Pressed DVD Visible Reflective Failure



I have a large collection of DVD movies (200+ titles pressed, maybe just as many burned). I’m a bit of an insomniac and decided to pop in my original (store bought) “The Matrix Reloaded” (U.S. Reg. 1, 2 disk, WS) tonight. Playback failed maybe 20 minutes in (at around title 8).

On checking the disk, a very large smudge can be seen on the non-label side, resembling the print of a large thumb in shape and area, and extending to the edge of the disk … but it isn’t a print. It is below the surface. For example, a print could be made on top of the smudge and cleaned off - but nothing cleans the smudge. There’s no apparent damage to the label side.

The damaged area appears to be a region where the reflectivity had been removed by some unknown process. I’m sure this disk played well before at some point, but I may not have viewed this title in more than a year. The other disk in the set is undamaged as are nearby disks in the cabinet. The disk have been stored in the original plastic keep case.

I’ll try to include a photo of the damage if it can be of help.

Anyone have any knowledge about what may have caused this? The disk looks otherwise undamaged (no cracks or apparent separation of layers at inner or outer edge, or at the point of smudge).

Below is my attempt to further explain the damage:

In addition, there is a 2nd smudge on the edge of the larger smudge that looks a bit curious, as it appears to be the edge of a fingerprint which would be left behind if most of one’s fingerprint was intercepted by an intermediary piece of paper later removed…

Hmm, how to describe:

Like one’s view of the moon, there’s a sharp edge around the illuminated side and a fuzzy sort of tapering on the side in shadow … well, the finger-print smudge tapers off like the shadowy side of the moon. Except, there’s a second smudge that looks a bit like a cresent moon except the interior side has a perfectly straight edge and the exterior side has that tapered bit. As it happens, the straight edge of the damage is NOT in line with any radii of the disk.


Part of the process of making DVD/CD’s is a stamper being pressed on the injected plastic to make a plastic half of the disc, then this plastic half is spluttered with metal.

It sounds to me like someone watching these plastic halves go down the conveyor to be spluttered picked it up to check it and unknowingly touched the surface before putting it back; hence it was then spluttered, somehow passed the surface check and the rest of the process finished. Also sounds like the disc worked for a while, probably until it degraded so much that error correction now fails on it, you cant play it anymore, and you can see the damage on the disc surface.

Congratulations, you have a one off, could be a collectors item… then again, maybe not.


Here’s the perfect chance to test the movie industry theory. Contact the service dept. at the studio (for example, Fox Home Video’s service department), let them know that you have a defective disc. See what they say, they may tell you to essentially stuff yourself and buy another, in which case I would log a complaint to their local BBB and their local district attorney’s office (neither of which will do any good, of course, but at least you went through the proper channels, as they say). If they say to send the disc to them so that they may examine it, go ahead and do it. If they say that they will replace it free of charge, then great, personally, I would not settle for anything less than replacing it free of charge and them covering the cost of shipping the disc both to them for checking and the new one back, but then I may be unreasonable like that. :slight_smile:

If they say to essentially stuff it, ask for the disc back and go through the proper channels. Then go and do the underhanded thing, buy the movie again, take your broken movie and put it back in the packaging of the new and take it back, you probably won’t get your money back, but you may be able to exchange it for another movie that you don’t already have, if they insist that you get another copy of that movie, make up some BS story like: tell them that this was the second one you bought that was manufactured poorly and that you originally thought the last place that you bought it from improperly handled it and that they allowed you to choose another movie and therefore you demand to choose another movie because clearly the studio producing the one you have does not have good quality control. If you go to a large chain, you probably won’t have to defend your decision to choose another movie or do much explaining, but if you do, just BS along the lines of what I said and they should have no problems exchanging for another of equal or greater value (although you’ll have to cough up the difference with a greater value movie), remember the customer’s always right and most places will go out of their way to give into the customer’s demands (within reason), if that one BB store will not give in to your liking, try another, but I doubt it would really be a problem. I have had to do this with software in the past, never a movie and it worked well for me. I would really try to do this to a BB store, though. I don’t know if they have to eat the costs of defective merchandise or not (I am talking on an individual basis, when there are mass defects that would cost the company a lot of money to absorb, they will go back to the manufacturer and get some kind of deal), I have heard stories from different people, one saying that the BB’s don’t bother to go back to the manufacturer for a single defect or that they get credited for the single defect, but in all cases, they just discard the defective product, which is kind of bad, it would be nice for the manufacturer to get it back to see how it was defective and perhaps fix the problems in manufacturing (and customer service).


Here are the pictures:

You can tell the real fingerprints (easily removed) on the hub and bottom of the disk from the damaged area on top (the surface there is still smooth, but non-reflective) … I guess I shoulda wiped it down a bit but the room was dark and the flash very close.

