I purchased a Sandisk 16Gb USB stick drive (~$10 on Amazon.com) to transfer large files between machines rather than having to burn multiple DVDs.  (Also because I ditched my optical drive to install a second hard disk in my ancient MacBook.)  While shuttling files, the USB stick went into some kind of lock-out mode.

The consensus from the Interwebs was the device committed seppuku and was a lost cause.  Rather than toss it into the abyss, I thought I’d see how long the warranty was on these devices.  To my delight, I was only halfway through it.  I should at least try filing a warranty claim.

Finding the customer support contact mechanism is always difficult.  With each two steps forward came one interstitial step back to read some frequently answered question.  Invariably, these all devolve into “is your computer up to date?,” “is the device plugged into the computer?” and “Are you a moron?”   Nonplussed, I eventually found the sUpEr SiKrEt form to request a RMA (return merchandise authorization).  The form asked for a lot of information, including a copy of the receipt and the device serial number, etched in a subatomic font.

A day later, a customer support person contacts me asking for “supporting documentation,” taking photos of both sides of the USB stick, because why the hell not.  Oh, and would I please provide a copy of my receipt?   Because I could respond via e-mail, I supplied largest resolution, highest “quality” photo I could take of each side.  I also discovered something really useful: the phone’s camera makes an excellent magnifying glass.  Also: Two can play at this game.

The next morning, I had three emails.  The first acknowledged receipt of my supporting documentation.  The second indicated a verdict was reached by the warranty cabal.  The third included RMA instructions with a UPS label that I’d print out and slap on my extremely well-packaged sarcophagus sent to their return center.  Once received, there would be another evaluation period, after which the disposition would be determined and revealed to me in a deeply symbolic dream.  Okay, maybe I imagined the dream part.

After a few days, I received an email update as my deceased USB drive completed each stage of its journey to the warranty after world.  When it eventually reached the Asphodel Meadows the final notification indicated a new stick drive would be on its way.

Tonight, this arrived:

Huge Envelope
Huge Envelope

The replacement USB stick was enclosed within another envelope (not shown) in the larger, yellow, padded envelope.  For scale, I have placed a quarter next to the stick drive.

I estimate the cost in excess of the original product:  $14 for UPS both ways, $1 packaging, $2 for the device, $5 for people to interact (the dude sending me email, packaging, typing stuff).

2 thoughts on “Overpackaging”

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