Western Digital and the sour fruits in this brave new world

I hope that most of the traffic to this post is from the sources such as twitter and search engines like Bing and Google. Today I would like to blog about something very different to what I usually blog about. Today I want to talk about something that I would have never expected to see from a company as large as Western Digital. Today I want to name and shame and this organisation and make even the humble computer nerd think twice before buying consumer electronics with their shiny “WD” logos. Today I’m going to review and express my disgust with Western Digitals products and procedures.

Just a quick background to my situation. I purchased a 1TB LaCie ethernet big disk Network Attached Storage(NAS) back in 2007. Roughly 10 months into my 12 month warranty, it stopped working. After returning the LaCie to the place that I originally bought it, I got a brand new unit. Like any other person who gets something new for something old, I was happy. But then… 11 months later, the replacement LaCie decides to stop working again!.. For what appears to be the same problem as the original unit. After finding myself without a NAS less then 2 years after buying my last NAS, I decided that I wouldn’t even consider buying a LaCie drive again. I started researching possible NAS’s that I could use to replace my beloved LaCie

Come November 2009 I bought a Western Digital My Book World Edition II 2TB network(model number WDH2NC20000) HDD. Like any nerdy consumer who buys parts for a computer, I had thought of Western Digital as a respectable and reliable HDD manufacturer with a significant presence on the retail shelves of Australia. Little did I realise that Western Digital would prove to be worse then LaCie. For the record, today it has been under 4 months since I purchased the Western Digital drive.

About 3 weeks ago the AFP network access protocol stopped working on the Hard Drive. This problem wasn’t a big new issue. I have had this problem arise a few other times since I bought the unit but I had ingeniously figured out that turning off AFP access then back on again fixed the issue. However this time this hack didn’t work. Since AFP access was only accessible via my Mac Book Pro, I decided to improvise and use SMB to access my files.

Last week I happened to notice that the “Data volume status” was being shown as Failed in the online web configuration utility. Afraid of loosing all my data, I managed to gather enough smaller HDD’s to backup my content so that I could do a factory reset of the unit. Unfortunately, it seems the Western Digital unit wasn’t done with its rapid deterioration. The drive would just do nothing… It wouldn’t do a factory restore, it wouldn’t even restart or shut-down from the web interface. The error logs were filled with critical errors. My Western Digital HDD was now a lemon.

Like any other person who would like to turn something off but the button doesn’t work, I decided to pull the power on the unit when it wasn’t making any noise(to make sure no data being read or written). Big mistake! The drive now refuses to BOOT! My lemon was now a BRICK. I needed to contact Western Digital to get it replaced under warranty.

You would think that being such a respectable and large manufacturer of HDD’s with such a apparent presence in the consumer retail stores would mean that Western Digital has a repair centre here in Sydney or at-least Australia. Guess what… They don’t! After calling their customer care call centre in the CARIBBEAN(yes… what happened to outsourcing to India?) and arguing with the extremely rude and unhelpful call centre staff. I was told that I will have to mail my HDD with my own money to the Western Digital Warehouse in Singapore. So how much could this cost with ‘no frills’ Australia Post delivery? $20?… Nope, higher. $40? Higher again. $50.. YEP! How unfair is this! Amazingly Western Digital even suggest using FedEx who’s online shipping calculator gave me a AU$200 quote. Like seriously?

Originally I thought that I will sit back and let Western Digital bully me into paying such a large fee to get their product repaired under warranty. However I want to make a stand. I want to tell them that I am not going to sit back and let them do this. I will try to find another way to get this resolved such as the department of fair trading or even the media while naming and tarnishing the image Western Digital in the process. Their official replacement policy is now my backup plan.

Why am I doing this? I am doing this because I don’t think that any part of this is FAIR. Today its me, tomorrow its some other unsuspecting consumer. In summary I want to tell the world that:

  • Western Digital sucks at manufacturing NAS’s.
  • LaCie sucks at making NAS’s too, but they appear to be better then Western Digital.
  • Western Digital sucks at customer service.
  • Western Digital has abysmal policies especially in regards to customer service.
  • Never buy Western Digital!
  • HDD’s really do fail. Large companies like Microsoft and Google keep data mirrored on multiple disks for a reason.

As usual, I encourage you to leave comments for myself and others to read. If you have any ideas or resolutions to fixing my problem, please do let me know.

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