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Western Digital is investigating the possibility of outsourcing its US maintenance and repair services, following the example of its European arm. The manufacturer confirmed that it has invited some storage specialists, including UK companies, to submit tenders for the project. The company is keen to stress that the final go ahead has not yet been given, but informed sources said that a decision would be made no later than Christmas. The European situation for drives failing under warranty, where the bulk of responsibility falls to the channel, will not change. Outside the first year’s warranty, staff at the tech support centre in Amsterdam can authorise the return of the drive for repair. The maintenance itself is outsourced to a German company called EZI. A spokesperson for Western Digital UK said it advised its dealers to offer repair or replacement for faulty hard drives, but that it could not dictate terms to the distributors. Back in the US, Western Digital has expanded its Web based customer support program by introducing an online RMA (Return Materials Authorisation) feature. “Our Web based support program is all about making support easier for our customers to obtain,” said Ed Inal, VP of customer support. Paul Calderwood, head of marketing in the UK commented on the expansion: “This service is available now, to all our customers, in the US, the UK, the rest of Europe and anywhere else they happen to be.” The company plans to extend the rest of its support services to its web site, allowing 24 hour access to information about compatibility, troubleshooting, installations and other FAQs. The home page is WD. ®

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