As it turns out, the internet is a great way to restart communications when it seems to be all but broken down.
Less than 24 hours after my “Boycott G-Tech” post on SuiteTake.com, I received several calls from executives at both G-Technology as well as Hitachi. The calls came in while I was editing so they went to voice mail, but when I had a chance to finally call one of them back I was pleasantly surprised that the tone of the conversation was very constructive and apologetic.
At this point I’ve had a few phone calls with Todd Etherton, who is the Director of World Wide Customer Support at Hitachi. The very first thing he said was that they were very sorry for the experience that I had with their tech support team, and that they agreed that something needed to be changed. We talked for about 10 minutes and then I asked him to call me back when they had a plan actually in place so that I could talk about it on the blog (instead of speculate about what they might do).
The next morning (still less than 48 hours since my post hit) I get another call (again while I’m editing) and I call him back in the evening on my way home. Todd tells me that in response to my blog post, they have made a few significant changes that will alleviate a repeat experience like the one that I had.
First, everyone at G-Tech that is in the position of receiving a tech support or customer support call is being brought up to speed on the proper way to handle out of warranty big box units, like the G-Speed XL. Clearly there was not much of a plan before, so people really were not sure what the policy was. That’s no longer the case (or will not be in the very near future). He also agreed that instead of a customer support tech parsing out information one little thing at a time, more information should be offered by the tech right up front, knowing that I still need to get my unit fixed. This would have cut the exchanges down to only a couple of emails and saved both of us a lot of time.
The second (and more major) change is that G-Technology is contracting with another company to make all necessary parts for the G-Speed and G-Speed XL units available for purchase to customers directly who are out of warranty.
The way it will work in the near future is like this:
Let’s say you have a bad power supply, or a fan that stops working. You call G-Tech and find out that your unit is out of warranty, so they can’t cover the repair under the warranty agreement. However, they will give you the contact information of the company that will sell you the parts you need directly (this info will also be available on their website). They are close to having a final agreement with a partner that will help them facilitate this, and already have a tentative agreement with the parts manufacturer to allow them to sell the parts for G-Tech products directly to this other vendor. While I personally would prefer to deal just with G-Tech directly and not have to get another company involved, at least it’s a solution that works. I am no longer left stranded with a broken unit.
As you might imagine, this sort of thing can not happen over night. It involves contract details to be worked out and I’m sure legal approval from many parties. So in the mean time, G-Tech has changed its “out of warranty” policy and has an updated statement on their website.
Basically, if you have a problem – give them a call and chances are very good they are going to take care of you. They plan to do this until they have finished executing their plan to have a 3rd party company help out.
So, all is all that ends well?
It’s too early to say. I will admit I was very impressed with how Todd handled the conversation and the problem, and was very open and honest with not only what they were doing, but the challenges involved. But I could tell that he and the company were both surprised and embarrassed about the experience that I had, and they did not want anybody else to have the same issue. They took it very seriously and were moving fast to make whatever changes needed to be made. I got the impression from Todd as well as others that had left voice mail messages, that they were as surprised as I was.
In the longer term, time will tell if this was a one-time issue or a sign of things to come. I always have to balance the fact that G-Tech of today is not the exact same G-Tech as before, given then have been purchased twice, and now that Western Digital is purchasing Hitachi, it will be the third time. That’s 3x removed from the original company and management structure, and I know from having lived through that type of experience that things can get very messy, and often do.
I will give them the benefit of the doubt for now, and let the chips fall where they may over the next several years.