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Should Apple Give Back Replaced Disks? 446

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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  • Always? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd ( 1050150 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @12:58AM (#21802940) Homepage
    Do you always get your part back at the mechanic? Aren't some parts "cores" used to make remanufactured parts? Just like PC drives?
    • by JesseL ( 107722 )
      In cases like that you should have the option to pay the "core charge" and get your part back.
    • Re:Always? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by darkhitman ( 939662 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:08AM (#21803000)
      Do car parts have your social security number on them? No? Bit different, then.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zakezuke ( 229119 )

      Do you always get your part back at the mechanic? Aren't some parts "cores" used to make remanufactured parts? Just like PC drives?

      Core charges, as with automotive parts, only apply to refurbished components. For example, when I replace my brakes in my car I buy calipers pre-loaded with pads making replacement a matter of
      1. removing 4 lugnuts x 2
      2. removing two bolts x 2
      3. removing one hose x 2
      4. Disc removal + machine shop x 2

      Financially it's on par with with pad replacement at a shop, but assurance of new rubber seals, and downtime is far less. If I wanted to keep the old ones, I'd buy new calipers which are often not pre-loaded.

      • I forgot to add in my state, or at least the stores I shop at, new tires and batteries cost more without the old ones, but this is for environmental reasons. But it's not called a core charge but rather an environmental fee or some such.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by eli pabst ( 948845 )
          I'm not sure how true that is. Every time I've been charged a "core charge", it's on something that has expensive (and reusable) material in it that can generally be made into a re-manufactured/refurbished part. For example the metal in batteries and distributors is inherently valuable, hence they charge you what amounts to a "deposit".
          • I'm not sure how true that is. Every time I've been charged a "core charge", it's on something that has expensive (and reusable) material in it that can generally be made into a re-manufactured/refurbished part.
            I do things my self, so my shop experience is very limited. But I can defiantly say every place I shop for parts the rule is this, if it's new there is no core deposit with the exception of tires and batteries. If it's rebuilt, there is a core charge.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 )
          Core charges are on things like brake pads, alternators, and water pumps. Replace the worn bits, and the 'core' can be reused/rebuilt into an almost new part. Tires and batteries carry an environmental disposal fee.
    • "Do you always get your part back at the mechanic? "

      Do your car parts contain sensitive data?
    • ..I had the Apple "Genius" grab a magnet from the back room and, in front of me, wipe it all over the HD. He was very cool about it, understood perfectly, and was more than happy to do it for me.
  • by User 956 ( 568564 )
    Dave Winer learned to his dismay that Apple had no intention of giving him back the disk he paid them to replace.

    Does not compute. He paid them to replace it, not to replace it AND give back the old one.

  • Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sorthum ( 123064 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @12:58AM (#21802948) Homepage
    I was just thinking about this today. I'd expect that this would be the case for a warranty drive repair, but when the customer bought a new drive? The old part should definitely remain the property of the customer...
  • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:00AM (#21802958) Homepage Journal
    In most states, the consumer does not have the option to have the old parts returned, they have the right to have the old parts returned. Where laws are properly enforced, it's a rather big deal if the mechanics doesn't do so.

    And yes, the laws regarding computer repair should be the same.
    • Most auto parts stores will quote you a price that includes the buy-back of the replaced part. You pay, say, $20 for a new part, and a $80 "core deposit."

      When it comes to shmucks like me who have no place to maintain their cars, well, the local garages charge an arm and a leg because they can, and we're more worried about "how much will it cost" than "can I get my beatup fender back."
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iocat ( 572367 )
        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.
        • Even tires! (And if you don't want the tire back, they charge you extra, since they have to pay the disposal fee)

          Where I live it costs extra to keep the old tires, at least at the shops I've received quotes from. It's rather nutty when your car only comes with a donut sized spare and you buy a used rim and want a tire, but in those cases I've asked friends for surplus tires like from an old tire swing or some such. In most cases it's not an issue.

