What Can Vendors Get Away With Under Amazon Warranty?

This article has multiple purposes. It will:

  • support your understanding of some principles that might be helpful if you use technology

  • provide a case study for consumer experience

  • support you understand one of the reasons I have been delayed lately.

Please read with attention to fully understand the context and the purpose of this article.

 

The context of the problem

In 2020 I got myself a brand new desktop computer workstation that worked flawlessly until a few months ago (further referenced as simply desktop). I actually assembled it myself out of new components in warranty for several years. It worked without problems, until a few weeks ago.

What actually happened

This will help you understand it better

During the spring of 2022, one of the main hard drives mysteriously failed. It was the biggest one. I have noticed the following strange things:

– sometimes, the computer didn’t recognize the HDD on startup (although after restart it does)

– sometimes, when I was trying to launch an executable file, the desktop was going to a blue screen

– I tried to change the drive letter of one of the partitions from the HDD and Windows wouldn’t allow me

– there were errors in reporting the free space on one of the partitions from the HDD

– there were errors in accessing files on the drives: the system would see it but won’t launch it.

– I took the HDD and put it in another computer. Sometimes that system was recognizing it in Windows, sometimes it didn’t. When it did, sometimes it recognized all the partitions, sometimes it didn’t. I took the final test with HD Sentinel Pro and it was confirmed the hard drive went bad.

When it was released a few years ago, the Seagate Archive 8 TB model (ST8000AS0002) was hailed by the reviewers as one of the best SMR (Shingled Magnetic Resonance) HDDs on the market.

Initially, I didn’t incur any major data loss, but I had to shuffle all the content in disorder on various other drives. How was this experience?

Imagine that you come home one evening and you find everything that you know from your house hastily rearranged. You know everything is still there somewhere, but you don’t know exactly where. You also don’t have enough space or time to put it in order. This leads to a situation in which if you don’t know where a certain resource is, it’s like you actually don’t have it.

I initially contacted the company that sold me the HDD through the Amazon marketplace, but they declined to fix or replace the HDD, motivating they aren’t dealing with reparations and that they don’t have that product on their inventory anymore. They suggested I would request an Amazon credit of the original value of the product, 227.79 euros, considering that a new product of the same model costs around at least 260 euros.

This is like you make health and life insurance for your child. Your child is sick and dying. The insurance company says they can’t be bothered to make your child healthy although they were supposed to at least try, they would reimburse you for the birth expenses. If you’d like a new child, it will cost you more.

The Amazon representative assured me that I can use the Amazon credit through my account on any Amazon site, not just the one in Italy. He lied. The Amazon credit was reimbursed to my Amazon Italy account and I wouldn’t be able to buy the HDD from Amazon Germany or Amazon France even though it would have been cheaper.

Not only that the warranty system stops you from actually having a fix for your initial problem, but it actually makes sure you pay extra to have what you were supposed to have covered by the warranty in the first place.

This is like a mobster shooting you in the foot and then telling you that you may only go to his cousin’s hospital to get treated.

I ordered another HDD, the same model, from another supplier that was supposed to deliver it in 2 weeks at most. 3 weeks later, it still hasn’t arrived and showed no signs of arriving, so I asked for my money back.

Giving the money back is compensation that magically seems to allow Amazon to ignore your needs and provide whatever crappy service you don’t need by putting you through all the possible excuses and failures.

This is like you get hit by a bus and you have to wait for the next bus to get to the hospital, but when you finally get there you’ll have to wait because the doctor who was supposed to treat you is sick.

I notified my clients in consulting and collaborators that I am having hardware problems and hopefully everything will get solved in a few weeks at the most.

My work in consulting for clients is like clockwork. If I’m missing pieces, everything falls apart quickly.

So what did I do next? I ordered a second replacement HDD for the main one that was in warranty. Of course, it came later than expected, like on the last possible day of the extended delay period. Just before the Orthodox Easter, it arrived and I quickly “spread the tent” by arranging the digital content into the appropriate partitions.

After I finished copying and arranging everything in the right place, I find out that the brand new drive is actually not new and it already has 23608 bads on it, it was started off more than 100 times, which was even more surprising than the HDD bought 2 years ago failing initially.

Imagine that you have long waited for a place where to build your house. You find it, you buy it, you make it, and then it turns out the field was on a swamp.

Take a look at the output that HD Sentinel Pro gave me on the so-called “new drive” just a few days after receiving it.

  • the hard drive wasn’t new. it had already been powered on more than 100 times previously

  • it had 23608 bad sectors on the disk surface and 17604 errors (WTF!!??)

  • the hard drive is labeled with 8% health with only 11 days estimated lifetime remaining. I wonder if it didn’t blow up to pieces before taking it out of my computer.

Therefore, instead of being able to start working again, I had to spend a few days trying to recover the data using partially the backup from 2 weeks ago and partially what was still available (which was basically spread into four corners).

This is like having someone take your furniture out while you are renovating, and when they bring it back to you, you see that it was unharmed, and then they destroy it right in front of you.

The cherry on the top of this experience is that while I was shuffling the hard drives, the plastic holding together the SATA pins for one of the old drives got broken, which means that even though it is currently working, it will also have to be replaced. So I’ve got another drive to replace (that’s on me, actually).

While you are trying to fix one of the walls holding your house together, another one fails.

How is it possible to have so many drives with such problems in such a short amount of time? This is where I draw the line on mechanical hard drives. Ever since I had my first computer 20 years ago, I have been a fan and supporter of mechanical hard drives, even though I also started to use SSDs. The reality is that where there are so many mechanical pieces, especially for large drives, there are more possible points of failure. On top of that, the time consumed by shuffling around files on mechanical drives is simply insane. Speed is not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity. I’d rather buy 2 SSD drives of 4TB than a mechanical HDD of 8TB. Even if it stings to cost 3 times more. If I wouldn’t waste my time trusting this old technology, I would have made the money to buy the SSDs – yes, this is how much money I lost by waiting and expecting the “Amazon warranty” to work.