The damaged part happened to be to top of the disk, closest to the RFID device stuck inside the case. Any chance that could’ve contributed? I didn’t see any damage to other disks with RFID’s in the case, but maybe I should make it my habit to remove them?


Looks like the bonded parts are coming apart, just a poorly bonded disc. As Sarumen said, in theory you should be able to get the disc replaced, see the leaflet for an address or contact number. Or you could just buy a new one ($9.99 amazon / £8.97 amazon uk - delivered).


Right, like I’d actually pay for another one because of a manufacturer defect! Sounds like you work for Warner Bros. I emailed them (the only address they offer is the one for their online store) and they replied…

"Thank you for contacting Warner Home Video. You have reached the Customer
Service department for the Warner Home Video Online Store.

If you are contacting us regarding an order you placed at our Online Store
you will receive a reply shortly.

For questions regarding Warner Home Video products purchased at retail, for
technical support, international inquiries or comments on Warner Home
Video products in general, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions at

We are only able to respond to inquiries regarding online purchases from

Best Regards
Warner Home Video
Online Customer Service"

From the FAQ:

  1. Can I send a defective DVD I purchased at a retail outlet to you if the outlet will not accept it as a return?

Please return the product to us so that our technical department can review it. Please note that the DVD must be returned in its original case. If you are returning a box set, you must also send the whole box set back. Please return to the following address: Warner Home Video, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522: Attn: Business Affairs. Once the product is received and reviewed someone will be in touch. Please remember to include your contact information.

  1. I’ve returned the defective DVD that I purchased at a retail outlet back to Warner Home Video - when can I expect a replacement?

Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

So, for a defect of their fault, they want you to send everything back at your expense … to MAYBE get contacted in the next month or two about a return.

Gee, what a great deal!

… And these are the same people who don’t want to let us back up our own DVD’s. It’s nice they have such a “convenient” exchange policy to discourage such “unlawful” behavior.


Two things, you can take a chance and send it back to them, if they agree that the DVD was a factory defect, I would bill them for the initial S&H back to them and see how they respond alternatively, you can go back to my reply above and use my underhanded trick and not have to worry about postal charges.


They’ve since responded:

"[I]Thank you for contacting Online Customer Service.

We would be more than happy to investigate this matter further. Please
return the product to us so that our technical department can review.
Please note that the DVD must be returned in its original case. If you are
returning a box set, you must also send the whole box set back. Please
return to the following address:

Warner Home Video
Attention Business Affairs
4000 Warner Blvd.
Building 160, Room 11-139
Burbank, CA 91522

Again, we apologize for the difficulty you experienced and thank you for
bringing this to our attention. Once the product is received and reviewed
someone will be in touch. Please remember to include a return address for
the product to be returned back to you.

Thanks again for contacting us.

Online Customer Service[/I]"

To which I replied,

"That doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me! If I send you my both my disks with the original packaging, I have nothing. At best, you might contact me (4 to 6 weeks) later with information as to if I can get a replacement or not. At worst, the shipment is “lost” or otherwise I receive no response, and I’m still without a working DVD and any means to obtain a replacement. Plus, it looks like you expect me to pay the shipping charges and incur all the inconvenience FOR YOUR DEFECT.

If this is what consumers can expect when they buy a defective product, it is not surprising so many people avoid purchasing original product these days and just unlawfully copy what they rent at Blockbuster / Netflicks / the library. I’m pretty disappointed.

With your company’s strong support of the MPAA’s relentless pursuit to make any CSS bypassing software illegal – in an effort to prevent honest customers such as myself the ability to make a personal, fair-use back up copy of purchased content in case of usage damage or MANUFACTURER DEFECT (such as in my case) – I’d expect you to be much more inclined to make the return process quick and painless. If you can’t be trusted to back up your product, why should I (the consumer) be willing to buy it?

I’ve gone out of my way to clearly show you the degradation occurring with this disk and believe that ought to be enough for you to send me an replacement ASAP.

If you would like me to return the damaged disk for your technical department to review, I’ll be happy to do that just as soon as I receive my replacement and a prepaid preaddressed envelope from you.

Please send replacement to:"

I don’t expect a response…


It was on UK TV last night, what is all that rambling the white haired guy does at the end? I saw it in the cinema when it came out, that bit sent me to sleep then too.

The manufacurers have it sweet. They don’t expect too many returns as people generally wouldn’t go through the hassle of writing a letter, packaging the disc, posting it and waiting 4-6 weeks thinking it may just get lost. All over a $9.99 (or less) bargain bucket disc.

Be interesting to see how long it takes. For a popular DVD like that I’d expect it to be quick. Do it and let us know.


