An open letter to Ron Wisner

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by lars ake vinberg, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. As I have been waiting for a very long time for a refund from Wisner for a returned product, I am now publishing an open letter to Ron Wisner. It is my hope that Mr. Wisner will finally honor his original commitment for a full refund of the purchase price.
    My open letter to Mr. Wisner is published at my personal website. Once the issue is resolved this letter will be redrawn from public view.
    Lars ūe Vinberg
  2. I'm sorry for your experience, unfortunately it's consistent with that of others. But don't hold your breath waiting for your refund. It's been obvious for quite a while that he was using customers' advance payments for working capital or some other purpose so when a refund needed to be made he didn't have their money available. If cash flow improved some customers apparently did eventually get their money back after being stalled and stalled with lies of one sort or another as you've been. But if you read the Wisner home page you'll see that things don't seem to be going very well with the business so I think you'll be very fortunate to see a refund.
  3. Sad to hear Ponzi operating principles applied to large format manufacturing. If this is in fact the case, Mr. Wisner ought to either admit he can't operate at a profit and do whatever is necessary to make things right with his customers, find an investor and/or business manager and rescue the business (preferred outcome, but investors aren't going to like buying into the current problems) -- or be prosecuted for some variety of fraudulent operation.
  4. Read the responses by Mr Wisner here. Looks as if this was a good as putting it in the newspaper.
  5. One of the problems encountered by small firms is that the owners live beyond the means provided for by their company. Hence, many owners dig into the companies reserves. They buy gorgeous Mercedes (really big ones) and yachts(big ones too)and dine as if they were Hollywood moguls only to see their beloved companies collapse.

    I don't know that to be the case here. But obviously something doesn't balance or you wouldn't be waiting for your money. What a shame.
  6. It sounds more like Ron needs a STRONG, TOUGH-handed manager who controls the
    company's finances. Or, a very, very talented CPA as a business partner who has the
    courage to say no to Ron!

    Often times, entrepreneurial individuals tend to let things get away from them because
    they ARE entrepreneurial in spirit and lack any sense of business sense. They're usually
    great at coming up with the concept but... financially speaking, they're a disater!

    As somebody that deals with small business owners on a daily basis... I see this all too
    often. It's an unfortunate situation but it's the reality of the day.

    Hope you get your money back with interest (but don't hold your breath on the interest!)

    Good luck. :)

  7. Hello Ake. I ordered a camera from Wisner in November and paid it in full when I placed the order. In May, it became obvious that I would not be getting the camera anytime soon. I asked Wisner to either refund me the money or deliver the camera. After much aggravation and back and forth, I finally got my refund last week. It was a drawn out and stressfull process. So, do not give up. Keep on hammering. And you know what I found the most unsettling during this ordeal was finding out that Polaroid Japan was the official distributor of Wisner cameras in Japan. Go figure.
  8. If all those who have paid and waited far beyond reason & futile promises from Ron would contact the State Attorney General (and the postal authorities if any part of the transaction was by mail) these problems would have stopped long ago.

    A few mistakes or errors can happen to anyone. A number of them involving thousands of dollars aren't 'a few mistakes' but an ongoing business plan using your money to finance his lifestyle, all the while keeping you at bay with promises & 'I'm not a great businessman' crap.

    Anyone who purchases a Wisner or does business with anything Wisner without going through Quality Camera or similar is asking to get screwed. These businesses who handle Wisner cameras care about the business & the customer and will do whatever possible to get things worked out. It is telling that Richard Ritter & others have a nice business going fixing Wisner cameras just so they will work as advertised.

    Don't ever deal with Ron Wisner, go through his resellers or go to Canham or other makers who dont' have these problems.

    Next it will be the 'I have cancer' story if things keep progressing. Any excuse to get the person who wants actual service or a refund off their back.

    And yes, I am on him when I see this crap. Used to own a collection agency & his excuses are just like all the others I dealt with... just excuses while he keeps on spending money.
  9. was considering wisner. changed my mind. thank you guys for the heads up. I've seen alot of guys pulling this routine holed up with GF in secluded Costa Rica beaches. Must be nice, but would be beyond my ethics.
  10. Fred Picker would like to read all these.....
  11. I had a bad experience with Ron Wisner myself about five years ago. I won't go into it here in great detail but you can probably find what I had to say by doing a search for "Wisner camera review." But, briefly, what happened was that B&H had screwed up my order for a Wisner 4x5" Technical Field Camera and, after admitting that they had goofed, they wanted to make up for it by offering me a discount on the camera when they finally got it. That was strictly between B&H and me and had nothing to do with Wisner. B&H was simply giving up some of their profit margin to keep a loyal customer and that is their right. But Ron Wisner caught wind of it and contacted me and said that he would not allow B&H to give me a break! He said that was going to refuse to send the camera to B&H. He had some bizarre reason for this involving the idea that if other people found out that B&H was doing this for me, everyone would demand the same thing and he would no longer be able to control the selling price of his cameras. (Rone apparently does not believe in competitive market forces when it comes to his products!) After a long dialog with Wisner and B&H, Wisner finally sent me a camera directly although it took a very long time to do so. In my opinion, he sent me a piece of garbage on purpose. It had glaring defects that could never have possibly made it through even the most cursory of quality checks. For example, a huge hunk of wood was gouged out of one of the rails; the bubble levels were not even close to being zeroed properly (about 10 degrees off!); the front standards had not been lacquered and they turned black almost immediately; zero position indicators were missing, the catches that lock the camera closed were mounted on a ridiculous angle and wouldn't latch, etc., etc. When I contacted Wisner, he offered to fix the camera but there were so many defects that I told him that I wanted to exchange it. He did exchange the camera but it took a very long time for him to do so. What I received was built properly although the wood itself was not of the quality of the first camera I received. The camera now works fine although there are some very simple and basic changes that could be made to improve it that would involve almost no cost for labor or materials at all. For example, Wisner should put nuts on the tiny screws that hold the latches because they are easily torn out if the darkcloth brushes over them. I am, however, satisfied with the camera and I am glad that I have it but my experiences with Ron Wisner were not positive. At one point while talking to him, I almost felt like Rod Serling was going to step out of the shadows and tell me that I was now in the Twilight Zone. Ron said some very bizarre things to me that had me wondering about him.

