Flip You: How Flip Video Lost Me as a Customer

Posted on September 9, 2009


You might remember a few posts back I wrote about the Flip camera fiasco when I went swimming with dolphins. If not, don’t worry.

The bottom line is I had a first generation Flip video camera, but I wanted to get some HD underwater footage. So I bought a Flip underwater case said to work with the Ultra line, I bought a Flip Video Ultra HD camera specifically for said case, and the two don’t work together. However, the case does work with my first gen Flip which has no reference to itself as an Ultra (as you can see by my lovely diagram above).

Flip is saying it’s the retailer’s issue and I should deal with them. I say it’s poor product labeling and design, and I’ve just been asking for the correct case (about $50). Besides, the underwater case I bought was special ordered at a store 250 miles away because not a single bricks and mortar store carried it. I ended up paying $80 to get the case special ordered, and there’s no returns. Plus I paid another $200 for an HD Flip which now can’t go underwater.

Below is Flip and I’s entire email correspondance. In my last email I threatened that if they don’t resolve this, I’m going to post everything and spread it as much as I can. Well here’s the post, so please help me keep my end of the deal by spreading this around.

It breaks my heart because I’ve been a huge fan of Flip, but customer service is everything and their complete lack of care has pushed me to this point. If they want to risk losing customers who might buy $200 cameras over a $50 accessory, then good luck with that.

And if you’re wondering what else you can get instead of a Flip, allow me to help you out with the following suggestions:

Sanyo Xacti HD1010 – Slightly more than a Flip, however it can do full 1080p, plus take stills (newer model can also do slow motion). And there’s an underwater case that can go to 150 ft (Flip is only 30) and has tons of underwater accessories and configurability.

Aiptek A-HD+ – This can also do full 1080p, is almost half the price of a Flip HD, plus it takes memory cards so you can keep shooting without downloading.

Kodak Zx1 – Same quality as the Flip but cheaper, water resistant, and can take SD cards.

Wow, actually I don’t feel so bad anymore, some of these look pretty good.

To Flip: my request still stands. All I want is the underwater case I set out to buy, and we can go back to being BFFs.

Here’s all the emails after the jump:

Customer (Joey Daoud) 09/05/2009 07:21 AM
Hi there,

I’ve been a big fan of Flip and have had the first generation model for more than a year. A few weeks ago a friend asked me if I wanted to swim with wild dolphins, which of course was a no brainer.

I’m a professional videographer, so I brought my gear to document the trip, but I also wanted to get some underwater shots and that’s when I found out you make an underwater housing for your cameras.

After doing some research I found that the housing you sell on your site only works with second generation Flip Ultra HD and SD cameras, while the housing sold everywhere else online is only good for the first generation Flip. Ok, fair enough. I had been thinking about getting an HD Flip Ultra, and this trip would be the perfect reason to do that. So I wanted to get the HD Flip and the underwater housing for it.

The only issue was time – I was told about the trip 2 days before it was happening. I felt ordering with overnight shipping was still too risky in that it might not arrive in time, so I called every brick and mortar store I could think of to see if they carried the underwater housing and no one did.

I’m based in Miami, and this dolphin trip was happening up north near Panama City, so I also called stores in Orlando. I finally found an electronics store that could special order the case and have it the next day. I verified that this was the case for the Flip Ultra, the newer models. He said it was, and he could see right there on the screen it said the underwater case said it was for the Flip Ultra.

Ok, great, I stopped off in Orlando on my drive up and had to pay extra to have this case special ordered, totaling about $80 for the case (and non-returnable being that it was special ordered). Then I went to Best Buy and bought a Flip Ultra HD.

Arriving in Tallahassee, where I was spending the night before the dolphin trip, I opened up my two new purchases to test them out. Well I was pretty surprised to find that the case didn’t fit the Flip Ultra. I thought it must be a snug fit, because I had been sure to purchase the right case for the right camera. The case wouldn’t’ close, and if it was forced close, it would pop open.

Then I tried it out with my first gen Flip and it fit perfectly. So I just paid extra for an underwater case that doesn’t fit the quality camera I want, as well as $200 on a brand new camera that is now scratched up because I had to pry it out of the case.

