LACIE – The Rolls Royce of External Hard Drives…… (I don’t think so!)

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Eighteen Months ago, I bought a 1
Terrabyte Lacie Big Ethernet Drive from a reseller
on eBay for $530.00 (advertised with a three year warranty).

 

I purchased the Lacie because a friend of mine who was in
the video production game told me, “You can’t go past the Lacie drives, they’re
indestructible.”

 

On Saturday, when I powered up my drive, it behaved
differently to it’s normal start-up sequence and then it  started making a noise……  Grind…. Griiiind…. GRIIIIIIND!

 

And of course, it wouldn’t give me any data……

 

On the Lacie web site, a letter from the Chairman of
Lacie extols the fine qualities of the company, the excellent design and workmanship
of the drives with Lacie’s two manufacturing plants located in France
and the USA.

 

He starts off…..

 

At LaCie, we combine design and technology to result in
products that are both beautiful and performance-driven. We work hard to make
your digital life better.

 

Promising.

 

We want you to feel confident when you use LaCie’s
products. It’s easy to replace a keyboard, processor, or printer—but not your
data. Your life is on your hard drive; you need to be able to back up to a
second place easily, and feel like you’ve made the best choice for your data’s
safety and security.

 

Oh goodie… because that Griiiiind had me worried.

 

To better understand and serve the needs of our
customers, we do not outsource our professional product line support or our
repairs center. We are proud of our two main manufacturing sites in
Oregon
and
France.
We have offices in 15 different countries, and about a third of our worldwide
staff of approximately 460 employees belong to our technical teams. It is an
excellent way to stay connected.

 

Great! A company that stands behind it’s product.

 

Well, yeah. They have to say all that stuff, to get you to
buy.

But once you have the Griiiind…… try getting any warranty
service…..

 

Open Lacie Service Ticket…..

 

Tom K.
        Posted:
March
6, 2010
@ 9:44 PM
Lacie Power Light immediately on when power applied – but before button is
pushed. Grinding noise from inside. No access to data. Power supply heats up .

 

From Lacie

Posted: March 8, 2010 @ 8:28 AM

Good day Tom,

My name is J____, and I’ll be working with you to find a solution. If I
understand your problem correctly, you seem to be having an issue using the
LaCie drive on your computer.

Many problems that occur with any
electronics happen due to power problems. LaCie drives are powered by external
power supplies. The external power supply is a small, black box that contains a
transformer. This changes the AC power coming from a power outlet, into the
small amount of DC energy required by a drive. They appear somewhat like this:

 psu

A power supply failure can have
these symptoms:

Unusual sounds coming from the
drive (clicking, humming or beeping in some cases.)

Unusual sounds coming from the
external power supply. They should normally be silent.

Errors in Device Manager or System
Profiler (error codes, driver problems, etc.)

General file errors or other
strange behavior.

Some models of drives will flash or
alternate colors when not receiving enough power.

Try a different power supply unit,
from LaCie and of the same specifications, if the drive has similar symptoms.

Please let me know your results
from following this procedure.

Thank you very much for your
patience.

Regards,

J
 

Tom
K.

        Posted:
March 8, 2010 @ 4:03 PM
Dear J, Thanks for your recommendation. Are you suggesting that I purchase a
new Lacie Power supply to eliminate a warranty problem?

If
so, is there a special price I get and is it refunded if that doesn
t
fix the error?

 

I noticed however that the service tech window gave me an
option to log a service ticket with the Australian office.

 

Great…. As I had already logged a service ticket, I called
the Australian office.

 

Lacie: Hello, this is _____, how may I help you?

 

Hi. I’m trying to get a warranty return for a Lacie Big Ethernet
drive that I purchased in 2008 from eBay.

 

Lacie: Is it secondhand?

 

No, why would I buy a secondhand drive? It was new.


Lacie: Well lots of people sell secondhand hard drives on eBay.

 

No, it wasnt secondhand. It was shrinkwrapped new in it's box. I had to set-up the shares etc. It was new.


