Western Digital (WD) & Amazon Prime – A Comedy of Errors (and a saga of customer disappointment)

UPDATE: 2nd July 2019 – Since my blog post, I am pleased to say that a supervisor in Western Digital’s Customer Service department has been in touch about providing a replacement data storage unit to a higher specification that the MyCloud Home device originally purchased, and Amazon have (finally) applied the gift card to my Prime account.

We are moving into that ‘not just CAD’ territory. As per the name of my blog, I don’t just write about CAD, BIM or anything just associated with CAD and BIM.

No, today, I am going to tell you a short story about one of my experiences as a customer and what it has taught me. A word to the wise, you might say. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I don’t suffer fools gladly. Nor do I tolerate bad customer service. So read on, for what is a comedy of errors. Errors, sadly, that I have learnt from.

Nowadays, we all suffer from an overload of data. Photographs, music, streamed movies and downloaded episodes of The Office that we haven’t watched yet. So, where do you store that data? On external hard drives (I now own six of them – all made by WD, I hasten to add), or on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system, or perhaps, in the cloud, using Dropbox or something similar? Well, I was using the external hard drive method, and thank goodness I did, and you’ll see why when you read on.

Just recently, I purchased a new 2018 MacBook Pro (MBP). You know, one of those sexy ones with the touchbar. My previous MBP was coming up to four years old, and I needed to upgrade to take advantage of the newer processor and graphics card. It was at this point that I started to think about backups and transfer of data from one MacBook to another. I bought a new 2TB WD external hard drive and put most of the transfer/backup data on there, but I also bought (what I thought) was a great solution to all future storage, which was a WD MyCloud Home wi-fi storage unit. 4TB of storage, sitting next to the wi-fi router, connected with one ethernet cable, plus the usual power plug. What this meant was that I then had 4TB of storage that was accessible from not only my laptop, but in a browser, on my iPhone and on my iPad. The storage world was now my lobster wherever I had wi-fi, or so I thought.

I set up the new MBP with no issues and archived all my older CLIENT (make a note of that, CLIENT) data in an archive folder on the WD MyCloud Home. I thought that with the data on the WD MyCloud Home device, it freed up not only MBP hard drive space, but also cleared space on my external hard drives too. It’s a WD device, I thought. It won’t die on me anytime soon, I thought. How totally wrong I was.

I bought the WD MyCloud in February of this year. Fast forward to the first week in May. I was working on a new project and needed some archived client data to re-task into the new project. I jumped in to the WD Discovery app on my MBP, and went to log in to the MyCloud Home device. I got an Offline error, telling me that the device might be rebooting or installing firmware. I went over to the router. No flashing lights, just the usual static white light on the front of the WD MyCloud unit. I did all the usual things. Re-installing software, re-started the router and the device, went on the support pages, and went through all the self-diagnostic processes I could find. Nothing, nada. Offline. Every damn time.

As you all know, I have worked with these pesky computer things for over thirty years. I know my way around tech, and normally, I can get something working again. Not this time. After two hours, I gave in. I had a support warranty with the WD MyCloud, so I called support. After lots of to’ing and fro’ing, I was connected to a lovely chap called Jack at WD Support. A total gentleman. Patient, helpful, and exactly what you should get when you call support. Sadly though, there was nothing he could do, and after another hour of over-the-telephone diagnostics, the WD MyCloud was officially pronounced dead. I enquired about the client data I had lost. Could I get it back? Jack said I could use a specialist company, but there were no guarantees. So, basically, the device had died, along with a shedload of archived client data. WD adhere to GDPR, so when it comes to confidentiality and data protection, I would be fine. Any data on the drive would be wiped (Jack said they scrub the drive three times), but this did not solve my problem. I now had a dead storage device and I had lost client data. What were WD going to do about it? Jack couldn’t help me, but he said someone would be in touch. In the meantime, I shipped back the dead device to WD, and they would ship me a new one under the warranty.

Eventually, someone called James Case from WD Customer Relations got in touch. He suggested some new devices and offered me a pithy 30% discount for my troubles. No apologies for data loss, nothing about the inconvenience caused. At this point, my letter of complaint had been written and had been emailed to both CEO’s of WD, in the UK, and in the USA. It had also been copied to WD Customer Relations. To this date, I have had no response. Nothing. Not even a standard response from Customer Relations at WD.

