Don’t Flip it
I couldn’t wait to buy the cool new little Flip videocamera.
Reading the reports, and seeing people from the beach to the red carpet carrying those little pocket-sized mini digital cameras, made me want one so much that I bought one of the black and chrome Flip Ultra HD 120’s for myself for Christmas.
The camera comes with a 90-day (that should have been the first warning) warranty, the easiest video editing software/interface on the face of the earth, a string (a low-tech carrying strap) and a little nylon cover. All of the USB and audio-video cords cost extra.
I used the camera twice. It performed wonderfully on a winter trip to Yosemite and did a great job of shooting my family while they opened Christmas gifts. On both occasions, editing and assembling the videos was a snap.
Now here’s the bad part. On exactly the 80th day of that 90-day warranty, I noticed the rear LCD screen had somehow shattered from the inside out. Now, keep in mind I had been storing the camera inside a padded case. I have no idea how the screen shattered. It looked like it had imploded from the inside. I immediately took the camera back to Best Buy where a sweet little woman at the return desk told me it was user error (me). Yikes! I still can’t figure out what I did wrong! What error? That was mistake No. 1.
My next step was to e-mail the warranty desk at Flip. I thought for sure they would help me. That was mistake No. 2. The help desk/warranty/customer service people are absolutely the worst I have ever encountered. They answered my request for help with a simple message stating that they do not repair LCD screens, lens covers or USB arms.
You have got to be kidding me. I was angry beyond belief. I have been a professional photographer for most of my adult life, I have purchased countless cameras and pushed cameras beyond their designed limits. How on God’s green Earth could a camera break while resting in a padded case?
This whole ridiculous episode made me furious. The sickening reality is that I now own a $200-dollar paperweight.
In trying to soothe my anger, I started searching for other postings on the Web by other former Flip owners. To my surprise there were numerous postings by Flip owners expressing similar grief and anguish over the horrible customer service at Flip and about the fragile, little videocamera that breaks easily and is not repairable. Many postings spoke about how breakable the lens cover was, while others spoke about the breakable USB arm, both of which are not going to be repaired by Flip.
Flip is a company owned by the giant Cisco Systems Corp., which made its fame as a company that revolutionized the router and other amazing networking gadgets. The company has a reputation for quality and ingenuity and is led by trail-blazing genius John Chambers.
All of that genius stuff obviously did not get passed down in the Flip hierarchy. It is not genius to knowingly manufacture a fragile device with a weak warranty and lousy customer service.
Unless you plan on storing this camera on a silk pillow or never dropping it, my advice would be to avoid this camera.
I am so angry at the shabby customer service at Flip that my advice would be to buy the Kodak Zi8. It is cheaper and offers true 1080p as well as a brand name that stands behind its products.
Even in this horrible economic climate we have choices, and we can send a loud message to Flip by not buying a product that fails the most basic test of all-integrity.
Photo: A close-up of the broken Flip screen. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
September 28, 2010, 12:20 pm
I have the Kodak and absolutely love. The only thing I don't like is that it is terrible in low light settings and does not have a built in light. Any suggestions? Is there an attachment for it? I know they have an attachment for a microphone.
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