A working hard drive at last?

Seagate’s third replacement came in the mail. It is indeed a new drive this time, and it appears to be working. Hopefully my situation is now resolved…

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Replacement #3

I just called Seagate again. The person I talked to said there was a note on my file to send me a new drive instead of a refurb, and promised me that the next replacement will be a new drive. I still have to wipe the first replacement and send it back.

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My story so far

I recently had a Seagate hard drive fail, and their customer service has been absolutely atrocious. The situation has not been resolved, they have to have realized I’m never going to buy a hard drive from them again, and they continue to treat me this way, so in retaliation, I feel compelled to share my experiences to try to save other people from having to deal with this horrible, horrible company.

I first bought a Seagate Momentus 5400 500 GB from Other World Computing for my MacBook in January 2009. It came with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. For several years, I was proud of my MacBook having the largest hard drive money could buy, and the generous five-year-warranty that would expire at the end of 2013, when the computer will be seven years old. My problems started when I ended up having to use the warranty.

Saturday, June 9, 2012
Disk Utility reports errors on my OS X partition that it can’t repair while I’m booted from the partition. I boot from the recovery partition and it is unable to fix the errors. The main OS X partition now won’t boot.

Sunday, June 10, 2012
I decide to go find some recordable DVDs to diagnose my problem. I end up walking three miles back from OfficeMax because Google Maps doesn’t have the right bus schedule. I’m still not able to repair the volume. I boot from my Windows partition, run SeaTools, and find out the drive is bad. I click the button to check the warranty and it says the status is unknown. I’m pretty sure the warranty expires in December 2013, so I file an online support ticket.

Monday, June 11, 2012
I get a polite email back from someone at Seagate asking me to verify the serial number and attach a photo of the drive. I reply and don’t hear back for a few days.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I have the sense to go the Apple Store and buy one of the MacBook Pros that had just been updated the previous day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012
I try calling Seagate, but hit the wrong sequence of buttons and end up with an unhelpful robot instead of a person to talk to. I contact Seagate via online chat to discuss my problem, but the person I end up talking to doesn’t have enough power to help me and tells me to call again. I call again and manage to end up talking to a real person. He looks up my case number and tells me that, based on the way the label was printed on the drive in the picture I sent, the drive is a promotional item sent to a retailer that was not intended for resale and did not come with a manufacturer’s warranty. I later call Other World Computing and tell them that Seagate’s refusing to honor their warranty, and that I’m hoping they’ll honor it. OWC checks their documentation and agrees with me that the drive was originally sold with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty and tells me they will contact Seagate in a few days to provide documentation. The subject line on the email OWC sends me about the case is “Seagate Fiasco”.

Friday, June 15, 2012
I finally get a reply to the email I sent with the picture of the drive label:

Thank you for sending your Seagate E-mail inquiry. I show serial no. <serial> is out of warranty as of Aug 5, 2011, please provide a photo or scan copy of the drive’s label and a proof of purchase, so that we can assist you with order.

I reply:

I already provided you with a copy of the drive label. I called phone support yesterday and was even told this drive did not come with a warranty. I am certain it came with a five, not three, year warranty (the same product is now being sold with a three-year warranty, but was offered with a five-year warranty when I bought it) and as such should be under warranty until sometime in 2013. I contacted the reseller I bought the drive from, Other World Computing, and a representative confirmed that Seagate was supposed to provide a five-year manufacturer’s warranty on the drive, and said he would contact Seagate in the next few days to provide documentation demonstrating this. I will forward this email along to them. The communication between your customer service and warranty departments is absolutely abysmal.

Also, you have a page on your website claiming that a SeaTools for DOS CD will work on Mac. This is not true. Please stop wasting my time and honor your warranty.

I get another clueless reply:

Momentus drives that we purchased as a Retail Kit have the 5 year warranty. Momentus drives that were purchased as bare drives only have 3 year warranty. The model number of your hard drive would have a “-RK” on the end of it, but yours does not. Your model number is ST9500325AS, which means this was sold as a bare drive and only had a 3 year warranty.

I apologize for any confusion. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

I reply:

I am 100% certain the retailer (Other World Computing) promised a five-year warranty. They believe they have documentation that the drive was supposed to have a five-year manufacturer’s warranty. If they turn out to be mistaken, I will expect them to replace the drive. I believe I have checked the serial number previously on Seagate‘s website and confirmed that the drive is under warranty until 2013. No one has ever told me up until this point that the drive had a three-year warranty or that the warranty expired in 2011.

and

Here is an article explaining your own warranty change:

http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2008/12/12/seagate_cuts_bare_drive_warranty/

This confirms that you offered a five-year warranty on BARE DRIVES purchased prior to 2009. It is ridiculous how much trouble you are having keeping track of your own warranty policies and serial number records.

