Why are you stuck with a writer without test driving it first?

Have you ever wondered how when you buy a writer, you don't even get to test drive it?   The sales person may come to your home and you play with it for 10 minutes or so, but that's it.  When you order the machine, whether you like it or not, you are stuck with it.


I cannot think of any othere business where you spend $5,000 on any equipment where you are stuck with what you purchased even if you are not happy with it. 


I purchased the Advantage Software Passport last August and tried to work with it for six months and my writing was just horrible on this machine; I just did not feel comfortable doing realtime.  Keys would be hit when my fingers were not even close to those keys.  It would stutter and stack and split.


I called Advantage repeatedly to complain and said I want my money back and, of course, they would not do that but always tried to tell me how to fix the problem.  I finally got fed up and sold the machine to a friend.  Now my friend has had the Passport in the shop in Florida twice and he has only had the machine for three months.  He is not happy with it either. 


I am affraid he will plop it back in my lap and I am stuck with it.  I just feel so frustrated that they stick you with a lemon and basically give you the run-around and never try to make it right.  In the last year I have spent $10,000 on two writers because I had to go buy another one. 


I just can't believe a company can adopt such a practice.  Still scratching my head about it.



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Kelli, I suggest you start a Group, for those with problems with writers, where they can state their writer, how long they have had it, and what problems they have had.


Working as a legal secretary for many years, I can tell you, if you can show a continued problem with this writer, you can  write a certified letter to the company, give them another chance to take back the writer or you will get an attorney.    If you can show the machine is defective, then you can do something about it.

And along with that, I would suggest you start keeping a log of the day-to-day problems you are having with it, including interactions and dismissive correspondence and discussion with Advantage.  This by itself might be very convincing.  And IMO, if you do need to work with an attorney later, the log will be helpful to them.

It is certainly a problem.  I would like to see machine-makers acknowledge this and have a much more liberal policy on test-driving the machine for, say, three months with ample customer support.  I would like to see more lease-to-buy plans, too. 

I was able to write for a really satisfying amount of time on a Lightspeed at a convention because someone was generous enough to set hers up and allow anyone who wanted to check it out.  Then I followed any discussion I could find on the Web about them for some months.  This worked happily for me, but it would have been a lot better to actually work with it for a reasonable period before being totally committed to it.

The Lighspeed deal was great.  I bought that machine.  I think you get 90 days to decide if you like it.  I didn't and sent it back, but that's the only company I know of that let's you "test drive" the machine for a few months before you are stuck.


No one else does and it is just absolutely wrong.   I can't think of any company in any other field  that gets away with this sort of behavior.   You might as well just throw $5,000 down the toilet because there seriously is no difference.

If you don't want to go the legal route for a writer you don't like or consider defective, Acculaw and one or two others will buy them.  I know there is a company that will let you rent a writer (may not have all models).  But there are some options out there so it doesn't feel like a total loss.


If you can't rent the writer you want from one of the companies, another suggestion is to rent one from another court reporter, who is willing, and pay her (enough to make her part with it for a few months), and let her use yours.  With this website, that is an option.

I appreciate that, but I already bought the Diamante after buying the Passport, all within a year.  I am very happy with the Diamante and don't need to rent a machine. 


 The problem is I don't feel I should have had to pay 10,000 for two machines; I should have been able to get my money back for a lemon Passport and used that money for the Diamante instead of being out five grand.  That's all. 


I know there are others in my situation, I am sure.  Just seems like a terrible way to treat your customers.   "If you don't like it or it's a lemon, too damn bad.  You're stuck with it."




Stenovations does what they do because they have to compete with the others (and they are behind in the game).  The others (Stenograph, Eclipse, etc) are not going to let you use a machine for X days because they won't want anyone sending it back.   Those companies are already successful, and they are not going to let anyone test a writer.


For others, a good way to do it is to test a friends, pay her a "happy amount" of money for a money to use it.




Start a GROUP for WRITERS.  That's something everyone can use.  You should get some good information quickly. 


Start drafting a certified letter.  You must have good writing skills.  Start a numbered paragraph with all the problems with the writer.   Start another another paragraph with all the repair attempts (include your friend's).  Start another numbered paragraph with your attempts with the company for them to do something.  Do your closure with something like: "This writer is defective and not suitable for realtime.   I expect you to take back the writer and negotiate a fair price with me.  You have 30 days to contact me.  If we cannot come up with a resolution, I will seek an attorney."


You have nothing to lose.  You know enough attorneys, one who will do the scaring to get them to take back the writer.

Myself, I'm using a Stenoram II.  Obviously, I am not realtime ready.  But I like to see my writing on the screen, so I will be using a small laptop.  My needs are met.  It sure is heavy!!!!

Thanks, Mary Jo


The letter is a bit premature since my friend has the writer in for service (second time in one month) and don't even know if he will try to give it back to me.    Hopefully it will be fixed when he gets it back and there will be no more problems.  That's what I am hoping for.


I guess he said his loaner Passport is even worse than the one I sold him.  He took a job the other day and he wrote the answer and the answer just started going away off his screen.  He looked to the notes and the asterisk just kept coming up over and over again, without being hit, and deleting the strokes.  It does this stuttering thing and one key will hit over and over again, like 30 times.  Very strange.


But I will start a group.  I will call it "Writer Issues" group.  We will see if other people have any issues.  Thanks.

Hey, Mary.

Don't think of your writer as heavy; rather, think of carrying it as an extra opportunity in the day to exercise!


Anyone buying a writer might want to check with their finance company first.  See what you can do about reversing the charges if they have a problem like yours. 


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