Having been a GoPro user for years, I was very happy to see that the new Hero 5 Black would be waterproof on its own, without the cumbersome external case system. Happy, that is, until the reality of just how poorly designed the water-resistance feature of the camera really is.

15 minutes into my first snorkeling trip on my family’s recent trip-of-a-lifetime to Hawaii, the camera inexplicably shut itself down without warning or explanation. Assuming it was the battery, I got back on the boat, dried it off, replaced the battery and tried again. Nothing. Further investigation showed that my brand-spanking-new “waterproof to 10 meters” GoPro Hero 5 wasn’t so waterproof after all. The inside of the battery compartment was soaked and both batteries were ruined as a result. The camera was used 100% according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and all due care was taken when closing and seating doors to make sure the seal was good. It’s just poorly designed. A quick Google search shows that the Internet is littered with owners having the same kind of trouble.

Aside from the obvious disappointment of the camera’s failure and its effect on ruining countless photo and video opportunities for me and my family, GoPro’s response when I contacted them about the failure has possibly been even worse. After my initial contact and their requests for photos of the camera, batteries and receipt, it took them FOUR DAYS to get back to me. When they finally did, they sent a GROUND shipping label for a return from New York to California (a week in transit) and made no mention of the batteries that their defective product also ruined. They also said nothing about how long I would be without the camera.

I responded to that message and have AGAIN not heard back with any additional information. And I even purchased the GoPro Care package when I purchased the camera! Rediculous. My only thought is that they are having such trouble with the waterproofing on their new Hero 5 Black cameras that they are overwhelmed.

The bottom line is that if you are planning to use your action camera in the water (as so many of us are), you should spare yourself from the flawed Hero 5 black and, even more, from GoPro’s terrible service. How the once mighty have fallen. Caveat emptor.

—UPDATE—

I finally received my replacement GoPro Hero 5 Black after two weeks, three follow-up phone calls and promises to send it second-day air so I would have it for my next trip. Instead, they sent it ground shipping and it arrived the day after I had already left. I was not surprised.

Overall, my disappointment in the failure of the camera remains and my disappointment in GoPro as a company has grown. Since I have invested in GoPro mounts and accessories, I will continue using this camera until it fails (again), but I will look elsewhere for future action camera needs and will not patronize GoPro in the future. Moreover, I would recommend against any of GoPro’s add-ons like GoPro Care or GoPro Plus since the company clearly sees them as nothing more than a revenue enhancement and does not actually follow-through on the coverage.