Replacement of hard drive under warranty

  Rick-265616 18:35 17 Aug 2006

My 3 month old PC has (apparently) developed a hard-drive problem. (It won't boot from C-). The machine otherwise appears to be fine, indeed very good. The manufacturer (whom I may reveal at some stage, depending on the outcome of this enquiry) has, after a very perfunctory telephone enquiry with the warranty department (and no real attempt to confirm that this is the diagnosis), elected to replace the hard drive in line with the at-home warranty, and will send an engineer to do so.

So far so good, but the company announces that they will take away the hard drive, which not surprisingly contains commercially sensitive data. I was told that this (taking away the drive) was in the Terms and Conditions of the Warranty. In fact the Terms and Conditions at no point state that the replaced parts will be removed, merely stating: 'If a component hardware failure or fault is diagnosed which is the responsibility of the seller the seller will remedy the good(s) by replacement of part/s by an attending third party....'

I was then told by the (in my experience) misnamed customer 'service' department that it was the 'procedure' of the company to retain and remove the parts for return to the manufacturer, and that the Ts and Cs nowhere specify that they will NOT do this - which appeared to me to be a pretty topsy-turvy way of justifying an action. (....Nor do the Ts and Cs specify that the engineer will not set fire to my house...!)

Now I entirely accept that that policy/procedure makes sense for components that contain no data, and I could not imagine anybody quibbling with that, but for a hard drive with data on it.....?

Does anybody out there know the Law on this? Surely Ts and Cs are a binding contract? The manufacturer can't then imply that it has a 'process' that introduces further clauses ... or can it?

(Oh, and they offered me the option of purchasing the replacement hard drive....!!)

I am sure that one of you out there knows the answer to this - thanks in advance...

  oresome 00:07 18 Aug 2006

Sorry, I am no legal expert, but my thought process would be the same as your.

I seem to remember that service contracts I used to be involved with had a clause stating that ownership of replaced items transfered to the company.

Without such a clause, I don't see how they could claim ownership.

Have you got household insurance with a legal advise service included?

  961 09:16 18 Aug 2006

Previous threads indicate that this is quite usual

Options seem to be to have the hard disk wiped (not always possible) or elect to "buy

  961 09:17 18 Aug 2006 at scrap value so that you can retain it.

Since the situation is by no means unusual others in this forum may be able to suggest other ideas

  HondaMan 11:44 18 Aug 2006

I think that they are entilrd to remove the HDD. You paid for 1 drive, if they do not remove it, and recycle it or reclaim the codt from the HDD manufaqcturer, they will be out of pocket which their accountants would not like and you would end up with 2 drives.

Will the computer boot from any other drive 3.5 inch, CD, DVD etc and if so, can you access the HDD from there and move your files?

  HondaMan 11:45 18 Aug 2006

Sorry for the spelling errors. Early in the morning after the night before.

  SG Atlantis® 11:59 18 Aug 2006

stating: 'If a component hardware failure or fault is diagnosed which is the responsibility of the seller the seller will remedy the good(s) by replacement of part/s by an attending third party....'


Definition of Replacement: One that takes the place of another.

That's the keyword to me, you paid for one working hdd, if it proves faulty they will REPLACE it. The faulty drive becomes their property upon you receiving the new one.

  SG Atlantis® 12:01 18 Aug 2006

As for personal data on it, no mfr or seller would accept liability for that.

  ventanas 12:05 18 Aug 2006

Yep, I'ts perfectly normal for manufacturers to repair/recycle hard drives if they fail. This is where they get their spares from. I had to replace one under warranty a while back. The one I got back was refurbished, and is still working. I think you will just have to go with it, or replace the drive yourself.

You don't say what make it is, but it may be worth checking the manufacturers web site and see if they have a low level format utility which you can run from a floppy. This would write the disc completely with zeros.

  spuds 12:14 18 Aug 2006

The computer manufacturer or repair service agent would need the faulty hard drive unit, as evidence for a claim against the hard drive manufacturer or supplier. Any information on the faulty hard drive would have been the responsibility of the buyer, and it would have been the buyers responsibility to have made back-ups or removal of the contents of the hard drive.

If the contents of the hard drive are important, then make an offer to purchase the faulty unit, but having stated that, there may be additional costs that the computer manufacturer or service repair agent may apply.

Most if not all, computer manufacturers state, that any contents left on an hard drive are not their responsibility, if a repair or replacement is required.

  Rick-265616 12:51 18 Aug 2006

Thanks to one and all for your comments. As to back up, that is not a problem - all the data is already backed up. The only issue is the possibility (I am sure some of you will have seen the programme on TV this week) that personal identity data etc could end up in somebody else's hands (viz. in Nigeria or elsewhere), so the idea of a low-level format utility is an interesting one.

I am still intrigued by the interpretation of replacement (thank you for your comment SG Atlantis (R)). The Oxford English Dictionary says 'To fill the place of a thing with a substitute'. Nowhere does it say that title to the original passes to the replacer, either in the definition (you would not expect it to) or in the Terms and Conditions, which is a legal (and therefore binding unless both parties agree) document.

This is more than just an issue restricted to me, obviously, and I am worried about it generally. We know that identity theft is rife, and it seems to me that anybody who lets a third party take away data from a hard drive has to be rather short-sighted, to put it mildly. It is rather like letting the maker of a filing cabinet take it away complete with contents just becuase the lock is jammed.

I see from the replies that it may be common practice but, in the absence of a contractual understanding (by means of an inclusion of a specific clause about title) on this, I still believe that it exceeds the supplier's legal rights and breaches the legal rights of the consumer. Contracts are contracts, after all.

Does anybody know of a Consumer's organisation that might be able to help clarify this?

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