I fell prey to a fantastic and colorful email advertisement from Iomega on Tuesday night. I was successfully enticed to purchase their brand-new 400gig Firewire/USB external hard disk drive. I am working on a lot of projects right now that require huge image files and having a place to store them off my main system is a dream, I thought, that would finally come through with this fine Iomega purchase. I paid $380 for the drive plus $30 for FedEx Next-Day shipping. I was about to be wallowing in gigabyte bliss! The order was processed on Wednesday and it arrived yesterday at 10:00am. When I opened the box I was pleased to find a welcoming, hot pink, instruction sheet with a 2004 Copyright inviting me to call, toll-free, if I had any technical problems with the drive. Knowing Iomega would stand behind me if there was an ounce of trouble with the drive was a comfort. I unwrapped the gigantic drive. I carefully followed the setup instructions and finally plugged the drive into my Windows XP system. Windows successfully recognized and setup the drive as a USB device. Yes! Then I clicked on My Computer to see the new drive in action and… Nothing. The drive was not listed. I re-traced my steps. I checked the Iomega website. I forced a Windows Update on my machine. Nothing helped. I removed the drive from Device Manager and re-added it and…

Still nothing. I decided to use my hot pink toll-free invitation to call Iomega for some help on getting Windows XP to recognize this new drive as a hard drive and not just as a USB device.

Ron at Iomega answered the tech support line and my relationship with Iomega came to a shuddering end. I told Ron my problem. Ron told me to hang up and call a (412) toll number instead. I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly. I shared my hot pink invitation with Ron. I asked him why I should pay for the toll call to tech support when the drive was less than 20 minutes old and I had ordered it directly from Iomega.

Ron said, “that’s the way we do it around here.” Since Ron was unmovable from his want for me to pay for my toll-free tech support call, I told him I just wanted an RMA number and he could have the entire drive back. Ron transferred me to Customer Service. It’s interesting Iomega would not allow me to use their toll-free number for tech support but they would pay for the call for me to arrange a return of the product.

Matt in Customer service processed the return and asked FedEx Ground to pick up the drive before noon today. I will report the results of my Iomega RMA process here in an ongoing commentary at the end of this article. It is unfortunate my experience with Ron soured a good relationship with Iomega. I have a 250gig Iomega external HDD in glimmering silver right here on my desk that is gagging because it’s stuffed with files. My Iomega drives have never let me down. Only Iomega people, and their toll-free hot pink promises, have disappointed me.

Iomega’s policy of forcing callers who have new drives to hang up on the toll-free Iomega (888) tech support number and call back on a toll line is a bad sign. In my experience that sort of behavior usually means a company is having financial trouble.

When tech support policy gets snarly and penny-biting, it is the consumer who gets pinched. The price of that unnecessary gnashing of teeth is the loss of customer loyalty. I wasn’t asking for special treatment. I was only asking Iomega to honor the promise on their hot pink invitation.

I have no interest in interacting with Iomega again and I will enforce that decision with my billfold.

21 Comments

  1. FedEx Ground arrived at 12:20pm to pick up the box for RMA return.
    I am now 400gigs poorer but my customer integrity is intact.
    I will keep you posted how fast Iomega processes my return and how quickly my credit card is credited back the purchase price and overnight delivery fees.

  2. Hi EasyWriter!
    Thanks for the support!
    Iomega wanted me to take the box back to a FedEx station with a pre-printed receipt they were going to email me. I couldn’t call FedEx to schedule a pick up because the bar code they were going to send me “was only readable at a FedEx station.”
    I told Iomega I was unwilling to go out of my way to visit FedEx for them. I went on to explain that live on the East Coast and I don’t have easy access to a car and I wasn’t going to walk to a FedEx station lugging this giant, 10 pound box!
    Then, magically, Iomega said FedEx could pick it up from me but that I would have to sit at home for 8 hours waiting for them to arrive. I told Iomega that was unacceptable and that when I call up FedEx for a pick up I give them a 90 minute window and they show up and I can go on with my life outside the house.
    Iomega told me FedEx TELLS THEM when they will pick up boxes from customers and FedEx REQUIRES an 8 hour window. I told Iomega to get a different delivery company. FedEx WORKS FOR IOMEGA and Iomega should be setting the terms of the contract that best suits the needs of the customer, not the whims of FedEx.
    That extended conversation with Iomega customer service cost me 20 minutes of my life that I will never have again…

  3. I forgot to mention I told Iomega yesterday on the phone I was going to blog my experience with them today and that I would also let Iomega Corporate know when this blog post went live.
    I notified Iomega Corporate via their Customer Service feedback form that I made good on my promise to blog and I provided the direct URL to this story.