The mechanical HDD is like the train: you have reasonable chances of getting where you need in one piece, even if too late. If there is an accident, you have a chance to survive although it would be painful.

The SSDs are like the plane: you pay extra to get there fast, but if there’s an accident, you have a very weak chance to live. If you die, at least you die fast.

I have worked hard to set a certain data infrastructure for my professional activity. Although I don’t always know where everything is, at least I find it pretty fast.

This is not just data. This is the spine of my professional activity. Without the structure of files and folders on my desktop, I am paralyzed.

I wrote a review for the product that Amazon censored and I initially left the seller 1 star Why?

The product was sold as new, so I wouldn’t have had any reason to suspect it would have any problems, right? Wrong.

The product came in a carton box, inside of which was free to slide sideways.

Please remember: I ran an analysis with Hard Disk Sentinel Pro and found the following:

  • the hard drive wasn’t new. it had already been powered on more than 100 times previously

  • it had 23608 bad sectors on the disk surface and 17604 errors

  • the hard drive is labeled with 8% health with only 11 days estimated lifetime remaining.

I was shocked. The company selling this piece of junk should be legally liable not only for false advertising (selling a used and broken product as new), poor packaging of a fragile device but also for the damages produced to me for data loss, as I had to give up recovering data from a full partition that got wasted. So now I had data loss.

And while I’m outright criticizing the seller, I should also bring Amazon into the liability issue, as they are allowing this practice on their website. This is not the only HDD model for which several users have spotted HDDs that have been falsely advertised as new and actually were bad or even DOA. A warranty according to the laws of the EU should work like that: if the product gets broken inside the warranty, then you either fix it or replace it.

My advice if you really want a mechanical HDD is:

– get yourself a lawyer or

– order the same mode from several vendors, check every drive before you use it, return the junk and call it out for what it is.

The practice of sending used and bad HDD as new is not only allowed by Amazon, I would dare to suspect it is even encouraged because Amazon is making it really difficult and is trying to discourage the consumer and limit their options with a warranty when an electronic product really goes bad, which is something likely to happen with mechanical HDDs.

Although Amazon allows negative comments on the product pages correlated with supplier handling or sending old and bad products represented as new, it didn’t allow my negative review on the page of the product. It is their right to refuse to publish my review, so I published it here, in an extended format.

A robber comes to your door and says he’s the postman. After you open up the door, he tells you how stupid you are because you actually believed him. Then he tells you that you can’t actually tell anyone he behaved in that way with you.

I decided not to file legal complaints against Amazon or the vendor for this experience because I decided I have better things to do with my life than be a free tester for abusive practices.

I have learned the hard way to presume all hardware devices bought through Amazon as new to be broken until proven otherwise.

Warranty essentially means that the seller and the supplier can mess up with your time, needs and data, however (often) they want if you are naive enough to think that everything is alright just because you may have your money back.

I paid 19.35 euros on top of the 260 euros to send back the HDD to the company that falsely advertised it as new.

So how did the Amazon warranty serve me up until now?

Almost six weeks after my initial hard drive failure, I paid 51.56 euros more than the original drive to lose data from an entire partition, waste time, lose professional opportunities, and still have not covered the original 8TB space.

It’s like if you get shot in the head and you live, you are guaranteed to be protected against all future shots in the head, therefore you may also get shot several times more while you’re at it. This is pretty much the worth of an Amazon warranty.

 

The human resources issue in this matter

How is this possible? It could be an employee mistake. Please take into account that this is not just one small error: whoever sent that HDD had to:

  • choose a drive that was already used

  • choose a drive that had lots of bads sectors on it and not test it before sending it

  • pack it irresponsibly so that it can get banged during the transport

  • send it so that it arrives after the deadline on the last possible day before the client can ask for his money back

This is not the level of error to which someone is likely to get by ONE accidental mistake. This is a quality control issue or a human resources issue. Who hired this person? How were their qualities evaluated? What is the cost of this person’s consequences? Did the HR person even do a proper evaluation of this employee? What sanctions are there going to be applied to this employee? Is the employee aware of the amount of pain created by this mistake?

What consulting services does this company miss to provide better services? I’d like to have a chat with the HR responsible for this company.

Here is how to properly pack an HDD before sending it in my humble vision. This is the “new” HDD sent back Wednesday the 27th of April 2022.

Here is how a NEW hard drive actually looks in HD Sentinel Pro. Do you notice any difference from the other one?

 

What could I have done differently?

I could have checked and called for the warranty from the Seagate company, the manufacturer of the product, and not relied on the seller or the marketplace. It would have been a good idea to write down the serial numbers of the mentioned products.

I could have just given up on the idea of relying on mechanical HDDs and just bought two SSDs. Actually, this is what I decided to do: buy 2 SSDs of 4TBs each instead of continuing to try to replace the original 8TB HDD.

I could have ordered the same HDD from 3 different sellers in hope that at least one of them would send it on time, working, and actually new.

I hope you understand after reading this article that:

1. every error inside a delivery system may be compounded and make for a terrible customer experience

2. the customer care from the company can really make a change if they show they are willing to listen and understand the client’s needs. I am actually willing to further update this review depending on how the seller of the wrong HDD responds

3. even though products may be broken, relationships may be fixed if there is understanding and listening.

I am curious about how this situation is going to work out in the end.

[later edit] 2 months after I made the initial order from the German company they sent me a working hard drive, only after I threatened them I will alert the German authorities otherwise. It was only after I lost most of my paying customers (also due to the issue described here).

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2022-present. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

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