Lacie: Is it still under warranty?


Well I would expect that it was. It had a three year
warranty. Shall I give you the serial number so you can check?

 

Lacie: No, I don’t have access.

 

Well I filed a service ticket on the weekend, however ____
says that it’s most probably the Power supply. Do I have to buy a power supply
or will you supply one under warranty.

 

Lacie: Well you will have to email me your serial number and I will
check to see if it is under warranty.

 

(I thought we had that conversation….. so I made some unkind
comments about  levels of service
support, but emailed her the serial number.)

 

To Lacie

Confirming our discussion, the
serial number of my big Ethernet disk is 18118497D9.

I have opened a support ticket
(details below).

Until today, I didn’t even realise
that Lacie had opened an Australian office – or that it didn’t have one when I
purchased the disk.

I am aware that the disk was
offered with a three year warranty. I registered my product with the Lacie
Registration page when I received it.

Therefore there will be an accurate
record of Purchase Date.

I was not aware that the warranty was
not applicable if I purchased the disk new, from an EBay vendor.

I have other Lacie Disk products,
unfortunately none of them have compatible plugs on their power supplies.

The details for the power supply
are:

Model No: ACU057A-0512

There does not appear to be a
serial number on the power supply.

Incidentally, it is manufactured by
Zghonghan Union East Electronics.

Whereas power supplies I have from
two Neil Poulton 1 TB USB disks appear to come from other manufacturers.

APD & Sunfone

Anecdotally, you might be
interested that the 1TB  powered by Sunfone power supply appears to run
hot constantly whereas the APD powered Neil Poulton 1TB device runs very cool.

 

Back came the prompt reply a couple of hours later.

 

Dear Tom,

 

After
checking with our Technical Manager, he confirmed that your drive is from the
USA and is still under warranty.

 

From here
you have 2 options:

 

The first
one (and probably faster one) would be to purchase a new power supply, part
number #710449A. The cost of the power supply is $49. You can purchase
it from our website directly at
http://www.lacie.com/au/products/product.htm?pid=10706 and the delivery cost will
be $9.90. Otherwise, if you wish to purchase the power supply from a store,
please click on the link below to have a list retailers:

http://www.lacie.com/au/wheretobuy/index.htm

Please
note that the power supply will come with 1 year warranty, therefore if
anything goes wrong within the warranty period, you'll be able to organize an
exchange by creating a support ticket at
www.lacie.com/au/register.

 

The
second option would be to organize an exchange under warranty with LaCie US
directly. I can not confirm whether or not they will send you the
replacement part since you live in
Australia. Second of all the power supply
you might get will be designed for the
US market and not the Australian
one. Therefore the same issue might happen again. I'm afraid you won't be able
to organize an exchange under warranty with LaCie
Australia directly. Since your drive is from
the
US and LaCie warranties are continental warranties, we can not
offer any support.

 

Let me
know if I can be of any further help.

 

 

Hmmm, let me see, I purchased one of the worlds most
expensive external drives.

The Chairman said the company stood behind it’s product,.

 

The US Office told me to get a Lacie Power supply, the
Australian office won’t honour warranty on a US
drive.

 

This is a company (the Australian office) that has its
emails addressed to Sales.au [sales.au@lacie.com]

 

That would be a .com domain name and not a .eu domain name.
(In other words, for sales, it’s an American branch office, but for service… it’s
suddenly divorced from the US
parent.

 

Conversely, the Australian office only honors warranties
from the continental office i.e. from .eu and not from .com.

 

Plus, she confirmed that there was a defect in the manufacture of the power supply of the US version….

“Second of all the power supply
you might get will be designed for the
US market and not the Australian
one. Therefore the same issue might happen again.


I'm not an electrical engineer, but I've been around computer power supplies since about 1979 (in one form or another).

This particular power supply says:


Input: 100-240V~

50-60Hz 1.5A


That sounds pretty international to me.


