a tale of two customer support instances drobo vs amazon

After hearing tales of RAID without the hassle on the Twit network, and the ever increasing need for large amounts of storage, I happily plumped down my credit card and took receipt of a shiny new Drobo S. I push in some drives, formatted and away I went in redundant storage happiness.

Four happy months go by.

Then one day, I wake up to a dead Drobo. Stuck in what is colloquially know as a 'reboot loop'. After panicking a little, then remembering I had all the data backed up, I started hunting through the Drobo forums looking for a solution. No joy. I contacted customer support - 12 hours later I get a form letter telling me to stick a paper clip in the back of the Drobo in order to generate a system diagnostic. After submitting this diagnostic, 7 hours later I am told that the Drobo is formatted incorrectly. This is after I had of course used the Drobo software to format it. I am now to remove all the data and reformat. I start this process, however the Drobo fails and goes into 'reboot loop' again. I resuscitate the Drobo and take another diagnostic and submit this. I am then told:

Drobo is bad also

Joy. I am then passed on to another support person to deal with returning the unit. It is at this point that things really take an interesting turn. I am told that due to my unit being four months old I either need to pay to return their faulty unit to Germany (I am in the UK and the unit was purchased in the UK) or to purchase their DroboCare support package which costs 100 pounds. Let me get this right, your product failed and this is the moment you try and upsell me? Interesting strategy.

The process from Drobo failing to being given RMA information took 96 hours. And at no point did Datarobotics apologise for the early failure of their product.

Data storage, particularly one which is built upon redundancy and security, is all about trust. If you don't trust the company, you don't trust the product and will look elsewhere. A product failure, which is inevitable in computer technology when one is cranking out thousands of units, is a fantastic opportunity to build a stronger bond with your customer. Let's take a look at how Amazon faired.

As I was getting a little desperate at this point, I tried Amazon support. In my support email I detailed that I had contacted Drobo customer support and that they had identified a faulty unit. Less than one hour after sending my support request amazon took two very important steps:

I now have my new Drobo unit and it's working great.

Lessons that DataRobotics could learn: * Apologise for your product failing * Do not take a product failure as an opportunity to upsell your customer * If your product is less than a year old, fix it * Hire more support people to reduce your support wait time

What Amazon taught me: Always use Amazon

In an online consumer shopping world, the only factor a retailer really has is customer service. I was already a devoted Amazon customer. With this incident, where Amazon went above and beyond I have been motivated to document the stark difference between Amazon support and DataRobotics. Drobo is promising product, on the assumption it doesn't fail again, now if only DataRobotics could put some revitalised effort into their customer service, imagine what a difference that could make.

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