Seagate learns important PR lesson: keep the customers happy!

First, a disclaimer. Seagate is one of the sponsors of FastCompanyTV (the video network I manage) and has been a great partner of mine for two years.


Seagate (maker of hard drives and storage devices) has been getting slammed on forums and blogs the past couple of days. Partly because they had a bad batch of hard drives and didn’t properly recognize or fix the problem quickly. Partly because they removed a few anti-Seagate threads from its forums.

I wasn’t asked my opinion about either of these things, but if I had I would have recommended that they jump on the problems and take care of customers quickly and I’d never recommend removing nasty posts unless they explicitly broke some rule like using nasty language or being racist or something like that. Why? A happy customer will tell maybe a handful of people. If you are really lucky, like Apple, they’ll blog about it.

But an angry customer? They’ll tell 30 times more people. And, because negative news gets more attention, it’ll spread much, much faster.

And an angry customer that had a post deleted? They’ll find 20 other places to spread their anger and get you to pay attention to them. At Microsoft I called this “throwing a brick through the window to get your attention.” Incoming!

A great reputation can go down in flames in a weekend. Which is what was going on. Bricks were flying through the window and, like usually happens when bricks fly, that gets people to start seeing the implications to the business and paying attention to customers again and making sure they are happy.

Which is what Seagate was working this weekend.

One thing, if you have troubles with your Seagate drives, let me know. I’ll find out what’s up, as I did in this case. It might take a day or two but we’ll get you taken care of. This is one reason I love Seagate. They’ve always taken care of problems for me and I love their products and we use them all over the place (and I’ve bought most of my own Seagate drives too, both before and after they’ve been a sponsor).

The folks I talked with at Seagate apologized for not taking care of this issue faster and better.

Here’s the details they just sent me (Engadget also covered this news):


Seagate has isolated a potential firmware issue in certain products, including some Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives and related drive families based on this product platform, manufactured through December 2008. In some circumstances, the data on the hard drives may become inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on*.

As part of our commitment to customer satisfaction, we are offering a free firmware upgrade to those with affected products. To determine whether your product is affected, please visit the Seagate Support web site at

Support is also available through Seagate’s call center: 1-800-SEAGATE (1 800 732-4283)

Customers can expedite assistance by sending an email to Seagate ( Please include the following disk drive information: model number, serial number and current firmware revision. We will respond, promptly, to your email request with appropriate instructions. There is no data loss associated with this issue, and the data still resides on the drive. But if you are unable to access your data due to this issue, Seagate will provide free data recovery services. Seagate will work with you to expedite a remedy to minimize any disruption to you or your business.

For a list of international telephone numbers to Seagate Support and alternative methods of contact, please access
*There is no safety issue with these products.