My Reynolds Data Recovery Experience

Summary

I took my drives to Reynolds back on Dec. 1, 2006. Since then they basically ignored me. I’ve been updating the timeline in my original post to reflect the (lack of) progress I was making in getting any kind of response from them.

On Thursday last week, I decided to try driving up to their offices again. This time there was a person in the office at Reynolds so I was able to go in, find my drives, and leave with them.

So after leaving my drives with them for over a month, I didn’t get any data back. Through a lot of effort on my part, I did manage to get my drives back.

Today I am taking the drives to yet another data recovery shop. I’m cautiously optimistic about them so far, but I’ll save all of that for a future post.

The Skinny

You may remember from my original post that I was able to get in touch with Bill Flinchbaugh (who attended BarCampDenver and was how I found out about Reynolds in the first place) after Reynolds’ phones and e-mail stopped working back in early Dec. Bill was apologetic when I first contacted him. He told me I could call him on his cell phone and he even put that number up on the Reynolds web site as the temporary contact number during their phone transition.

Since Bill’s number was posted as the number to call, I put a number of calls to him – most of the time going to voice mail and without receiving a return call from him after Dec. 13, 2006.

On Dec 26, Reynolds had a different number posted on their web site. I began calling that number too, but it went to a broken IVR and there was no way to leave a message. Because of this, I also called Bill’s number so that I could leave a message (see timeline in previous post linked above for details).

The last time I’d actually spoken with Bill, he’d told me I really needed to talk to Mark Tessin, who’d called me with status on Dec 5th and Dec 14th. Apparently Mark was the one actually doing the data recovery.

Unfortunately, despite asking Bill repeatedly for Mark’s number, he never gave it to me, nor did Mark leave it for me in his message. The only number I had where I could leave a message was Bill’s cell phone.

On Thursday last week, having exhausted all phone contact options, I finally drove up to Reynolds again and was able to get my drives back. On Thursday evening or Friday last week, I assume in response to my previous post, Reynolds posted this on their web site:

There can be a difference between fact & truth. Contact us for the truth .

No good deed goes unpunished. Our IT guy, Bill, tried unsuccessfully to assist Alex. After entering the business through a closed door, Alex took items he claimed were his and left. Fact & truth.

here is a screenshot in case it changes:

Reynolds' Web Page About Me

This basically has 3 statements:

  1. “Our IT guy, Bill, tried unsuccessfully to assist Alex.”

    I’m afraid I have to disagree this – particularly the “Bill, tried” part. Actually, Bill repeatedly told me he could not help me; that there was nothing he could do to help me.

  2. “entering the business through a closed door”

    Perhaps this is semantic, but since someone already thinks they are saying that I broke in and stole from them, I should clarify. Like most people, I do open the door before entering a room. I’d imagine that entering a room through a closed door is quite difficult. The door to their suite was closed (as were the doors to all of the suites I saw in the building) and I could see light coming out from the gap between the door and the floor so I knocked, opened the door, and went in.

  3. “Alex took items he claimed were his and left.”

    This is accurate, though it leaves out the part where I showed Bill everything that I was taking (the two drives that needed recovery and the one external drive I’d given them to use to put the recovered data on); which was all labeled with my name. [edited for clarification: the external drive was also mine, I'd brought it to them at the same time I brought them the broken drives.]

    And darn right I took my drives back. It had been over a month for what was supposed to be a 3-5 day job, and the company had gone from having several people in the office from 8-5 (as was the case when I called and spoke to people before dropping the drives off in the first place) to not having anyone in the office at all on my previous visit (Dec 13th) and having only an IT guy there on this visit (ie. no one doing any data recovery work). This is a red flag to me. If they are ignoring customers because they are going out of business, I certainly don’t want my drives auctioned off with rest of their business assets.

Side note: I’m not sure what “There can be a difference between fact & truth.” is supposed to mean, or how someone is supposed to contact them to find out. Maybe they are answering their phones now – I really don’t know.

So, while part of their statement is accurate, I believe it misses a few salient details though – even if we ignore the whole “Alex lost a month of time to get his data recovered and wasted many hours trying to contact Reynolds” side of this.

