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Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:28 pm

After seeing that OCZ returns graph in the latest ARC 100 review, it occurred to me how meaningless alot of warranties are. For example, I often relate to my clients how frequently I get calls from clients whereby they've wasted hours on the phone and thru email with manufacturers just trying to get meaningful support. I end up coming in only to have to spend a inordinate amount of time on the phone, jumping thru hoops when I've already diagnosed a hardware failure. Warranties and procedures vary so much now that one has to seriously consider how much a warranty is worth regardless of its length - if it's a 5 year warranty that's an utter PITA to claim, it's not much of a warranty. I haven't had to send a hard drive back in a while, but I remember I used to do it alot when I managed a tech store - and Western Digital was by far the most convenient and painless process. So much so that we didn't even care if the failure rate was higher than other brands.

Anyhoo, as mentioned in your article, you don't have the resources to do evaluate failure rates, but I'm sure you could come up with a pretty useful and comprehensive article about how warranty processes vary by manufacturer. I'd sure like to see an article like this.

*edit* First post in 11 years - how embarrassing is that? I've been here lurking all along, though. Love this site.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:39 pm

I don't know how easy this would be without actually trying to get an RMA on something, or interviewing the manufacturer about the process, which could be tedious (not to mention that what a manufacturer says may not line up with what a consumer experiences).

I can tell you that my recent attempt to get an RMA from Sandisk was a nightmare. It took a good 30 minutes with support, despite the fact that I had clearly diagnosed a hardware error. They wanted:
The make/model of the PC
BIOS version
BSOD error code
Motherboard make/model
Motherboard chipset
SATA chipset (with ports per controller)

They kept asking for answers to questions about troubleshooting steps that I had already answered. Then, they only ship a new drive 7-10 days AFTER they receive the dud. When they did, they shipped me a different model with a controller that I had specifically avoided buying, and when I complained, they wouldn't listen, insisting that the replacement drive was superior.

It had been a long time since I did an RMA before this, but I remember that it was with WD and it was absolutely painless. The person on the phone could tell that I knew what I was doing and had properly diagnosed a dead drive.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:10 am

The fun part is when they keep denying that you have a problem until your warranty expires.

Then they offer to fix it... at a cost.

EDIT: I remember a few years ago when a laptop's HDD was making grinding noises. My dad called tech support, and instead of advising him to back up his data, they guided him through series of diagnosis until a head crash occurred and the OS froze.

After rebooting the laptop, they told him to reformat the hard drive and call back later, despite my dad telling me that all he's hearing is clicking noises and the OS not being booted. Then they hung up.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Fri Aug 15, 2014 7:23 am

I had to send in my MSI 650TI a few weeks back due to a fan that quit working. Took me a few days to jump through the testing hoops and get a RMA approved but after that it took just a week from my shipping it to get a working 650TI back. So no real issues there as I would have preferred it if support had been able to fix the problem without shipping it to them.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:05 am

For PC parts, I've only ever RMA'd 2 things, and they were within the first 30 days since purchase so the retailer NCIX took care of it with their optional Express RMA coverage (they charge 1.5% of the order cost or something like that for it at the time of purchase if you elect to take it).

1) BenQ XL2420T 120Hz gaming monitor - It was very smooth and overall looked great, but in some conditions I had a massive amount of stuck blue mixels. Seemed to happen only in certain games when choosing to play at low res or 100hz instead of 120hz. Sent it back to NCIX and got another model shipped back and replaced free of charge.

2) Toshiba HDK209 2TB HDD. Plugged it into my x79 system, clicking noises galore, not detected in Windows or BIOS. Put it in my P55 system and got the same result. ExpressRMA'd it with NCIX and the replacement is on the way as we speak.

So I've been lucky so far that if there's a problem, I find it almost instantly and it is replaced by the retailer. I have definitely made purchase decisions based on reputation and warranty, for examply buying EVGA GPUs as they seem to generally be lauded for their quality and warranty support.

None of my components have just died down the line, although UnfriendlyFire's post has me thinking it may be time to get some external HDDs to do more routine backups just in case an older drive should start to experience a grinding problem. I have some WD Black drives from 2008 and 2009, they have been great drives and I have confidence in their quality and reliability, but after 5-6 years of use it might be time to consider making backups just in case something happens..
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:17 am

The only things I've had to RMA have been either hard drives well into their lifespan, which goes very smoothly (mostly Western Digital). Or shortly after I get the part (mostly DOA) which tend to get covered by Newegg's excellent RMA service.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:32 am

The best warranty service I've had has been on a Dell UltraSharp monitor and on Mushkin memory. They cross-shipped replacements and paid shipping both ways. The people on the phone spoke excellent English and they were polite to me. Asus support is normally impossible to reach, but when they organized the giant campaign to recall my motherboard with Intel's defective P67 cougar point chipset, that process worked well.

