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American Video and Security (formerly American Video Surveillance); Mel Davis; Larry Folsom

Categories: Opinion

On June 27, 2007, I purchased from American Video Surveillance in Las Vegas two Honeywell HD3VC4HR dome cameras.  The two cameras were installed by American Video Surveillance technicians.

In early 2010, both cameras began to show poor picture quality.  Within a few months, both cameras completely failed.  There was no picture for either camera.

I checked the cables, fuses, and power supplies, and even had a professional technician from another company come by our office to check out the problem.  The conclusion was that both cameras had indeed failed.

I purchased two replacement cameras (not Honeywell) and, using the existing American Video Surveillance power supplies and cable, installed them myself.  Both replacement cameras work flawlessly.

According to the general warranty published on Honeywell's Web site, honeywellvideo.com, the warranty period is three years.  On May 6, 2010, I called American Video Surveillance to find out what the procedure was for having the two Honeywell cameras repaired or replaced.  I spoke with Mel Davis, the original American Video Surveillance sales representative.  (I later discovered that Mr. Davis was the owner of American Video Surveillance, that Davis sold the company in early 2010, and that the name of the company has been changed to American Video and Security.)

Mr. Davis first said he was not able to find any record of the purchase or installation.  I offered to fax copies of his hand-written invoice and the billing invoice, both dated June 27, 2007, but Mr. Davis declined my offer.

Mr. Davis told me to bring the cameras to the American Video and Security office, and they could tell me whether the cameras were under warranty or not.  I told Mr. Davis that the warranty was three years, but Mr. Davis said that many manufacturers only recently extended their warranty terms, and that the warranty on our cameras was probably two years, not three.  He said, without checking, that there was a 98% chance that our cameras were not under warranty.

Since the warranty is based on the manufacturer date code, I asked if I could read the code to him or fax a copy of the code, rather than make the drive to his office.  He refused to consider either option.  He insisted that I either take the cameras to his office, or pay to have someone from his office come to my office to pick them up.  I couldn't understand why he needed to have the cameras physically in his office in order to provide his customer with warranty-related information.

He became frustrated, claiming I was trying to get something for nothing.  We paid $1358.90 for the purchase and installation of two cameras.  Is that nothing?  I told him I only wanted to know 1) whether the cameras were under warranty, and 2) if they were under warranty, what was the procedure to have them repaired or replaced.  Mr. Davis refused to answer those two simple questions.

Mr. Davis became frustrated and threatened to hang up on me.  I couldn't understand why he, as a Honeywell dealer, could not answer those two questions.  Any Honeywell dealer should A) have records of their sales and installations, and B) be able to provide their customers with warranty-related information.

Mr. Davis refused to cooperate.  He told me that if I wanted him to help, I would have to bring the cameras to his office.  When I continued to ask him why he needed the cameras, he changed his position and said that the cameras were NOT under warranty because I had removed and replaced them myself.  The warranty becomes void if the cameras are "improperly installed, applied or maintained" or "altered or improperly serviced or repaired", but there is nothing that says the warranty becomes void if the cameras are simply removed and replaced by the owner.

Mr. Davis continued to say that if I brought the cameras to his office, American Video and Security would see what they could do to help.  So I asked him specifically what help American Video and Security could provide if the cameras were NOT under warranty.  At that point, he refused to talk any further and he hung up on me.

I called Honeywell Customer Service (1-800-796-2255), and the representative explained that the date code is contained in the serial number, and that the first four digits represent the year and month.  The serial numbers on both of the cameras purchased from American Video and Security are 0604, which means the cameras were manufactured in April 2006.  The warranty had expired.

But not so fast...

There's a clause in the warranty that reads "...in the event the Buyer presents a proper invoice relating to the purchased product and such invoice bears a date later than the manufacture date, then Seller may at its discretion, reflect the warranty period as commencing at invoice date."  The invoices are dated June 27, 2007, so American Video Surveillance can consider the warranty starting date as June 27, 2007, in which case the cameras should be under warranty.

On Friday, May 7, I went to the American Video and Security office and spoke with both Mel Davis and the new owner, Larry Folsom.  I showed them my copies of the sales invoice and related documents, and the Honeywell warranty.  I left the cameras with them with the stipulation that if they refused to honor the warranty, they must return the cameras.

Mr. Folsom stopped just short of accusing me of fraud.  "These cameras are in the original boxes with all the documentation.  We would have never left the boxes at an installation site," he said.  I always ask for and keep the boxes and documentation for anything I purchase for my company.

Davis and Folsom told me they would talk about their options and get back to me.  I'm optimistic, but not by much.  It seems like these guys are just looking for an excuse not to do any work.

I'll update this page as things develop.

UPDATES:

MAY 17 - Haven't heard a word from anyone at American Video and Security.

MAY 26 12:45pm - I just received a call from American Video and Security (formerly American Video Surveillance).  The caller (a male) said that, according to Honeywell, the cameras were not under warranty, and that the cameras could be replaced with refurbished cameras for $122 each.  When I began to ask questions, he told me American Video and Security wasn't going to spend any more time on this and he hung up.  I called the company back, and was told initially that there were only two people in the office at the time - Mel Davis and Larry Folsom.  I knew it wasn't Mel that called, so I assumed it was Larry.  The next day, I received a call from the receptionist who said they could not confirm who it was that had called me.

MAY 27 - I called Tricia Kean from Las Vegas channel 13 television's Contact 13 "Call for Action" and spoke with Marian, a volunteer.  Marian was kind enough to call American Video and Security and get the official verdict.  According to Marian, American Video Surveillance, the company owned by Mel Davis, went bankrupt.  The assets were bought by Larry Folsom, and the company name was changed to American Video and Security, which has no obligation to honor the original warranty.  Now, why couldn't Davis or Folsom have told me that when I first called?!

Here's my final conclusion: Mel Davis, the former owner of American Video Surveillance, and Larry Folsom, the owner of American Video and Security, are weasels.  They came up with every excuse they could think of to avoid honoring the warranty, when the truth is Folsom simply didn't want to, even though it wouldn't have cost him a cent.  Honeywell would have repaired or replaced the cameras if Folsom had asked them to.

Honeywell is a reputable name, but their cameras are not reliable.  I'm surprised - the cameras were made in Tiawan.  From now on, I'll stick with the proven-reliable Japanese products.  I think Honeywell's three-year warranty is generous.  I blame Honeywell for poor quality cameras, but there's no excuse for a company like American Video Surveillance and its former owner, Mel Davis, or American Video and Security and its current owner, Larry Folsom, to refuse to answer simple questions about a warranty-related matter.  There's no excuse for anyone at that company to hang up on a customer simply because the customer persists in asking questions, which the representatives failed to make any attempt to answer truthfully.

After all this, I'm reminded of a lesson that I've heard all my life: "If you want something done right, do it yourself."  We can't manufacture cameras, but the two replacement cameras I selected (versus the two Honeywell HD3VC4HR dome cameras I allowed Mel Davis to select) are much better quality at less than half the price of the two Honeywell dome cameras.  This helps confirm my belief, and a belief that many Americans have, that products and services from far too many American companies are overpriced and poor quality.  This, in my opinion, clearly applies to American Video Surveillance, Mel Davis, American Video and Security, and Larry Folsom.

Case closed.

 


"If you can't say something nice, let's hear it!"   — Joan Rivers

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