Amazon Is Unable To Ship A Hard Drive In Proper Packaging

Amazon should take a closer look at how they’re shipping hard drives, because the current plan just isn’t working.

I live in California and my best friend lives in Connecticut. For Christmas I sent him a 500GB Western Digital drive, from

When he received the package, the drive had been damaged and was not usable. Most likely because it was packed without any protective padding at all! (See attached picture). Aside from the single plastic bubble, there was nothing to prevent the drive from being damaged.

My friend had the drive RMA’d from Amazon, and told the Amazon representative what had happened. When the second drive arrived, he was astonished to discover that it was packed exactly the same way! Once again, no protective wrapping/padding, and the drive was again damage in transit.

On his second call to Amazon, he was told by the rep that “we can not guarantee” that it would ship safely, and was offered a store credit. Which makes me wonder, what’s the point of store credit if you can’t get undamaged products!

Shortly after his call, Amazon sent me an automated email requested feedback on their customer service. I replied with the following:

— This sensitive electronic device was shipped without protection, and arrived damaged. After being RMA’d, it was again shipped without protection!

An Amazon representative could not guarantee that if it was again RMA’d that it would be shipped correctly, and offered store credit. This is unacceptable. All I want is the drive to be shipped correctly. —

Hope this is of interest to you!


Say what you will about annoying “packing peanuts,” in this case they would have saved the hard drive. Unless there’s something else you want from Amazon, we think you should ask for a refund, rather than store credit. That way you can buy the hard drive from a retailer that can figure out how to package it properly. Like you said, what’s the point of store credit from a place that can’t ship what you want without breaking it?

Amazon’s executive customer service email:

(Photo: Joshua)


Edit Your Comment

  1. I have been getting my books shrinkwrapped on a cardboard backer. Very sturdy, and none of the info/adverts falls out. I hate the bag wraps.

  2. xoxerica says:

    I get the shrinkwraped stuff on my books/dvds so I’m not sure why they can’t do the same on something much more expensive.

  3. mandarin says:

    Newegg might help. Dont get hardware from Amazon.

  4. bonzombiekitty says:

    I’m a bit surprised really. The stuff I have gotten from amazon in the past is usually packed very well. Then again I haven’t ordered any electronics or computer parts from amazon before, mostly books and DVDs

  5. lastingsmilledge says:

    why would you buy a hard drive from amazon in the first place?

  6. clocker says:

    Packing peanuts are useless as well- the item will just sink to the bottom where it’ll be directly exposed to external shocks.
    Sadly, even Newegg ships HDDs in big boxes filled with peanuts.

    Fortunately, with the advent of solid state drives, this problem should go away.

  7. Starfury says:

    The last time I bought stuff from amazon the items were rattling around in the box with a few half filled plastic packing bubbles. Lucky for me it was a DVD set and some books. For hardware I’ll either go to the local shop or

  8. kimsama says:

    I bought a portable media player from Amazon, and it was totally DOA — undoubtedly because there was also no padding. It even looked beaten up when it got to me.

    I second whomever said not to order this stuff from Amazon.

  9. milty45654 says:

    Who in their right mind buys hard drives from AMAZON? One word: Newegg

    • MisterAlex says:

      YMMV, I guess. I shop on Newegg, but for the components that Amazon has available, I almost always buy from them, because they sell cheaper and ship faster. The hard drives I’ve gotten have all been either /surrounded/ by air pouches or suspended by plastic holders. I did get a broken HDD from newegg once, though; it was packed in peanuts but had broken platters when it arrived.

  10. rjhiggins says:

    @lastingsmilledge: Packaging problems (which I’ve never had with Amazon) aside, why not? Hard drives are a commodity, so if they’re offering the best price I’ll buy from Amazon. What, you think you get better quality from Newegg?

  11. rewinditback says:

    i think all of his packing bubbles went to me. i had at least 46 feet of them ina giant box to protect a wii game i ordered. MUEY INTERESANTE!

  12. madanthony says:

    I didn’t even know that Amazon sold bare OEM drives. If it was a retail boxed drive, it would probably have made it OK.

  13. Munsoned says:

    Are we absolutely sure that the drive was actually damaged in transit? I researched Western Digital hard drives about two weeks ago. Comments (on Amazon) led me to believe they have a really high failure rate. Not blaming the OP or anything, I’m just saying… I wholeheartedly agree that if Amazon can’t get a working drive to the doorstep, they need to issue a refund, not store credit.

  14. parad0x360 says:

    did you order it direct from amazon or did it come from a reseller via amazon’s website?

    I have bought a few hdd’s from amazon and they always come in box’s like if i had got them at best buy.

    Resellers often ship OEM drives which dont come in a box.

  15. DallasDMD says:

    @ErnieMcCracken: It doesn’t matter. Shipping drives without padding is a big NO-NO.

