Mailing a hard drive in a cardboard envelope?
May 22, 2010 11:23 PM   Subscribe

Will Samsung refuse to replace my defective hard drive if I mail it in a flat-rate envelope instead of a big box with bubble wrap?

I need to return yet another failed hard drive to Samsung. Typically, I return them in boxes with lots of bubble wrap. This was fine for one or two, but I'm getting tired of investing time and effort (and money) in returning useless chunks of metal. My plan this time is to go to the post office, buy a flat-rate envelope, and mail it back in that. Cheap, and won't take up any of my time; the post office is right on my way to work.

The question is, will Samsung accept the hard drive if it's packaged like this? What if I use a flat-rate box instead?

My goal is to spend as little effort as possible on this. Avoiding talking to shipping store employees is always good, as is going to multiple places to buy packing material. Hence why the USPS option appeals to me. (And it's like $5. Excellent.)

Really, I'm looking for an anecdote like, "I did this once, and my poor packing job upset Samsung so much that they came to my house and kidnapped my cat as revenge." Experience with other manufacturers is also welcome. :)

Thanks, AskMe. And yes, I already know that I am very lazy :)
posted by jrockway to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Why not just use a manilla envelope with bubble wrap?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:26 PM on May 22, 2010

What's the point of speculating? Call their customer service at 1-888-987-4357 (US) and ask them.
posted by halogen at 11:45 PM on May 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

And in terms of time/effort savings haven't you just shot that budget with this question?
posted by FlamingBore at 11:48 PM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Every time I've returned a HD to a manufacturer for warranty replacement, they've required that it be shipped back in the same type of packaging (or a box and lots of bubble wrap) that you would ship a normal, working hard drive in for safe transit.

Seagate, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Western Digital, etc.

Remember that it may be a chunk of useless metal to you - but they want it to be in good enough condition to refurbish it and give it to someone else as a warranty replacement.
posted by mrbill at 12:38 AM on May 23, 2010

Hard drives can withstand a decent amount of shock when not powered on, so the device is likely safe.

If you want a slightly better solution: wrap the hard drive in thin bubble wrap or foam padding. Stick it in a small flat rate box. Put that whole combination inside the flat rate envelope. It will look like you took good care of the device.
posted by reeddavid at 12:50 AM on May 23, 2010

As someone who processes shipped returns, I would encourage you to call. There's a certain level of understanding when you get back stuff that's not packaged well. However, as an employee of a retailer that I feel is an upstanding company, there's a definite feeling that people are just trying to be assholes when they send back stuff covered in cat pee, and call to complain that they did not get the full amount of their purchase price back. Obviously, this is not your situation, but I want to give you a possible perspective of the person that opens your package. Therefore, I would advise you to call so there would be a note put on your account ("Customer has returned two drives previously, would prefer refund as product has already been replaced, problem has not been resolved, low confidence in integrity of product."), and then include a note with your return ("I'm a loyal customer, disappointed in quality, just asking that you make this right."). Lots of retailers/manufacturers, big or small, are actually willing to take care of their customers. Admittedly, I work in a different industry, but if this does not work, then I'd like to know, and I think future potential customers have the right to know.

Also, if you ship Priority Mail, the boxes are free. I think that even the smallest one will accommodate a hard drive with a bit of padding, and it costs $4.85 to ship.
posted by andeluria at 4:00 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

The small flat rate box is probably too thin, unless you really cram it full of bubble wrap. But it depends on how picky Samsung is about returns. I doubt they are going to give you any answer except "same packaging it was delivered in".
posted by gjc at 7:23 AM on May 23, 2010

Thanks guys; calling and asking is a good idea that had not actually occurred to me.
posted by jrockway at 12:28 PM on May 23, 2010

And oh yeah, I'm not 100% sure that Samsung deserves all the blame for my situation. A bit of Googling reveals that NewEgg ships hard drives incorrectly. All the replacement disks I've received from Samsung are working perfectly. Only the ones bought new from NewEgg have failed. (The ones from Samsung are shipped in special foam-and-cardboard box; the ones from NewEgg are in a plastic shell with a few packing peanuts. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but who knows.)
posted by jrockway at 12:31 PM on May 23, 2010

This was fine for one or two, but I'm getting tired of investing time and effort (and money) in returning useless chunks of metal.

The way to look at this, I think, is investing time and effort and some money (not much in the larger scheme of things) in order to get a useless chunk of metal replaced by a nifty 21st century miniaturized artifact of technology. I mean, that's your goal.
posted by dhartung at 4:35 PM on May 23, 2010

So, the box-inside-envelope worked fine. Thanks, everyone.
posted by jrockway at 9:17 AM on July 7, 2010

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