OEM drives sold and repackaged as retail ones?

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I bought a retail hard drive, and it came in the retail packaging with
all the bells & whistles.

However, a label on the drive said it is an OEM drive only intended for
OEM distribution.

That drive failed in under a week of purchase, with squeaking sounds +
read errors. It is currently in my freezer; I'm hoping I can recover
some data from it before all is lost.

Is it illegal to sell OEM drives as retail ones? Does this happen often

What if the retailer denies any knowledge of this? Is it sort of like
passing off counterfeit notes, where the retailer is equally
responsible in the eyes of the law?

Re: OEM drives sold and repackaged as retail ones?

On 21 Mar 2006 17:07:40 -0800, "AN O'Nymous"

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No.  I don't think you understand the concept of OEM as it relates to
computer hardware.  

An OEM drive can be sold one of 3 ways:

1. This is what most people think of as "OEM" when they've got no idea
what OEM means.  The store is the "OEM" and takes on all the
responsibilities of the manufacturer for tech support and warranty
issues.  If you attempt to deal directly with the factory for it,
they'll likely redirect you to the OEM.  If you buy a bare drive from
"ACMEE Computers, Firearms, and Baby Needs", regardless of what the
label on the drive says, it's technically a "ACME Computers, Firearms,
and Baby Needs" drive -- at least as far as the factory is concerned.

2. It is built into a computer system.  This is what it's intended to
be, a part used to manufacture a fully functional computer system.
That's what OEM means.  The store or computer builder is supposed to
use these as a component to build a computer, so they are a
manufacturer.  The drive or video card, or whatever is just a
component supplied to them.  The company that put together the
computer takes full responsibility for the component as the
manufacturer for warranty issues and tech support.  If it up and dies,
the builder ships it back to the factory for replacement, not the end

3.  It is assembled into a kit as a retail product.  This is what you
may have bought.  The assembled product is the kit, and while the
drive is practically a fully assembled product in itself, it's the kit
that's the manufactured item, and the company that put together the
kit is the OEM.  This is how you end up with LiteON drives in retail
kits under store labels, and companies like Maddog end up selling NEC
drives with the Maddog label on it.  It's totally legal, and there's
nothing wrong with doing this.  The company that put together the
"kit" becomes the "manufacturer" and takes full responsibility for the
warranty and tech support.

As "retail" kits go, this is probably a bit better in some regards,
because as the drive is considered an OEM product by the manufacturer
(erm... the guys that made the drive, not the kit).  Weird as it
sounds, WD, and Seagate (I guess Maxtor's part of Seagate now) have
longer warranties on their OEM drives.  That longer warranty is often
passed along to the consumer if there is one.  Which, as an even
weirder quirk, means that you can have something like a Seagate OEM
drive in an "ACME" retail drive kit that has a longer warranty than a
Seagate retail drive kit.  You may need to read that a few times,
before that makes any sense and even then, you'll probably want to do
some research before you believe me.

In some cases, the retail "kit" is actually just the OEM drive inside
a box with some extra padding and a decal with a new company name on
it.  This turns a bulk/bare OEM drive into a retail drive.  

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He may indeed not know it, if he wasn't the one who put together the
kit.  For example, if I go to futureshop and grab a Maddog drive off
the shelf, it's possible even the store manager doesn't know that the
drive was built by NEC.

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Maybe, but "counterfeiting" might not be the right word.  If it was
simply that the drive was repackaged in a kit under another company's
banner, that's not a problem.  So long as the drive is what it's
supposed to be, no problem.  See above.  

If, the packaging was the manufacturer's (the drive manufacturer, not
the OEM) own retail packaging, it still might not be a problem, as in
many cases, the OEM product and the retail product really are
identical except for packaging.  In those cases, it wouldn't be the
first time that a manufacturer packaged an OEM labelled product in a
box for retail sale.  It's not fraud, because if it's a Seagate box,
and the drive inside is a Seagate drive of the right model, there's
nothing wrong there.  The only thing that you might find annoying
there, is that the warranty you get is probably the shorter official
retail warranty, not the longer OEM one since you bought an "official"
retail kit.  Further, depending on the terms of the warranty, you
might not be able to do a straight swap at the store.  Some retail
boxed warranties require you to get an RMA straight from the factory
and you have to FedEx it to them.  Had to do this with a motherboard
and CPU (separate incidents).  Bit of a pain in the butt.

