Why you might not want to buy a hard drive from Amazon

Why you might not want to buy a hard drive from Amazon

Summary: Apparently, the concept of padding eludes the Amazon pickers and packers.

TOPICS: Amazon

I am a huge fan of Amazon Prime. The ability to order almost anything, and have it arrive within a day or so, without having to pay a shipping fee is hugely freeing.

Now, my first choice when buying something, is to check Amazon. Well, except for hard drives. You'll see why in a moment.

This weekend, I realized the media tank was running low on space and it was time to add some more drives. A quick check on Amazon yielded 2TB 7200RPM drives for about $89. The drives were well-rated by customers and from a fine manufacturer. So I bought two.

The drives arrived today. Apparently, the concept of padding eludes the Amazon pickers and packers. Please note how they were shipped:

What's wrong with this picture?

Look closely. The drives are loose in the cartons because the drive bumpers weren't secured to the drives and were left to bang around. Note how the drive reminds us that it's fragile and should be handled with care.

Yep, I feel safe storing my data on this. Not!

As all of you know, drives that are dropped without padding aren't drives anymore -- they're data management liabilities. These drives were shipped, tossed, dropped, and more, just as part of the normal shipping process. They're not safe for data storage.

Obviously, I'm returning them. I'll probably turn to Newegg and hope they've taught their warehouse people how to pack drives with care.

But here's the thing. I'm sending these drives back to Amazon in the same packing they came in. My guess is that the warehouse folks will immediately reshelve and reship these things -- probably still without any padding.

So, someone out there is likely to get a drive that's been shipped, multiple times, without any padding. Sadly, that's why you might not want to buy hard drives from Amazon, Prime or not.

Topic: Amazon


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • That's because you bought the cheap drive

    They shipped my enterprise SAS drives in bubble wrap :)
    • It's not supposed to make a difference

      For ANYTHING fragile, you put in a proper amount of cushioning. Otherwise, post-purchase hassles end up being more expensive. For both customer and company. I don't recall the little asterisk with disclaimer saying one entity had the right to abscond what should be common sense...
  • I literally swim in 'new eggs'

    I have so many boxes from Newegg down in my basement, if I dumped out all the styrofoam eggs I would have a swimming pool.
    • Ventilation

      I hope your basement is well ventilated. Not all but some Styrofoam out gasses some nasty things.
  • Don't Just Whinge

    I have bought at least ten drives from Amazon over the past few years and have never seen anything like that. They have a standard box (7.25"X6.25"X2.75") and standard bumpers and there is no way that the three items will fit into the box unless everything is in proper order. Clearly the box you received is not the proper one based on size alone but the standard box is also a "flap-lock" type, nothing like the double-flap box you received.

    If you want to do a service to the community rather than just complaining here and then sending them back (1) Record (photograph) the serial numbers and make them available so that others might be warned (2) Post a complaint in the Amazon-provided packaging feedback (3) Shoot a review video showing the problem and post it at Amazon and if it doesn't go public tell us about it afterward.
  • Ok, that's one bad shipment.

    Now comment on the 100,000 hard drives that they shipped today that arrived just fine.
    I'm a Amazon prime member and I order hundreds of items a year. Still no complaints.
    • Both were like that

      that's not "ONE" bad shipment, that's TWO. I work in warehousing, these were probably opened to see what was inside and not properly repacked or were returned and sent back out, most likely, the underpaid temp worker who shipped them is disgruntled and could care less, that's my bet. Amazon just got unlucky not knowing who (this ZDnet journalist) they were going to, guess they should wise up. I for one appreciate this kind of heads-up warning.
  • Mistakes happen, you just got unlucky.

    I've ordered almost everything possible from Amazon for a while now (including Hard drives). Sometimes an employee has a brainfart and does something wrong. Doesn't mean the company is completely crap. Just means a single person made a mistake.

    I've gotten some underpadded items before, but that's generally few and far between.
    • True

      And Amazon is excellent with doing exchanges.