When I arrived at Reynolds Data Recovery last Thursday afternoon, the door to their suite was closed but the light inside was on so I knocked and went in. One thing I didn’t want to mention before I got my drives back is that there is no lock on the door to the Reynolds suite (there is a lock on the building door, but not the suite door).

Front Door to Reynolds Stairs down to Reynolds Door to Reynolds

It really surprised me that there was no lock on the door as they have a number of hard drives out on shelves around the office. I presume (hope?) that these drives must not have any customer data on them. Anyway, back to my visit.

When I went in, Bill was on the phone with a customer. He asked who I was, I told him and said I was there to get my drives back. He told me that he really couldn’t help me and that I’d have to talk to Mark.

I told him, as I had at least a half-dozen times before over the phone or in messages, that I had no way of contacting Mark.

Bill then gave me Mark’s phone number – yay!

I sat down and called Mark, got voice mail, left a message. Ugh.

After that, with Bill still on his call and “not able to help me”, I looked around and found my drives. I took them over and showed Bill what I had (just the drives labeled with my name).

Bill got off the phone around that time. We had a somewhat heated discussion about the way I’d been treated as a customer. I asked him what else I could have or should have done given my situation.

This part still gets me a little fired up: he told me that it didn’t help my situation that I didn’t respect his personal time – calling him multiple times a day and even calling during his lunchtime.

Wow.

Last time I checked, ‘lunch’ was during standard business hours. In fact, all of my calls were during standard business hours. Despite not receiving a call back since Dec 13, all of my messages were professional and I didn’t call more than twice a day (except perhaps the previous day I’d driven up there and waited around outside their empty office for an hour and a half).

I reminded him that I was only calling him because I had no other number to call where I could leave a message. He asked why I didn’t call Mark, I reminded him I didn’t have Mark’s number and told him the number on the web site was broken – no way to leave a message. He didn’t seem to believe me on that one so I pulled out my cell phone, called the number, turned on the speakerphone and demonstrated how it didn’t work.

So I asked him again that, given that I had no other number where I could leave a message, what should I have done but call the number he told me to, that was posted on the web site, and leave a message there? He didn’t really have an answer for that.

The most amazing thing about this was that he was annoyed or angry with me. Never mind that pro-active calls or e-mails from Reynolds would have prevented me from calling him even once. The customer is pretty much helpless in this situation. Never once was I offered an apology. I got several half excuses, lots of blame shifting and some frustration thrown my way. His attitude and apparent view that I had done something wrong just blew me away.

Besides if the calls were bothering Bill so much, there was an easy solution: return one of my calls and provide me with the number of someone I should call. Just last week I got 2 calls from someone who thought my number was a travel agency. After the second one (the first I figured was a mis-dial), I did them the courtesy of calling them and letting them know it was the wrong number. It took less than a minute to make that call.

Y’know how you always think of a good line to say when it’s too late? I wish I’d said:

You aren’t seriously trying to blame the victim here, are you?

Oh well, next time.

A while ago I linked to an blog post that talked about the shift of companies now reflecting on individuals rather than individuals reflecting on companies (this is especially true with small businesses). Bill doesn’t seem to have gotten that memo. He is a Reynolds employee/associate/contractor/partner (I don’t know the exact relationship), and he was the only representative of the company I was able to get in touch with. He may have felt he wasn’t able to help me, but he sure was in a better position to help me than I was – if for no other reason than he knew who did know something, had the phone number of that person, and was able to get in touch with them.

By choosing to associate with Reynolds as he does, the actions of Reynolds reflect back on him. It doesn’t matter if it was Mark that was supposed to call me back. Bill telling me that Mark will call me and choosing to ignore all of my voice mails telling him I never got a call from Mark reflects badly on Bill too.

If you find yourself in a situation where your association with someone or something is hurting your reputation, it’s up to you to fix that. I’ve had to do this in the past myself.

With my experience over the last month and a half, now that I’ve got my drives back you better believe I will never again choose to have any dealings or association with Reynolds Data Recovery, Bill Flinchbaugh or Mark Tessin.

This post is part of the thread: Hard Drive Recovery – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.