A response to Ken Hough's posting regarding business practicesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread
I feel it's time I break my long silence on this topic -
I am a current customer of Ken Hough. By all accounts he has treated people well in the past and has helped keep Deardorff equipment 'up and running'. He seems a nice man. But his recent business practices and his most current newsgroup posting baffle me.
Short history: - In 1999, send Ken an old battered 8x10 camera for restoration - In 2000, send Ken $500 to cover 'materials' costs - In May 2001, send Ken $1150 since he's finished the work and will send the camera in three weeks - Time passes and I am told bellows materials in short supply but will send the camera in two weeks - Time passes and I am told the story about his mother and metal fabrication costs - Time passes and I am offered a 'loaner' camera to help complete a photographic project I'm engaged in - Time passes and I am told 'loaner' camera to ship 'next week'... the loaner never arrives - March 2002, Ken tells me the camera bed is only now coming out of the vise!!!
Not once have I been able to raise Ken by phone (no voice recorder either). Rarely are my emails returned. I have been in conversation with people who claim to know Ken, but none of the issues Ken now raises ever came up. More recently, and only when I've threatened taking legal action to recover my equipment and costs, has Ken responded.
I have been sympathetic and understanding of Ken's mother's passing. My first wife died when she was only 32 years of age. I know for myself how such things can impact one's life. But at no time in the first 2.75 years of waiting did I know this was an issue for Ken.
Regarding the issue of Ken's memory, he has a complete email trail of all communications we've shared spanning the three years I've been involved with him. In recent email exchanges I have included our entire email history to refresh his memory. It's all there and very clear. My replies. His promises. Apparently cogent, well formed, and clearly thought out. As I review the email history it sickens me to learn how gullible I've been.
Regarding the issue Ken raised of procuring metal parts leads me to believe that I have helped him pay for the die and materials through my early payments to him. Sending the money had little or nothing to do with the state of the cameras restoration. I didn't realize this would be the case during the first 2.75 years of dealing with him. Only now does the metal parts issue come to light.
The camera was not ready in May 2001 as he originally indicated (he even phoned me to tell me it was done, thanx for my patience, I'll be happy with the finished result). I believe that while bellows materials and metals may have been in short supply that, contrary to the continued promises of completion, the present true state of my camera's restoration is open to serious question.
I currently await the completed camera, have never seen the 'loaner' he was supposedly sending, and am taking legal action to recover my equipment and lost opportunity costs. Additionally, I hear there is support for filing a class action suit against Ken, as I may not be alone in my dealings with him.
Should anyone like to contact the Porter County Small Claims Court (the county Ken appears to live in), or the Attorney General's Office in the State of Indiana, these are easily obtained through a quick search via google. You can rapidly locate the URLs and phone numbers of people who can provide legal assistance.
All this and I'm just a hobbyist with a keen interest in large format photography. A hobby should not be this difficult to pursue.
Caveat Emptor, at least until Ken gets back on stable ground and returns to running a decent business operation.
- Christopher Perez
wrote in message news:email@example.com... > I hope this missive answers some questions about the long delays > my customers have experienced. Some history. Prior to 1988 I was > dependent on L.F. Deardorff to have parts in stock for me to buy. > After '88 I was on my own for L.F. Deardorff had declared bankruptcy. > The availability of parts was nil and none were being made. > I was lucky though and bought parts from the stamping companies > That had made parts for Deardorff. Unlucky for me some of those > suppliers wanted me to pay off what LF Deardorff owed them before I > could get parts. > We negotiated and I had a small supply of parts. When they ran out I > had to have more made. Here's the bad part. I'd order the parts and > was promised a 6-week delivery. Keep in mind I was ordering 200 piece > minimums. These companies were used to doing runs of 20,000 parts for > Ford, Chevy etc. My orders were pushed farther back. 6 weeks became 6 > months or a year. > You would wonder why I did not go to another supplier. Cost of > tooling. If I changed suppliers A new tool would have to be created. > The die to stamp the bottom front turntable plate cost $18,000. This > was amatorized over the life of the tool. Fine for a factory but not a > repairman who wanted 50 pieces that would last in stock 25 years. So > for a few years I had most parts I needed. Those I did not have came > from old Deardorffs I bought and stripped. These parts were replated > and looked new. I always sold them as used / replated. About 7 years > after I bought these factory extras I needed more parts. I called the > stamping houses and placed orders. Seven out of seven most needed > parts were no longer available! The reason was I had not ordered parts > for 5 years and the tooling was destroyed. Now what do I do? I > investigated new tooling. That was going to cost $ 290,000. Lots of > money for a wood camera refinisher to spend! > In 1989 moms' health started to fail. She had had cancer and was going > to radiation weekly and Chemo twice weekly. These were 8-hour days for > me. I was getting behind in addition to being very depressed. There is > nothing worse than developing a rapport with the other cancer patients > only to realize they were not there one week as was usual. They were > dying off. This really hit me hard. I'd look at mom and wonder if she > was next. > In 1995 I developed hypertension. I was put on a drug that had a few > side effects. Two were short-term memory loss and asthma. From late > 1997 to Oct. 1999 Mom was hospitalized 14 times. As a kid I thought > being an only child was great. Not now, It was just her and me. Talk > about depressing. It