The saga of my Panasonic DMR EX75 DVD recorder with the dodgy DVD drive was eventually resolved. After an extended exchange of emails with Panasonic I had taken the machine to the local Panasonic approved repair centre, J.F. Associates, who assess the problem with this kind of machine for a standard fee of £58.75. After a few days they phoned to say they could not do anything until they fitted a new power supply, at an extra cost of about another £58. I approved the work and a few days later got a call to say they had figured out the problem - the DVD drive had died as I had suspected. Unfortunately the cost of replacing it would be between £130 and £140. So in total the repair would cost about £250, more than a new, higher spec. machine. If I'd known that before I started I'd have thrown it out and bought a replacement, though naturally there were several things on the hard drive I'd prefer not to lose.
I decided not to have the drive replaced but followed up with a complaint to Panasonic that even though the machine was over three years old it was an indictment of their standards that the drive should give up the ghost on the first occasion I attempted to copy anything to a DVD. There followed a - several weeks long - extended exchange of emails. Pansonic wanted me to post them a copy of my purchase receipt - I didn't have that but I did have an online order number and a blogpost about the purchase saga. They wanted a copy of a written quotation for the repair - also something I repeatedly pointed out I didn't have because I had been quoted the repair estimate over the phone. (If I'd had one more polite email telling me they were looking forward to receiving a copy of the written repair quotation, this post would have been significantly longer and included the tortuous email exchange in full). In the end I asked the repair centre, J.F. Associates to confirm the repair cost they had quoted with Panasonic which they kindly did.
Communications then went dark for some weeks until out of the blue I got a call from a very helpful lady at J.F. Associates to say they had been in touch with Panasonic, who had now agreed to supply a new DVD drive free of charge. She added that as a gesture of goodwill J.F.Associates would fit the drive at no further cost to me.
So kudos to Panasonic for eventually getting round to doing the right thing and especially to the folks at J.F. Associates for being so helpful and taking the trouble to engage with Panasonic on my behalf. I take a few lessons from the experience.
Firstly it's worth blogging about these things - the blogpost from 2007 helped me to provide the required proof of purchase.
Secondly it can be worth persisting politely with customer relations centres, if you have the stamina. The people in these centres generally want to be helpful even if the detailed systems, rules and procedures they are working to quite often impede that desire to help.
Lastly, people generally like to be helpful. The folks at J.F. Associates had been paid for the repair assessment. They had no obligation to communicate with Panasonic on my behalf and no obligation to fit the drive as a goodwill gesture. It involved extra effort and work on their part for no extra financial gain. It has, however, left me with a positive perspective on the service they offer and with a good chance of repeat business.
The drive got replaced some weeks ago. I was reminded about it because the hard drive started playing up last night refusing to record properly. Here we go again...? I'm wondering, though, if there is a problem, as there was earlier in the year, with the digital transmitter in Oxford. On checking, the signal strength and quality was very low, particularly on the ITV channels. The website currently says there are no problems with the TV signal though the radio signal may be weak over the next week due to engineering works. The last time there was a problem, though, the website also said there were no problems. On that occasion, according to the local BBC news as I recall, there were several hundred people in the area who invested in new TVs, aerials and recorders in the belief that the problems with their reception were caused by their old kit. I might just delay my next trip to J.F.Associates and monitor emerging news on the transmitter. There was a fire on the main antenna in May this year and the signal was delivered via a reserve for several months. They were supposed to go back on the main antenna by the end of September but maybe there are further technical problems following the switch back? If anyone in the Oxford area has the inside track on this I'd be interested in hearing about it.