Darryl Mason purchased a ‘new’ 1.5GB SeaGate hard-drive from a Dick Smith store, only to find most of its memory was filled with illegally downloaded movies and harboured malware that destroyed crucial footage of an upcoming documentary he was working on.
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After purchasing the hard drive, Mason plugged it into his computer expecting to see roughly 1.5GB of storage available. Instead, his computer showed the hard drive contained less than 30GBs of storage, of which 9GB had already been used storing pirated movies.
After turning to Twitter, Dick Smith picked up on the incident and promptly sent a store manager with a replacement drive to his house.
“They didn’t say why it would be filled with pirated movies, avoided those answers, but they were very apologetic,” Mason told the SMH.
Mason intended on using the $129 portable SeaGate drive to store back up footage of a documentary he is shooting on hard rock band The Angels. He has been following them for six months, documenting the new lead singer’s transition from the Screaming Jets, their recording sessions and gigs.
But after connecting the questionable drive to his laptop, Mason tried to open some of the video footage only to find it had been corrupted.
“I feel sick,” Mason said.
The director had previously transferred the footage from his camera’s memory card to his laptop, freeing up space on the memory card so he can continue recording. Ironically (and not in the satirical sense), Mason purchased a portable disk drive to back up the footage, hoping to avoid just this situation.
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Well aware of the viral threats lurking, Mason made sure the laptop he used to work on the documentary was never connected to the internet. In fact, the only peripheral device he connected to it was the video camera that recorded the footage.
Dick Smith admitted it had resold a returned hard drive as new, with the previous owner filling it up with pirated movies.
“Following an investigation it has been confirmed that this unit was in fact returned from a previous customer who had downloaded nine movies on to it,” Dick Smith said.
“We do have procedures in place to thoroughly check and restore settings on all units when they are returned but on this occasion the process wasn’t implemented.”
Mason was surprised to hear the company own up to the practise.
“To me, that’s an amazing thing to admit, that they take returned drives, wipe them and then sell them as new,” Mason said.
“And if their statement is true, why is the drive only 30GB? Instead of 1.5TB?
Mason believed it’d have to be a “hell of a coincidence” to have a computer not used for the internet and only connected to a video camera to be contaminated from malware that wasn’t from the second-hand drive.
“I have a friend who’s coming to have a look tomorrow, reckons he can fix the corrupted file. I think he just said that so I’d calm down,” he said.
The Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts, reiterated that consumers are protected by Australian Consumer Law, and that any trader who misleads the nature of a good or service could be held accountable accordingly.
“I’d be very concerned if Dick Smith are selling used goods as new and not disclosing this to consumers,” he said.
“In this instance, if the consumer doesn’t get a satisfactory outcome from the retailer, Fair Trading can help negotiate a successful outcome as well as investigate any potential breaches of the ACL.”
Mason is still hoping he can release the documentary out in time if his footage is restored.
“At least with 16mm, or film cameras of any kind, you had something solid in your hands. Now the information is invisible and obviously vulnerable as well.”
[Source: Sydney Morning Herald]