Here’s where my patience has run extremely thin. WD are a BIG global organisation, and I’m pretty sure many of you own WD devices. I have SIX of their external USB hard drives. They have served me well, over the last ten years or so, and WD have been a name I have learnt to trust and rely on. Not anymore. I had associated the WD brand with reliability and customer service. I now know they don’t have any. Their tech support was exemplary, but their customer relations suck. I lost CLIENT data. OK, it was archived client data, and I still have my current client data on an external hard drive (more my luck than judgement though) but was still MY data that was lost. It was lost due to the failure of a WD device. It wasn’t just some MP3’s or photos from a holiday either. This was data from project work done under NDA for big, global companies. I explained all of this in my letter of complaint. No response. I have run CADFMconsultants for over NINETEEN years. If I treated my clients like that when there was a problem or an issue, I would be out of business. To date, I have STILL heard NOTHING from WD. To say I am disappointed and angry is an understatement.

So, onwards. Here’s where the ‘lovely’ Amazon experience kicks in. I have an Amazon Prime account. It’s where I purchased the WD MyCloud device from. I explained my situation to them, and they said all I had to do was ship them the new replacement WD device when I received it and I would get a refund. To date, I have yet to get that refund. Here’s why.

I purchased the WD MyCloud on my Prime account on a debit card through a business account. Recently, I changed the business account to a new bank product with the same bank. This, in turn, changed my bank account number and debit card number on my Amazon Prime account. So, Amazon tried to refund the money paid for the WD MyCloud device to not only the wrong card, but to a bank account that, quite simply, did not exist anymore. So, here’s the first part of my learning curve. Remove older, expired bank accounts and cards from your Amazon account as soon as you close them down. If you don’t, Amazon will still try to use them, even though you have set a NEW primary account and card.

Here’s where the fun begins. You would have thought Amazon would use the latest, slickest, banking processes known to man, right? They don’t. I have now been through FOUR customer service members of staff. None of them have been able to solve the problem. I have been told to chase down my bank to see of they can find the payment on the closed account. They can, but they need an ARN transaction number from Amazon to find it. I contact Amazon. They cannot find the ARN transaction number and cannot find the refund. I chase this up. I then get told they can wire transfer me the money if I contact ANOTHER Amazon department. Or, I can have an Amazon gift card applied to my account for the value. You can guess what I went for, right? Yep, after nearly FOUR hours in total on the phone, I went for the gift card. Yeah, I know. Amazon will still get my money, but I use Amazon Prime regularly, so it will get used. But here’s the rub. I was told by Amazon it would take 24-48 hours to process my gift card, and three days later, I’m still waiting.

So, what have I learnt from this?

Firstly, from a data standpoint, ALWAYS back up to a physical, reliable device that is HARD WIRED. In my case, it was one of my WD external drives. Luckily, all my current client data is still on one. I had not transferred it to the WD MyCloud device, which I was considering. Had I done that, I would have probably removed it from the external drive and lost ALL my client data when the WD MyCloud device failed. Now THAT’S a scary thought.

Secondly, and this is partially my fault, when using an Amazon account, keep the cards and bank accounts on it up to date. Sure, Amazon customer service and their accounting services have proved to be awful in this case, but I could have partially solved the issue, if I had removed the older details from the account as soon as I had closed down the old bank account. That bit, unfortunately is on me. It still does not excuse Amazon from having inefficient accounting processes where they cannot find an ARN transaction number, which should be there for EVERY financial transaction you have with them.

In conclusion, I am thoroughly disappointed in both WD and Amazon. In today’s global age of commerce, customer relations and customer satisfaction are king. They have failed at both; WD by their total lack of response to my letter, and Amazon, with their awful management and response to my account query and (hopefully) subsequent refund.

With regard to current technology, I can safely say that I won’t be buying any storage devices from WD anytime soon, and I sincerely suggest to all of you that you DON’T buy a WD MyCloud device either. There are many WD unhappy MyCloud Home users on the WD forums and support pages who have all had the same issue as me.

I await (with bated breath) for my Amazon refund, and let’s see if anyone from WD reads my blog, and, heaven forbid, they actually respond.


Posted in Customer Service, Data Storage, Miscellaneous, Not Just CAD! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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