External disk buyers face hard disk confusion

UAE consumers looking to buy Maxtor's external hard disks from ‘power retailers’ such as Plug-ins, Carrefour and CompuME are being given misleading information on the warranty support they can expect.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  August 6, 2005

UAE consumers looking to buy Maxtor's external hard disks from ‘power retailers’ such as Plug-ins, Carrefour and CompuME are being given misleading information on the warranty support they can expect. These products, which include Maxtor’s popular ‘OneTouch’ series of drives, are used by consumers and small business users to store large file and folders, and back-up their PCs’ important data. The warranty period Maxtor offers with these disks is two years, as quoted on Maxtor’s web site and confirmed to Windows Middle East by the general manager of Maxtor MEA, Rajeev Mukul. The firm’s UAE distributor Delta Business Products (DBP) in turn passes on this two years of support from the vendor to retailers. However Windows Middle East has discovered that staff at Plug-ins, Carrefour, CompuME and Jacky’s regularly tell UAE consumers that the warranty period offered with these products is just one year. “Some of retailers here seem to be making warranty amendments or advising customers based on their own local warranty programmes,” explained Mukul. “Maxtor’s two-year external disk warranty goes as far as our distributors, which in the UAE is Delta Business Products,” he added. “After that, retailers can offer their own warranty, or even offer added value by offering an extended warranty. However, our Maxtor warranty period on these products is two years.” Windows asked Mukul to explain therefore how users can gain the full two years of support from Maxtor should anything go awry with their drives and a retailer not offer the support expected. He explained that calling Maxtor is the first step. “If a retailer refuses to honour a warranty on an external disk that’s between one- and two-years old, users can still get the relevant support by calling Maxtor,” Mukul said. “We will then arrange with our distributor to get them the product support they need.” As for the burning issue of why retailers might tell customers that only a one-year warranty is on offer, when DBM and Maxtor offer two years of support, Windows asked this question to the retailers in question. “In terms of our trading term policies, whatever warranty is stated inside box we must honour locally,” said Plug-ins’ purchasing manager, Shaun Sullivan. Ganash NR,Carrefour’s merchandising manager, concurred. “Normally all products offer a one-year warranty, regardless of the brand. However, there are some that mention a longer warranty period on the box. In this case we have to offer that and we mention the longer warranty period in our in-store selling area. If Maxtor doesn’t mention a two-year warranty on the box, but gives us specific written instructions that that is the period for a model, then we’re responsible to take such products back within that time.” CompuMe’s, retail manager Emad Jaddo explained that CompuMe offers the warranty specified by the manufacturer, which is “usually one year”, plus CompuMe’s mandatory extended warranty. “This is offered free for the first year and covers accidental damage,” he said. “If the manufacturer communicates directly or indirectly through the distributor about any changes in warranty terms, we apply this information immediately and we mention it clearly on the product specification cards in our selling area.” Jaddo went on to add that vendors themselves could maybe do more to help avoid confusion: “If the warranty was clearly mentioned on the box of the product, we wouldn’t have such issues at all.” Jacky’s business development manager, Kiran Borkar, simply claims that, whatever retail staff might tell a buyer in the store, the majority given is that stated by the vendor. " The majority of the brands sold at Jacky's offer a one-year warranty,” he said. “However, there are a few exceptions - some offering up to three years. Whatever a product's warranty period might be, as specified by the manufacturer, we guarantee the same." All of which implies that buyers should consider the warranty information supplied with a product ‘the real deal’, rather than the information given by in-store staff. After all, sales personnel cannot reasonably be expected to recall the length of warranty offered with each product they sell. Asked what consumers must bring to the store with their product to get support, and whether warranty registration cards included with products must be filled out and returned, Sullivan had this to add: “As far as product returns policies go, consumer laws here are quite vague. In the UK for instance, it’s illegal to only give warranties to those who’ve returned a warranty card. Warranty policies therefore revolve around having ‘proof of purchase’, in other words a receipt.” “That’s our policy at Plug-ins too,” Sullivan confirmed. “All warranty periods will be honoured with a receipt from the customer. Customers might gain extra support or information on future promotions from registering via the card in the box, but this is not not essential.” If you have any related warranty issues, good or bad, Windows would like to hear from you. E-mail windows@itp.com.

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