Well, it wasn’t $9.99 when I bought it. And surprise, surprise, I got another reply. A whole bunch of apologies for this and that but “unfortunately” they “do not offer pre-paid envelopes” and “there is no possible way for us to issue you a refund for the return postage”. Yeah, like why should a deep pockets company like that have any “possible way” to refund return postage of defective merchandise? How absurd!


Not to entirely defend them, but they do have a point in wanting to analyze the disc before providing a new copy. They want to be sure you bought an original and not a pirated copy. However, they should offer to reimburse your return postage if it was found that it was, in fact, one of their manufactured discs that failed and not reimburse if it were an illegal pirate copy. However, I would say that all they needed would be the one disc, they should not need the entire original packaging unless they determined it was a fake copy and needed it as evidence, but the one disc should tell them all that.


Isn’t that what the “proof of purchase” tags are for?

Besides - the cost to them of sending me a replacement is next to nothing… Maybe a few cents, plus postage. WB is a division of Time Warner; the world’s largest and richest media company and one of the worlds largest companies of any kind. The AOL division of TW doesn’t seem to have any issues with the cost and postage of disks - they send millions out unwanted and I’ve gotten dozens myself. It would be nice if they actually sent me something I wanted.

If it turns out I did buy a fake disk, it surely would be worth more than the cost of replacing my disk to find this out and obtain the evidence.

They have no reason not to replace my disk.


Agreed. If anything it would go a long way to customer satisfaction and good will. (You brought up a couple of points I had not thought of.)


Here was my reply to their “awful sorry for you, wish we could have helped” letter. If anything, maybe I can amuse some flunky in their digital mail room.

"That’s absurd.

Warner Bros. is a division of Time Warner, the largest and richest media company in the world. It is inconceivable that you have “no possible way” to issue a speedy exchange for product you sold with a manufacturing defect. Pressed DVD’s cost no more than a few cents each at the volume you manufacture them. Postage can’t be an issue either, as your AOL division sends out millions and millions of unwanted disks each year, so surely you can afford to finally send me just one that I actually want.

The retailer I purchased this movie from is no longer in business. Besides, they did not manufacturer the disk - you did. I can understand you having an agreement with your retailers to handle exchanges such as this to make things simpler for you, but this does not change the fact you sold me defective product and I am entitled to a replacement at no additional cost.

Please do the right thing…

Send replacement to:"

The retailer was an independent supermarket in central florida where I bought many disks (and groceries) before they closed shortly after an Albertson’s was built 1/3 mile down the road and a super walmart opened a bit later across the street.


Tell me if I’m wrong, but you expect them to send you a replacement disc even though you haven’t proved you own the original?

To be fair on Warner, it’s a standard returns policy which is the same for most consumer goods from any store and manufacturer.


How else do you propose I “prove” I own the original, defective disk as seen in the photos above?

I suppose I could have borrowed a friends defective disk and photographed his - but then of course HE would still be entitled to a replacement. Maybe you think maybe the two disks in the pictures are not the same? If the disk from the second photo isn’t the same disk as the one in the top photo, why would I need to get ANOTHER copy of a movie I already possess? Besides, they would be able to detect this deception when I return the damaged disk to them – and they already have my true name and address so it wouldn’t be in my best interest to intentionally defraud a major multi-national corporation over such a low-cost item.

Their return policy may be “standard” … but that doesn’t justify the fact that it is obsolete and extremely unfair to the consumer, and runs contrary to their legal actions against “fair use” copies for back up purposes.

I could have made a back-up copy of this disk the day I bought it, or archived it to some other digital format (a computer hard drive) which would have prevented me from being without the content now that the disk has (prematurely) degraded beyond a point of no recovery. But political actions taken by WB, their parent companies, and trade organizations had made any such personal backing up illegal.

Since they don’t want to allow the consumer to protect himself from content loss due to either (a) hyperactive children or other mis-use, (b) mechanical damage caused by ailing hardware, or © manufacturer defect – one would assume they would be morally responsible for replacing such disk (especially those damaged due to manufacturing defect) at their own expense.

It would be a simple enough policy to implement. You call, write, email them and report a disk that needs replacement - and they send you the replacement in a low cost returnable mailer (similar to what is used to ship & return on-line rentals). If they want, you return the bad disk back to them in the same packaging.

They’ve already admitted the cost they incur are in the creation of the content - and not on the medium it is delivered on. You’ve all seen that there is only negligible price difference between movies or music purchase on acutal disks versus those purchased in purely digital form.

Media companies see illicit online downloads as a major threat not because they are loosing any “physical product” – but because they are loosing their “intellectual content”. More specifically, they are loosing the potential licensing fees of the purely digital “intellection content”. They dislike peer to peer because such trades online do not generate any such fee income for said media companies.

