PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU SEND YOUR PRECIOUS DATA TO THESE PEOPLE!
I'll just sum it up to start with. These guys are pulling a high-tech spin on the same crap that shady mechanics have been pulling for decades. You go in with a bad spark plug and end up with a new engine.
Backstory: My company is doing a documentary for a non-profit hospital. We're shooting on a tapeless digital format that requires our data be offloaded to hard drives every day. We were on location and as I was preparing to plug our main external drive in to be backed up to a secondary drive, I plugged the laptop power supply into the drive by mistake and killed it.
I didn't panic because I knew it was either a fried power supply or logic board. Not an ideal situation, but it's not like it just fell out of a moving car or something.
Enter Data Recovery Corporation... I did an online ticket, shipped them our drive and awaited a quote.
Well imagine my SHOCK when they tell me the drive is suffering from "severe mechanical problems" and "many damaged sectors" and would cost about $1900 to recovery... WHAT?!?
So, I immediately switched on call recording, informed them I would be recording our conversation for our legal department and began asking the sort of questions that anyone with a strong background in electronics would ask:
Me: So the logic board has been replaced?
Me: So you want to explain to me how you can diagnose sector errors on a drive that's not spinning?
DRC: We have very secret, proprietary software...
(Right! An engineer at Seagate said their software must be on loan from an alien civilization or perhaps the future).
Me: I'd like to reiterate that you're not speaking with some neophyte that knows nothing about electrical engineering and data storage. Let's try this again...
DRC continued to insist that it's just too secret to talk about and their results are what matter. I noted it all, got them to say as much as I could and then called both Seagate and Disk Savers to speak with real data recovery engineers.
I further learned that a diagnosis that contains a report of "read write head errors" and "damaged sectors" is a paradox. How can you diagnose bad sectors if the read write head is malfunctioning? You can't.
On my second call, the story changed and "the logic board was temporarily replaced for diagnostic purposes".
Ok, whatever you big liars.
Armed with additional knowledge from Seagate Recovery Services and Disk Savers, I called back to probe deeper into the specifics.
Confronted with quotes from Seagate and Disk Savers, they took an interesting stance:
DRC: "Of course Seagate will tell you that. This is a manufacturers defect. What are they doing selling you a bad drive anyway?"
Hmmm... Let's see... Am I going to believe the largest hard drive company in the world or these guys that operate out of a industrial strip mall in Cleveland?
DRC: Disk Savers. We've never heard of them.
Me: Well, they started the data recovery industry and have been featured in Time, Fortune and The New York Times. I'm pretty sure they're reputable."
DRC: Well, they send half their work to us to fix.
Me: I thought you'd never heard of them.
DRC: You can't trust them. They just want your money.
Yeah, that must be it...
Raising my voice and pulling out a series of technical questions, I cornered one of their employees into telling me there weren't mechanical errors on the drive and he would see what he could do to get it taken care of.
Now convinced that I was dealing with pure hucksters, but also desperate to get my data back, I told him I would authorize any repairs that did not involve breaking the seal on the drive or exceed $770.
The next day, I spoke with a manager who decided they were sticking to their original story. Despite me confronting him with information that came directly from a Seagate.
By this point, I'd had enough. I instructed them to prepare the drive for shipment and to send it to the Seagate Recovery Center in Chicago. I also made it clear that if the seal was broken or if there were any signs of tampering, I would have lawyers on them like a pack of wolves.
Well, despite me instructing them to ship priority morning, they sent the drive 2nd day air, costing me further time.
Now to the fun part. Here's a direct quote from the DRC diagnosis:
"We have received your Hard Disk Drive. After a thorough evaluation, our engineers have diagnosed your media with severe mechanical problems which include read and write head errors. The crashed media also has a lot of damaged sectors. It may still be possible for us to recover your data; however, in order for us to proceed we need your confirmation, either by e-mail or by phone, as soon as possible.
The moment we receive your confirmation the recovery process will begin. In rare cases the damage to some or all of the data may be too severe so we cannot always guarantee a totally successful recovery or maintain the time frame promised.
We truly appreciate your business. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority. We are looking forward to hearing from you in the nearest future.
Price for the recovery comes to $1889"
Now the prompt and professional diagnosis from Seagate:
" Please find below the results of our evaluation as well as our proposal for recovery.
Our lab has completed the evaluation of your unit. We have produced a full image of the drive without issue. No file system damage appears to be present.
There may be unidentified issues that had prevented mount and access prior to our involvement. At this point we have secured the content from the device, and will transfer the data to accessible media.
Fee If Data Required is Recovered***: US 1100.00 (plus applicable taxes) Time Estimate: 2 - 5 business days
***No Files - No Charge: Charges are only applicable when you have agreed with our quotation and we have made a full recovery or you accept the recovery results as presented. If there are no files recovered, no recovery fee is charged. If there is a partial recovery, you decide to either accept the recovery as presented for the quoted price or decline the recovery with no recovery fee charged.
Data Quality Commitment: If an accepted recovery is not as promised, Seagate Recovery Services will, at its option, attempt to rectify the recovery or refund all or part of the recovery fees paid."
Relief! I halfway expected DRC to sabotage my drive so it would match their diagnosis. Of course, this diagnosis also confirmed that my suspicions about DRC's diagnosis were completely correct.
I immediately authorized them to proceed and paid their fee online.
Within one hour my data had been recovered, they sent a listing of all the files (in their original directory structure) and my drive was being packed for shipping.
Our drive is being overnighted to us as I write this.
So Seagate surpassed our expectations both in terms of price and turnaround time and operated in the most professional and ethical way one could ever hope for.
Should I ever require data recovery services, I would not hesitate for one moment to use Seagate Recovery Services or recommend them to anyone that finds themselves in the horrible situation of losing irreplaceable data.
As for Data Recovery Corporation, I will just say the old adage of "every person that has a negative impression will tell 30 people" is cubed in the internet age.
Now an experience like mine can reach thousands or even millions of people. I will certainly make sure that I utilize every social network, blog, RSS feed and other means of communicating I have at my disposal to get the word out about their unconscionable lack of ethics and their bottom-feeder exploitation of those desperate to get their precious data back.
They should have also taken into consideration that I work for a PR / advertising firm. Companies pay us tens of thousands of dollars for our skills in mass communication and I will certainly be using our resources to get the word out about them.
My plans for DRC include a class action lawsuit, criminal complaints to the Ohio Attorney General, wire fraud complaints (interstate funds were involved) to the US Attorney General, electronic press kits for Cleveland media, national investigative media and the technology media.
Our company attorney will also be sending letters to Google, Yahoo and other Pay Per Click ad providers to inform them that DRC is engaged in fraudulent business practices and in violation of their terms of service. We're confident these PPC providers will chose to avoid the legal liability of continuing to provide service to this company and will terminate their service.
Any of you that have used or know someone that's used DRC, please contact me so that I can give your information to the class action firm that may be handling this matter. I would also welcome any class action firms that are interested in exploring the viability of this case to contact me. I have all the email documentation, the phone recordings, the report from Seagate and an affidavit from Seagate that the problems listed in DRC's diagnosis were false.
I've got my data back and I'm happy. What sickens me is the fact that DRC has probably pulled this on thousands of customers and will continue to do so if they are not punished by the court system.
In the case of my company alone, our final damages from their misrepresentation and fraudulent diagnosis could end up falling into a range between $40,000 (if our deadline is missed) and $750,000 (if we lose a major client because of this debacle $250,000 per year x 3 years).
I'm sure there are MANY others that have also been victimized by this shameless, sleazy excuse for a company and their disgusting exploitation of desperate people.