WD TV Live Hub Purchase Gone Wrong

With the Holiday Season upon us, I wanted to treat my parents to a gift and also introduce them to the world of cord cutting. My plan was to find an easy to use device that would be able to store media locally and stream it directly to the TV.  The first product that came to mind was a dedicated HTPC box, but I was looking for something with more of an “appliance-like” feel. Next, I thought about the Roku and adding the PLEX channel to it, but the thought of no local storage was a deal breaker. So reluctantly, after some research, I decided to go with the WD TV Live Hub.

For anyone not familiar with this device, it’s a 1080p streamer that can handle pretty much any video type you throw at it. On top of that, it has a built in 1 TB drive for local storage which can be expanded by plugging in a USB external into one of the two built-in USB ports. However, there are a couple downfalls. The most disappointing being the lack of built in WiFi. But this can be remedied by either using the ethernet port or purchasing a USB wireless dongle, but the latter will run you an additional $20 plus. Or, if you wanted to use the ethernet port and have no jack nearby, you could purchase Western Digital’s Livewire boxes.

It arrives…

The shipment arrived quicker than expected, 2 days early to be exact. I was going to wait until Christmas to unveil the gift but at this point my big mouth ruined the surprise and I was too eager to unbox and test. So I started plugging away at the physical setup which was a breeze. Unbox, plug in power, hook up HDMI cable( not included), pop batteries into remote, plug in USB wireless dongle, and hit power. Like expected, the device booted right to the home screen. We were in business, atleast so I thought. I grabbed the remote and pressed left and then right. Nothing… The device was unresponsive. I thought to myself, “must have put in the batteries incorrectly”. Nope, everything looked fine. So I did the next logical thing and threw in a fresh pair of my own Energizers into the remote. It was still unresponsive.  I then unplugged the device and replugged it back in. When that didn’t work, I took a paper clip and pressed down on the reset button. The device at this point wouldn’t even reset. Awkwardly enough, the minutes on the on screen clock ticked along just fine.

I had enough at this point. It was time to call the Western Digital support line. I knew I exhausted pretty much all the basic troubleshooting steps and was hoping my call would warrant a replacement box being shipped pronto. But things didn’t turn out as planned. I spent the first five minutes of the call relaying my contact info, serial number, and then having the tech spit back everything phonetically. Once we got through that, the call had to get easier, I thought. Wrong. After verifying the serial number, the tone in the representative voice changed. Addressing me by my surname, he said “the warranty on your media hub expired in October of 2012.” I jumped out of my La-Z-Boy and said, “I just purchased it brand new from Amazon!!”.

To make a long story short, the rep was kind enough to run through all basic troubleshooting measures I tried before making the call, but ultimately I was denied a replacement and needed to wait until another representative would contact me providing instructions on how to prove I purchased the WD TV Live Hub new. Only then, would I be granted a return merchandise authorization.

After experiencing all this frustration, I contacted Amazon and requested a return label and asked full a refund. They complied no questions asked.  I also forwarded some feedback regarding selling products that are out of warranty. Some consumers might be buying products that are considered “off warranty” and when it shits the bed a couple months down the road, they will be in for a rude awakening when trying to get support from the manufacturer.

As for Western Digital, I’m not sure what my opinion of them is after this. I can’t be too upset with the device arriving defective, it happens. But I am a bit disappointed in their customer service. Maybe my standards are a bit high, but I believe it’s a reasonable expectation for Western Digital to know that you are selling to a re-seller and the sale to a consumer might not occur for a long period of time.

What is your opinion on this situation? How should have Western Digital handled it? Or, in your opinion, did they handle it correctly?

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