'Since day 1 the Sigma brand has always been a bit of a money loser for us: they broke more frequently than the other brands. Our techs coined the phrase “Sigma’d” to describe any lens that didn’t function. When they did break, the repair turnaround time was, to be charitable, leisurely. We knew to buy a replacement, it would usually be several weeks and often a couple of months before we got the original copy returned repaired.
In the last year, however, things have gotten much, much worse. One third of the Sigma 150-500 and 120-400 lenses we bought were defective out of the box and had to be exchanged. Several more broke during their first and second rentals. New copies of other Sigma lenses showed up with high defective rates out of the box. Repairs have become even slower and now even our routine in-warranty repairs are being refused and billed as ‘customer damage’, even though we’ve never rented them out, simply tested them.
Several weeks ago we placed warnings on a number of lenses that they were ‘high risk’ of failure. All but two of these were Sigma, despite the fact that Sigma is less than 7% of our lens inventory. When we looked at our actual numbers things were even more bleak: Sigma lenses failed at a rate of 30% per year, compared to less than 5% for Canon, Tamron, Nikon, Tokina, and Zeiss. We weren’t losing a little bit of money anymore, we were losing a fair amount. More importantly, far more importantly, we had customers who rented lenses for important shoots and the lenses failed to work properly. Sigma was about 5% of our rentals but almost one-third of our customer complaints.
We aren’t going to stop renting Sigma entirely but we are going to close out two lines (the 150-500 and 120-400) that have developed so many problems as to be unusable. We will not stock Sigma when there are better alternatives (70-200 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8 for example). We will continue to carry those Sigma lenses that are unique and where there aren’t more reliable options (120-300 f2.8 for example), at least for now, but we are not going to offer our “2 in 2” guarantee on Sigma products any longer. The reason is simple: we’re happy to buy a new copy for you to rent, but in the case of Sigma we may have to buy 2 or 3 new copies to get one that passes inspection. There isn’t time to do that in two weeks.
We’ll monitor the situation and hope that someday soon Sigma gets their quality control back to “below average” from its current “worse than imaginable” and we can stock them like the other lenses in our lineup.'