I swear, I think Panasonic is just trying to outlast me, believing that, at any moment, I will crack and collapse into a mewling mess. After sending an email on Sunday and leaving a phone message on Monday, I got a call back from Karen at Panasonic yesterday. She had nothing to say: "still running tests blah blah may have to send to Japan blah blah unable to provide you with a temporary unit blah blah." I asked her what, specifically, the Panasonic engineers in New Jersey have been doing with my broken DVD recorder. She didn't know, but she got one of the them on the line for a 3-way conversation.
A brief interjection. As I was asked, I sent Panasonic a letter the last time I sent my DVD recorder in, explaining exactly what the problem was. A day or so before I sent it, I learned on an online forum that, if I switched the dubbing mode from High-Speed Dubbing to Silent Mode, the machine may function better. I tried it, and it did with the few discs that I burned. Inadvertently, I left the machine on Silent Mode when I sent it in, but I told Karen over the phone that it should be tested in High-Speed mode. I also wrote in the letter that I believe the DVD drive may be the problem, as discs have never burned consistently using it, and that the spindle may need to be cleaned (I also picked up this tip on a forum, but I can't do it myself without voiding the warranty).
So. I get on the horn with the engineer. He tells me about all the discs they've been burning and they've "been unable to duplicate the problem you're having." Like I never heard that before.
"Did you burn in High-Speed mode?"
"Did you clean the spindle?"
"Did you replace the DVD drive?"
So, basically, the last four weeks have been a total waste of time. He wanted to "try copying under the same conditions" as me. This makes no sense. He's supposed to be fixing the DVD recorder. It's very possible that he could have cleaned the spindle the first friggin' day he had it, the machine would then have been working perfectly, and he could have sent it back. Same with the DVD drive. And why is he burning discs in Silent Mode, when all the trouble I've been having has been with High-Speed Mode???
As an aside, the only reason I tried Silent Mode or considered the spindle is from learning about this from amateurs online. In the 50 or so phone calls I have had with various Panasonic personnel, including customer service representatives whose only job is to, you know, serve the customers, no one has ever, ever provided me with any advice as to how to fix the problem, beyond "send the machine in for repair." This is incompetence of the highest level.
So, I still wait. The engineer said he'll do more tests, and then he asked my permission to send my DVD recorder to Japan for more tests. I can't imagine what magical tests the Japanese can perform that they're keeping secret from their New Jersey compatriots. Meanwhile, my DVD recorder has not functioned properly for the last eight months. And counting.