Monday, 22 February 2010

Eastwood vs. Hoffman

Courtesy of XKCD

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Beware! - Rapid Data Recovery

I wanted to put this blog together to retell my experience of using Rapid Data Recovery and hopefully warn others as to the dangers of using a cowboy operation to restore faulty hard drives.

In the digital age, data is so precious. Photos, videos, memories and media are all stored on hard drives rather than portable media such as DVD's. Therefore, when your hard drive goes wrong there is not a lot that you won't do to get it repaired.

Rapid Data recovery and their parent organisation Fields Data capitalise on the emotional attachment that users have with their data to get them to invest large sums of money in data recovery services.

My first conversation was with a gentleman by the name of Daniel Reece, who was polite and informative about the services offered. I explained my problem, a 750GB Maxtor hard drive full of my treasured music, video and pictures that had become corrupt and unreadable. I also explained that I would pay more if the exact folder structure of my original drive

The standard practice for this organisation is to allow them to examine the hard drive before they are quote a price for recovery services. Having only a phone contact for the organisation, I was a little bit nervous about simply sending it by post so I asked if I could drop the hard drive off at their registered offices. Upon visiting their offices, I was denied the possibility of speaking with any of the staff at Rapid Data Recovery and asked to leave my valuable hard disk at reception with a note, something to which I reluctantly agreed.

A number of days later, I received a phone call from Mr Reece stating that a full recovery of my data was possible complete with the full, original folder structure. Needless, to say I was delighted and happy to pay a reasonable fee for such an comprehensive piece of work. The price proffered by Mr Reece was £435, which was substantially more than the initial estimation but something I was delighted to pay nevertheless.

I waited the given five days for my hard drive to be returned to me but received nothing. After contacting Rapid Data Recovery, I was informed that it had been delivered. I later discovered that the drive, holding so much of my personal information, had been delivered to a neighbour. When I contacted UPS on this, they informed me that the organisation sending the package has specified that this is perfectly acceptable. I would ask anyone contemplating using Rapid Data Recovery to ask whether they trust their neighbour with their personal information.

When I eventually managed to recover my hard drive and plug it into my computer, I immediately noticed that the original folder structure I had been promised and paid a premium for, was not evident. Therefore, syncing with my iTunes music library was not possible.

Using iTunes, I was also easily able to cross-reference the number of records recovered, with the number of records in my iTunes library. The recovered data was short by missing approximately 33% of the total records. Worse, when I reluctantly loaded the recovered files into iTunes, none of the files appeared to work.

I immediately tried, calling Rapid Data Recovery and left answer phone messages, which nobody returned. Occasionally, on the rare occasion I managed to speak to someone, they would simply put me on hold for as much as twenty minutes, or until I lost patience and hung up. I emailed both Daniel Reece, his manager William Lewis and the generic quality control email available on the Rapid Data Recovery website.

With no repsonse I then spoke to Fields Data Recovery head office and was forwarded to their customer services team who promised a reply within the day. I later received a response from Abigail Richards at Rapid Data Recovery who drew my attention to the following line from the Rapid Data Recovery terms of service.

6.1. The client accepts that Rapid Data Recovery will not examine the contents of any files contained on the media supplied to them. Rapid Data Recovery further accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the contents,integrity, functionality, corruption or usefulness of any data recovered.

This clause seems to distance Rapid Data Recovery from any blame for delivering services that were unsatisfactory. My issue is not their unsatisfactory work, it is the false promises that were made prior to the work being carried out that I believe to be deceitful and fraudulent.

I therefore replies to Abigails email and have sent three further emails without reply, no matter who I send them to. Unsurprisingly, Rapid Data Recovery is amazingly illusive when you are not trying to spend money with them. What originally I thought of as excellent customer service, actually translated into a desparation to take my money from me.

The result, my data is in exactly the same state, I am missing approx 15,000 iTunes audio and video files which cost me a small fortune to buy over a number of years. The drive is also in such a state that no other organisation can perform any sort of recovery on it.

Now I am pursuing via trading standards and if necessary the small claims court. Whilst this process is in place, I want to advise everyone of my experience and to use the comment section of this blog to share their own experiences of Rapid Data Recovery.

I realise that this is but one opinion, so I would urge any doubters to read this thread or this thread or share your experience on this website.

One of the major threats to e-commerce is the faceless nature that some organisations can adopt in order to conduct unethical and sometimes fraudulent services. Better authorities are required in order to take action against such organisations without the potential cost of a legal pursuit.

We are fortunate that these organisations remain the minority, else the ability to make transactions over the world wide web, that some of us strive for every day, will remain an aspiration.