tore me up. I had to be strong. I kept working on > cameras during the morning and visit her in the afternoon. She was > getting worse and so was I. One problem was I really did not know > about the memory problem. That's the problem with that problem. In > Oct. 99 mom died. I fell behind with my work even more. May of 2000, > seven months after mom died my family moved into her old house and I > started to set up shop. One major obstacle was the humidity in this > new house was far lower than my old shop. Camera beds started > splitting. Merle Deardorff taught me how to fix them but it takes > Up to 6 months to stabilize the 4 parts in order to reglue them. I use > the same woodworker that Deardorff used to make new beds. But he's 85 > years old and time from order to delivery is 8 months. Bellows also > presented problems. I have the woman who made them for Deardorff in > the 80s make them. I buy the fabric and she builds. The last run of > fabric was not coated correctly the last 500 yards and the company who > coated it does not use that coating anymore. Something about the EPA. > I've searched and found material. But you have to build some bellows > to see if there is a glue interaction. There was on a couple of > samples. So I search for material again. > I started out as a repairman. Not manufacturing parts. Now in > order for a Deardorff to be repaired that I do not have a metal or > wood part for I have to design it and have it made, in huge numbers in > order to get a good price. As of now I'm just behind on three cameras, > waiting for a couple of metal parts. Almost caught up now even with my > asthma. Now you the rest of the story. I hope you appreciate the work > I've done to keep yours and other Deardorffs going. > Ken
-- Christopher M. Perez (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 02, 2002
I can very much understand your being upset after such a long wait and yes he might have kept you more informed as to what was going on. But after reading Ken's e-mail it looks like his main fault was not knowing when to give up and throw in the towel. It does seem like he went through a lot just to be able to repair Deardorffs. Even taken in to consideration how much many love their Deardorffs
-- Ed Candland (email@example.com), May 02, 2002.
You said "... It does seem like he went through a lot just to be able to repair Deardorffs..."
Yes. It takes time to collect money from customers and give nothing in return. It's called fraud.
If Ken was in the middle of something serious, the very least he could have done was let his customers know of his challenges, not be asking for more money.
Yes, I'm angry. But I think my reponse is appropriate, given the facts as I know them.
- Christopher Perez
-- Christopher M. Perez (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 02, 2002.
Hi Christopher, I wasn't trying to make light of what you went through or saying you don't have a reason to be upset. I'm sure I'd be pretty upset too. I was just saying, by the sound of Ken's e-mail it doesn't sound like some sort of plan to defraud his customers. It sounds like one bad piece of luck after another. But yes I TOTALLY agree it was WAY out of line not to let you know what was going on at the time it was happening, give you the chance to get your camera and money back and not just let you hang and hang....
-- Ed Candland (email@example.com), May 02, 2002.
My Deardorff at Mr. Hough is over two years. Paid the 1050 also two years ago when he told me camera was ready
After payment sent, my email went unanswered.
I am not native speaker, this is a short response. Full timeline in comparsion to Mr. Hough's story up coming.
-- snowman (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 02, 2002.
Ed put it well and said something I realized after I'd had a chance to get to the bottom of my concerns:
- I would have liked to have had the opportunity to select another camera restorer, rather than be held hostage for three years and counting with no camera and little communications.
- Since this is nothing more than a hobby for me (a keen hobby, but a hobby nontheless) I would have liked to have had the opportunity to spend my money in other ways. I've seen really nice Deardorffs on eBay sell for the amount I've sent to Ken thus far! And I now regret not picking one of two 8x10 view cameras that have come up over the past two years in particular. One was a Wista, the other a Cambo with 8x10, 5x7, and 4x5 change sets. Money for my hobby is limited though and I couldn't pursue the other options. Still can't, in fact.
But all that is history and, like I'm learning from an increasing number of people, this transaction has left me with few non-legal options.
I'm trying hard to temper my responses so that people can see the reality of what I'm saying, not just my emotions around this.
- Christopher Perez
-- Christopher M. Perez (email@example.com), May 03, 2002.
I went through a similar excercise/frustration with Mr. Hough a few years ago. A posting on this site resulted in many reactions from people who sympathised, who had unsatisfactory dealings with Mr. Hough. People perform or they don`t. Personal stuff (excuses) have no place in the business deal.
Consider befriending men with big noisy motorbikes, they may offer to pick up your property on their way back from Sturgis.
-- Hans Berkhout (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 03, 2002.
It's too bad that that people have had such problems. Sometimes, in their exuberance, people take on more than they are able to complete.
One should also take into consideration the many Deardorffs that might not have been so well repaired had Ken H. not been around. I had a 5x7 that had been restored by him, and he did an excellent job. Deardorff the company came to a sad ending, and he was there to take up some of the slack.
-- neil poulsen (email@example.com), May 05, 2002.
Glad you have good experience with Mr. Hough. Me too, was thinking the same as you, the reason I sent my camera to him.
You opinion doesn't explain why all of sudden, after my payment sent, all my emails went unanswered.
As for keep Deardorff going, while waiting my 8x10 being returned (which I have yet to receive), I do find someone else to maintain my 5x7. He is not trained at Deardorff, but did a good job for me. I put this note here, so when people do search, they will knw they have another choice.
-- snowman (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 05, 2002.