URGENT Kodak Offers Customers Stock, Coupons or New Camera With Kodak-Polaroid
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ Eastman Kodak, ordered by a federal court to quit the instant photography business, announced a major program Wednesday to satisfy owners of the estimated 16 million Kodak instant cameras the company has sold since it began competing with rival Polaroid a decade ago.
The company said it would give the owners three options: they can exchange their cameras for Kodak’s newest disc camera and two film cartridges, they can exchange the camera for a coupon book with $50 worth of rebates on Kodak photographic products or they can turn their cameras in and get one share of Kodak stock.
″It is with deep regret and considerable disappointment that Kodak leaves the instant photographic business,″ said Colby H. Chandler, Kodak’s chairman and chief executive officer.
Kodak also will accept unsold cameras and film from dealers and issue refunds to them, company spokesman Charles Smith said.
In addition the company will conduct a national advertising campaign to alert consumers of their options. Kodak has also established a toll-free, 24- hour phone number for consumers who have questions about the program. The number is 800-792-3000.
Smith said there are no plans to remove Kodak products from stores, but that all production, distribution and marketing will be stopped.
Effective Thursday, Eastman Kodak has been barred by a federal judge from making or selling instant photographic cameras and film because the photographic giant violated seven Polaroid patents since getting into the instant business in 1976.
The injunction was upheld by a federal appeals court in Washington and a request Wednesday afternoon to the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency appeal was turned down.
″I think Kodak’s reputation clearly will suffer,″ said Brian Fernandez, an analyst for Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York. ″But I think in the end Kodak will be acquitted in the eyes of public opinion.″
And Raymond Cowen, an analyst for Value Line Investor Survey, said, ″I don’t think there’s going to be that much antagonism on the part of Kodak’s camera owners.″
Kodak had argued in court that losing the instant photographic business would ″severely and irreparably″ damage the company’s reputation as a reliable source of cameras and film.
Two large retailers of Kodak instant cameras and film both said they were waiting to hear from Kodak before doing anything.
″We’re going to continue to sell film,″ said Scott Sims, a vice president for Carhart Photo Inc., which has 40 stores throughout New York state. ″As for the cameras, we’ll certainly inform our customers of what is going on and the fact the instant cameras may become pretty worthless.″
Leslie Kota, a spokeswoman for national retailer, K Mart Corp., said, ″We will continue to sell film and cameras until we’re told by Kodak not to.″