          Some applies to batteries. It costs me more to get a new battery without an old one, but again people are happy to give up their old batteries, esp those who buy used bat

      • Not only that, but you also have the right to inspect the part, even if they're sending it to be re manufactured to save you a bit of money. Now, whether or not you have the ability to usefully determine anything with your inspection, they must let you see any parts removed.
        • I'm guessing this is to help with fraud in the motor vehicle repair industry. There's a lot of lay people out there who wouldn't know what a carb-e-magig is let-alone why it needed to be replaced.

          The exact same applies to computers except nobody wants to give the parts back. There's a lot of lay-people out there who really only know how to drive them badly and wouldn't know why they needed a new motherboard to fix "dll is missing" error.
  • ...Hand me mine, please.
  • by Forge ( 2456 ) <kevinforge.gmail@com> on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:01AM (#21802966) Homepage Journal
    Right there on the "customize your system" page for many (if not all) Dell Machines is the option to keep your defective disks after they have been replaced.

    It costs a little extra and coming from the field support arena I know why.

    Whenever you replace a part under warranty they take the old one. Not because they have use for it but to make sure you don't. Imagine an unscrupulous person who would call in "My drive is broken" then when the tech replaces the drive, he just turns around and sells the old one (which was fine anyway).

    The same logically applies to other components and Dell only makes this special exemption for Hard drives because that's where the data is stored.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      But the guy in the story was paying, *out of warrantee*. Or did I read it wrong?
      • by Forge ( 2456 ) <kevinforge.gmail@com> on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:20AM (#21803070) Homepage Journal

        Where I come from (Jamaica) that's simple theft. If I bought a new part and payed you to replace it the old part is still mine.

        I may choose to have you dispose of it or to sell it to you as reusable scrap. The choice is mine however. And again the reason is simple and has nothing to do with personal data.

        If you have a loose IDE cable and I tell you "The drive is dead" then sell you a replacement and keep the old drive, I can then sell that old drive. My profit would be 100% of the sale price.

        Screwing over the customer so you can sell his stuff? Most jurisdictions discourage that :)
    • by Forge ( 2456 )
      Sorry. Just checked.

      This only applies to Servers. Desktop and Laptop users are screwed. Looks like your best bet is to degauze the old drive with a big magnet before the technician arrives if you are paranoid.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nimey ( 114278 )
        Uh, no. I can buy Latitudes and Optiplexen with my uni's account & they give us the option to keep the bad hard drive. The price is generally something like $18 for three years, and you can pay a few dollars more for four and five years. We usually get 3-year warranties plus keeping the bad drive for that period.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hacksaw ( 3678 )
      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.

    • I believe the real motivator is that the damaged drive is a usable core for a remanufacture. When you buy a new/reman auto part, you get a discount if you return your defective core. Note that I said "if". It is by no means mandatory to return a core.

      This system Apple has is backwards. The core should be returned to the customer by default, and the customer should be able to opt-in for a discount. It should be plainly written on the repair contract.
    • by Tmack ( 593755 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:15AM (#21803050) Homepage Journal

      ... Whenever you replace a part under warranty they take the old one. Not because they have use for it but to make sure you don't. Imagine an unscrupulous person who would call in "My drive is broken" then when the tech replaces the drive, he just turns around and sells the old one (which was fine anyway).
      Right, but if he payed for the new drive, then it was not a warranty replacement, it was a new purchase + install, so the old *dead* part should still be his. Basically, apple is doing what you described, but they are the unscrupulous person in this case, taking your money and the drive, then either getting the warranty $$ from the manufacturer (or more likely credit for another drive), or are simply wiping it and re-using it in the next victim's computer.

      I know when I worked in a computer shop, we left the dead parts on top of the computer to give to the user when they came back. Most would just tell us to toss the parts, so we had a big bin full of "dead" stuff, most of which truly was dead. We never kept things unless it actually WAS an issue covered by warranty, and then the customer got the savings passed to them. If this is truly happening, Apple has a nice scam going on.


  • 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.
  • Absolutely. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:08AM (#21803008)
    If there's sensitive information on the drive, you have every right to want it back (especially if it wasn't warranty work). Apple deserves the highest possible mark of shame for this disregard for the security of their customers' information, it's absolutely not permissible.
  • by AySz88 ( 1151141 )
    I recently encountered a similar situation - my mother had dropped her cell phone into the pool, and it wouldn't recognize any SIM cards anymore. She had "insurance" that sent her a replacement refurbished phone in exchange for sending the old phone back (but the premiums plus "deductible" would have been enough to cover the cost of the refurbished phone, and far too expensive to trade in the almost-working phone, so it was a terrible deal).

