GoPro Hero 5 water leak: What to do and how to get a replacement unit

How to get GoPro Hero 5 replacement unit

When GoPro Hero 5 came out, we took it a chance to replace Hali’s GoPro Hero3 Black. His previous action camera was okay but the quality was not just up to par compared to its contemporary equivalents. It also had a frequent issue with moist, so we ended up with a lot of unusable photos.

GoPro Hero 5 is one of the latest action cameras released in 2016. It has 4k resolution, 30fps video, a touchscreen display and water resistance feature up to 10 meters deep in the water. GoPro Hero 5 has great reviews due to its seamless performance… but it has its issues.

Specifically, based on numerous complaints online, it’s apparent that it is prone to water leak/water damage. GoPro has stated that is caused by doors not being sealed properly. For a time whenever we would read Facebook posts from users reporting this issue, we believed that this is simply due to carelessness, until we experienced it first-hand.

Here’s what happened

We purchased our GoPro Hero 5 a year ago in Glorietta, Makati. We had used it only occasionally, particularly for beach trips.

Last December, we went on a short trip to Koh Lipe in Thailand and as usual Hali took it for snorkeling. It was recording for half a minute under the water before it stopped working. Later when we checked, all the inside was wet. It was impossible to tell which part did the leakage come from.

What to do in case of GoPro water leakage

One of the first things we did is to search online to make sure we’d dry the GoPro properly.

As advised by the GoPro community and people who have been there, here’s what to do if your GoPro gets wet.

  1. Do not turn it on. Take out the battery and microSD first.
  2. If it had gotten wet from salt water, immerse in fresh water for 30 seconds. This will help prevent corrosion.
  3. Dry the GoPro. One way to do this is to put the camera in a sealed bag with a cup or two of rice for 3-5 days. Others simply dry it out in the sun.

In many cases, the GoPro unit is salvageable after drying.

In our case, we let the GoPro dried in a bag full of rice, but after 2 days it still wouldn’t work. The red light at the bottom would blink but the display remained blank and no sign whatsoever that it had been turned on.

If, like us, you have followed the steps and it still isn’t working, it’s time to contact GoPro support and ask for a new unit.

How to get a replacement unit

When the incident happened, our unit was already past its 1-year warranty period (by a few days). We also had limited internet in Thailand so it took several days for us to contact support. Thankfully, the GoPro’s customer service is excellent and our complaint was handled despite this.

So from our experience, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get a replacement unit from GoPro.

1. Contact GoPro support.

Call and chat support can be found here. GoPro used to offer email support but not anymore.

Chat support is available, Monday to Fridays, from 5AM to 3PM (Philippine time). Make sure you enable pop-ups, as their chat support will open on a small window. In our case there were only specific hours we were able to get in touch via chat — once at 7AM and then at 4PM (oddly).

2. Explain your issue succinctly.

Keep it simple and be polite. No need to go overdetailed or dramatic as others would suggest.

After assessment of your issue, the agent will then ask you to provide the serial number and receipt of your GoPro. If you have lost the official receipt, what you can do is (1) go to the store where you purchased the GoPro and ask for the copy of the OR or (2), if purchased with a credit card, show your billing statement. This info is required so the company can check if your purchase is still subject to warranty.

Hali has explained to a chat agent that he took our unit for snorkeling, not going beyond the suggested depth limit of 10m. He has made sure the doors were sealed properly beforehand. After discovering the leak, he dried the GoPro in rice for 2 days and it still would not turn on. The agent approved of a one-time replacement.

We’ve read from others’ experiences that if you are initially denied a replacement unit, try again and talk to different agent. Don’t lose hope!

3. Fill up the required forms.

Once you’d been given the go signal for a replacement unit, you will be sent 3 emails.

GoPro returns: 3 emails
You will receive 3 emails.
  • 1 e-mail containing RMA number
  • 1 e-mail containing instructions and where to get the shipping label (“a return has been set up to you”). Essentially, you will need to go to https://gopro.upsrow.com/ where you will input shipping information. Take note that you have to fill in the ‘Company’ field, otherwise you won’t be able to proceed. Hali only typed in “Thank You.”
  • 1 e-mail for sending instructions (send unit only, do not include the SD card and battery).
GoPro returns: email with UPS link
Email with a link for UPS.
GoPro return: forms
Print the following forms.