Then, someone finally figures out what’s going on:

I have done some research on this issue and found that your drives serial number had been used overseas on another rma which is what caused the problem with the warranty on your drive. I show the warranty should be till 12/08/2013 and have sent a request over to our IT dept to put a warranty back on the drive. It will take 24-48 hours for them to process at which time you will be able to do an advance rma for a replacement. Sorry about all the problems with this warranty. I or someone else will give you a call once we hear that it has been taken care of. Have a good weekend.

I have to pay $10 for the “advanced replacement” (the free option would’ve required me to package the drive according to really specific requirements and send it in before they send me the replacement).

June 21, 2012
My replacement hard drive arrives. It takes me a few weeks to get an enclosure and clone over my old hard drive. I order a USB 3 enclosure to use with my new computer. I try really hard to get my old computer to boot from an external hard drive, flash drive, or DVD, as I didn’t have a FireWire 400 to 800 cable to use FireWire target disk mode, but I run into various issues and end up taking the original 120 GB drive the computer came with out of the OWC enclosure that came with the upgrade so I have a second enclosure. The USB 3 enclosure doesn’t show all the partitions for some reason, so I have to clone to that drive from the slower enclosure. The replacement drive is about 2 MB smaller than the original, which seems to make the Windows partition at the end of the drive not clone properly, so I rip that partition to a disk image instead. Eventually, I’m able to boot from the recovered partition to deactivate things and recover my files, and I get the failing drive wiped and mailed back just in time to avoid paying the $60 replacement fee.

Monday, July 30, 2012
I find out that my old computer is no longer booting OS X. I experiment with it for a few minutes before booting into Windows and getting a message that the hard drive is failing. SeaTools confirms this. I’m feeling really pissed off that Seagate sent me a bad replacement. I call Seagate later and tell them the replacement failed, and request that they send me a new drive, not a refurb. The person I’m talking to checks and confirms that the drive is in stock and agrees to send me one without making me pay the replacement fee again. She says that if I send back any more drives, they’re going to take take them into their lab to do testing.

Thursday, August 2, 2012
The drive arrives. It is another “certified repaired” drive. I decide to bite the bullet and try it anyway, hoping the drive will work and I’ll be done dealing with Seagate. I look at the manufacturing dates on the two drives and notice that the first replacement was manufactured in December 2010 and the second replacement was manufactured in May 2011. It does not inspire confidence that the drive originally only lasted a year before failing. By this point, replacing the hard drive in my MacBook is quite a bit of work, as the pieces of rubber in the drive bay have come unglued, and the mounting bracket has split into two pieces. I have to take the entire computer apart to get the rubber reseated correctly (I haven’t tried regluing it yet).

I would really like to download the SeaTools boot disc from Seagate’s website and check the drive immediately, but I can’t do that because, as I mentioned to Seagate in one of the emails above, the disc does not have USB drivers to use the trackpad or keyboard, or any devices I could attach. I have to install OS X so I can use Boot Camp to partition the hard drive and install Windows. I copy a Lion installer to a flash drive and boot from it. It takes a little over three hours to install. The installer finishes with an error message. I install it a second time. Setup Assistant gets stuck in a loop when I try to set up a user account. I install it a third time. The installer finishes with an error message. It finally works the fourth time I install it. I’m feeling that the drive is probably bad at this point.

Sunday, August 5, 2012
I install Windows 7 using Boot Camp. Windows is a total pain-in-the-ass, piece of shit operating system. I download SeaTools, which requires .NET 4, which for some dumbass reason isn’t included with the operating system, I download that. .NET won’t let me install because some other install had been going on that requires a restart, so I restart. Then, I can’t find my downloads. I do some research and find out that Internet Explorer 8 doesn’t have a downloads manager, and the default downloads location is a registry setting, because it’s a piece of shit, and the shitty built-in file search doesn’t index the drive by default and therefore can’t find anything, so I give up and redownload my installers.

I finally get SeaTools installed, and run the short test. It passes, but I’m still worried the drive is bad, because I had to run the Lion installer four times, and OS X’s not a piece of shit like Windows is. I run the surface scan (“Fix All Long”) and go use my other computer to watch coverage of the Mars rover landing. I come back a little while later to grab my headphones and notice that the scan has failed already. Seagate sent me a replacement drive that’s already bad.

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