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Experiences with Willard Engineering? He won't return my camera to me.


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#1 Matt Stevens

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 04:14 PM

I write this with a very heavy heart. Back in January I sent my beloved Canon 1014 XL-S to Steven Willard of Willard Engineering for a clean/lube/service with an agreed upon price of $200. The camera was shipped insured and delivered on January 30th. 

 

Up to that time Steve was lightning fast with all his communications via email and text. But once my camera was in his hands all communication stopped. He would not answer me to verify he had the camera. 

 

Not until I left a forceful voice-mail in mid February did he finally return my call and explain the camera was in his hands, but that he had been ill. He promised all was well and he would get to my camera in a week. Okay, I can accept that. 

 

Two weeks pass and nothing. I start emailing. I hear nothing. I text and hear nothing. I call and eventually leave a vm explaining I fear he has stolen my camera. 

 

The next day he calls and says his wife is ill. Okay, but I have NOTHING via text or email stating he has my camera. He agrees to send me an email stating he has the camera and also explains he will do the job next week. 

 

I receive the email on March 12. Since then, silence. Nothing. No response to any methods of communication. 

 

This camera is very important to me and it cost me big bucks. I cannot just eat the cost. 

 

Has anyone had an experience with Steven Willard? I have only heard good things about the man, which is why I sent the camera to him. But it appears I may have made a terrible mistake. 

 

Should I not have this situation settled by the end of the week I will probably have to look into filing charges of mail fraud. That's a felony. I'll also have to go to the BBB. I'd rather not do that to the man if it can be avoided, but fact is HE HAS MY CAMERA and will not fix or simply return it to me. 


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#2 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 01:51 AM

I am sorry to hear that. It makes me worry about my own situation. I purchased a camera package off  a dude from craigslist but who was not local. He seemed like a nice guy, gave me his address, etc. He said he would email me when camera was shipped. Haven't received email yet but its only been 3 days. Hopefully you will get a response.


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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 03:55 AM

The Willard situation could be a case of depression, that can really knock people around and things just don't get done.


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#4 Mark Dunn

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 11:18 AM

The poor chap obviously has problems. He doesn't abandon 45 years in the business and become a thief overnight.


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#5 Jean-Louis Seguin

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 12:06 PM

This is unfortunately a problem that can be encountered when dealing with one-man operations.

There is just no back-up when that person cannot complete his work for any reason.

 

Jean-Louis


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#6 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 04:21 PM

You may want to book a delivery service. local to the area and ask them to do a pickup in your name for the camera.  At least try to get it back that way.  Send em right to the company's address.  If no other communication works.


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#7 Matt Stevens

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 06:36 PM

I may have to contact a friend in L.A. and ask if he can stop by the listed address to see if anyone is there. this is really at a point where I fear my camera is gone. 


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#8 David Cunningham

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 07:09 PM

You may want to call spectra. They are all in the same building and Willard basically used to work for them until he spun off into his own company independent of spectra. But, they still work closely with him and operate out of the same building, although I believe it's a separate suite.
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#9 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 07:52 PM

If the guy has a solid 45-year rep in the business, why would you assume the guy stole your camera over the thousands he's probably dealt with over the years?  Sure, make every effort to find out what the hell is going on.  But he told you that his wife was ill and you have no idea what kind of illness they may be dealing with.

 

I would of course make every effort to recover your camera (as it seems you are doing,) but I would also tread carefully.  Minimal communication with the guy is not proof that he up and stole it.


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#10 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:26 PM

Bill, with all due respect, that is BS. Having a good reputation is no excuse for holding up people's property. If it were YOUR camera and what if it were a valuable camera like say an Arri 416...would you still be so charitable? Not trying to flame you but it is really easy to be cavalier when it isn't your stuff that is important to you being withheld.


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#11 David Cunningham

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:33 PM

That may be true Matthew, but I think Matt will feel a bit foolish for accusing Steve of steeling if we find out his wife has died or is suffering somehow. We're not saying Matt shouldn't be concerned for his camera, but jumping to it being stolen, a crime, may be a bit over the top especially when the accused has a good reputation.

I really think calling Spectra and asking if they know what's up with Steve Willard May shed more light in the problem. They may not know, but I think they're the best bet to find out other than Steve himself.
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#12 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:37 PM

I agree, David, that calling Spectra is a terrific idea. And I am sure Matt will feel silly if he finds out the dude's wife died. But I still stand by the fact that it is extremely unprofessional to let this happen with your customers. I doubt Matt is his only customer so how many people are getting the shaft because this dude is having probs? 

 

My dad died last month but I didn't neglect my Grad school assignments and cast all of my responsibilities aside. If he has contact info from his customers (which he should) then a simple email or phone message can go a long way.


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#13 David Cunningham

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:46 PM

I agree Matthew. It's very poor business and as Jean-Louis pointed out, a sad reality with one man shops, especially those run my older semi-retired individuals.

It's unfortunately a very common issue with Super 8 related companies. Almost all of them are primarily run by individuals who are older and could just up and retire, fall ill or die. They also tend to be small like Willard's or even Pro8mm and Spectra.