After filling up the shipping form, you will receive an email notification that a UPS shipper has sent you an electronic UPS Returns Label. Make sure to print 3 copies of the RMA, UPS returns label and the attached PDF of commercial invoice.

4. Go to a UPS office to send the GoPro camera or have it picked up at your house.

Shipping is free and shouldered by GoPro. We’ve read that others didn’t have to pay anything, but in our case we were asked by UPS for P297 as export declaration fee (accordingly for items shipped costing above $100).

Make sure to bubblewrap your unit and place it in a small box, along with a printed copy of your RMA. Outside the box, tape in the shipping label. Give the papers you printed (RMA, returns label and commercial invoice) to the UPS person.

You can track the progress of shipping using the tracking number GoPro will provide.

5. Wait for your new unit to arrive.

GoPro Hero 5 replacement unit delivery
We got the new unit!

This can take anywhere from 2-3 days to a month. The damaged unit was sent to Singapore, and then a new one was delivered back to us. Ours was delivered after 1.5 weeks.

What this taught us

We love the output quality of GoPro Hero 5, but this is a huge flaw.

(You can see some samples of our underwater shots using GoPro Hero 5 in Bulalacao and Apo Island.)

Sea turtle in Apo Island

It’s clear that GoPro Hero 5 has a faulty design. Even if the doors indeed seal properly, there should be a mechanism in place to prevent leak due to small mistakes by the user. We’ve read that a strand of hair or speck of dirt can compromise the seal. This should’ve been foreseen and remedied before release. (The UPS guy who picked up Hali’s camera asked why there are so many returns for GoPro.)

That saying, we are happy with GoPro’s customer service support and if there’s one thing that keeps our trust in this brand, it’s this. I was initially doubtful we’d be able to have it replaced, especially after we’d contacted iFix first (the one handling support in the Philippines) and was given a template reply — the unit should be within warranty period and service does not include water damage, thank you. If this happened to you too, we suggest contacting GoPro directly. GoPro’s customer support was able to help and accommodate us easily.

Considering all these, we remain careful. It might be better to switch brands or, as other suggest, go for GoPro Hero 6 which seems to have better waterproofing feature. If you want to keep using your GoPro Hero 5, at the very least make sure you protect it with a water case for underwater use.

Update: We’ve received numerous inquiries about contacting GoPro support. Please note that each case is handled differently… We don’t know exactly why some are given returns while others are not, regardless of the warranty. Recently, we’d read that users are offered only 20-40% discount for a new unit instead of a free replacement. Again, we’re not familiar with how GoPro handles the cases. We wrote our experience to guide those with the same plight, and hopefully this’ll give you the right info on what to do.

Has this happened to you? What is your experience?

81 Comments

  1. Thank you so much Katherine. This post is very much helpful. My GoPro replacement due to water/moisture damage is now in progress. Ten Thumbs up!! 🙂

  2. Hi, regarding the chatting process with the agent, did you guys use the same reference number they provided for all the agents you talked with, or were all of it a new report every time?

  3. Hi ask ko lng po if you have contact number for ups for the pickup..thanks..im near qc but the ups near our location doesnt accept gadgets..thanks!

  4. I had exactly the same problem and the same experience.
    Customer support first offered me a discount of 20% on buying a new one.(!!!!)
    Then after my chat turning a little more “pissed off” they offered 50%. I then told them: “so your concept of customer care is to sell another faulty camera? 50% off the same model?!”. Then after an internal consulting they finally gave the “one time replacement”.

    By the way, another cause for this leaks is the build up of sault and magnesium on the border of the 2 slots.
    Be sure to clean them every few weeks with VINEGAR.

  5. Bakit po yung sa shipping label ko hindi siya maprocess lumilitaw pu ito:
    Your request could not be processed for the following reason:

    Missing or invalid ship from StateProvinceCode

    Please click the BACK button on your browser, make any corrections and resubmit.

    Thank You.

    May codes pa ba aside sa postal code? Thank you po sa help.

  6. They approved your replacement so fast. 2 weeks and still waiting if they will approve mine. Still waiting for an email. sad

  7. Hi silly question since i had ny hero 5 water leak in the battery..if i will be placing it ina bowl of rice..should the battery cover open or close?..thanks..and will soon try to contact them too for hopefully a replacement..

