Fujitsu is about to expand its warranty credit scheme and drop its administration partner, CSSI. But the hard drive vendor claims the changes are independent of recent reseller criticism of the handling of its warranties.
Fujitsu will cease using CSSI for its local warranty administration from June 1. The relationship with the third-party hard drive repairer and logistics company, which provides Fujitsu support at an Asia-Pacific level, was no longer necessary in Australia, Fujitsu Australia’s national channels manager, Mike Yell, said.
“The failure rates in Australia are so low that it’s not financially viable for them,” he said. Fujitsu would now return to dealing with warranty and return issues in-house, according to Yell.
While resellers including Webster Computer Systems and Lincoln Computer Systems recently criticised Fujitsu, its distributors and CSSI for not informing them of the availability of the warranty credits, Yell said the decision to cease working with CSSI had been made several months ago.
Yell also defended Fujitsu’s warranty process, rejecting recent reseller claims that they had been kept in the dark about its warranty credit scheme for its MPG series of hard drives.
“When we were aware of the problem, I personally went out and saw all our direct customers,” Yell said.
He visited all of Fujitsu’s distributor and OEM partners three times between mid-2001 and the end of 2002.
“We informed them of how we were going to handle the situation,” he said.
But Yell said that the message hadn’t reached all resellers. Where Fujitsu didn’t have a direct relationship with the reseller, it relied heavily on its distributors to communicate with the channel, he said.
“It’s become quite clear that the clear message has not filtered down,” Yell said. “Some of it filtered down and some of it didn’t.”
But Yell insisted he wasn’t passing the buck to distributors.
“I think they’ve done a bloody good job,” he said. “I think the big issue is neither them or I knew the extent of the problem.”
Yell said some resellers might not have paid attention to the warranty scheme because the general feeling at the time was that it was a batch issue.
“Quite frankly, at the time, I don’t think people knew the severity of it,” he said.
Yell said that under the warranty conditions, resellers who didn’t deal directly with Fujitsu would need to go through the distributor who supplied the Fujitsu stock in order to obtain the warranty credit.
He said resellers who had not been aware of the credit scheme, and had elected for replacement drives, would not be eligible for credit.
Yell also rejected recent reseller criticisms that CSSI made it very difficult to make warranty claims.
“CSSI has been following the factory guidelines,” he said.
The scheme, which has been in place since 2002, allows customers the option of exchange, replacement or warranty credit value.
Fujitusu had been especially lenient in its replacement of hard drives from the MPG series, which was known to have had failure problems, he said.
But when the company takes the warranty claims back in-house, it is set to extend its warranty options across its hard disk range.
“From June 1 I’ll be looking to extend the warranty terms to replace, exchange or credit,” Yell said.
The move had been motivated by a desire to speed up the warranty process and show good faith to dealers, he said.
“For years we had the fastest warranty process in the business, which is why we got to such high market share the first time,” Yell said.
Fujitsu was regaining lost ground after the long-running problem with the MPG drives, he said,
The vendor owned 45 per cent of the 2.5-inch hard disk market in Australia, Yell claimed.
“We shipped 150,000 2.5-inch drives in Australia in the past 12 months,” he said.
“While some resellers out there will never forgive us, I think those parties who’ve dealt with us directly are still dealing with us directly.”