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Should Apple Give Back Replaced Disks? 446

Posted by kdawson
from the consider-it-a-trade-in dept.
theodp writes "As if having to pay $160 to replace a failed 80-GB drive wasn't bad enough, Dave Winer learned to his dismay that Apple had no intention of giving him back the disk he paid them to replace. Since it contained sensitive data like source code and account info, Dave rightly worries about what happens if the drive falls into the wrong hands. Which raises an important question: In an age of identity theft and other confidentiality concerns, is it time for Apple — and other computer manufacturers — to start following the practice of auto mechanics and give you the option of getting back disks that are replaced?"
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Should Apple Give Back Replaced Disks?

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  • Agreement (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Step Child (216708) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:06AM (#21802988) Homepage
    According to the excerpt, Apple owns the drive, not the data on it. IANAL, but they don't have any legal right to distribute your data that's contained on the drive. If they accidentally give someone the drive with the data still on it, then it seems like that could equal a big lawsuit. That's why they'll most likely wipe the drive. If you're that concerned with a middle man digging through your drive, then you probably should have been more careful with 1) signing forms without reading them, and 2) using PCs or notebooks where you'll invalidate any warranties by breaking the case seal.
  • by Hacksaw (3678) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:10AM (#21803014) Homepage Journal
    I can imagine the "unscrupulous person" scenario. However, my company use Dells, and has a support contract, and they have never replaced anything that they didn't essentially make our tech prove was broken first.

    It's more likely that Dell is taking the drive so that they can get some money back from the manufacturer when the drive is under warranty. They are, after all, a business and if it wasn't their fault the drive failed early, they shouldn't have to suck up the cost.

  • by m1ndrape (971736) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:14AM (#21803042) Homepage
    I ran into a similar problem. Once I found out that my apple care warranty also forces me to forfeit my drive, it also came to my attention from my attention that it would most likely be a refurb. Plus, I wasn't allowed up to upgrade to a higher capacity drive. My fault for not reading the AppleCare warranty. The "geniuses" at the bar insisted that the entire process of replacing the drive would take 2 weeks and that it was much too hard for mere mortals. Since they didn't have any stock that matched my drive (but they had countless higher capacities laying around), it had to be sent out of state. I was like bullshit, took my drive and my broken hard drive. Replacing it myself took only 15 minutes. don't get me wrong, love my mac, but the warranty plan could improve.
  • by iocat (572367) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:35AM (#21803164) Homepage Journal
    I've only been a resident of three states (Michigan, Massachusetts, and California), but in all of them, you will get back any parts they replace unless you specifically tell them you don't want them. Even tires! (And if you don't want the tire back, they charge you extra, since they have to pay the disposal fee). It's basically a law that theoretically keeps them honest, because you could call them out if they replaced a working part.
  • by caller9 (764851) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:38AM (#21803178)
    What was his plan if the device was lost or stolen?

    Encryption goes a long way in remedying this particular dilemma. If you're worried enough about it to freak when they don't send the drive back, you should be worried about loss or theft. Use TrueCrypt or your favorite encryption software for those files.
  • by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval.gmail@com> on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:13AM (#21803380) Journal

    for consumer electronics. I worked at a warranty center for 35 brands and to keep fraud to a dull roar the wanted the parts back. We'd fill out all the paperwork, stick it and the parts in a bin and wait for the field rep to audit them. Then they'd take them back or tell us to dispose of them.

    I assume it's similar in other industries. It's way too easy to claim you replaced a set of brake pads or that microprocessor and not do it but get the money for the part.

    Since the party paying is the manufacturer then they get the old parts back.
  • by confusedneutrino (732640) on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:33AM (#21803474)
    I had an interesting experience with this several years ago. The hard drive in my parents' new HP failed, and being under warranty, they offered to replace the drive. Within 48 hours, a package arrived with a replacement. I pop it in... and it boots into Windows NT. It was an old drive of a recycled computer (or something) and had not been wiped or formatted. It was a fully-functional install of NT, complete with all of the previous user's data. Brief inspection revealed quite a bit of personal and even sensitive information still on the disk.

    I called HP about it, they apologized profusely and sent yet another replacement drive (this one in factory packaging). Still, I was scared sending my mum's drive in with everything still on it, so I took an industrial magnet to it before I returned it. Not a month later, I had a Seagate external drive fail under warranty. Needless to say, I was nervous then. Nervous now.
  • by Buscape (1153545) on Monday December 24, 2007 @03:18AM (#21803662)
    They're going to resell his old drive as a refurb if they can. If privacy was a problem he should have bought a new drive.
  • by nullhero (2983) * on Monday December 24, 2007 @09:22AM (#21804898) Journal

    ...do not sign ANYTHING without reading it first.
    I work in a call center for a bank, and I don't know how many times I tell people that they signed a particular agreement binding us and them to something. And that they should have read it prior to signing but people really don't take the time, usually five minutes, to read anything.

    If you don't want to do it then take the consequences, and shut up. I like when people tell me you can't possibly read everything. Here's a story:

    When I was buying my house I was scheduled to meet with the lawyer for the closing at 3:00pm. They made me wait till 5:30pm which I was okay with because it seemed they were busy. When it came time I looked, and read, every single piece of paperwork, and found that my monthly payment had an extra $300 tacked to it. I looked at the paralegal, who just wanted to be done and go home, and told her to call the bank because I didn't agree to that in my original paperwork that I was given. She was not happy because it appears it was her mistake. It took an hour for her to correct but if I hadn't read it the consequences would have meant that I had a mortgage I couldn't afford. BTW: she wanted to be done by 6:00pm that night. It was 8:00pm when we were done. She blamed me but it was her fault for scheduling so much to do, at then not doing it.

    Read everything that you sign because you will agree to things that you didn't realize if you don't.
  • by duffbeer703 (177751) * on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:41AM (#21806020)
    Yeah, I feel for you.

    Shocking that consumers who typically don't see the contract until the very end of the purchasing process, and typically receive a copy of their 10-page contract, written in highly technical legal language on a tiny, folded piece of paper in a 3 point font don't know what they're getting into.

    And if they read and can understand the contract, they find that the terms are non-negotiable, require that you agree to waive right to sue in court, and allow the vendor to arbitrarily change the contract.

    So I hope your customers/victims screw you out of every dime possible.
  • by compulsiveguile (1173669) on Monday December 24, 2007 @11:47AM (#21806088) Homepage
    I don't know how much info is really on an iPod unless you've used it as an external drive... right? But I definitely feel your pain in regards to iPod repairs. I have never been more furious with a company in my life. Conveniently my iPod's drive died just weeks after the warranty expired. When I found out how much repairs were going to cost, I figured why buy a hard drive for $150+ when I can get the new video iPod for a bit more? My friend suggested buying a drive online and doing it myself. Sounded brilliant so I went bidding, got a drive, and popped it in my iPod. Bad move... (Just so ebay doesn't get a bad rep or whatever, the guy offered a full refund if the drive didn't work).

    My iPod still didn't work, so I figured I could take the iPod to the Apple Store (I have an hour drive to get to one, mind you). To make sure I wasn't driving up there for no reason, I explained my problem to an Apple rep on the phone. They told me to bring it down, and they'd take care of it. After waiting for a half hour or so, the tech guy called my name. I walked to the counter optimistically, and handed him the iPod. He told me my drive was bad, as expected, and I pulled out the other drive to ask him about it. He looked at it disapproval. I asked if he could at least test it for me or something. He asked me if I had taken the iPod apart ever, and I had to answer with an honest "Yes, I did." He looked at me as if I had just handed him the plague. He set the iPod on the counter immediately, and basically told me it might make a good paper weight. I argued to no avail, and ended up selling my dead iPod on ebay in case anybody needed parts. *sigh* a mere $50 for a $300 electronic device... have to love the tech industry.
  • by DTemp (1086779) on Monday December 24, 2007 @10:12PM (#21811380)
    I'm entering this conversation late, but here it is, how I handled it when my MacBook's 80GB drive died:

    I sat down for my appointment at the Genius Bar. I asked him if I would get to keep the drive, since I was worried about my data. He said no, since they have to return the dead drive to the manufacturer. Fine, I agreed with that, so I asked if he could certify that the drive was indeed "dead" and worthy of replacement, so I could take it home and sandpaper the platters. He said that was fine; I didn't take his word for it, and made sure the manager was okay with it, in case his shift ended and there was no record that my drive was officially declared under warranty repair.

    So I went home, and completely took out the platters, and put back together the case of the drive (sans platters) and took it back to the Apple store.

    They put a new drive in my MacBook without fuss, and took the old drive's metal shell to give back to the manufacturer. I don't know if this scenario is officially endorsed by the corporate office, but it worked at the Cambridge, MA Apple store.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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