  8. Hello po. Ask ko lang po kung naghintay pa din kayo ng 2-3 business days before malaman kung approved yung replacement. In my case po, I was told this one: “Please give us 2-3 business days since all replacement request needs to go with validation first.” Or right after chatting with them, nakareceived na po agad kayo email? Thanks po. 🙂

  9. Hi. I had a same issue with my Hero 5. But its still under warranty, I bought it here in Davao last June 2018. May I ask if what time did you chat the go pro support for this kind of concern? Im hoping for your response in this matter.

  10. HI! Did anyone of you get the same problem:

    I get this after placing the return from address…

    “Missing or invalid ship from StateProvinceCode”

    Thanks!

  11. Hi! i had the same issue with my GoPro Hero 5. But i had my unit for almost 1 year and 8months, it was purchased last december 2016, is it still possible to get a unit replacement?

    1. Hi! I was offered a unit replacement even though my unit was already 1 year and 4 months old. You can try talking to one of the agents to see how they can help you. I think I got lucky because the agent I spoke to was extremely nice.

      1. You did well, really happy for everyone who had thers replaced. Unforetunately for me, mine was 14 months old and first time in the water. I managed to connect to their online chat and was told “it is out of warranty, sorry”. They have since offered me 40% discount on a full priced unit but I’m having trouble with the idea of throwing more money away on a flawed and, for me, unsupported design (initial unit was $500). I see there is now a waterproof case that wasn’t available when I purchased the 5.
        Any feedback or ideas would be welcomed.

        1. We feel you! If they didn’t replace ours, I think we won’t be buying another product from them.

          They say that GoPro Hero 6 has better waterproof design than the 5 or maybe you can look at alternative brands. Friends told me to always use a case regardless of whether the action camera is purported to be waterproof, to be on the safe side.

        2. Hi Rob! My unit was older than yours. The first agent I spoke to actually only offerred me 20% discount, and considering the price for shipping, it would have been better to just buy a new one in Manila. But as it was said here, just try again. The next agent I spoke to offerred me 40% discount, but that just wasn’t good enough for me. So i tried again, and third time’s the charm. Finally got an ahent who offerred to replace it.

  12. Yip same thing just happened to me!….that’s not supposed to happen. ! My 3rd GoPro !

    Go pro got ahead of themselves! How they recover will say a lot!

  13. Hi Katherine!

    Thank you so much for creating this blog post and I’m so lucky to find this on google search!

    I followed the instructions and managed to get a replacement unit from GoPro! I’m currently in the process of returning and waiting for my replacement unit to be send back to me 🙂

    Hi to others looking for help,
    Febby’s point on subscribing to the 30-day GoPro plus trial will definitely help you to get into contact with one of the agent through the live chat!

    Cheers!

  14. Hello i just want to thank you for creating this blog. It really helped me replaced my gopro and im waiting for it to arrived na. For those people who cant contact gopro’s customer service, i suggest availing their gopro plus it has 30-day free trial where you can contact them whenever 🙂

    1. Thanks for the tip Febby! I managed to contact them immediately after subscribing to the 30-day free trial GoPro plus! 🙂 Cheers!

  15. Hello Kath. I’ve received the three emails from gopro support but the gopro.upsrow.com link says:

    Your request could not be processed for the following reason:

    Missing or invalid ship from StateProvinceCode.

    Though I’ve filled all the tabs required. What could be the problem? Hoping for your reply. Thanks. 🙂

    1. Well, the error means the code you entered is wrong or maybe you’re located in a province not serviced by UPS? I don’t really know. That’s a specific error, you can contact GoPro or UPS.

  16. hello katherine, ive been contacting the gopro customer service (both thru chats and call) on the indicated operation hours but it is still unavailable. What mode did hali used to contact them? if its thru call what number did he dial?

  17. Hi KC! It happened also to us while we were in Subic yesterday. We were using the unit about 20minutes. After an hour, when we checked it on the bag, the unit is very hot, upon checking inside, it looks like the battery burnt.. and it has water on the lcd indicator.. we purchased it last august2017. Can you help me on how to deal with this? Thank you so much for your response!

      1. Hi Kc,
        I was able to contact one of the agents yesterday and luckily they sent me RMA for one time replacement. But now I cannot proceed because when I’m filling out the return label it always says
        Missing or invalid ship from StateProvinceCode
        What should correct infos need to fill out? Pls help. thanks in advance.

  18. Hello! Do they still offer unit replacement even if the warranty is already past it’s validity date? Mine’s purchased last May 6, 2017. Thanks!

