VTech and contempt for children

Recently, our daughter lost precious memories because her VTech camera deleted its own internal memory as soon as an SD card was inserted.

This is the email I sent to VTech:


Hi there. I was directed to email to this address by your Twitter support.

We have a 5 year old daughter, E. One of her prize possessions is a VTech Kidizoom camera. We recently moved from Pennsylvania to Tennessee, and in the process she left behind Ms. R., who was their babysitter for years, and who has become a dear family friend.

The internal memory of that camera contained a video and photos of Ms. R., that E. liked to play back to remember her by.

The other day, we were about to go out on a family outing. Before the outing I thought it would be good to get a memory card in the camera so that she could capture as many pictures as she wanted.

I plugged the memory card in, and gave the camera back to her. Suddenly, E. broke into tears: her pictures of Ms. R. were gone!

I’d seen this before. Thinking that the memory card simply overrode the internal memory when inserted, I popped the memory card back out. Then I went looking for her pictures and video. They were nowhere to be found.

I plugged the camera into my computer, and went looking through the photo folder. It was empty.

Your camera erased its own internal memory when a memory card was inserted.

I did not enjoy explaining to E. that her precious video of Ms. R. was lost forever. This is her face when I told her:

IMG_20150703_100135 (1)

I’m a software developer by trade. One of the cardinal rules of my profession is that you always safeguard user data. It is incompetence to do otherwise.

If a camera manufactured for adults had this behavior, there would be outcry. It would get 1-star reviews, and any company that made such a camera would be falling over itself to issue apologies for people’s lost photos and a firmware update to fix the issue.

VTech, you broke a little girl’s heart with your incompetence. Your failure to maintain even basic quality standards in your firmware shows a contempt for children. This is why I will avoid ever buying VTech products again, and why I will advise my friends against buying them.

Here is their response:

We are truly sorry your daughter lost her pictures on her camera. Unfortunately there is not a way to restore the photos once they have been erased. This is why we do recommend photos be backed up to a PC, much like other digital cameras.

The manual does indicate how to proceed when an SD card is being used:

[verbatim, irrelevant quote from manual]

Again, my apologies that this happened.

I suppose it’s nice that they apologized. But notice that there is no acknowledgement that their product has what, in a camera for adults, would be considered a showstopper flaw. No indication that the issue will be taken up internally.

I can only conclude that as far as VTech is concerned, “they’re just kids”, so their memories don’t matter.

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