And she wants to know if she can be of any further help.

 

God save me from incompetent service personnel working for
tin pot organisations who are too cheap to provide global warranty for products
that are obviously put together in China.

 

I’ll buy their stupid $49.00 power supply, but from where I
come from, if a product is dependant on  a power supply to operate correctly then that
power supply actually has the same warranty unless specifically excluded at the
point of sale.

 

Imagine buying a GMH car and being told, “Sorry, we buy the
motors from Toyota, you’ll have to
see them for warranty claims on the engine. We only make the car…….”

 

Next time I purchase a drive, I won’t worry about getting
the NAME (LACIE) brand, as obviously the crap warranty is about the same as if I
purchased a cheap Chinese alternative.

 

The letter from the Chairman finishes……

 

We believe in design and technology. We believe in people
and relationships.

 

Not you don’t Mr. Chairman. Your relationships with your
clients are only as good as the last transaction.

 

I have purchased 5 Lacie drives in the last two years each one has a different power supply (made in China).

I won’t be recommending Lacie products to anyone that I know
in the future.

Update: 11:30 am EST Australian Time, 10th March 2010.



Posted: March
9, 2010
@ 7:47 AM

Hello Tom,

Thank you for providing the additional information. Since your LaCie is within
warranty (Original Warranty Exp 03/23/2011), as a precautionary measure we can
go ahead and send you a replacement power supply but upon checking the address
on file it appears to be an Australian address is this correct (if you can post
full address this would be helpful too)? Do let me know and we'll make
arragements for you.

Kindest regards.

 

However, it would seem at this stage that apparently the
American office need to be told that you are making a warranty claim when you
file a service ticket.

 

It's not like they don’t have a database of serial numbers
and dates sold.

In fact when you first register your purchase with Lacie (or
the first time you create a trouble Ticket) they ask for your serial number.

 

image

 

So essentially, when a service/trouble Ticket is created,
Right there on the screen should be  a
little box…..   

image


 

Lacie is large successful sales
organisation:

 

Key indicators

IFRS rules, in Euros (millions)

30/06/2009

30/06/2008

Sales (Millions I presume)

301.2

389.8

Gross margin
Gross margin (% Sales)

46.3
15.4%

68.6
17.6%

Operating profit
Margin from operations (% Sales)

4.1
1.4%

25.6
6.6%

Financial result

Income tax

0.5

0.1

- 1.8

– 6.5

Net income for financial year
Net margin (% Sales)

4.6
1.5%

17.3
4.4%

EPS (in euros)

0.13

0.49

Source: http://www.lacie.com/company/investors/index.htm

 

With offices in 15 countries.

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Surely they can afford two lines of code and a little box on
the screen.


I don’t mean to be cynical, but having been the CEO of a
couple if multi-national companies, I know that the CRS user database has an
option for listing what I had I had for breakfast.


So whilst it’s nice that they are honoring the warranty, I
can’t help but wonder if it has anything to do with this blog article.

 

Article originally posted on March
9, 2010 10:22pm (EST) Australian time

With the Lacie Email arriving 2:48 am March 10, 2010 Australian time.


How am I sure that this is not a normal email in the normal course of business?

(Remember, they have two manufacturing offices, one in France and the other in Oregon.)


Because 10:22 pm EST AU time = 03:22 am in Oregon or 12:22 pm in France.

And the Lacie email arrived at 2:48 am EST AU time = 7:48 am in Oregon or 4:48 pm in France


I had an office in the CFI building at 400 SW sixth in downtown Portland for a while and one of my major frustrations was that no-one in the USA turns up at 7:47 am ready to work. At 7:47 they are still at the Petra coffee (downtown Portland) stand or Starbucks….


Where is the Chairman located?

M. Philippe SPRUCH
132 avenue Victor Hugo, 75016 Paris
75016 Paris

However, four hours and twenty-six minutes. An impressive tactical response
time Mr. Chairman.

I'll keep you all posted as
the outcome unfolds.

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