    Unfortunately, she apparently had credit card info inside the p
  • Why did he send them sensitive data?!

    • by Rosyna ( 80334 )
      If Best Buy copies the porn off of HDs of PCs that go in for repair, just imagine what Apple does with your sensitive data.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why did he send them sensitive data?!

      Maybe his disk drive was broken, so he could not take the sensitive data off it?

  • It's an option (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maeric ( 636941 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:12AM (#21803028)
    I work as a Tier 1 agent for AppleCare and I can assure you that getting your hard drive back for a mail-in repair is an option; however, most Tier 1 agents do not know how to put this request in so it's not often done correctly. It's definitely not a standard, and if a hard drive is replaced through a mail-in repair the minimum price would be a flat-rate repair which is at least $249 but oftentimes it is more than that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Maeric ( 636941 )
      Something I should add is that this option is for out of warranty work. Something we call either a flat rate repair or tier level repair work.
    • by 404 Clue Not Found ( 763556 ) * on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:49AM (#21803246)

      the minimum price would be a flat-rate repair which is at least $249 but oftentimes it is more than that.
      What kind of flat rate is that?
      • by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:10AM (#21803364)
        What kind of flat rate is that?

        It's like the Mighty Mouse. Atleast one button, but oftentimes it is more than that.
      • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:18AM (#21803402) Homepage

        ... the minimum price would be a flat-rate repair which is at least $249 but oftentimes it is more than that.

        What kind of flat rate is that?

        A Reality Field Distorted flat rate (kind of all curvy, that sort of thing).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 )
        That was my initial reaction, too, but I'm guessing that there is a separate flat rate price depending on the product. So for a desktop there might be one flat rate to fix whatever problem, large or small. There might be a separate flat rate to fix any problem a laptop might have, yet another flat rate for an ipod fix, etc. If that is the case, it makes sense to call it a flat rate even if it varies by product. If I call in for a repair on my ipod and they say the price will depend on what the problem is..
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mr_matticus ( 928346 )
        A fairly typical one?

        Flat rate repair does not mean universally unitary rate repair. It just means that for the kinds of repairs that are covered, the same price is charged. It can be separated by nature of problem, product family, or level of service based.

        For example, you could have desktops at $249, notebooks at $299. Or iMacs/Macbooks at $249, Pro products at a different price. Or replacement of non-display hardware components at one price, LCD replacement at another, and complete system replacement
    • by RedBear ( 207369 )
      I see this kind of stuff posted a lot in discussions about dealing with Apple for service. I'm sure it's the same with other manufacturers also. You have to know the right things to say to the support people in order to actually get problems solved. Is there some reference material online that succinctly explains how to talk to AppleCare personnel to make these kind of requests in a way that will be listened to, and how all the different levels of support apply to different sizes of businesses. Because I do
  • Why in the world did he send them the drive in the first place. If I have or at any time had anything I consider sensitive on a hard drive, it NEVER goes in with the machine for repair. I take it out myself and have them test the box with a fresh drive. Who knows when you will get some snoop perusing your hard drive. Identity theft would be easy with the information available on many computer. Either back up your data and reformat (after a 7 pass rewrite) or don't give them the drive.

    Most companies tha
  • 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 m
  • Encrypted FS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Matt Perry ( 793115 ) <perry.matt54@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:26AM (#21803112)
    This is a good reason to use an encrypted filesystem if you can.
  • I have certifications to preform waranty service for Apple, IBM, and Toshiba.
    All 3 have a procedure to deal with sensitive data on Bad HDD's. - You typically can ask to not send the drive back.
    I have never done it with Apple, but IBM and Toshiba have a Affidavit you fill out certifying the drive was destroyed, signed by the tech and the Customer IIRC.