  4. Glad it worked out (-ish) in the end. As in you’re not financially out of pocket even if you lost some of your day. Good luck getting a new drive! And I hope you get a response from your feedback to the company.

  5. Honestly, I work in customer service (for a different company), and if we treated our customers like that, we wouldn’t be in business anymore.
    I have a lovely 160GB LaCie drive on my desktop that has never caused me any trouble, whereas the only Iomega drive my mother has ever had only worked for 2 months, and she has yet to have a working replacement.
    I will never purchase another Iomega product, especially after reading this.

  6. Hi Fiona —
    You’re right that it worked out in the end — at least so far! 🙂 We’ll see how fast I get my money back.
    Also… so far… no response here from Iomega or from my Corporate inquiry. I will let you know if the company responds in any way to this blog stream.

  7. Hey Mai —
    Thanks for sharing your real-world experience as a customer service pro. I was surprised by Iomega Ron’s attitude toward my purchase and request for help. I think I was likely having a driver issue or something simple to fix. It probably would have been a two minute conversation with tech support if I had ever been put through.
    I appreciate the heads up on LaCie! I have seen their drives advertised a lot but I never bit to buy. I teach at several universities and they all buy LaCie for use in their graphics and media labs — so LaCie must offer a good value for the bang or they would never be purchased by schools that are forced to penny-pinch in these challenging financial times.
    I am sorry to hear about the death of your mother’s Iomega drive. It sounds like the company is having some trouble with hardware and people. When the world was Zip disks, Iomega ruled. Now the King of Zip is fast becoming the Jester of the hard drive.
    I appreciate your support in joining the vote to not give another cent to Iomega! 🙂

  8. Today Iomega responded to my online inquiry concerning this matter. It took them seven days to reply.
    I cannot reprint their message here because that would be a Copyright violation but here are the highlights:
    1. Iomega no longer provides toll free support because it allows them to better compete in the marketplace.
    2. The “pink invitation” should not have been included with my drive.
    3. The warehouse has been told not to include the pink invitation in any more shipments.
    4. I should have been given the toll-free option for support since the pink invitation was included with my purchase by mistake.
    5. My funds will be returned “in a timely manner.”
    6. They apologized for the inconvenience and provided the name of a person with a telephone number for follow-up support.

  9. I am having a similar problem with Iomega customer service. We had a 160 GB USB/Firewire hard drive that died during warranty. We had to pay $25.00 to talk to Iomega customer service. The customer service representative gave us an RMA number and told us to send drive to them (at our expense) in order to receive a replacement drive. We returned our defective drive and received a replacement that was NOT a USB/Firewire drive but, rather, was a network drive. It came without cable, without a manual, and without software. We happen to have our two home computers linked by an ethernet switch and could, therefore, attach this new drive as a network drive. We have not been able to format it to do the job we want it to do and cannot contact Iomega service for free advice. I have tried e-mailing Iomega service but get back a message telling me that I have not correctly formatted my query and that the message did not process. I have now sent a snail mail complaint to Iomega asking them for a prepaid UPS label and an RMA number that will allow me to return this drive and get a new drive that will connect to my computer through a USB or Firewire cable.
    I was greatly surprised to discover that Iomega did not provide free technical support on its products and doubly surprised to receive a (remanufactured) replacement drive that was not identical to the one that had died during wattanty. To date, this transaction has cost me a total of $35.00, and I do not have a satisfactory hard drive. I have not given up hope, but I’m certainly not happy with the service I’ve received. I would hesitate to buy another Iomega product.

  10. FOLLOW-UP ON PREVIOUS COMMENTS
    I am happy to report that Iomega replaced the network drive mentioned in my previous report with a USB/Firefire drive and sent me a prepaid shipping label so that I could return the ethernet drive without incurring further expense. Just moments ago, I received a phone call from Becky in Iomega Customer Service, who quizzed me about the problems I had in communicating with Iomega and assured me that Iomega was working hard to make its customer service as convenient as possible. We had quite a long talk in which Becky made note of several the communications problems I had encountered and promised to follow up on them. The resolution of my problem took rather a long time, but my problems have been resolved. The replacement drive that I received is working beautifully. And I was very pleased to receive the follow-up call from Becky.

  11. Hi David, I’m currently having the exact same problem in the UK however they are asking me to pay a £25 per incident charge for phone support and there is no toll-free option. We get offered chat support for free however the support workers have poor english skills.

    I have had two faulty 1TB Prestige Drives, two years of potentially lost data and Iomega don’t seem to care at all about it.

    To all readers, avoid this company AT ALL COSTS!