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Being in denial about a product problem doesn't fix it - OCZ are you listening?

As IT professionals we are always on the search for speed. Three experts whom I respect deeply were praising the advantages of SSD drives: John David Head, Scott Hanselman and Joel Spolsky. Since Scott mentioned the good experience with OCZ drives and his Lenovo laptop and Anandtech was in favour of them too, I got myself a SSD drive from OCZ Technologies. As it turns out it has a problem with Lenovo laptops and the harddisk password. It had been reported in their forum (which I failed to check beforehand - my bad). So I opened a trouble ticket. Teething problems between hardware components are not exactly new. Here is how the saga unfolded so far. The OCZ ticketing system doesn't allow the customer to see the history, only add new comments, so my replies might not been fully accurate until #5, when I started to keep copies:
  1. Me: Open a ticket in the online help system and ask for a fix for the error happing when you activate the harddisk password on a Lenovo Laptop that has been fitted with an OCZ SSD drive.
    OCZ replies:
    Your Trouble Ticket has been submitted with the following information:
    Trouble Ticket ID: [ID]
    User: Stephan Wissel
    Date and Time Submitted: 05-10-2010 @ 01:23:17AM
    Trouble Type: Flash Drives
    Trouble Priority: Technical Support
    Short Description: Vertex 128GB - [SERIAL]
    Please save this email for your records
Please DO NOT REPLY to this email notification. Please click on the following link below to correspond: Thank you.
  • Me: Doing nothing
    OCZ replies:
    Trouble Ticket ID: [ID]
    Description: Vertex 128GB - [SERIAL]
    Please be advised that the status on your trouble ticket
    has been changed from Submitted to In Progress
    with the following comment:
    ## Comment: there is no known issue. the problem might be the password set up
    ## Status changed by: Super Administrator

    Translated: Support doesn't read their own forum. Tell me: customer p\*\*\* off
  • Me: I write them and highligh the reported problem in the forum.
    OCZ replies:
    Comment By: Bryan Kiefer
    Comment: i have spoken with my engineers and they too have said that
    the password feature is a problem with lenovo.
    i can replace the drive for you but that doesn't gaurantee the replacement
    won't have the same problem with the password

    Translation: Not our problem, customer go away
  • Me: Remind them that the problem only occurs with OCZ SSD drives, not with magnetic drives or SSD drives from their competition.
    OCZ replies:
    Comment By: Bryan Kiefer
    Comment: sorry we will not be able to resolve the password
    management issue that is something to do with lenovo
    Translation: Stop bothering us. It is your fault, go away! (and suddenly the unknown problem is known!)
  • Me (now being very unhappy and recording my answers verbatim):
    Hi Bryan,
    thx for your reply. I take it that you are kidding me. A mayor SDD player and a mayor laptop player are for sure talking to each other? It hurts repudiation on both sides if such issues don't get resolved. I'll try to find out who you can talk to in Lenovo (IBM has good ties into it still) to sort this out. It is not a "problem with Lenovo's password management". It is a "problem OCZ SSD drives have with Lenovo's password management, that doesn't exist with SSD drives from other vendors". Since your disk have been praised I'd like to keep it, so I'll push to sort that out. So no more "it's Lenovo's problem, go away" but "ok, how can we sort that out" please. I'll blog nicely about it once sorted.

    OCZ replies:
    Comment By: Bryan Kiefer
    Comment: well i can't speak for other manufacturers but if yuor having an issue with
    function from a different company's product that is something i can't fix
    Translation: go away, go away, go away!
  • Me: Dear Brian,
    thank you for your reply. I think we are getting nowhere with this support case and I hereby request that you escalate this case to your supervisor. It will be off your desk then. I have very little tolerance for bad support and this is what I'm getting right now from OCZ. I have a perfectly working Lenovo Laptop, I add *YOUR* (you as in OCZ) product and it does not work. I use a different product and it works. But you try to tell me that the problem is not related to your product. This is not acceptable. I know that hiccups in hardware configurations are nothing new and top vendors working together can usually sort this out. But you are flatly refusing to help me. It is in OCZ's self interest to ensure that their products work with the leading business laptop manufacturer's laptops. For the record, you will be able to read the story unfolding here: /blog/2010/05/being-in-denial-about-a-product-problem-doesnt-fix-it-ocz-are-you-listening.html

    Just submitted, so no reply yet.
  • I'm not sure what Bryan is smoking (the typos are his). Guess I'll escalate that a bit. Stay tuned.
    Updates: The conversation is getting more productive now spawning the trouble ticket, a twitter conversation with Eric Ryder and a forum entry.
    1. Eric Ryder tweets:
      The problem may exist with any Indilinx controller based SSD. I replied to your post on the forum, feed me some more info pls.
    2. Brian replies:
      hello stephen - i am the supervisor of technical support. if you would like you can send your drive into us and we can try duplicate the issue you are having with the password function. as i mentioned before that if we just replace the drive the replacement will probably experience the problem. so if you would like to send your drive in for testing provide your shipping address and i will set up a rma for testing.
    3. Me to Eric (here):
      Lenovo is offering a SSD drive which is AFAIK made by Samsung. Do you have contacts with Lenovo? Lenovo has an office in the building I work, I could try to find out who you need to talk to. I'm sure there is no single one guilty as much as I'm sure working together that problem can be sorted out.
    4. Me to Bryan (non public ticket):
      Hi Bryen (I get the a back in my name, I give yours back ). thx for the reply. Now we are talking. I'm sure OCZ has smart engineers which can talk to Lenovo to sort things out. If necessary I could use my IBM contacts to make an introduction to the Lenovo BIOS team.
      Before we ship drives around (from my eMail address you can guess, that I'm not US based) let's check if there is a short way to progress. The drive seems to work OK short of the BIOS error in the beginning (and the resulting inability to reset the password). To reproduce the error you need to have access to a Lenovo Laptop. From the various Googles I conclude that the problem definitely occurs on T400/T500/W500 and S10. If you have access to any of these.... take a drive, stuff it in and activate the password. If the error occurs I would conclude it's a systemic error and not a problem with that one drive (and we can save the cost of mailing the drive around). Eventually the solution (my hunch tells me) might be a bios update on both ends. Thx for helping. stw
    5. Brian: i do have access to those laptops. so if you provide your shipping address i can get this issue moving.
    6. Me:
      Hi Brian,
      I gained a few more insights:
      • when you have only the OCZ DDS the Laptop throws a 0200 error but boots
      • when you add a second disk (in the tray) the Laptop throws another error and won't boot from the OCZ but the second disk. The OCZ will be visible as 2nd disk
      • when you use the second disk internally and the OCZ in the tray the Laptop will throw one 0200 error and boot from disk. The OCZ will be visible as 2nd disk
      • When you mount the OCZ in an external casing and connect via USB the drive will not be recognized (which is how all disk with a BIOS password behave)
      My shipping address: [address inserted]

    Posted by on 14 May 2010 | Comments (2) | categories: Technology


    1. posted by Peter Presnell on Sunday 16 May 2010 AD:
      Thx for your timely blog. I too had read the other blogs and was thinking of getting an OCZ SSD drive. You have changed my mind. The last thing I need is a product from a company who cares so little about support.
    2. posted by Laptops IBM Thinkpad on Tuesday 20 September 2011 AD:
      I just stumbled upon your blog after reading your blog posts wanted to say thanks.i highly appreciate the blogger for doing this effort.
      { Link }