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Why the cameras had to be taken back by Kodak

Introduced in 1977 as Kodak's answer to Polaroid's domination of the instant picture market, the film technology was almost immediately challenged by Polaroid as a patent infringement. The long-ensuing legal wrangling finally ended in 1986 when Kodak were forced to withdraw from the instant picture market, leaving very many cameras, (16.5 million, according to one source), with no film. Camera owners were offered various degrees of compensation in exchange for their now useless cameras, which Kodak then apparently destroyed.

Detail from Kodak Ltd.'s refund scheme for Instant Picture cameras
Dear Customer

Kodak Exchange Scheme for Instant Cameras

Because manufacture of 'Kodak' Instant Cameras and Instant Film has ceased following litigation in the USA, Kodak Limited is offering various exchange options in the UK for anyone holding a 'Kodak' Instant Camera. The options available are dependant on the camera model held.

The options open to you are :
  1. A voucher which you can exchange for a 'Kodak' Disc Camera Outfit.

  2. Vouchers which you can use to purchase 'Kodak' films, 'Kodak' video tapes or other photographic goods.

  3. A bank cheque.
The vouchers may be exchanged at any participating retailer in the UK and Channel Islands. In the case of a cheque this will be made payable to you.

So that we can help you exchange your camera with the minimum of delay, please note carefully the following points :
  1. Find out to which group your camera belongs - see overleaf.
  2. Choose the exchange option you would like.
  3. Complete the yellow claim form.
  4. Send the camera and form directly to Kodak using the pre-paid address label.
We will then post to you the vouchers or bank cheque according to your choice.

An important note to remember is that this offer applies only to 'Kodak' Instant Cameras and 'Kodak' Instant Cameras as listed overleaf. These 'Kodak' cameras are the type which eject the picture immediately into your hand. This offer does not apply to any cameras made by 'Polaroid'. Nor does it apply to any camera using conventional roll film or cartridge-loading film such as 'Kodak' INSTAMATIC Cameras (110 or 126-size) which, of course, are not Instant Cameras.

We trust you will be able to make your choice with the help of the enclosed literature, but if you need other help please ask your photographic retailer who will be pleased to show you the various 'Kodak' cameras. If you still require advice, please telephone our special "help-desk" number: Hemel Hempstead (0442) 61122, Extension 44176, or write to me at the address below.

It is naturally with regret and disappointment that we leave the instant photographic business. We are sorry for any disappointment and inconvenience caused to you but we believe that the offers we are making will help you to continue to enjoy your photography.

How Eastman Kodak USA handled the situation

As a result of litigation in the United States, Kodak withdrew from the instant camera and film market at the beginning of 1986. At that time all cameras were recalled from photo retailers and an exchange programme was introduced for consumers. The latter being widely advertised in the national and photographic press with support from our retailers who also supported the scheme.

Its closure two years later, at the end of 1987, was also advertised nationally. As a result of this scheme many hundreds of thousands of cameras were exchanged. A modified goodwill scheme was introduced at the end of 1987 to provide for any latecomers to return their cameras to us. I am sorry to have to tell you that we have now had to bring this scheme to a close.

Exchange schemes have operated throughout all countries where Instant cameras were sold, the UK scheme was one of the first to open and the last to close. Taking everything we have done into consideration including the offers we have made, we believe we have been more than fair and reasonable. To ensure that we had an independant viewpoint we have kept the Trading Standards Department and the Consumers Association fully informed of the Exchange Scheme and its subsequent closure.

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