Recently, an acquaintance of mine had an interesting problem. His organization had just purchased a new CD burner. They installed the burner and attempted to burn a CD. When the CD burning process was finished, they ejected the CD to find that the burner had actually melted the CD's label and the disc was stuck inside the burner. As it turns out, that particular model of CD burner had been recalled several months before because of overheating problems. It wasn't until they contacted the manufacturer about the problem that they learned of the recall. Had they known about the recall when it was issued, they could have replaced the drive and avoided unnecessary downtime.
Although recalls on computer hardware are uncommon, it's important for you to be knowledgeable about where to find the proper information when you have hardware problems. Fortunately, there are several ways for you to find out whether or not a specific hardware component has been recalled.
The warranty registration card
Perhaps the easiest way of finding out about hardware recalls is to fill out and send in the hardware’s warranty registration card. By doing so, you are telling the manufacturer that you bought a specific component, and usually, when a recall occurs, the manufacturer will first alert those people who have registered with them. Of course, not all products come with warranty registration cards, particularly if the item is an OEM device, but most retail products do.
The manufacturer’s Web site
I also recommend paying a visit to the manufacturer’s Web site. As we all know, Web sites are anything but standard, so you’ll find different information on different sites. Some manufacturers will allow you to register your products online. A good example of this is Maxtor’s Web site.
Many manufacturer Web sites also contain a warranty information section and/or a support section. The support section is definitely worth a look. While the warranty information is on the front page of Maxtor’s Web site, you'll find that information in the Support section of the Creative Labs Web site. The same goes for many other popular manufacturer’s Web sites. The support information also usually contains tips for resolving common problems, and if there has been a recall on the device, this is the place where you are the most likely to read about it.
If you're really having problems with a device, you might also consider making a phone call to the manufacturer. With one phone call, you could find out right away whether the product has been recalled, and what to do about getting a replacement. You can usually find the phone number to call on the manufacturer’s Web site.
Searching the Web
There are situations in which going directly to the manufacturer for information may not be the best course of action. Some manufacturers like to recall products quietly, and may not post a recall notice on their Web site. Furthermore, you might not be able to easily call the manufacturer. For example, I once had to contact a product manufacturer regarding a problem, but the corporation was located in Singapore. Since I live in the US, I had to get up in the middle of the night to make the call because of the time difference. Once I got through, I was eventually able to find someone who spoke English, but they had such a strong accent that I had difficulty understanding them. To make a long story short, my problem never was resolved.
In cases like this, I recommend turning to the Web. If you go to Google or another common search engine, you can search for the product and include the phrase "recall" or "problem." This technique can get a little tricky, but if done properly, usually gets results. I have found that it's also a good idea to include the manufacturer and the model number in your search because it isn’t uncommon for many unrelated products to have a common part number.
Although not related to computers, a recent experience illustrates this point very well. Last year, I was having some problems with one of the seats in my boat. I thought that there might be a recall on the seats, so I decided to search the Web. Since I have a Yamaha LS-2000, I started out by going to the Yamaha Web site, but found nothing. I then did a search on the words "LS-2000 problems."
As it turns out, LS-2000 is not only the model number for a boat, but is also related to a golf video game, a 35mm slide scanner from Nikon, a year 2000 solution for Cobol programs, and many other things. My search was much more successful when I searched for "Yamaha LS-2000 problems." I quickly found a Web site that was dedicated exclusively to discussing problems with LS-2000 boats. The same concept can be easily applied to computer hardware, or to anything else.
If you purchased your defective hardware from a retail store, such as Circuit City, CompUSA, or Best Buy, you might consider asking a store associate or sales representative if there has been a recall. It has been my experience that the stores tend to know about recalls, and sometimes even post recall information on a store bulletin board or Web site.
A last resort
As a last resort, you might consider visiting CBC News' Warnings and Recalls Web site. This Web site lists recall information on a variety of different products. Because of its diverse nature though, there’s a good chance that only the more popular computer components will be listed. You can also check out the computer section on Safety Alerts Web site for recall information.