Looking at the box of the underwater case, it says it will only work with Flip Video Ultras. No where on my first gen Flip does it refer to itself as an Ultra. And I believe the case is now damaged because when I did use it, I could see moisture getting inside.

I’m not asking for my money back. What I really want is what I thought I purchased: an underwater case for my HD Flip camera, and a solution to fixing the current housing I have.

Thanks for you time and I hope this can be resolved.


Response (Flip Video Support) 09/05/2009 09:59 AM
Thank you for your response.

Please ensure that the model of your underwater case is the appropriate model for your Ultra HD. Underwater case model AWC2T is the appropriate case for 2nd Generation Flip Ultra Camcorders (model number U1120) and Flip UltraHD Camcorders (model number U2120).

This case does not work with 1st Generation Flip Ultra Camcorders (model numbers F230 and F260), nor does the case designed for model numbers F230 and F260 (underwater case model AWC1T) work for 2nd Generation Flip Ultra Camcorders and Flip UltraHD Camcorders.

This information is clearly available on our website.

If you did not purchase the appropriate case for your camcorder, we suggest contacting the retailer from which you purchased the case to arrange for a return. If you have the correct case for your camcorder, please feel free to contact us further.

Thank you,
Flip Video Support

Customer (Joey Daoud) 09/05/2009 05:42 PM
As I stated in my original email, I was fully aware that there were 2
different underwater cases that fit different generation Flip models,
and I did everything in my power to ensure that I bought the correct
case for the HD Flip Ultra that I bought with the specific intention
of using it in that case. However, through vague labeling on Flip’s
part I did not end up with the correct case for the correct model.

First off, I don’t understand why the most widely available underwater
case is for a model Flip no longer manufactures. Even Amazon does not
carry the newer underwater case. However, I was aware of the
differences which is why I kept searching for the newer model and
thought I bought the correct one.

I have the box for the Flip underwater case that I purchased, and it
says “This case is designed to work only with the Flip Video Ultra.”
No where does it state what generation Flip.

Furthermore, and more importantly, on looking at my Flip first
generation model, no where on it does it refer to itself as an
‘Ultra.’ When I was doing my initial research on Flip’s website, it
seemed that Ultra was a delineation added to differentiate the Flip
Ultra and the Flip Mino. But my camera does not refer to itself as a
Flip Ultra anywhere.

Finally, the Flip Ultra HD that I purchased for the underwater case
clearly displays the word ‘UltraHD’ on the back above the controls.

The bottom line is I purchased a case said to work with the Flip
Ultra, I purchased a Flip Ultra model, and the two do not work
together as I was led to believe.

I am clearly a loyal customer, having purchased a second Flip and
underwater housing, and traveling extremely out of my way to find both
items. It’s disheartening not only to find that the two items did not
work together, but that I’m being dismissed and thrown a bunch of
serial numbers and standard “This information is clearly available on
our website.” All I want is what I set out to buy – an HD Flip camera
that can go underwater.

Thanks again for your time,

Joey Daoud

Response (Flip Video Support) 09/07/2009 12:50 PM
Thank you for your response.

The underwater case that you have is not designed for your camcorder. It may be best to contact the retailer from which you purchased the underwater case to arrange for a return. The underwater case for your camcorder is model AWC2T, available at http://www.theflip.com/products_accessorize.shtml.

Thank you,

Flip Support

Customer (Joey Daoud) 09/07/2009 04:42 PM
As stated earlier, the case was special ordered because I could not
find it in a single retail store (this is at the same point when I
went and bought an additional Flip Ultra HD specifically for the case,
and the heart of this issue). Because the case was special ordered it
can’t be returned. In any case, this isn’t the retailer’s fault
because they too went by the package and confirmed that the case was
for a Flip Ultra.

I’ve attached a photo illustrating the point on how I bought a case
from you claiming to work with the Flip Ultra, yet no where on the
first generation camera does it refer to itself as an Ultra, while at
the same time the Flip Ultra HD that I bought clearly labels itself as
an Ultra (the Flip Ultra HD is not pictured, but I can provide a photo
if needed). Also, no where on the packaging of the case does it state
what Flip model number it’s designed to work with.

