Dear Lifehacker, Is it possible to get the manufacturer to replace a hard disk drive that stopped working after the warranty period? The laptop is nearly 1.5 years old (so its out of the one year warranty period )and the HDD just stopped working out of the blue. Thanks, Driven To Despair
We cover warranty issues a lot here at Lifehacker, but your case is an interesting one. It's certainly feasible to ask, and there can really be no harm beyond time spent in doing so, because while a laptop may have a one year warranty, it's not really reasonable to expect it to die within such a short period.
A hard drive within a laptop may — and this is a debatable topic — not be expected to last quite so long, because it's essentially a media item rather than the computer itself. Hard drive manufacturers have been cutting back warranties on many of their products, and while they can't legally dodge their way around Australian consumer law, that could be taken into account working out what's reasonable in this case. Way back in the dim dark computer ages, I worked for a while as a tech support representative for a computer company, and one of the very standard warranty clauses related to warranties on rewriteable media, including hard drives, which were covered for a much shorter period than the systems surrounding them.
Again, that doesn't mean that a vendor can write such a clause and make it legally stick, but again the ACCC's guidelines on this don't have absolute limits either. The relevant section of the ACCC guidelines for statuatory rights reads as so:
Statutory rights are not limited to a set time period. Instead, they apply for the amount of time that is reasonable to expect, given the cost and quality of the item.
Hard drives aren't in and of themselves expensive items, and that may be a roadblock to getting out-of-warranty satisfaction in this case. It's feasible to pick up a drive for under $100, and that means that it could be argued that eighteen months is a serviceable life, even without going into any kind of analysis of the actual damage issue itself. You're going to have a better case if the notebook is pristine, whereas if it's dripping water or covered in dents, the damage could more reasonably be assumed to be your own fault.
What I'd do is call up the vendor and ask if they'll cover it on the grounds that they presumably sell the laptop in question as a quality item. This is especially true if you're talking a system with an SSD, or as is the case with some of Apple's designs, a system with a glued or soldered in hard drive, because the costs involved in replacing a drive in such a system are unlikely to be trivial. You may not get satisfaction, but it can't hurt to try.
Also, while it won't help in this case, it's well worth repeating the mantra of backup. Backup is boring, backup takes time, but backup is UTTERLY VITAL.
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