    Most places will void your returns if you ship back a hard drive that way. Drives are very sensitive instruments.

  16. swalve says:

    @clocker: Properly packed peanuts (sufferin’ succotash!) will protect items properly. But the packer needs to fill the box a little over-filled so that the peanuts get slightly crushed when the flaps are closed. This locks the item in place and doesn’t let the peanuts “jiggle”, and the item doesn’t settle to the bottom.

    That packing is awful, and clearly a QC problem.

  17. Jhonka says:

    OEM product… hard drive …needs to be secured down.

  18. youbastid says:

    @madanthony: Seconded. I’d like to see the product page for this item. Everything I’ve bought from them came in retail packaging, which has its own form of shock protection, so plastic bubbles have always been enough. I’ve bought tons of hardware from Amazon and have never had a problem. But yeah, if they were shipping me a bare drive with nothing else, I obviously would have.

  19. milty45654 says:

    Well, every HD i’ve purchased at NewEgg has worked and came packed in peanuts…so yeah, rather than put up with piss poor packaging and having to ship em back 2 times, ill pay the extra 8 dollars and get it at NewEgg..

  20. Xerloq says:

    @kimsama: Amazon cancelled my Christmas without notification. I placed an order, and was told delivery by the 18th. I checked my order status on the 18th, and the delivery date had been changed to January 28th!

    I canceled the order and went to a brick and mortar.

  21. autumnmist says:

    Yeah, I’ve bought electronics from Amazon and they’re usually quite well packed (especially with those giant plastic bubbles).

    Are you sure you bought it from AMAZON itself or from a reseller on Amazon. Lots of people don’t know about/know to check who they’re actually purchasing it from. I’d like to see the product page before I believe this story.

  22. DeeJayQueue says:

    The few things I’ve bought from Amazon were through resellers, so this may not be Amazon’s fault per se, but it IS their problem to fix. If the company that’s sending out the HD’s isn’t packing them right, Amazon might not have any say in it, they probably just chalked it up to fluke and put another order through the same company. That company packs things like this as a matter of policy, so of course it’s going to come that way again. Amazon needs to issue a refund, or the customer needs to do a chargeback.

  23. newegg always ships my OEM HD’s wrapped in the really fine bubble wrap (like 3-4 layers of the pea-sized bubbles) and that is packed in regular peanuts. works for me

  24. RokMartian says:

    Like others, I have received my stuff packed quite well. However, in the past week, I received a bunch of stuff that was packed pretty poorly. I think that everyone is under the Christmas rush and trying to push things out too quickly.

  25. iEddie says:

    Notice the Harry Potter ad and the other stuff in there. Amazon ships that with everything that comes from them (i.e. their warehouse). It did come from Amazon, NOT a reseller.

  26. AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

    Even if you’re badly packaged HDD arrived and worked (!), would you trust it to keep working?

    Or maybe all the money Amazon saves with such crap packaging is larger than the cost of replacing delicate computer hardware? Even if it is, it is BAD customer service and it makes me question if I really want to buy the 40” LCD on my wishlist from Amazon.

  27. Saboth says:

    I’ve emailed Amazon…I was a diehard fan in the past, but this year, they have slipped ALOT. I’ve had an order of mine cancelled without explanation, apology, raincheck or anything (and they even erased it from my order history). My girlfriend had the same thing happen to her for a different item just a few days ago. No explanation, no item shipped, just one less present for someone for Christmas this year.

  28. muckpond says:

    if he were really your friend, you’d send him any brand OTHER than western digital. :)

  29. cerbie says:

    @rjhiggins: yes, and this is one example of why. In fact, for something like a hard drive, I don’t even look to see who has the best deal. I have to fight Newegg’s tape and bubble wrap, after digging through the peanuts, and that’s a good thing.

    That said, the response should have been, “oops, we’ll pack it better next time.” Then the new one should have come in bubble wrap.

    The pic shows packaging that’s OK, if not excellent, for books, movies, etc..

    @ErnieMcCracken: HDDs do not have a high failure rate, but customer reviews tend to make it look worse than it is. Orders of magnitude more customers with early failures and DOAs will post reviews, compared to happy customers for whom the drive went in and worked fine.

  30. DwightIsMyCopilot says:

    I recently had an order arrive from Amazon that was shipped just like that one: no protective packing at all. Thankfully, it just was just a book and DVD and would be a bit harder to damage, but I was still surprised to see the lack of care used by I’ll never order anything fragile from them, I know that for sure.

  31. jameslutz says:

    My last newegg drive in non retail package came wrapped in Bubble wrap and in a peanut filled box. No issue with me.

  32. Floobtronics says:

    The irony here? We buy pampers bibsters from amazon about once a month or so. A 4-pack comes in a box marked “ready to ship for amazon”. This box is always stuck inside a much larger box with about 7 miles of those air cushions.

