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Bang! PC Association slams Fujitsu HDDs

'Remarkable level of failures'

The Personal Computer Association is reporting "remarkable levels of failures of Fujitsu hard drives" experienced by the UK system builder community.

Questions over the Fujitsu HDDs were raised by members during an open forum conducted at the PCA's annual conference on Friday, September 13. The members have called upon their trade association to "investigate the problem of Fujitsu OEM HDDs sold into the UK with regard to an unacceptable level of failure".

Keith Warburton, executive director of the PCA, said the association has been aware of Fujitsu HDD issues for around three months, with several members reporting problems.

"One member apparently had such a magnanamous settlement from Fujitsu that the company bound them by an NDA, others have not received such treatment," he told us.

Several system builders have contacted us to point out the high cost of swap-outs, and worse, the damage done to their reputation with customers.

Says Phillip Errington of Fast N Easy Computers in Stockport: "We have been observing a gradual increase in failure of 10Gb and 20Gb fujitsu drives, normally with the same error; drive disappears from the IDE channel and won't appear at boot up.

"Sometimes the drives can be booted after this occurs if the drive is left for a while to cool down, but normally its bye bye to everything.

"This critical failure is very disturbing as it comes with little warning. We have seen a high percentage failure and a fair few drives now. One company had every drive in each of its 10 machines fail."

According to Warburton, CTO, the UK system builder trade paper, has been pursuing the issue with Fujitsu for several weeks, but to no effect - so far.

Let's see what the oxygen of publicity will do.

If you are a UK system builder and have failed to get satisfaction over dud Fuji HDDS with either your distie or Fujitsu direct, email Keith Warburton. This will help the PCA gain a better picture of the scale of the problem.

Fujitsu last week confirmed that it is replacing dud HDDs in Japan. It estimates the bad parts comprise 2-3 per cent of a production run of 10 million HDDs.

But is it really only 2-3 per cent? And is the recall/replacement limited to Japan? Judging from the emails we have received - more than 200 and rising - dud Fujitsu HDDs have been sold into the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Poland. The problem of huge failure rates for 20GB Fujitsu drives - of the order of 30-50 per cent and sometimes even higher - is reported by system builders, network admins, schools and corporates, especially businesses using Compaq Deskpros.

Fujitsu has had plenty of time, probably months, to get its crisis PR strategy in place. Now it is time for the company to reach out beyond Japan and talk to the rest of the world about this problem. The longer it avoids talking, the greater the risk there is of turning a customer service headache into a customer service scandal. ®

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