My worst RMA experience has been with a bricked Corsair SSD. They gave me a huge runaround before allowing the RMA. They took many weeks longer to process the RMA than they promised. They finally shipped me a defective/crippled used SSD as a replacement. :(
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Fri Aug 15, 2014 3:18 pm

I've had several good RMA processes. I had an issue with my KGPE-D16 Opteron motherboard that I sent in for replacement to Asus. Responsive service to the inquiries I made and they stuck to their time line. Apple was really good for an RMA: they sent out a tech to check out my system before determining that the issue was a motherboard. Prompt service and they held to their time line, though I wasn't too pleased about a few week delay to get in the replacement board.

Now for the bad:
ViewSonic lost my original monitor in the RMA process after several weeks. I did windup getting the same model back but it took them another three weeks (and another phone call to remind them) to get it back to me.

Diamond wouldn't accept a Radeon 7970 that stopped functioning a little after a year. They threw the whole fit about registration to cover a warranty so it never happened.

Samsung is supposed to have a life time warranty on their memory. Unfortunately the group responsible for server memory doesn't even have an RMA department. Their phone system is a massive run around as well as computer memory is such a small department I'd often get routed to the wrong area. Regardless, I have two 16 GB paper weights.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Sat Aug 16, 2014 3:23 am

The problem with a thread like this is that it varies so much from product to product. I've had good and bad experiences with pretty much everyone (I reckon I've returned 1000 items over my career so far)

My only rule of thumb is that the larger the company, the worse (slower and more complex) the RMA process seems to be - unless you specifically pay for fancy bolt-on support, in which case the opposite is true.
For consumer stuff, it really is a crapshoot, though I can't say I've had an awful lot of consumer failures outside of RAM/GPU/SSD. Typically if there's an option to cross-ship like with Dell, Corsair etc I am pleased.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Sat Aug 16, 2014 7:09 am

What about for business laptops? I have an Acer Travelmate coming through the mail, and it has a 2 year warranty.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Sat Aug 16, 2014 1:39 pm

the wrote:
Now for the bad:
ViewSonic lost my original monitor in the RMA process after several weeks. I did windup getting the same model back but it took them another three weeks (and another phone call to remind them) to get it back to me.

Yep ViewSonic has a notoriously bad RMA process and customer service. Even if you are "lucky" and they don't lose something you will be waiting at least a month for a replacement (which may or may not be the same model, and may or may not be refurbished). For someone without a backup/secondary monitor they'd be SOL for a month or two while they wait. Their monitors have pretty poor reliability in the first place too, so the chance of needing to use their RMA process is highly likely (I've seen multiple Viewsonic monitors die after just over a year)

I guess they get to save on operating costs by cutting corners on customer service, but in the long term I can't imagine it's a good business plan. They are on my short list of "DON'T EVER BUY" companies for computer hardware.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:26 am

Anyone had any experience with trying to RMA a product that you bought from a European store in North America (because it was never in stock in NA), and then the RMA becomes very unhelpful?

I recall reading a customer's complaint about having to pay for shipping to send his laptop from California to Germany so the European RMA service could fix it, then gets billed for the repairs because "the laptop broke outside of Europe", and then his laptop was held hostage because he refused to pay the repairs.

Another customer was told by the North America customer support to contact Europe's customer support because the product was meant for European customers. Europe's customer support told the customer that because he/she lived in NA, he/she should contact NA customer support.

North America support tells the person to contact Europe's customer support. Aka, a human version of a endless loop.
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Re: Review of Warranty/RMA Processes?

Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:51 am

I can say by far the best warranty and RMA process that I have used has been Corsair. Had a couple of PSU and coolers die and received brand new models of failed products. For example, HX620 was replaced with a HX650 and H50 was replaced with H60, both brand new and shrink wrapped in plastic. Asus. WD, and Gigabyte have been good to me as well. Bought a mobo on clearance from Microcenter....contacted Gigabyte and with their express RMA I was back up and running in a week.

By the far the worst has been MSI...will never by another GPU from the again. Four RMA in less than year, and waiting for newest GPU refresh so I can unload this card over the holiday season. I will stick to ASUS, Sapphire or eVGA going forward.

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