This is your last chance to resolve this issue, or else I am posting
all past and previous correspondence on my blog and will aggressively
promote it to my thousands of subscribers, readers, Twitter followers,
Facebook friends and fans as well as all review sites and video forum

You’re about to lose me as a customer, do you really want to risk
losing more over a $50 accessory?

Response (Flip Video Support) 09/08/2009 04:54 PM
Thank you for your response.

We apologize for the confusion and frustration.

As other retailers still sell the Flip Ultra Series camcorders, they are also selling the underwater case for the original Ultra.

We can only recommend contacting your retailer for a return, or simply that you use the case with your Flip Video Ultra.

The underwater case appropriate for the Ultra HD is available at the Flip online store.

As previously mentioned, the product information for camcorders and compatibility with accessories is available on our website. The best resource for information about Flip Video is always www.theflip.com

Thank you,

Flip Video

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Written by Joey Daoud

Joey Daoud is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His past films have appeared on Netflix, The New York Times, and National Geographic. He is also a YouTube creator across multiple channels with videos garnering millions of views. In his free time, he likes to climb mountains, scuba dive, and brew unique coffees.

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  1. Andrew

    Damn. This will make me think twice about getting a Flip. Some of the other options you posted seem great!

  2. Andrew

    Damn. This will make me think twice about getting a Flip. Some of the other options you posted seem great!
    PS: Wanted to mention good post!

  3. Rob

    I ran into same problem. I have AWC1T case purchased along with my UltraHD camera from Amazon. AWC1T case is promoted and advertised as for the “Ultra series” cameras. But the UltraHD is apparently not “Ultra series” despite it’s name and as you point out does not fit in the case. Going to the Flip web site they do not put the model number for the case they are selling anywhere on the web page except embedded in the URL itself. Based on the description alone, even with the text that goes with it you cannot tell if you are getting the correct version or not until it shows up and is useless. Searching for ‘AWC1T’ on their web site does not turn up anything so you have no idea there are even two models out there. Also, the fact that they changed the size of a product by 1/16th of an inch for the sake of making all accessories incompatible annoys me. They have not responded to my e-mails commenting on their web site’s or product shortcomings. Based on a screen print of the Amazon web site the 3rd party reseller is refunding me for both product and shipping. Amazon did not take down their ad or accept my review of the product where I let everyone know the two items sold together don’t actually work together. Too bad I didn’t see your article sooner or I would have purchase one of the other cameras. I like the UltraHD but I could do without Flip and their nonsense.

  4. Rob

    Oh, and congrats on getting #1 ranking on Google search for ‘AWC2T’.

    I might add this other piece of information. Flip sells rechargeable battery packs and chargers for the Flip UltraHD. Save your money. Standard AA batteries fit and work just fine. My Flip always shows ‘red’ low battery no matter how long I charge it. When I charge the UltraHD battery pack in the camera it shuts down charging with a message “It’s really hot – charging paused” Six hours later still the red gauge (low battery). I have 2600 mAh NiMH AA cells and a fast charger and will use them instead.

  5. Joey

    Haha, funny how you’d think #1 for AWC2T should be Flip’s site – if only they mentioned their product numbers.

    What bothered me more was I did my homework and was aware that there were two different cases, yet their labeling still managed to mess it up. And I have no idea why the newer case is only available on their site and everyone else sells the old one, including Amazon.

    I also get the same exact issue with the UltraHD batteries – it says it’s really hot. However I haven’t swapped the batteries out and it hasn’t died yet, so maybe it’s all a lie?

  6. C

    I am in the process of ordering a Flip underwater case and I too am confused about the case to get. However, in FLip’s defense. If you have the original box from the camera (not the underwater case) it says “Ultra Series” on the box. At least ours does.

  7. Janine

    Thank you for posting similar cameras. I have the Flip 1st edition. I brought it on amazon for $100 thinking that it will help add new stories to my demo reel. I am aspiring Producer / Broadcast Journalist. So far I have been unsuccessful in taking videos longer than 30 seconds. I did get the rechargeable batteries made by Pure Digital only to find out I have a 1st edition and they do not recharge so I’m back to square one. It is frustrating because the camera connects to my computer with no problem but then I can’t shot video with it. If I’d saw your post before buying the Flip, I definitely would have went with one of your other options listed.