  19. Hello! Sorry for using your blog, but I’m desperate right now huhu
    If anyone here is from Davao, do you know places that does repairs for gopro? Like saltwater damaged gopros? I can’t seem to contact GoPro, and it’s been weeks already. Also, Davao’s the nearest place I can go to for repairs. Hoping I could get a reply. Thank you! :*

      1. I hope so, too 🙂 I did, but all I could find was iFix. I heard that iFix doesn’t offer services to water damaged units 🙁

  20. Is it still possible to get a replacement without the reciept? Also, I’ve been trying to contact GoPro for weeks, but I can’t seem to contact them that easily.

  21. hi do they still need the receipt details? thank u it happened to my go pro this weekend 🙁 but will still try the sealed bag with rice.

    1. Hi! If you lost your receipt and you purchase the unit using your credit card, billing statement of the item will do. That’s what we did. Hope this helps.

  22. Hello! Had the same issue with my hero 5 and thanks to you and this blog my unit will be replaced. The only problem is, I’m confused about the forms I need to print out. Under the email “A return has been set up for you” which part should I print out? Is it the form after I clicked the link? I’m worried I’ll print out the wrong form.

      1. Thank you for the reply. Btw, there’s no UPS here in our place. I’m from gensan kasi. Did they mention any alternative courier for UPS?

        1. We don’t know because we used UPS, as we’re based in Manila. Someone here mentioned Air21. Pls update us if you got your answer from GoPro. Thank you!

          1. Hi! Was able to process the shipment through air21. But for them to acknowledge the shipment I called UPS through their toll free hotline and they were the one who contacted air21. Paid 200 pesos for some handling fee. 🙂

            1. Hi Irish! How long did it take before your GoPro arrived in Singapore via Air21? I am currently in Butuan and there is no UPH here but there is Air21. I will be flying back to Manila tentatively on the 2nd of Aug. I want to know if the exchange item will arrive just in time or I may have to ask them to forward it to my home address instead. Much better if I can still receive it here in Butuan before I even go home.

  23. Hello po! I experienced the same while we were out for swimming at Boracay and it happened during the very first day of our stay there Is it possible to have another messenger or courier rather than UPS? It seems that our city doesn’t have their branch here

    1. Hi Nic! I’m Julie from Davao. I think Air21 is their partnered courier since UPS is not available in most places in Philippines.

      1. Hello, Julie! Thanks for the reply. Sorry for getting back a bit late. I can’t seem to contact GoPro even after many attempts so I had given up on getting a free replacement. Since you’re from Davao, do you know places that does repairs for gopros? Your city’s the nearest place I could go for. I’m from Kidapawan by the way.

      1. Hello! Your blog is so helpful. I have just offered a warranty return, as in today lang. Ngayon lang din kasi na accomodate for a live chat. Luckily, they offered a warranty return. Thank you so much at nabasa ko itong blog post mo regarding go pro hero 5 water leak, God bless!

  24. hi ! i have the same experience with you . i was already offered a replacement . but i am now confused . because in the email , it was stated ‘replacemet’ , but in the RMA , it was stated ‘for repair’ . was your RMA stated ‘for repair’ as well ? by the way , my hero 5’s warranty has not expired yet . and i just want to ask how did you ship your go pro . i mean which UPS branch in manila ?

  25. Hi. Thank you for the reply. I already talked to several agents but they were all firm in just offering the discount. So I cited your case saying that they are not fair in giving resolutions to same situations. That’s why they were asking for the case number, to see if they can reconsider.

    1. Hi KC, as per our exchange via pm we’re kinda uncomfortable giving out the case number… There’s really no guarantee that each case will be treated similarly. How long has your warranty expired? If it’s a few months past that’s probably a reason for them denying a replacement. We can only guess at this point.

      GoPro Hero 5 really has a waterproof issue as evidenced by similar experiences of quite a number of users, and I feel you in that it’s frustrating to not get a new unit for a faulty design. 🙁 Hopefully they’ll relent and send you a new one!

  26. Hi po. I experienced the same while snorkeling in Palawan but GoPro Support only offered me a 40% discount to buy a new unit because according to them, the warranty has expired already. 🙁 Can I ask for your help? If you can send me via email the case number so I can send them a reference, please? Your help will be very much appreciated. Will look forward to your reply po.

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