    If its non waranty service.. the drive should be sent back.
  • Apple should ASK (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 )
    It would be good customer service to ask. I can understand the risk of abuse by giving customers 2 drives for the price of one, but at least one's options should be given up front. They could offer a transfer fee or a keep-old-disk fee or the like. Find a decent compromise.
  • Seriously, this is a case where someone needs to construct a good letter to be distributed and sent to our respective congressmen. While matters of property are vague when dealing with warranty repairs, matter of ownership of the data is not. Consumers should have the right to opt for new equipment and keep old drives. I applicate any attempt to reduce, reuse, and recycle but in this age of identity theft that can often not be practical.

    Let's work together to make this happen.

  • Kind of a whiner (Score:5, Insightful)

    by giminy ( 94188 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:37AM (#21803174) Homepage Journal
    From the story, a few things appear evident:

    This Macbook was not under warranty, or the hard disk replacement would have been free.
    The $160 that the author is scoffing at isn't that outrageous if you consider that he paid for a hard disk and the labor to install it (though if his generation of macbook is anything like mine, replacing the hard drive is a snap. Still, using his auto analogy, mechanics get to charge you $100 labor to install your brake pads, even though it takes them only a few minutes).
    If he had demanded the old disk and made a scene, he probably could have gotten it back.

    I agree that saying that the old hard disk is theirs is lame as hell, and he's rightfully angry about that. It's probably the only point of the author's that holds water. There are alternatives to the Apple Store for repair, though. CompUSA was one (though it's now going out of business). There are other Apple Authorized Service Shops, like Ikon Solutions, and the old-skool Apple stores (privately owned ones, of which many still exist).

    I once decided to have an old iBook's hard disk upgraded. I took it to CompUSA (please don't snicker, the iBook was under warranty, CompUSA is/was apple authorized so it meant saving my warranty, and this was around the year 2000, before Apple Stores were everywhere). When I took it in, I simply asked to keep the old drive and they were happy to put it in a static bag for me.
    • Still, using his auto analogy, mechanics get to charge you $100 labor to install your brake pads, even though it takes them only a few minutes).

      I don't know of many cars where it only takes a few minutes. Drums perhaps, but disc, I'd wager 30min to an hour plus testing.

      I listed here [slashdot.org] the basics that need to be done for caliper removal. Add to that

      1. Lift
      2. Inspection (fluid leakage / rotor thickness)
      3. Cleaning (asbestos brake dust where applicable)
      4. Rotor turning (sometimes you can get away without doing this, but really)
      5. Pad replacement (even decent mechanics have trouble with those clips)
      6. Reassembly
      7. Bleeding
      8. Testing (typically

  • 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.
  • I would expect that somebody as gross and belligerent as I would be in that situation would get his damn drive back or end up in lockup. It might be failed, but still have recoverable data. There is no legal claim to that property that I think should ever prevail in court. If they are offering an exchange price, fine. If they are refusing a full price sale with return of the old drive, they are out of line.

  • Wait a second... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:51AM (#21803254)
    What if the data on the drive can be recovered? What if there are credit card numbers and other personal information on the drive? Source code? Trade secrets? Does Apple really want to treat their customers privacy so shabbily? For what? Don't they already make enough money off the $160 price for the new disk?

    Here's another question for ya-- why didn't you use FileVault [wikipedia.org]? Y'know apple throws it in OS X for ya for *free* for a reason...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser ( 49529 )
      What exactly does that have to do with Apple not returning the damaged drive? What if I want it as a paperweight? The reason for wanting it back shouldn't matter. Of course, that won't stop the fanbois from avoiding the issue that Apple was wrong in this instance.
  • two points (Score:3, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:57AM (#21803294)
    Did he make it conditional up front to return the defective drive? If he didn't it was probably thrown on a pile with other drives making it impossible to return. The other point is I've dealt with surplus and most companies don't recycle intact drives the first thing they do is drill or punch a hole through the drive making them impossible to recover data from. I'm guessing that's Apple's policy like most major companies. There's an outside chance of people in the repair department pocketing the defective drive for recovery but that's a risk anywhere and has nothing to do with Apple.
  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @01:59AM (#21803314) Homepage Journal
    First of all, there's a problem with an awful lot of 80GB Seagate drives that are (mainly) used in Macbooks. Apple has been acknowledging it to a limited extent, and even though the laptop was out of warranty, the drive would likely been covered if enough of a stink was raised.