My theory is, if you buy a physical product - and it is defective, than it is common law that you have a resonable amount of time to get a no cost exchange for a brand new product. If later on down the road it fails due to a previously undetected manufacturing defect, you man have less options, because most physical products are intended to be used, and thus worn, and the depreciation must be accounted for. Most purely physical objects like this have clearly stated return policies. Not all physical objects, even those of great value, must be sent “back” (i.e. across the country at user expense) before a replacement is dispatched. For example, the computer I am typing this on (a Dell XPS 600 valued at about $2000) was recieved by me in a damaged condition. Dell quickly expedited construction of a replacement; added priority overnight shipping to the replacement when it was completed, and soon I had a working computer like the one I had paid for. They even issued a credit to my charge card for my inconvenience. That’s good customer service. In any high volume manufacturing industry - mistakes WILL occur. The measure of a company is how they respond to those mistakes.

The 2nd part of my theory also applies. When you buy a DVD movie, what you are acutally buying is about 5% physical product (includes the disk, packaging, shipping & stocking costs) and 95% “intellectual content”.

It is the “intellectual content” that is of concern to Media Company. It’s still perfectly legal to resell my physical product - but I certainly cannot do a THING with my “intellectual property” - with regards to transfering it to other devices or sharing it online. Kindof like software, right? This is such a big issue with software, that you never even BUY software anymore! You only buy a LICENSE to use the software.

Looking at it this way - I’ve paid a LICENSE FEE to watch my DVD video’s “intellectual content”. I am now no longer able to do this. If they won’t let me copy it from someone else, download it easily from the internet, or aquire it through a peer to peer service (all of which take much less than “4 to six weeks”) - than they ought to send me another copy of my “intellectual content” on the “physical product” disk THEY TOLD US would last a “LIFETIME” with proper reasonable care (i.e. at least 70 years).

Okay, now I rant a little off topic:

The whole LICENSE FEE for DVD’s would be really nice. How about a PERPETUAL LICENSE for any DVD Title you purchse, that will allow you free upgrades to any future re-releases of the same content in the inevitable new format.

My example? STAR WARS, Episodes 4,5,6. I bought them on VHS. Then I bought them on WIDESCREEN VHS. (I never managed to waste money on the Beta versions, or multiple pre-laser disk or laser-disk versions). Then I bought what I was told by GEORGE LUCAS would be the First and [B]LAST EVER[/B] DVD RELEASE of those episodes - unfortunately for us, they didn’t include the orginal theatrical editions of the movies we’d grown to love (as many multithreaded titles of the day had done - i.e. Terminator 2 SE; The Abyss SE; Aliens SE). Just the hacked and corrupted Lucasified versions. God, he was a horrible director!! Dammit, we wanted the “HAN SHOOTS FIRST!” versions.

But I bought them anyway, cause it was his way, or the highway.

Now they a releasing the HAN SHOOTS FIRST originals again. On DVD. At like $30 a movie. SHOULD WE HAVE TO PAY another $90 for movies we already bought (several, maybe dozens) times already? Don’t we already own the LICENSE? I mean, sure, if it was on HD. If it gave more detail. Or anything new at all. But this is the same damn DVD detail we bought before. And we only bought it because you said you weren’t gonna release this, George! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!


As far as your rant: Never will it happen. Especially for Lucas, it is a cash cow. I don’t believe for an instant if his other adventures fall flat again (like what happened after ROTJ and outside of the IJ series) he will go back and shoot the last three movies that he talked about way back. He denies he ever did any work on them, but I have heard rumors that he had not only the back story to the original trilogy fairly detailed (enough to do the first three movies back in the early '80’s) that the continuing stories were almost as well detailed.

More OT: As a fellow SW fan, I feel your pain, only I have not bought any new versions of the movies since the re-mastered originals on VHS (i.e. pre-Han is shot at and the Jabba scene added in with the digital Jabba) and am glad I waited on the DVD versions until this latest announcement. Just think, with BR or HD on the horizon, I am sure Lucas is rubbing his hands together thinking how else he can screw us out of more money. I don’t know if he’s already done this with the DVD versions, yet, but it would be nice if the bonus material included the original scenes that did not make it into the original movies, like Luke meeting his friends at Mos Eisly, instead of only seeing those scenes in a bootleg video (bought a copy of the SW Holiday special that Lucase disavows, from Ebay a few years ago and it includes scenes, very rough and I believe without sound, cut from the original movie). I don’t mean add these scenes back into the movie, but show the original scenes as a kind of documentary in supplementary material. Sort of like, as I have been watching the LOTR: TT supp. material over the weekend, the scenes cut from TT of Arwen fighting at Helm’s Deep, those scenes were not in the movie, but were part of the documentaries showing the behind the scenes stuff and discussing why it was cut.

OK, I’ve drifted too far OT. May the mods not punish too sternly.