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★★☆☆☆

“Shop elsewhere!”

Written on: 06/04/2012

I purchased a new Western Digital WD1600AAJB PATA Hard Disk Drive from Lambda-Tek Component Shop and I would like to take this opportunity to detail the problem/s that have followed so that other would-be customers are informed.

Having purchased and taken receipt of the item, I noticed that even though it had been sold to me as being brand new, when I removed it from its sealed anti-static bag, I observed parts of the hard disk drive (HDD) were covered in light dust, suggesting it had either been used or stored, and then resealed in an anti-static bag as if to give the impression it had left the manufacturer in that state. I also noticed the manufacturing date on the HDD was 26th November 2008 – over three years from the date I purchased the HDD.

I subsequently happened to query the SMART data contained on the HDD using a popular piece of software called CrystalDiskInfo 4.0.Incredibly, the data presented in the graphical user interface indicated the HDD had accumulated 16275 ‘Power On Hours’ of use. I was both surprised and appalled by this realisation. I emailed Western Digital directly for advice. They subsequently wrote back and told me that although the drive was sold with a valid 3 year warranty period, it had now expired [the HDD had been originally sold subsequent to the manufacturing date of 26th November 2008 and used for well over 16200 hours by someone else and the warranty was not transferable]. They also told me that since I did not buy from a reseller listed on their website, they had no relationship with the shop Lamba-Tek.

What else could I do? I submitted the HDD for a replacement or refund attached to an email Lambda-Tek had sent me in which they solicited feedback regarding my shopping experience. I got no reply. I rang their Returns Department and was told me to submit the return via my Lambda-Tek online account. I did this straight away in accordance with their express instructions.

I received no acknowledgment of receipt of my return from Lambda-Tek and so, about a week later, I rang Lambda-Tek again for an update. I explained the reasons for returning the product. Bizarrely, the discussion soon deteriorated into an argument during which I was insulted on several occasions by their Customer Service Representative, and I was told I ought not to expect a high standard of customer service because I was not the Queen, and that people like me had too much time on their hands! I asked for the name of the person who I was speaking to, but he refused to give it, nor would he confirm who supplied this particular HDD to Lambda-Tek. This gentleman continued to shout and berate me and talk over me, and he eventually hung up the phone when I made it apparent I wished to escalate the matter, because I was not pleased with the level of customer service I was receiving. I rang back to pursue the matter and spoke to a colleague. He listened to my grievance and apologised for his colleague’s unacceptable behaviour and bad manners. He told me the management were currently in a meeting with the company's owners and one of the two managers senior to him would call me back later that afternoon. To my disappointment, this did not occur.

The following day, I rang back, but nobody in the Returns Dept. answered the telephone, even though I waited on the line for nearly six minutes. I rang back again and tried a different department but, again, there was no answer for over one minute thirty seconds. I rang back once more and got through to someone in payments, surprisingly enough. I explained why I was calling and was put through to Lambda-Tek Customer Service Manager. I explained to him why I wished to return the HDD. I asked him for a refund, and he to promised to call me back later that afternoon once he had cleared the return with their warehouse. He also would not tell me who supplied LambdaTek’s Western Digital supplier was, but said there were “several”. I told him that in my opinion, it must surely be the case that Western Digital direct was not one of them otherwise the item I received would have been new and not extensively used. Conveniently, he told me he suspected I had been sent the "wrong item". I said this was not the case because I had ordered a new HDD and at the time of the sale, there were only 2 other drives for sale of that particular type which were not advertised as being new and which were on sale at a reduced price because they had only been “used once”. I explained that even if I had been sent one of these HDDs in error, I did not consider 16200+ hours of use equated with the description “used once”. I told the Customer Service Manager that whether or not he or his colleagues took the matter seriously, I would be contacting Trading Standards and possibly the Police because I was sufficiently of the opinion that Lambda-Tek were being evasive and obfuscating the matter and judging by the way I was being treated and spoken to, there was possibly reason to suspect the incident was not an isolated occurrence. He told me he did not respond to ‘threats’. I told him I had never ever ever been talked too like this by any Customer Service Representative from Amazon, or eBuyer, or CCL Online, or MoreComputers or Scan etc., and impressed upon him the need to take my request for a full refund seriously and to give it his urgent attention. I was so disgusted with the manner in which I had been treated by two of the four Lambda-Tek’s staff I spoke to, I wrote to Oxford City Council Trading Standards for advice. The Customer Service Manager did not call me back that afternoon, so I logged on to my Lambda-Tek account and observed my order status had been revised and a refund request had been accepted and instructions on how to proceed had been sent. Unbelievably, it also stated LamdaTek could cancel my return if there was a delay in returning the item. I wrote an email via my Lambda-Tek account for the attention of the Customer Service Manager stating that I had not in fact received any explicit instructions on how to proceed, and I reminded him that the HDD was posted to Lambda-Tek by First-Class Recorded Delivery and that a representative of LambdaTek had already signed for receipt of it!

I received two replies from Lambda-Tek Returns following this: one stated Lambda-Tek had agreed to refund me for the returned HDD; the other that confirmation from the warehouse that the goods were received and scanned in, in that order! I did not receive an apology. I thanked Lambda-Tek for agreeing to give me a full refund for the HDD and, subsequently, upon the advice of Trading Standards, made a request in writing that my costs for postage and 6 telephone calls totalling £10.20 be refunded too. I have since been told by Lambda-Tek that this has been referred internally to their Finance Department for "advice". I have yet to receive a refund or even an apology for that matter. Suffice it to say, I hope I will not have cause to buy from LambdaTek in future...