There is sadly very few young (under 50) people in the Super 8 business these days. And, even if they are in the business, they really on older individuals with the experience, parts and tools to get the job done. It's unfortunately well positioned for all kinds if issues.

With the Super 8 options being few and far between its tough to balance between being open minded and supportive of businesses struggling to survive while also depending on them. Honestly, when Willard and Pro8mm are gone, I don't know who will be left to support out cameras.
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#14 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:54 PM

Matthew, David summed it up in a nutshell.  I never said this guy was justified in holding onto Matt's camera simply because he had a good reputation in the industry.  But I do feel that it's a bit drastic to jump to the idea that the guy may have stolen his camera, especially when he told Matt that his wife was sick.

 

And if it were me, I'd make every effort to get in contact with the guy (as Matt has apparently been doing) and retrieve my stuff so that I could send it to someone else for servicing this time around.  I would be apprehensive, but I'd like to think I wouldn't be ready to accuse the guy of theft based on all of the facts at hand.  And you are absolutely correct that this guy should at least leave a voice-message or send another e-mail.

 

I'm sorry to hear that your dad passed, Matthew.  And I applaud your ability to carry on, but everyone deals with those things differently.  That may be the case here.  I'm just saying I think that should be taken into account before the guy is accused of a felony.


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#15 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 01:52 AM

I may have to contact a friend in L.A. and ask if he can stop by the listed address to see if anyone is there. this is really at a point where I fear my camera is gone. 

 

If you're getting a friend to collect the camera, it would be a good idea that they have a letter from you giving them permission to collect it. That keeps everyone covered, Willard Engineering should also be informed in advance.


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#16 Matt Stevens

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 07:10 PM

If the guy has a solid 45-year rep in the business, why would you assume the guy stole your camera over the thousands he's probably dealt with over the years?  Sure, make every effort to find out what the hell is going on.  But he told you that his wife was ill and you have no idea what kind of illness they may be dealing with.

 

I would of course make every effort to recover your camera (as it seems you are doing,) but I would also tread carefully.  Minimal communication with the guy is not proof that he up and stole it.

 

Excuse me but he has refused ALL communication for a full month as of today. Any and all communication. First he was busy. Then he was sick. Then his wife was sick. Now he's just missing. All along I was respectful and sympathetic. 

 

And the plot thickens I have now heard from two others who had to scream and holler to get their cameras back in prior years. BOTH stated that Mr. Willard used "My wife is gravely ill" as an excuse. 

 

Gentlemen, I am all for being patient and I have been! But don't keep making promises, then disappear off the face of the earth. That is my personal property. Not his. If he can't find the time to service it then pack it up and return it. If he's busy, then get a family member to do it. 

 

And are you folks aware that Spectra no longer has anything to do with Willard Engineering? They used to work together. One of the gentlemen I have talked to who went through a difficult time getting his camera back was forced to get tough with Spectra to get it back. There's a reason why they are no longer associated with each other. I wish I had known this before I sent the camera to Willard.

 

If someone has your property and refuses to give it back, that's theft. And if this continues I will contact the North Hollywood Police and file mail fraud charges against Mr. Willard. The loss of my camera is now cost me money. I don't use it for simple pleasure only and now a wedding I was supposed to shoot later this month is in jeopardy because I don't have my camera. Try renting a Super8 camera is the backwoods of NC. There is no way I can make it affordable. I'll lose money. 

 

Should this be a case of drastic illness hitting Mr. Willard or his wife or both then my heart goes out to him. But that doesn't change the fact that I am not rich and cannot afford the loss of this camera. it will be devastating to me. 


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#17 Matt Stevens

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 07:35 PM

Just to clarify... Steven Willard no longer fixes cameras for Spectra or with Spectra. I realized what I wrote above might sound differently. 

 

And don't think i want to drag Mr. Willard into the street and beat him. I just want my camera fixed or at the very least, have it back.

 

And since I know (as of two minutes ago) he is very much alive and still doing business, then I know there is absolutely no reason for this to continue as is. 


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#18 Chris Millar

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 08:43 PM

Not exactly straight up but perhaps called for in this instance, get yourself another email address or a buddy happy to use theirs and contact the guy about new work.

 

If you get a 'sure, send it in!' - the conclusions are yours to make ...


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#19 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 05:12 AM

And the plot thickens I have now heard from two others who had to scream and holler to get their cameras back in prior years. BOTH stated that Mr. Willard used "My wife is gravely ill" as an excuse. 


Yup...that definitely changes things.
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#20 Matt Stevens

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 10:06 AM

Not exactly straight up but perhaps called for in this instance, get yourself another email address or a buddy happy to use theirs and contact the guy about new work.

 

If you get a 'sure, send it in!' - the conclusions are yours to make ...

 

Actually a friend of mine did just that and never heard back. I get the feeling he is in over his head with work or his personal life is a mess. But he still does open the Spectra facility each morning (got that straight from Doug at Spectra) so there really is no excuse here. Hoping for movement on all of this today. 


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