OPINION: Samsung must explain its gray market

Samsung Australia says some Australian resellers are selling disk drives it does not support in Australia. But the company cannot state which disk drives it does actually support, leaving buyers in the dark about whether the products it sells are supported.

Around a month ago, SearchStorage ANZ started researching a series of enterprise disk buyers’ guides. We approached leading vendors of enterprise-class disk drives and asked them to confirm which models are designated for enterprise use. We asked the vendors to provide us with specifications of the drives and to confirm they are sold in Australia.

So far, we have published articles on Seagate’s and Western Digital’s enterprise disks. We are working on guides for other vendors.

But we are unable to compile a similar story for Samsung, as the company will not confirm which drives it sells and supports in Australia and has declined to be interviewed by SearchStorage ANZ to clarify the situation.

The root of the problem is that Samsung Australia maintains two websites to describe its hard disk products. The first lists six models. The second lists ten.

We’ve tried to clarify which page is correct and which drives are actually sold in Australia, but Samsung has not been able to do so.

But the company has, through its PR company, said that it does not sell enterprise-class drives in Australia.

Yet SearchStorage ANZ’s visits to several Australian online retailers have, however, found that some enterprise-class drives not listed on Samsung’s first site (but listed on the second) are on sale in Australia. Our inquiries to resellers offering those drives suggest that they are being distributed by reputable, top-tier distributors.

Samsung, however, has insisted via. its PR company that certain drives from its Spinpoint F range have “… been imported from overseas by individual resellers.” We have asked Samsung to offer proof for that claim but none has been forthcoming.

We also inquired if Samsung is willing to support drives imported by resellers that end-users unwittingly purchase based on an (in our opinion entirely reasonable) assumption that a top-tier brand like Samsung’s products are locally supported.

We have been told, in correspondence with the company’s PR firm, that: “Samsung Australia honours Samsung International Warranty policies on a wide variety of products including international/overseas purchases as well as selected ‘grey products’, the Samsung Enterprise HDD products, however, do not carry an International Warranty policy.”

That response means Samsung will not tell Australians which drives the company sells and supports in Australia, making it impossible to know if a Samsung disk drive is legitimate or gray market purchase.

On June 16th, SearchStorage ANZ therefore made a formal request for Samsung to confirm which drives it offers in Australia and which it supports. We have sent both web addresses to Samsung, via. its PR agency.

We are yet to secure a response because, apparently, Samsung Australia does not have an employee who can definitively state which drives the company sells and supports in Australia. Samsung’s PR company says it has referred the matter to Samsung headquarters in Korea.

Needless to say, it is very unusual for a major multinational vendor to be unable or unwilling to state which products it sells and supports.

But SearchStorage ANZ believes that the inability to do so is unacceptable, as disk buyers deserve to know whether or not the products they buy in good faith are supported locally.

We therefore imagine that disk buyers will find it very difficult to believe Samsung drives represent an acceptable risk until this matter is resolved.

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