Monday, January 08, 2007

Ultra Memory Tech Support

I purchased a 2 gig SD flash memory card from Tiger Direct a couple of weeks ago. The brand is Ultra Products. I copied the data from my old 256 meg card onto my PC. I then put the new card in my PocketPC and copied the data from my PC to it. Seemed to go OK. Later I tried to add some more files and delete some I didn't need. Several of the existing files got scrambled. I stuck it in my USB card reader to see if I could format and start over. Windows kept telling me the card was read only. I check the lock tab on the side of the card and it was unlocked.

At this point I decided to go through the headache of contacting tech support. Most tech support is a headache, but sometimes useful in spite of it.

I looked on their web site and found an email address. I sent and email, since that was probably my least painful option. I never got a response back.

I then resorted to the phone. I found two numbers. One for tech support and one for memory tech support. The tech support had an 800 number. The memory tech support id not. I called the 800 number to see if they could maybe transfer me to the memory tech support number. They couldn't.

I then switch to the toll number. All I could get was an answering machine. I left a message and a day or so later they left a message. It was after I had left the office, so I missed their call. I called back when I got the message and got the answering machine again. I have now been waiting several days for that call to come back.

During this process I checked out their user forum. I saw several people with problems with memory and the tech that responded simple said to contact tech support to return it. Not looking like the forum is saving customers much time or hassle.

Related rant #1
I had to use a rebate to get the price I wanted on this card. If I have to send this thing back I can only imagine the hassle I will have with that since I sent in the UPC code for the rebate.

Related rant #1a
Rebates are terrible. Are companies not getting the hint yet that customers hate these things and will buy somewhere else if they can to avoid doing a rebate?

In this case the price was so cheap that I had no where else to go unless I wanted to pay a lot more. That may not be enough in the future to make me buy a product with a rebate after this experience.

Related rant #2
I have done some research while waiting for contact from Ultra Products. At this point I am guessing that part of the problem may be that the card is a higher capacity card. Apparently, even though the card is an SD card (i would've assumed that a standard like SD would be standard across brands and capacities) the higher capacities have trouble with certain devices.

The morals of the story
Watch out for Ultra Products. If you are not willing to throw the card away and go buy another one when it doesn't work correctly, because you aren't getting any technical support without a serious time investment. Hope the data on the card is not time critical.

Do a little extra research when buying flash memory in higher capacities. It looks like 2 gig is the problem point I am seeing as I search and talk with people.

UPDATE 1 - January 15, 2007:
I finally got a response via email a week after my email to them. They said that they thought the card was bad and wanted to know where I had purchased it. That was the extent of the email two sentences basically saying, "It's bad. Where'd you buy it."

I quickly responded back with the information.

Another week passed and this morning I get another email from them that says this, "
When and when did you get the sd card form?" No lie, that is a direct cut and paste from the email and that was all it said. No information on where to return the card just a single unintelligible sentence.

I again quickly emailed back, asking for clarification on what they were asking and pleading for them to speed this process up since I am sure they have a 30 day return policy and I have been
stuck with a partially functional card for a month.

Update 2 - January 19, 2007:
My previous theory about the SD card having problems because of its capacity being over what devices might support may have been wrong in this case. The PDA that was able to write to it before is now crashing when trying to write large files to the card.

I got another short, one sentence email from Ultra Products "support". This one contain a return authorization number. There were no instructions on where to send the return or what the process to do so was. I searched their site and found a brief mention of an RMA number that was needed to return things. The number I was given was called a
defective conformation code by the support person. The page that talked about the RMA did not have an address for the return. It did state that I was responsible for paying to return the defective part to them. I just helped a friend do a return with Dell. Even though we spent a ton of time on the phone with them, twice, they offered to exchange the faulty part. They are sending him the parts and a postage paid sticker to send the old ones back. He can continue to use his laptop until the parts come in and then he can return the defective parts on Dell's dime. He paid functional parts originally. When they were not functional Dell paid to get him functional parts. When they wanted the bad parts back they paid for that too, since it was not his fault they were bad. How does Ultra Products not get that I already paid for a functional card and that once I have paid the agreed price for a functional card it is their responsibility to get me a functional card and not have me pay extra things like shipping the nonfunctional card, which is not what I paid for, back to them?

I bought the card because it was an inexpensive card. It was only inexpensive after going through the hassle of a rebate. Now I find that the card is defective. I have spent a month fighting the card and having it only be partially functional. I have spent time trying to get Ultra Products' customer service to respond to me. I hassled with a rebate. I now have to spend time and money to return this defective card to them. I will then be without a card for however long it takes them to send me a new one. I have since gotten rid of the card that I was replacing this with, so I am unable to get back to the functional level I was at before buying this card. This inexpensive card has become very costly.

Update 3 - January 23, 2007
It has been five days since I asked for the address to ship this to and the procedure to do so. I sent a message this morning asking again. They just sent to me and said that I had to go through TigerDirect to return it. I guess I should've done that to start with, but the first email from their support line should've sent me back there. And what is this defect number they gave me? TigerDirect is sending me a new card and will reimburse me the shipping to ship the old one.

I'm a little concerned with just launching this back to them, but at least I got to talk to someone and it sounded like there was a procedure in place. I'm just fearful that they are going to tell me there is nothing wrong with the card. I also am fearful about sending a return back that has the packaging half missing, since I had to cut it up to send in the rebate. This mail order stuff may be more trouble than it is worth. We'll see how this all shakes out. Maybe I am just scared since they either wanted to take my card and then send me a new one or charge my credit card and send me a new one first.

1 comment:

Donelle said...
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