    So, ridiculous overpacking for bibs, ridiculous underpacking for sensitive electronics. Uh yeah, that makes sense..

  33. hn333 says:

    I order a unlocked cell phone from Amazon and it came in one big box with two plastic bubble padding the cell phone box. When I opened the cell phone box I found everything shook around. Luckily the phone worked.

  34. bigroblee says:

    Hey; Cyberguys is a good company; their prices are the same or slightly higher than Newegg but their customer service can not be beat… I had an item arrive damaged and a customer service manager personally walked my item through the warehouse to make sure it was packed correctly. Check them out…

  35. StevieD says:

    Amazon’s motto is Low Prices = Low Service.

    Same for Newegg.

    Most online vendors don’t have the slightest clue on how to properly package a shipment to a customer. The vendors rely upon the item’s manufacturer to perform a high level of packaging and then hope and pray a couple peanuts is sufficient for protection.

    The HD is a prime example. The retail packaging provided by the manufacturer is sufficient for bulk palletized shipments to retail stores and for normal retail handling. The manufacturer packaging is NOT sufficient for small package shipment. The manufacturers actually provide information to the vendors that the retail packaging is insufficient for small package shipments. Yet online vendors grab a retail package, throw it in a bigger box with a few peanuts and hope for the best. Sorry, that won’t fly. And the OEM issue is even worse situation.

    And the bad part of all of this packing problem is the consumers that let Amazon and Newegg get by with crappy packaging service. People are bragging on Newegg’s poor quality packaging. Why? Newegg is as bad as Amazon.

  36. ecwis says:

    @DeeJayQueue: Amazon always issues refunds, I’ve never actually received store credit from them. They always give just me my money back.

    The reason the guy got a store credit was because he didn’t buy the item. His friend, Joshua, bought it for him. They would’ve refunded the money to Joshua but it’s likely that his friend preferred to have store credit.

  37. cloudedice says:

    I had a similar packing experience with Target, however target handled it wonderfully. I bought a set of bed risers([]) which came in a box, alone, with the only “filler” being the invoice. A portion of the one of the bases had been broken, but the risers were still usable.

    I went to target’s website and filled out a regular customer service form stating that I had no intention of requesting another set and that I would be using the set I purchased, but I wanted to inform them that their current packing method for this item could cause it to break.

    I received an e-mail the next day saying that I could keep the set I had, and a new set would be shipped out to me. I received it a couple of days later and found that the box contained a new set of bed risers and enough brown paper to keep it from rolling around in the box.

  38. navstar says:

    I’ve never had a single problem with shipments from Amazon. If anything, they use TOO much packaging — gobs of air bubbles and paper wrap.

    In fact, I order toilet paper from Amazon during a grocery special, and four rolls came in this HUGE box with more than 50 air bubbles!

  39. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @StevieD: I have never had any problems with Newegg packaging. I have done several multiple item orders and not one item was ever damaged. I think after spending over 6k on computer parts in 2 years I would have had a dud if they had issues. If I have to spend more time removing the packaging materials than I do actually installing the item, thats good packaging.

  40. theodicey says:

    That’s definitely direct from Amazon. It’s got their crappy promotional materials at the bottom.

    Half of the books I get from Amazon are just thrown into a box. By the time they arrive, they already have edge wear and dented corners. The other half of my orders are shrinkwrapped to a piece of cardboard.

    Since there’s no way to know which one I’ll get, if I care at all about the condition (and there’s no cheap copy on alibris or ABEbooks), I order from sellers on Amazon Marketplace.

    There, about half of sellers package books well, another quarter acceptably, and the rest wrap them in paper towels and ship them in a grocery bag. But I still like my odds better.

    Some Amazon distribution centers really need to get a clue.

  41. ep5760 says:

    Well here’s my recent Amazon snafu. Ordered 2 books to get in time for the holidays, and when they arrived damaged the oversized package contained:
    -uninflated plastic bubble/balloon whatever
    -2 books
    So most notably was any way to secure the books but the ads and packing slip weren’t included. Thankfully customer support email RMA’d it without question but never had I seen 2 books just tossed in a box and mailed off.

  42. Akamaru says:

    @mandarin: Don’t recommend New Egg. I purchased 3 hard drives from them last month and 2 of them gave me a S.M.A.R.T. error within 3 days of owning them. Their packaging is just as bad as Amazon. I had the 3 drives come wedged halfway into a block of styrofoam.

    If you don’t want to deal with the RMA hastles then buy your sensitive electronic equipment from a store in town. UPS treats NewEgg shipments like pinatas.

