Zip drive users entitled to recompense, says Consumers Institute

Users of Iomega Zip drives who have experienced the so-called Click of Death outside Iomega's warranty period are still entitled to some recompense, according to the Consumers Institute. Assistant chief executive Peter Sutton says two different pieces of legislation cover business and personal users.

Users of Iomega Zip drives who have experienced the so-called Click of Death outside Iomega’s warranty period are still entitled to some recompense, according to the Consumers Institute.

Assistant chief executive Peter Sutton says two different pieces of legislation cover business and personal users.

“If they bought them for private use, the Consumer Guarantees Act applies. Products used for business are covered by the Sale of Goods Act.”

Both acts provide more cover for users than just the manufacturer’s warranty. According to Sutton it’s the life expectancy of a product that is important, not whether it is still covered by a warranty or not.

“If you’d expect, say, a five-year life out of the drive, and it only lasted a year, then you’ve still got a claim.” Sutton says a product should work for a “reasonable” life span, something which varies from product to product. For a device which completely fails just outside warranty, Sutton says it is fairly straightforward.

“I’d be going back to the supplier and saying: ‘This is not reasonable for this piece of equipment’.”

Sutton does point out that if you’ve used a product for a year before it fails you may be expected to contribute toward the cost of a replacement. “If they gave you a free replacement then you’ve had a year’s free use out of it and that’s unreasonable from the trader’s perspective.”

One distributor is eager to sort out the Click of Death problem is Electronic Resources.

Director John Dunbar has known of the Click of Death for some time and has asked Iomega for an information pack to help “dispel the myths” surrounding the problem.

“When there’s a bad piece of media, the heads can’t read it. There’s a built-in command to try to recalibrate when this happens.”

Dunbar says when the heads return to the outside of the track there is a clicking noise, hence the name. But calling it “Death” is misleading, he says.

“It’s quite normal. This sort of thing happens on floppies as well, but they have an infra-red sensor so you don’t hear it happen.” Any long-term problems with a disk are due to the oxidisation of the coating protecting the media itself.

“Once it’s got that outside layer on it’s very hard to get it off.” That can damage the heads of the drive itself, thus spreading the problem. Dunbar says this is most prevalent with Nomai disks.

Nomai and Iomega are currently engaged in litigation overseas regarding Nomai’s production of Zip-compatible disks.

Dunbar also acknowledges problems with Jaz drive returns to Iomega. “There have been delays, what with the change of distributorship.” Dunbar offers a temporary solution for those having trouble with their Jaz drives still under warranty. “We’re a wholesaler, but I’d like to make an offer to users who have had trouble with warranty to contact us and we’ll do everything we can to sort it out.”

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