I have just experienced exactly the same problem with my Sony DCR HC42 Handycam. Please post on this forum any useful information you may receive. Thanks.
My camcorder first decided to just pack up after getting wet at Sea World - it was under my shirt to prevent getting wet - but I guess the moisture got to it.
Local SONY dealer at Orlando took $35 to have it checked out and, at the very least, extricate the 'precious' cassette - no guarantees.
Next day he says, "technician found that someone had forcibly tried to open the cassette compartment and that some part is damaged and would cost $200". I smell a rat (had never tried to force open the compartment) and get back my camcorder from the dealer - of course the cassette is out of the camcorder...and $35 are out of my wallet!
I then try chatting online with an Expert of sony.com...he makes me: i) do a system reset; and ii) insert a new cassette, each to no avail
Flat rate service for this model at sony.com is $211 plus shipping.
SITUATION: Cassette compartment automatically comes out and opens up upon opening the shell BUT refuses to shut and retract with a cassette (new or old; SONY or Radio Shack) inside; HOWEVER it shuts and retracts when empty. NO error code on the LCD screen.
a) Spend $250 for the repair
b) Spend 250 for a new camcorder (probably not as sophisticated as 330?)
c) Try out a local repair guy in Long Island or NYC who might have an easy fix for maybe $50
All suggestions appreciated.