  43. elislider says:

    The best way to get excellent Amazon customer service is to do the following:
    Do the “call me now” and go through the routine service chat with someone on the phone. if they solve all the problems and go above and beyond (rarely happens) then great! however the key is to just act casual and indifferent on this first call, let them do what they can. once your call is completed, youll get an email asking if your issue was resolved. Select NO and it will take you to a page where you can have them call you again. Do that and youll get a call from a much friendlier, much more american person who will go out of their way to resolve the situation and likely volunteer a credit/discount/refund to you

  44. JiminyChristmas says:

    This is a new one for me. I’ve ordered a fair amount of stuff from Amazon and the packaging has always seemed like overkill. I recently bought a wireless keyboard and mouse set and you could have packed a whole computer in the box they shipped it in.

  45. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Seconding both BigRobLee and Akamaru: Cyberguys is an awesome vendor and sensitive electronic equipment should be bought in your own town, whenever feasible. Knowing the failure rate of todays HDDs, if I were giving one as a gift, I’d buy it in town, test it myself to verify that it works, and then pack/ship it to the recipient.

  46. UpsetPanda says:

    Geesh…I’ve never had problems with Amazon. I order items from them all the time, and nothing I’ve ordered has ever come dented or scratched or anything. I used to have reservations about ordering DVDs from them but they’ve always come well-packaged.

  47. the Wii I just got from amazon contained 1.5 giant-sized air bubble packages (1 was de-aired) along with the usual promo material. obviously the Wii was unharmed, but I have to ultimately conclude that it really depends on WHO ships it (the packager) and WHEN. a 500gb seagate (nice deal for a geek, not so hot to the avg. person) vs. a Wii (ouch, so hot it hurts).

    The drive was packed really well (wrapped in mini bubble wrap along with peanuts). the Wii was packed in 1.5 sized giant bubble wrap (1x inflated giant bubble wrap, and a completely deflated bubble wrap)

  48. FLConsumer says:

    I’m not entirely thrilled with NewEgg’s packaging of HDDs as of late either. Just the drives with a measly amount of packing peanuts. Admittedly, better than the pictured packaging in this article, but still had too many DoAs from them on HDDs. Been using ZipZoomFly for HDDs and no failures since. Still love NewEgg for everything else.

  49. Dibbler says:

    The drive I ordered from Newegg last month came OEM inside the anti-static bag wrapped in bubble wrap and then inside a box of peanuts. Worked fine.

    Since the heads aren’t sitting on the discs and are parked I can’t imagine that the drives would be damaged simply by shipping them. Did your friend actually install the hard drive? It’s really not that easy to destroy a hard drive unless you power it up and then wack it on the counter pretty hard. Maybe it was just a cheap drive to begin with.

  50. Vainglory says:

    I’m surprised. I usually get my books with some air bags or bubble wrap. I would have expected them to do the same for a hard drive.

  51. John from Huntersville says:

    Had to be a bare drive shipped by one of Amazon’s selling partners. Everything I’ve received from Amazon (electronics, books, or whatever) has been securely packaged and arrived safely.

    I bought a monitor from them once. Great packing.

  52. MrFreshy says:


    i was doing a warranty repair on a gateway last week…

    the client had 2 replacement drives sent to her, and both of them were bad.

    i thought that was odd, until she told me how they arrived…

    one came in a small fedex box with no cusioning at all. the second one came in a fedex slightly padded envelope.

    the first one made great loud clicking noises when powered on, the second one was quiet, but when drive diagnostics were run on it, it failed because of handling!

    this makes no sense at all to me.

  53. DustoMan says:

    I had the same issue when I ordered Star Trek on HD-DVD. I got my order in a lightly padded envelope. I thought that was pretty weird because most of my DVD order in the past have come in boxes. I opened up the package, and was disappointed to fine the plastic casing cracked and shattered. I promptly filled in an RMA request and another copy was shipped to me… in a box this time, and I was much happier.

  54. grant0 says:

    Not an Amazon fan. I always buy my books, at least, from here in Canada-land.

    Very reasonable shipping rates (7 bucks for SAME-DAY COURIER, anyone?) and always arrives packed in a sensible cardboard sleeve that fits just right.

  55. geognerd says:

    This is definitely a case of bad Amazon packing. However, I have always had stuff arrive from Amazon packed properly with enough cushioning material. NewEgg, which has been recommended several times in this topic, has been rather poor based on my experience. I had a router arrive without any cushioning in the box and just recently I had an Asus Eee shipped from NewEgg in a box that was missing its corner. They pushed some brown paper into the corner and taped that corner of the box with some clear packing tape to seal it up. Can’t believe I thought about ordering a hard drive from them a while back. The only way I will buy a hard drive is by purchasing it locally at a big box or computer parts store. I don’t trust anyone to ship a hard drive properly.

    Link to a pic of the box NewEgg sent my Eee in:

  56. f0nd004u says:

    This may be fairly isolated, or only coming out of a certain shipping location. I had an Archos 605 shipped through Amazon (only place i could get it cheap) and it was packaged fine.