      And we're all human, even if we try to convince ourselves otherwise.
  • Standard Packing

    I also use Amazon alot. I have never seen them put pading under any item. They just put pading on top to keep things from rattling. Some of the non-Prime shippers do a better job. For fragile items I pay more for them and skip the Prime items. In these cases I am mostly using Amazon to quallify the distributor.
  • Who knows...

    Maybe yours had been shipped before as well!
    It's all just speculation and mybe you just got one of the very very few black sheep. But still, it is a shame that a nice drive like this has essentially been ruined like that. What a waste :T
  • Hard Drive

    I don't think the cost of something should reflect or matter on how a company packs and ships it. I think that's a ridiculous statement. Sometimes the people packing it don't have a brain in their head, and think about what they are sending. I think I've ordered mine from New Egg and Seagate's websites when I built my computer, and everything was packed perfectly.

    I like Amazon Prime for the quick shipping, and some free Kindle book downloads. We order quite a bit of things from Amazon, but not replacement parts for our computers.

    • At $7/hr, who's more likely going to show up?

      An educated person that gives a hoot about the customer, or any slacker that's just going to meet the ever-increasing quota to continue "delivering value" to the company?

      Customer Experience is a concept long-absent from many companies, large and small. Amazing is better-than-average, but as "educated" people continue to let themselves drive down wages for everybody else, I'll start questioning their intellect in the process...

      • Paying a slacker $20 an hour

        won't make him any less of a slacker.
        • No, but

          paying a good employee a decent wage will help to keep him/her around, and assure good experience for customers.

          CEOs won't work for nothing, and always justify their paycheck by saying that talent and skill don't come cheap. Why does that seem to apply only to them?
          • Education, skills and experience

            While I agree that many CEOs may be overpaid, etc - the "skills" required to pack a box are really just common sense and caring. Paying someone more who just doesn't give a damn will not all of a sudden make them care.
            Harlon Katz
          • It will if...

            ...the *reason* they don't care is they're not getting paid enough to care.

            There are basically four ways to get someone to care about his/her job:

            1) Praise them for it.
            2) Promote them if the do a good job.
            3) Fire them if they do a *bad* job.
            4) Pay them more.

            A person is definitely going to care more about losing a $14/hr. job than a $7/hr. job. A $7/hr. job is easier to replace.
          • I agree!

            I have a long background in food service. Typically, dish washing and cleaning is considered to be unskilled, therefore, minimum wage. The people that will do this awful work for minimum wage are either desperate, or some of the most dysfunctional people you will ever meet. The desperate people will leave as soon as something even slightly better comes along, leaving the dysfunction ones to do the cleaning and dish washing. I have worked at places that hired drug addicts and winos to wash dishes. These men didn't even bathe, and their clothes would escape if they ever were taken off!

            If a position needs to be filled, it needs to be filled by good workers. In order to have good workers in those positions, good wages need to be paid. If that position doesn't need to be filled by good workers making a decent wage, then that job doesn't need to be done. Eliminate the position. If the position cannot be eliminated, go back to the first two sentences of this paragraph.

            tl:dr Often, the dirtiest people are doing the job of cleaning the dishes you eat off of, because society, (Cheap ass employers,) don't feel that the job should pay a living wage, and consumers don't want to pay a buck more for that plate of pasta.
  • It happens

    It happens once in a while to every company, even Newegg is not immune to the occasional poorly packed shipment. Contact Amazon and make sure they are aware of why you're sending them back.
    • True, but it is easy to see how a one-time thing can lead to a dissatisfied


      Mr. Gewirtz isn't the first person to have to return things, either...

      But Amazon DOES have a section to provide feedback on packaging, so - even someone as cynical as I am - thinks they care to an extent. And, over time, they can extrapolate the data, summarize it, and perfect how much cushioning is needed and for what types of products... over-packing can be costly as well... but it's usually better to over-protect than under-protect, IMHO.