    That said, if you order a Wisner camera and if you get a good one, you should be very happy with it. It is a fine camera. Ron just needs to learn how to run his business and he needs to get control of his manufacturig process. I can say with all honesty, that if I could run that shop, I would have the quality problems fixed within one week.
  12. Well, same here. I actually flew up to meet Ron at his shop...there were delays after delays after delays. Ron told me that the camera and lens set [I ordered the $10,000 complete package] were ready for a run-off. I got there and my camera and lenses did not exist! Ron had some "examples" that he said would be exactly like my equipment.

    I had to return the camera for defects. Oh, and I did not get the camera that I ordered. I got the Expedition when I ordered the Traditional. When the lenses finally got to me the caseings were not powder-coated like they were supposed to be but they, and the lenses were covered with machine oil and metal chips.

    The camera binds in high humidity and I had to make several modifications to get it to work. So sad....

    I have to admit though that I have made some really good negs with the equipment, but if I had known the ordeal it would be to get everything I would not have made the purchase.

    I hope that Ron turns things around..he's not a bad person -- I don't think he is anyway...but he does have some problems running the business.

    Jason Kefover.
  13. It's been a long time since I posted in this thread and I accidentally stumbled upon it tonight. I would like to add a few things.

    Two of the three lensboards that I got with the camera simply wouldn't fit the camera. I called Ron about it. Now you would expect him to apologize and quickly ship out replacements and have me ship the bad ones back, wouldn't you? That's what someone who is concerned about customer satisfaction would do, anyway. Well, he never even offered to repair them, let alone replace them. He told me to get a file and fix them myself! Some customer service!

    Other things:

    The bag bellows is sewn so it twists. It works but it's just irritating and it reveals a lack of quality control. Other Wisner bag bellows that I have seen have the same defect. Very sloppy!

    Ron's shellac finish for the hardware is ridiculous and so are his claims about it. I have been building, finishing, and refinishing furniture for several decades and I can tell you that shellac is the worst finish you can possibly use for this application. Shellac is not moisture resistant at all. Ron doesn't seem to realize it but HUGE advances in finish technology have taken place since the 19th century. Lacquer is a much better finish for brass. In fact, I have finished brass on the furniture I have built and even after 30 years of daily use it looks like the day I did it. Wisner's brass, on the other hand, tarnishes badly. In fact, I am going to re-finish all of the hardware on my camera with proper lacquer one of these days.

    Ron's claims that his cameras have extremely tight tolerances are pipe dreams. You cannot have such tolerances with wood and Ron has to know that. Wood expands and contracts with humidity. In fact, that expansion and contraction has to be calculated into most wood products and that is done by allowing movement where necessary. But the wood still expands and contracts. When Ron talks of thousandths or ten thousandths of an inch, I have to wonder what he's been smoking.

    The frame for Ron's bellows is very thin and flimsy wood. I like tradition too but this is one thing that should be made with modern materials - in this case, one-piece high-impact plastic. Nobody sees it. I have had to fix the broken joints on the flimsy wooden frames of my bag bellows repeatedly. You cannot expect Popcycle stick thin wood to stay glued together in corners. Ron should also provide some kind of hard case to store unused bellows in so the frames don't break as often.

    The bag bellows is not lined with silk like the regular bellows. In fact, the inside is nearly white! Ron said that makes no difference. Well, he is right to a degree if you use a very short lens and pull the bellows way out but the inside of the bellows should still be non-reflective black. It's just common sense!

    And, again, some of the tiny screws used should be backed by locking nuts on the other side. You can't expect a tiny screw in 1/4" wood to hold well. I don't know how many times I have torn one of the latches off the camera. A plain nut would end that problem but I haven't been able to find the tiny brass nuts to do the job.

    Ron should have designed a way to lock the matching wood ground glass protector in place. As it is, it's just just held in place by friction. If you have a Fresnel, the ground glass protector will fall off the camera and perhaps get lost. I hold it on with rubber bands. Not very elegant! A simple latch mechanism is called for.

    What really amazes me is that Ron never seemed to identify those basic problems and address them. If I was building those cameras, those problems would never have made it to the first production camera. And Ron's quality control is virtually non-existent, from what I experienced. How do you send out a new camera with... 1) A huge hunk of wood gouged out of it... 2) levels not even close to being right.... 3) Standards that have no finish on them at all.... 4) lensboards that won't fit the camera.... 5) missing center marks.... 6) latches put on at goofy angles and which won't latch at all???

  14. I wonder if there was ever a point if Wisner made quality cameras? If not why did folks ever buy them? I just don't get it, all the discussions and heartache over a product and producer who never seems to have made a camera that was worth a damn. Perhaps I am missing something....was he a famous photographer or friend of Weston or Adams or Picker and he just rode their coat tails. If you read this and other photo boards he sure seems to have sold a lot of cameras, and the website shows an extensive line of visually stunning equipment which is why I wanted one so badly....perhaps earlier in his career it was one of those Emperor's clothes scenarios, his products were always crap but his reputation in the fine art photography circles was to great for anyone to risk telling the truth.
  15. I worked with a Wisner 4x5 a short while and gave it back -- I could not see what all the hem-and-haw was all about. I thought the Tachi was far better.

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