Previously I’d written about using an inexpensive (e.g., eBay) softbox setup for both my train photos and for my general work lights, http://www.raildig.com/blog/model-railroading-work-lights. I use these lights on a daily basis but the boom arm has lost a little of its luster for me, it doesn’t always stay put when I move the softbox higher, lower or change its angle.
I did my research and decided to buy a Manfrotto 244 Variable Friction Magic Arm to replace the boom stand. In short, the Manfrotto 244 is a fully articulated arm with 360° rotatable ends and elbow. It cost me about as much as my entire 3-piece softbox set, but you do tend to pay for quality.
When it arrived from Amazon, I noticed there was no internal packing to speak of, no bubble wrap or protection of any kind. Weird, as everything is bubble wrapped these days. The unit was soundly scratched up around the ball joints end and I jumped to the conclusion that this was an Amazon return that had been repackaged and sold to me as new. Amazon did a great job of replacing this piece and to my surprise, the replacement was scratched up in the same area.
This was very strange as Manfrotto products tend to be presented, aside from their high quality, as having a real “look” to them with their black anodized metal finish. Wanting to get a straight answer, I snapped a couple of photos sent them off to Manfrotto directly. Not really expecting an answer beyond a form email in return, I was surprised to find a voice message on my machine today from Manfrotto.
They apologized for the scratched unit and said they’d be pulling their stock of the Manfrotto 244 Variable Friction Magic Arms in their distribution center to add some wrap or cardboard to insure this didn’t happen going forward. That was a nice surprise! I think we’re so used to vanilla form emails and voicemail systems that lead nowhere, getting a human response is kind of a shocker. Would have been nice had they offered to replace my unit with a non-scratcher, but this is a work tool for me so I’m not going to sweat it too much. I know, I did return it once to Amazon but that was because I thought I had been sold a used unit. Minor quibble… but that’s sort of my life.
Long story short (the ship has sailed on that one!), I do like it when a company is responsive and takes the time to address a potential issue. And remember, if you buy a Manfrotto 244 Variable Friction Magic Arm in the future and it has bubble wrap protection and arrives to you with no scratches… you’re welcome :)
Oh, and to the good folks at Manfrotto, if you really want to go above and beyond and make all right with the world, I’m saving up for your Manfrotto 475B tripod… wink, wink.