packed and just waiting for UPS to pick it up. I was given an order number for the package. I decided to wait for an email and got none. And finally, on July 6, 2019, I received a call from local UPS that a package was coming. It was delivered on the same day in our house! I felt so happy and relieved.

When I opened the box, I found a new GoPro Hero 5 plus, a new battery! Remember, I did not send the old battery as they specifically instructed to send the unit only. This is a great move of GoPro but reading online, this was a common problem of the said model. They reminded me though that I would only get a one time replacement so I decided to purchase the accessories to protect it in the water, so much for a water proof camera, right? Anyway, the most important thing is that I have a new functional unit. Thank you GoPro!

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