Hardware warranties: Get what you pay for or make an exception?

IT is all about getting what you pay for. IT maharaja Rick Vanover relates a recent situation where one level of service was purchased, but only when a problem comes up another level of service is requested.

Last week, I engaged in a mostly matter-of-fact yet somewhat entertaining discussion on Twitter about a problem with a storage product. The issue was with a Drobo storage device. I use a DroboPro in my personal lab, so I’m quite familiar with the series of products.

The issue reported by another user on Twitter is that Drobo refused to cross-ship a replacement unit due to a failed piece of equipment under warranty. At face value, a reasonable person may say that the hardware company should cross-ship a replacement right away. But, as with anything; there are some more details to the situation. First of all, Drobo’s warranty, like many other hardware purchases, is very clear. In fact, this link has the standard warranty (which is free with the purchase of the Drobo equipment) defined and compared to the uplifted offering, DroboCare.

The standard warranty is that for one year, hardware exchanges require that the customer ship the unit to Drobo before a replacement is sent to the customer. The DroboCare uplift permits advance cross-shipping of a replacement as part of the support call. DroboCare has a price, listing for $199 for 1-year on the unit I have and for $499 on the unit I have for three years. These are the only real benefits of this warranty uplift, and the only option beyond the included one-year warranty. The MSRP of the unit I have starts at around $1,499. I didn’t buy it for my unit; I’ll admit that I’m cheap and using it for home.

Those are the facts on the warranty. In fact, I had a situation where my unit failed and I had to send it back for replacement before I could get a new chassis. While inconvenient, those were the terms I had paid for. The issue discussed last week was that the DroboCare option was not purchased; and a user had an expectation that a unit be cross-shipped – and a credit card was offered to hold the device while in shipment. I took the stance that a special exception shouldn’t be made just because the uplift was not purchased in that situation. It was later discovered the unit was a free unit to the individual as well.

The takeaway here is that you always get what you pay for, and no product is really immune to that. If this product were purchased at a business, it is a no-brainer that the warranty uplift is to be purchased.

What do you make of this story, and whose side are you on?