I've been sitting on this post for a few days waiting for it to play out. This morning it did:
Really Right Stuff stepped up and said they'd replace the clamp on my ball head. A new one is shipping today.
I'm going to repeat that --
Really Right Stuff is replacing the clamp on my ball head for free. Shipping both ways and all.
See, it's been hardly a month since the first time it locked up, when the clamp's lever on my Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head locked up again. As with the previous incident, it happened on a job, and quickly became almost impossible to open or close. Just like a month ago, I sat here that night and worked that lever back and forth for quite some time before it finally loosened up to something workable. Again, just like last time, as I worked it back and forth, what appeared to be metal filings were falling out of the camp onto the black portion of the head. (Follow the red arrows in the shot below).
I messaged Really Right Stuff, and explained all of this. I told them that I felt that while the head itself appears to be fine, the clamp is obviously defective, and needs to be replaced -- at no cost to me. I included a copy of the photo above. I made sure to tell them that at this point in time, I wasn't very happy with my purchases (this was, afterall, the second item I had an issue with), and that it was making the idea of purchasing anything more difficult at best. They were very understanding and patient, and in the end, they chose to stand by their reputation and products, and ship a new clamp.
I want to say again, the BH-55 is a fantastic ball head. Silky smooth, easy to use, tough. With a load capacity of 50 pounds, it will certainly hold anything I will ever own. And (when it's working properly), the lever makes it very easy to attach or remove a camera or big lens. As I've said before, I am not at all fond of twisty-turny-tightie thingies. Give me a lever that locks in place.
It's good to know they'll stand behind their gear. Some of their stuff can be pretty expensive, but knowing that something that is obviously defective will be replaced when accompanied by proper documentation is quite reassuring.
I'll let you know how the new clamp works out.