    Secondly, if he paid for a replacement, he should have been allowed to keep the old drive. Once you're paying, you are buying the new part and the labor involved. Although, if his drive in fact has the same problem the Seagate 80s are coming up with, data snooping is not a problem... (the failed drives are, in fact, causing platter damage)

    Third (and most important, perhaps), he should likely have been aware that on a Macbook the drive is a user-replaceable part. You remove the battery, unscrew the three screws that hold the memory/HD in place, and just pull the drive. Put the positioning screws on a new one, slide it in, and all is well with the world. I did a swap-out for a customer of mine two weeks ago who had a Seagate die, and the new 120 I put in cost about $100. The work took 5 minutes, most of which was spent looking for my screwdriver set!

    Apple should get things clear though, and also step up and start a warranty extension for these drives. They've been pretty good about it with other hardware issues so far.
  • Auto mechanics don't give back your used parts out of the goodness of their hearts. They give them back because consumer law forces them to do so.

    A similar consumer law should force the return of replaced parts on computers, and don't expect Apple to change their mind about it until such a law is passed. And while they're at it, they should forbid under pain of long jail sentences, computer technicians from rifling through your hard drive for files of interest. I'll let the occasional child porn collec

  • This happened to me, too. In September, I had a complete hard drive crash in my MacBook. It was still under warranty, so I took it to the store, and was offered the same deal (only w/o the $160 charge). The bulk of my data was backed up, but there were some things I was worried about losing and a few others I knew I'd lost. I wanted to keep the possibility of sending the drive to a recovery firm while still getting my computer back, but Apple makes no provision for that. They insist on keeping the dead
  • I've had three friends who didn't want to screw around trying to fix things themselves, and they ended up going to Apple. It didn't work out well for 2/3, and they didn't get their disks back. The thing is, I am not confident enough to mess with data recovery unless I know they feel comfortable (or desperate as the case may be, since they've already gone the "official" route). I'm certain I could have given it a good try (after all, it is actually pretty difficult to really delete data). So ya, I wish Apple
  • by cyberjock1980 ( 1131059 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:08AM (#21803360)
    I'm sure everyone here remembers the geeksquad incident with people looking for porn and trying to compile a collection of all the porn they could. Or the guy this week that got arrested because a rep at CompUSA(I think) found kiddie porn on his computer while looking for pictures to put on a DVD to test the drive they just installed. It is in the nature of some people they are going to spy on other people's drives. Especially so here in the USA. Not sure why but people seem to be addicted with getting into everyone else's personal lives.

    Now, just because you got the disk back doesn't mean they didn't look over your data anyway. I always encrypt my drives completely with a FDE program. That way if it does fall into the wrong hands they can't do anything with it anyway. My personal opinion, if you don't want someone going through your drive, you should either:

    1. Take it to a repair center and watch them do the repair.
    2. Take it to a friend/relative whom you know won't go fishing through your stuff.
    3. Learn to fix it yourself.
    4. Replace it yourself and use those handy dandy backups(you did do backups right?)
    5. Suck it up and accept that some minimum wage freak is gonna go through all your stuff with a fine toothed comb looking for goodies.

    Now, #5 might not be a big deal if you have something like source code, they might not know enough about programming to realize what they have and how valuable it is if they wanted to use it against you. In the end, it would be great if the IT industry had some kind of checks and balances to keep everyone honest and separate those who are honest from those who are lying kniving thieves, but this is the world we live in. Until someone can come up with an effective way to keep everyone honest, FDE is needed.

