I quit. They win. The bastards outlasted me. After nearly nine months of arguing, pleading, asking politely, even occasional begging, I have given up my battle with Panasonic. I sent my DVD recorder off to the home office in New Jersey six weeks ago, hopeful of success. But, no.
Here's the official word from Panasonic:
"Our product engineer has determined the customer's Panasonic DVD Recorder works as it should. We advised Mr. McKee that the media he is using may be a factor with recording."
This is also what the engineer told me over the phone, which is unbelievable. It's not Panasonic's fault that its recorder doesn't work, it's the DVD-Rs'?? The recorder has failed to burn Verbatims, Taiyo Yudens, Sonys and Maxells. So am I supposed to waste money buying as many different brands as possible until I find one that works? That is absurd, folks.
I seriously doubt Panasonic put much time into this machine. The engineer claimed (after I asked him to about five times) he burned ten straight discs with it, and the only ones that didn't work were Sony discs. I asked him about the failed DVD-Rs that I sent him, and he confirmed that they were unplayable, but couldn't tell me why they failed. I asked him to explain how the machine could possibly record well in New Jersey, but not in Illinois. He couldn't. I asked him (again) if he cleaned the spindle like I asked. He said no.
The kicker is when I asked him (again) if he switched out the DVD drive, since it is as obvious as the sun is bright that the drive is the problem. Not only did he say he didn't, but he added that, "I could do that, but then that could add new problems." Meaning, in effect, there is no way to ever fix any Panasonic DVD recorder, because every DVD drive they have is defective in some way. What he said to me was, basically, "I know what is happening with the machine now, but with a different DVD drive, there is no way to predict what could go wrong with it."
I knew then what I should have known weeks ago: that Panasonic had no intention of helping me or dealing with the problem. Since I know perfectly well it doesn't take six weeks to examine my DVD recorder, I suspect it sat on a shelf for at least five weeks, off and on, then after burning a few discs with it (which may or may not have been successful), they decided to Hell with it. The Better Business Bureau has already informed me there's nothing more it can do, as it has no legal authority. I expected more from Karen Childs at Panasonic, who sounded sympathetic to my plight, but ultimately did absolutely nothing to improve my situation.
All I can do is advise you not to waste money with Panasonic products. Not only am I out the $439 I originally paid for the DVD recorder, but also the extra $120 or so I shelled out for the extended warranty, since Panasonic has no intention of honoring that warranty. To write a letter to me and to the BBB saying "the customer's Panasonic DVD Recorder works as it should" is an insult, and I invite any of you to stop by my house anytime to burn DVD-Rs with it, as I know some of you must be thinking I don't know what I'm talking about.
I would advise you not to buy a Panasonic DVD recorder anyway, because they no longer come with hard drives. Without a hard drive, a DVD recorder is nearly useless. It means you can't edit commercials out of television programs you want to keep. You can't format your own chapter stops. You can't (except with some extra work) edit leader and glitches and FBI warnings out of old VHS tapes you're transferring any. Panasonic told me that there is no demand for DVD recorders with hard drives, which is why they no longer make them, but in the same conversation, they told me that they sold completely out of my model. Obviously, that makes no sense. My theory is that Panasonic (and other companies) caved to demands by TiVo, the TV networks, etc., who didn't like the competition.
One small bright spot is that I was able to attempt burning discs in the slower Silent Mode before I shipped my unit off to New Jersey, and it seemed to work okay, although the sample size was small. This is, as I mentioned in an earlier post, something I discovered on an online forum recently, and not a suggested offered in any of my several dozen chats with allegedly trained employees at Panasonic's customer service center, repair center or executive office. So perhaps my machine doesn't have to be shipped off to the junk heap. Yet.