DVD Your Memories was founded in 2006. Chuck, our founder, started out with one location in San Diego and a mission to establish the best family digital media transfer company in California. Since then, we’ve grown to have four locations in Los Angeles, Orange County, the South Bay, and San Diego. Customers love us for our quality work, customer service, and flexibility. We scan and restore photos, digitize video tapes, and much more. We still believe that family media transfer is a personal business – so it ought to be handled personally. Our technicians have proudly done so for nearly 20 years. However, you’ve probably heard of mail-in services that have cropped up in recent years. Maybe it seems simpler to do it that way, but nothing could be further from the truth. Here are some reasons why.
The riskiest part of sending your media to a mail-in company is the shipping process. While your media isn’t either in your hands or the media transfer company’s, it’s in the care of a shipping company. Here are the ways that can go wrong.
There was an average of 58 million packages shipped in the United States every day in 2023. Odds are, you ordered at least one of those. You’re also probably in the 88% of adults who worry about package theft. Your family media is one of your most precious possessions. More often than not, there’s only one copy, and if that’s true, it is irreplaceable. If you ship it to a company, they have to ship it back to you. Why trust something that’s irreplaceable to a process that probably concerns you? Why would you trust it to that process twice over? That’s not a misplaced concern, either. There’s a one-in-six chance you’re in the 17% of people who had a package stolen last holiday season.
Even if you’re not worried about your package being stolen, there’s always the chance that your package just gets lost. Services like Amazon will usually just replace a package that gets lost in their fulfillment center for free. Just this last Christmas, one of my presents to a member of my family got lost in Ontario, and I got a second shipment for free. If I’d decided to buy my family digitized versions of our old photo albums, it wouldn’t be a book sitting on a shelf in an Ontario warehouse forever, it’d be those same priceless photo albums. Here’s the screenshot of the circuitous journey my present took to that shelf in Ontario. At any one of those touchpoints, there can be a clerical or mechanical error, and the package – your precious memories – are gone.
The third bad thing that can happen to a package when a shipping company handles it is damage. This happens far more often than you’d think. According to a recent study, there were 84% as many last-mile delivery complaints about damaged packages as there were about delayed deliveries in 2023. A mail-in media transfer company can promise they’ll treat your originals with care. They probably mean it. But they can’t make the same promise for their shipping partners.
Once your media reaches the company, they have to unpackage it, sort it, digitize it, re-package it, and send it back to you. When processing tens of thousands of orders like that, things go wrong.
Look at the reviews for any mail-in service you like and you’ll see lots of people who sent their media, the company received it, and proceeded to lose it. Look at the reviews for a local media transfer company, on the other hand, and you’ll see very little of that, if any at all. You may also get part of your media lost and part of it returned to you, as media transfer businesses operate by department. These companies are also slow. What takes a local company a week is going to be an 8-10 week adventure with a mail-in company. Your media is going to spend a lot of time in their system – much more time than it would in a local company’s. The longer it’s there, the more likely it gets lost.
It’s also not uncommon for your media to be damaged in large processing centers like that – you might get your tapes back in worse condition than when you sent them in, with poor quality transfers to boot. You can usually repair tapes and restore photos with a local business, but that business probably does media transfers too. Work with the local company in the first place and you won’t end up paying extra for repairing media that wasn’t broken when you put it in the mail.
We get orders all the time from customers who’ve sent their media to a mail-in service who weren’t happy with the result. You might have photos of different shapes and sizes, slides and negatives of uncommon formats, irregular reels of form, or video tapes in a rare or foreign format. With a local company, on the other hand, you can just bring your media in and they’ll tell you whether or not they can transfer it, but that’s much more difficult with a mail-in service. Maybe you’ve got labelled VHS Tapes or a carousel of slides in a certain order. If you send them to a mail-in company and the folders aren’t labelled or the slides are out of order, you’re probably still out the cost of the box. With a local company, on the other hand, those are both easy to ask for.
I’ve already talked above about the very long delivery times that mail-in services have. Now, let’s say you aren’t happy with your order. If you’re going to have that same digitizing service fix it, you’re dealing with the same lead time again. If you have a very particular problem, it’s going to be very difficult to get someone on the phone who actually works on the media transfer. Re-shipping your media in order to get it transferred the way you want it exposes it to all the same problems that have been written about above, too.
If you look at a local company to do your project, on the other hand, you probably aren’t going to encounter any of these problems. If you pick a good one, you definitely won’t. Here’s why.
Driving to an office and dropping off your media may seem like a hassle. It’s also by far the best option. If you drive your media directly to a local media transfer company, you’re disintermediating the warehouse and shipping companies from the equation. The chance that your media gets lost is significantly smaller if you drive it directly to an office. At DVD Your Memories, we’ve been in business for nearly 20 years. We’ve never lost anything. Ever. We’ve still got media on hand from customers from over ten years ago. Drop-off services also prevent anyone other than yourself or a professional from handling your media. For older or fragile media, that’s a big deal.
If you’re a mail-in media transfer company that markets itself nationally, you need customer service representatives, automatic email responses, and canned messages on your phones. The exact opposite is true if you work with a small local digital transfer company. You needn’t worry about canned phone or email responses – you can almost always get a human on the phone really quickly. In-office, you can always talk to a person face-to-face who’s directly involved in getting your media digitized. The service is personal, and you can get custom price quotes for your project. They’ll also usually tell you the exact day your project is going to be done. That’s much better than an 8-10 week lead time with no surety as to when you’ll get your media back. That’s particularly great for rush jobs that need to be done same-week or even same-day.
When you work with a local company, the people on the phone with you or at the front desk are the people who actually do media transfer. If the person on the phone isn’t the exact technician doing your work, they’re almost always in the same room as the person who is. If they’re not, the furthest away they’re going to be is a phone call. Maybe you’ve got a quality control or process related question about how your media’s going to be handled. You can always be confident that the person talking to you on the phone or in person knows what they’re talking about, or can go get someone who does right away. That’s much better than vague email assurances and updates about how carefully your media is being handled.
Got rare format negatives or slides? Not sure what kind of film reel you have? A local service will identify those for you and tell you whether or not they can process them. That’s much better than sending some negatives in the mail and hoping they’re the 35mm ones a company tells you they’ll scan. If you aren’t happy with your scans from a local service, you can get them re-scanned very quickly and usually for free. If you aren’t sure what’s on your audio cassettes or VHS Tapes, a good local company won’t charge you for taking a look at what’s on there and then you can decide whether you want to digitize them. Our pricing is also flexible with the length of your tapes.
Thanks for reading all of this, and we hope you’ll consider a local option when doing any media transfer projects. We really do believe that just about no matter where you are, a local option is always preferable to a mail-in option. You can rest assured knowing they’ll treat your precious memories with the love and care they deserve.