    Me personally.. if I had a drive that wasn't encrypted I'd value the data and the cost of the replacement drive. If losing the data to the wrong hands could cost you millions of dollars, a $200 drive isn't too much to throw out yourself and replace. If it has no real value then why not RMA it? The choice is yours, so make it a good one.
  • He owned the old disk, right? Did applt buy that disk from him in any way, eg. by exchange of money? No? Then they should of course give the thing back, no doubt about it.
    • He owned the old disk until the new disk was installed, at which time he owned the new one and surrendered the broken one. A condition of the installation was that installer got the old drive in the process. The user paid for a replacement unit, labor, and repair warranty (at least 90 days). Customer did not pay for the return of the old unit, the continued title to the old unit, or the continuous possession of the unit; he did not specify he wanted the old one back, did not condition his acceptance on t
      • Contracts require "meeting of the minds". And again, there was a reasonable expectation that he would be able to keep his old drive, given that he was paying way over retail for the new one. You can't impose any condition you please just by burying it under 10 pages of fine print. Imagine buying a new car and getting ready to drive off when the salesman says, "Oh yeah, the ten page contract you signed stipulates that we get to keep your old car," when nothing of the sort was mentioned before. While it is ty
  • by mrmeval ( 662166 ) <<mrmeval> <at> <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 Matt Perry ( 793115 ) <perry.matt54@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:18AM (#21803398)
    Quoting the article:

    He got his supervisor. She insisted that the drive belonged to Apple, even though I had paid an inflated price to buy a new one. She showed me the language on the reverse side of the form I signed. It was even worse than she had said. There was no guarantee that the drive they had just put in my Mac was new! It might have been someone else's defective drive.
    I just can't sympathize with this guy. It's always important to read and understand the things you sign. He says "I think they should tell you up front, before they do the work, that you're not getting the old drive back." yet they did tell him up front. He didn't choose to listen, or in this case read. Who in their right mind signs a legal contract without understanding, or even knowing, what they are agreeing to? My parents taught me a lot of life lessons and two that come to mind here are:
    1. If you don't have an agreement in writing, you don't really have an agreement.
    2. Never sign anything without having read and understood what you are signing.
    Making excuses about "fine print" is just a way for lazy people to justify their laziness when it comes to reading a contract. This guy has no one to blame but himself.
    • I agree with you to an extent, except that I hope that the contract he signed had some indication that something was written on the reverse side. There have been times I've taken the time to read through a contract thoroughly only to learn that there was something written on the other side. I've since learned to check but I think all contracts ought to have some indication that more is included on the reverse side if that is the case.
    • Mod parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mr_matticus ( 928346 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @02:47AM (#21803518)
      With the small, truck-sized caveat that axiom number 1 is entirely untrue, this is good advice.

      Number 1 should be rephrased to say "If you want to secure an agreement, do it in writing." As written, the converse is not true--an agreement without writing does indeed exist and has consequences all the time. It's like the mythical "it's not a contract unless I signed it" that also isn't true but will never die.

      Still, unless he requested the part back up front, that drive became Apple's property as soon as the replacement was installed. Also, unless it was requested and required that the drive be returned, there's likely no way it can be recovered. It got binned with the other bad drives.

      This is a simple case of whining because the customer didn't really know what the hell he was doing, when all he needed to know was right in front of him the whole time, not bound in some dusty, obscure location in an archaic form of legalese.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Matt Perry ( 793115 )
        Yeah, that didn't come out right. What my dad always says is that, "if you don't get it in writing, it doesn't mean squat." I didn't mean to imply that there can't be legal agreements between parties without having something in writing. But in general, if you don't know someone and they are promising a lot, it doesn't hurt to say "write that down and we have a deal" to see if they are serious or not. Both my dad and myself have run into numerous occasions with sales people who talk big and promise every
  • What could possibly possess someone "In an age of identity theft and other confidentiality concerns" to have a drive replaced and leave sensitive information on it?

    Drawing a parallel to mechanics offering parts back doesn't apply.
    If a mechanic changes disk pads, they might offer them.
    If a mechanic changes a motor, they damn skippy don't offer the old one.
    If Apple changed just the platter, they could offer that, but that's not how drives are changed. The entire drive mechanism and electronics is changed.

  • 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 ev
  • by feyd.rm ( 925643 )
    Apple considers the Hard Disk Drive in a MacBook to be DIY. You will not void your warranty by replacing, upgrading or repairing whatever slides into that nice little slot. If he had such a hard time with not only the price but also the fact that they were keeping his HDD maybe he should have clicked around their support site for like 2 seconds... http://manuals.info.apple.com/en/MacBook_13inch_HardDrive_DIY.pdf [apple.com] ~me
  • Dave Winer, huh? Sounds as appropriately named as that Sodomsky guy a few days back...
  • 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.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard