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Consumer warning: Be careful sending family videos for digital dubbing

Posted August 26, 2019 9:30 a.m. EDT
Updated August 26, 2019 9:41 a.m. EDT

— Do you have a bunch of VHS tapes of family memories? Possibly baby's first steps, graduation or grandma's big birthday?

Then you need to know what happened to one woman when she mailed in some of her priceless tapes to have them converted.

Debi Fields wants to remember her grandmother.

"This is my grandma, Adna Hayes. She lived to be 108 years old," Fields said, holding a photo. At 105, Hayes made newspaper headlines in her hometown.

So Fields decided to preserve her grandmother's memory with digital dubs of some VHS tapes.

"There was a Groupon offered that I bought at the end of November last year for a company called "Memories on Media," Fields said.

She shipped the tapes to the Winston-Salem-based company.

"But as of today I've still not received them back." she said.

Where are the tapes?

There's actually a lot of demand for tape dubbing these days as families rush to convert decaying VHS tapes onto digital files that can last for decades.

Unfortunately, it seems some companies can't keep up with that rush.

"Come May I still hadn't received anything," Fields said. "Called but couldn't get through."

Now, she's starting to panic.

"These are so precious to me," she said. "They are memories of my grandmother at her 100th birthday party."

Don't Waste Your Money made multiple calls to the company. Finally, an employee answered and said they were swamped by Groupon deals, lost some employees this spring and are now catching up.

The lesson here to everyone: Check a dubbing company's Better Business Bureau rating: This one has an "F," which should be a red flag. And never send all your tapes out at once, no matter how good the deal. Hold some back.

Fields was praying she would get the video soon.

"As far as I know, it's the only speaking video we have of her," she said.

After Don't Waste Your Money got involved, "Memories on Media" scrambled to make Fields' tapes a priority, and she eventually got them back.

But this is a reminder to not trust all your memories with one service at once, so you don't waste your money.