Eyeglasses are essential for observing wildlife, particularly birds. I really believe that these optical aids make the difference between a good and a bad wildlife experience and I am amazed when I see people visiting wildlife parks without them after having travelled many thousand kilometres to do so.
For a long time I used mediocre binoculars until one day my friend Roger -a reader of this blog- showed me his Leica binoculars and I realized what German optical quality meant. He also told me that once he had a problem with his binoculars and the company immediately came to the rescue and even upgraded his binoculars to compensate him for having had a problem.
So, following his example, as soon as I could, I proudly bought my own Leica Trinovid 10X32 BN 8×32, rubber-coated and waterproof down to five metres. To use them added a new dimension to my game watching and I enjoyed them from the first use as they were easy to calibrate and use. For a while until I noticed the flaw…
To my dismay, I realized that the unthinkable had happened with my marvelous piece of optics. Somewhere inside their rubber-shielded-sealed right ocular lens system there was a hair, more precisely an eyelash, presumably of German origin!
You will not be able to fathom my disappointment! At Leica in Germany they were horrified when I reported the find and they offered immediate assistance. However, at the time we were living in La Paz, Bolivia and there was no official Leica representative that I could contact to mend the problem. The alternative of sending them to Germany meant being “binocularless” for a while, something far from ideal.
As the problem was manageable, I decided to continue using my hairy binoculars for a couple of years. Having spotted the intruder, now I saw it more often but it did not really interfere with my vision so I was able to use the instrument. Some time later, when transferred to Rome, I could send them via courier for a free fix, as per their lifelong guarantee with all expenses paid. So, as soon as I could, I sent them to Germany.
About a week later, I got an e-mail confirming that the now eyelash-free binoculars were ready and that they had been sent by courier back to me to arrive the next day. It was a very pleased me that went to the courier office at the FAO building as I was anxious to get them back.
I was so excited that I was there even before the courier office opened! When I managed to get in, the binoculars had not yet arrived and I was told to come back in the afternoon as the delivery was expected by late morning. Disappointed, I went back to my office until it was time to return.
I knew, by looking at the face of the courier employee, that there was a problem before she spoke. “Sir, we have a problem. Unfortunately our van carrying all parcels for today was robbed and your parcel is one of the ones lost”. My heart sunk and, although I heard that the Police was investigating the event , bla, bla, bla… I was sure of the final outcome so I thanked her and walked away, distraught.
Back in the office I called Germany and my technical contact went mute for a long while. Then I said that the parcel should have been insured but, surprisingly, he was quite cagey about it and I had the impression that it was not! In desperation I told him that I had an imminent bird watching trip to Uganda and that I needed them badly.
Luckily my plead worked and he offered to send me a replacement immediately, item that I got next day. I checked it and it was -luckily- hairless this time and I have enjoyed their great clean optics ever since.
 I still do not know if the parcel was insured or not!