Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Western Digital - Great Moments in Customer Service

I have often been left gobsmacked by just how badly companies manage customer service. Thank goodness for the Internet which reduces the need to interact with counter drones.

It is with considerable surprise and pleasure that I am able to say that Western Digital has just delivered the best service I have ever had from a manufacturer.

While building a high performance gaming machine last year, I had purchased two Western Digital 120 Gb Caviar SE hard disks. Using the onboard RAID controller, I set the drives up in a mirroring configuration. Everything installed, and the machine was in use for a month. Suddenly one day, I got a disk error, and it turned out one of the drives had died.

With previous experience of trying to get warranty service on a hard drive (can you spell I B M...), I reluctantly decided to just buy a new drive rather than have the PC out of service for an extended period of time. The new drive was identical, and installed quickly. Once I had figured out the arcane Chinese English error messages, the drive was synchronized, and everything has run fine since then.

The dead drive has been sitting on a shelf waiting for a day I was both in a good mood and had become so bored I was prepared to tackle a manufacturer's RMA process. Having finished preparations for Chinese New Year, it seemed appropriate to attempt the return of the drive.

I logged onto the Western Digital web site, followed the links to end user warranty, filled in the form, and was issued an RMA number. There were extremely clear instructions on how to pack and ship the drive, and a local Singapore address. There was a menu choice to track your RMA, just like a FedEx or UPS package. Finally, there was the statement that drives could only be mailed, and that walk in service was not provided.

Fantastic! Every other time I have tried to claim warranty service, I have been told to take the drive personally to some obscure industrial estate in deepest Singapore that is open for 45 minutes on alternate Wednesdays. The taxi fare alone would be equal to half the cost of the drive, and having to go back to pick it up makes the whole exercise pointless.

The day before Chinese New Year, I packaged up the drive according to instructions, and dropped it off at the local post office. The postage came to the grand sum of S$2.50. I expected that nothing would happen for a few weeks due to the holidays and past experience. Imagine my surprise 7 days later when a courier company called me in the morning and asked if they could deliver a hard disk.

Great service, great experience, congratulations to Western Digital.

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