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The RMA Dance Step

A few months back I started having some problems with my SamrtDisk Firelite portable FireWire drive… I keep all of my working documents on here, a mirror of my web site, as I shuttle it between home and work computers. After two failures, where Disk Warrior managed to save the day, I ordered a new one, as it had served me well for at least 2 years.

The new shiny drive came, I copied my data to it, and thought I was back in business.

Over the last few days, I noted the drive would not mount reliably on attaching the firewire cable. In fact, to even get it to light up, I had to severely bend the connection in the back of the drive hard to the side, just enough to get it to mount. Fearing a mechanical issue with the drive’s ports, I started copying files back to safe location. Twice during the process, the drive disconnected/lost connection itself (I tried not even to touch the table). Is this more Calgarian hardware Voodoo?

I knew for sure this brand new drive was hosed. I had tried several different FireWire cables, to no avail.

I looked up the SmartDisk customer service number, called them. 8 minutes of smarmy music later (there should be laws against this), I was talking to a technician. She asked for computer informartion. Okay. I described the problem. She insisted I try another computer. It failed again on my spare G4 laptop. She asked me to do a different cable– Is not 3 different cables, tried at both ends, enough?

Finally, she agreed to send me an RMA, the package they send you so you can mail them the device, so they can look at it and confirm the hardware is bad. I gave all the information and was told an email would confirm the information.

Twelve hours later, there was no email, nor was it mired in my spam filters. I created an account via their online support site, explained the situation again, asked for confirmation that the RMA was actually processed.

At 30 hours, there was no response on their online customer service message board, so I called again. This time, it was 11 minutes of smarmy hold music, then the “We value your business blather, but I had the option to leave a phone message. Explaining it for a third time, aiming to maintain composure, I pleaded to receive a confirmation that they are sending the RMA, that it had been processed. Please, oh, please, please, can I just have a wee bit of customer service?

Now this time frame is not all that long, and I have had far worse customer service. And the internet, instant, or semi-instant gratification, has spoiled my sense of patience. But if you post on a web site an electronic customer service system, I am going to get my fur up really bad if it does not respond in even a 28.8 kbs speed of Internet time. Don’t set up a half-arsed service system that does not give service or respond as it says it will. Or provide a realistic statement of response time so my expectations are not revved up.

But heck, their response is not anywhere as non existent as my requests recently to Apple SmartDisk can still win the race ;-)

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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