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MMD > Archives > December 1999 > 1999.12.15 > 16Prev  Next

"Spirit of Independence (SofI)" - The Video
By Craig Brougher

"SofI", for those unawares, is a large orchestrion that a number of
people have wanted a recording or video of, so I decided to oblige and
made a recording.  What a mess.

The first master went to a video production company that stopped pro-
ducing in the meantime, and 3 months later, was returned.  Unable to
edit in things like "leaders" onto a recorded tape, even when space was
provided, I ruined the master by trying anyway (it leaves large noisy
spaces between clips).  The next job would be to start all over again.

After a day's setting up time, the mike mixer stopped functioning and
I was now forced to return it to the factory and find another.

The relatively new Canon hi-8 camcorder (a replacement for the first
one which was defective) suddenly stopped working, and I had to send
it in (2nd time, now) for warranty repairs again, which takes 2 months
(but they don't knock that off your warranty time, do they?).  Come to
think of it, they could keep it for 2 more years, and then charge me
for being out of warranty!

I was forced to buy a new camcorder, this time a digital JVC. Studied
them for a day and finally decided on a nice one that performs random
assembly edits.  $1200 later, I am within 15 or 20 minutes of a
completed tape and the camera give me an E03 error sign.  Everything

Unable to edit from back to front, I am now forced to start over again.
I returned the camera and got a replacement.  Just a fluke, I figured.
No problem.  JVC is a great company.  As I opened the box, I noticed
that somebody had been into it before and things weren't packed like
you'd expect to get from the factory through Circuit City.

Sure enough, this camera was a return, because the lithium battery was
missing.  I drove back to the store for the battery to the remote.
Upon returning, I then realized I had stupidly left my tripod connector
on the first camera I returned, so I went back to retrieve that (10
miles each way).

60 miles and many hours later I am finally satisfied.  I decided to
check out the editing functions, and discovered that the 2nd (or was
that the 4th one?) camera would not edit properly, leaving the editing
menu superimposed on the TV screen regardless of settings like "Display

I called JVC's "phone line" several times, including early morning,
just to see what I would get.  In every case, the reply was a machine
which said, "All technicians are busy, please call back at a later
time."  To me it was obvious that the phone number was just a gimmick.

So I went to their web site to get an e-mail address or find some way of
contacting JVC.  Nothing except the same phone number that replies with
the same answer.  That phone number gimmick is there to make us all
feel safe, I suppose, *before* we buy something.  (It does seem strange
to call factories without phone lines, "phonies."  Whatever they are,
they did a wonderful job of hiding themselves, but I did notice their
site could sell you anything successfully.)

So, unable to assemble the edit, I decided to just do it all the old
fashioned way forward in one direction, finish the tape on the VCR
directly, and then return the defective camera, which we did.

I did ask the salesman though, "What do recording DVDs cost?"
I thought that an appropriate question, seeing as how they are trying
to sell DV camcorders which edit, and the only way to properly edit
from one is to a recording digital VCR.  The answer is, there IS no
such thing on the general market.  I could not imagine any industry
trying to make a living with such stupidity.  It's like selling trying
to sell a bigger basketball, but not selling the goal to match.

Despite everything this industry could throw up in my way, the result
is still pretty good for an amateur.  The video is sharper than the
ordinary, better than the ones I've bought, and the audio is
uncompressed, by sending it directly into the VCR instead of my lousy
camcorders.  The mixer is on its way back to the factory, having been
replaced by another, and the camcorder is probably being repackaged
again as I write this, to resell to another sucker like myself, just as
soon as they can (just like I received it.  I'm not making this up).
Surely, they can find somebody who doesn't care if it will random
assemble edit!

When I told them what was wrong, they just said, "Whaaat?  Well, you
just didn't like it.  That's okay, we give you a 30-day return policy."
Frankly, they still owe me a few days of my time they have never
offered to return.

To put the icing on the cake, I also had to return a new mike cable to
Radio Shack as being "too noisy." I was asked, "What does that mean,
'noisy?' Nobody ever complained about a noisy cable (sneer)."

Then, despite my receipt, they wanted the bag it was sold in.  I told
them I didn't have it.  Well then, they couldn't give me my money back.
I suggested, why don't you just take the bag of the other one I'm
exchanging it for and use that?  So he did, very carefully removing the
staples -- obviously so he could resell it to some other sucker.

I speculated this to him and he denied it, but the proof was all over
his face, and the meticulous way he intended to repackage a defective
cable.  It's probably just a lot less paperwork.  "Keep selling it and
you'll finally find somebody too lazy to return it."  Works almost
every time.

We are all victims of this kind of mediocrity and insincerity, so the
more we know about it going in, the better prepared we all will be.
But no matter how well they advertise, they can't deny a true experi-
ence from a musical customer with promises to keep and the receipts to
prove what he claims.

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Thu 16 Dec 1999, 02:06:27 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Independence, SofI, Spirit, Video

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