Here's an example of a situation where I might have reason to be

I buy a retail 200GB retail WD hard drive kit.  Inside is an
IBM/Hitachi Deskstar, with no static bag, and the label says it's a
120GB drive.  See if you can pick out what's wrong with this picture.
You see where I'm going with this?  So far, you haven't provided any
indication in your post that there's been anything unethical, much
less illegal.  So far, you've described that you've bought a retail
drive kit, and by luck of the draw, you've got one with a bum drive.
That's pretty much the only beef you have right now. That kind of
thing happens.  With mass produced goods, unless there's a design
flaw, 95% of the product will be fine, but you still get the
occasional lemon.  

If that's all this is, take it back and exchange it -- depending on
circumstances, apologies may be exchanged.  The data loss is
unfortunate, but that's what backups are for.  I don't know if there's
more to this, but based solely on what you've posted here, there's
nothing illegal or even unethical here.  


Re: OEM drives sold and repackaged as retail ones?

Thanks MCheu! I tried the freezer trick and it seems to have worked too
well :-/

The drive is now working perfectly and I am now uncertain if my RMA
will be accepted when tested by the technician. Previously it was
making squeaking/beeping noises and Windows was freezing. I got an
error message that Windows couldn't read the boot sector of the drive
on booting up too.

How do I get the errors to reappear? I'm currently formatting the drive
and will do a full Seatools test on it.

MCheu wrote:
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Re: OEM drives sold and repackaged as retail ones?

NVM, the error turned up in the "File Structure" test of Seatools.

File Structure Test Result:
Failed with critical errors

The following errors were detected while scanning the volume:
- One or more errors were found in the index
- One or more errors were found in metadata file records
- Other errors were found

Strange I should get file structure errors. I've done a full format of
the drive in Win XP in preparation for shipping it back to the
retailer. The drive should be blank.

Re: OEM drives sold and repackaged as retail ones?

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If you had data on the drive that you don't want anyone else to have, a
format won't do. You'll need something like dban:

http://dban.sourceforge.net /

Read all the instuructions and be sure you wipe the correct drive.


Re: OEM drives sold and repackaged as retail ones?

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Someone told me that they don't check RMA drives at all, they just send
another (refurb) drive and try to repair it.

Someone bought 10 (working) scsi drives (with warranty) from me and he send
them all back, just in case.


Re: OEM drives sold and repackaged as retail ones?


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According to a local shop that sells grade A, B/C grade refurbed hard
drives as surplus, it's not _quite_ what the manufacturers do.  The
term 'refurb' for a hard drive doesn't quite mean the same thing as
for other items.  It's too expensive to repair them, so what the
refurbs just get tested and graded.

The ones that pass all the QC tests are classed as grade A refurbs and
are considered as good as the new ones coming off the line -- I
presume they just chalk it up to a nuisance return, like what you
described.  Those are what get shipped out when people return their
drives under warranty, either that, or a new drive.  The local store
gives a warranty of 30 days on these things.

The grade B and C refurbs have some bad sectors but still work.  I
don't know off hand what the thresholds are.  Personally, I wouldn't
trust B and C grade refurbs, but they get sold for pennies on the
dollar, and apparently some people buy them.  I guess these are
basically sold as-is, because there's no warranty on them.  

The ones with too many bad sectors or are paperweights get recycled or



Re: OEM drives sold and repackaged as retail ones?

On 22 Mar 2006 02:09:28 -0800, "AN O'Nymous"

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If you're worried about whether the company will find nothing wrong,
and ship back same drive, explain the situation to the tech support
guy.  To get an RMA, you'd have to talk to one of these guys anyways
and you can ask them to add a note to your file about the specific
issues, and that you'd like a replacement due to lack of confidence in
the current drive.  It varies by the company and the tech support
person you end up talking with, but it rarely requires too much


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