Hard drive vendors reduce warranties

Hard drive manufacturers Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital have collaborated to drop the warranties on their desktop models from three years down to 12 months.

As of October 1, resellers and systems integrators that offer two- and three-year warranties with their machines to differentiate themselves from their competitors will have to make some tough choices. Either they will have to drop their warranties to one year to follow the market trend, or they will have to source higher-value hard drives that still carry three-year warranties and raise the price of their machines.

The manufacturers, and several of their distributors in Australia, are defending the decision based on several assumptions. The first is that hard drive reliability has improved to the point where a three-year warranty is no longer a necessity. The second is that most hard drives that do fail will do so within the first few months of purchase. The third is that many if not most other PC components only carry one-year warranties, so standardising on a one-year warranty makes the service of the whole computer inherently more manageable. Finally, the decision is designed to suit the larger tier-one PC vendors that only offer a one-year warranty on their low-end desktop models.

But these assumptions have been questioned by several distributors and systems integrators, who now have to re-assess their business models to ensure the financial stability of their vendor partners.

For the full coverage of hard drive warranty issues, including discussions with vendors, distributors, integrators and other resellers, see next week's issue of ARN.

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