Kingston memory RMA packaging (#R9)
We haven’t had a rant for over a year now and I just found the perfect topic to change that. Excellent! (change internal voice to Mr. Burns or Big Clive for maximum enjoyment)
A couple weeks ago one of the DDR3 DIMMs in my Fujitsu machine died. Not explosively or anything, and I probably even didn’t notice right away – I just ran low on free RAM and wondered why. The system uses 2x Kingston KVR16E11/8, so DDR3-ECC (non-Reg, just UDIMM), 8GB 2Rx8 1600 MHz CL11, but in 1Gx72 bit instead of 64 bit fashion, as it has that good ol’ parity chip. ECC was used on the AMD platform before (waaay back when it was the ZFS platform) but when changing to crappy Intel, that’s suddenly a premium server feature and disabled on peasant CPUs. Memory works the same, the ninth (and 18th) chip is just ignored, no additional capacity or anything, no error detection or correction ability.
So I checked on the Kingston website as many DRAM manufacturers have pretty long warranties. Some 5, some 10 years, some offer a lifetime warranty that is capped to 30 years in Germany. Kingston offers the lifetime warranty but still wants some proof of purchase so that nobody mass-RMAs dead Kingston stuff. Great. So I printed the order confirmation mails to PDF because I was too lazy to grab the printed copy from a dusty folder just yet, submitted the thing, and the case got escalated. A real human being addressed my issue.
After a couple of mails back and forth we agreed on exchanging this ECC RAM with non-ECC RAM, KVR16N11/8 to be precise. Same spec and everything, even pretty low profile, but lacking ECC since they stopped production in 2017. It sounded a lot like “we don’t make DDR3 anymore, at all” and we even talked about a DDR4 replacement, but the SPD data of the replacement says week 11 (mid March) 2021, so it’s just cost-cutting by not making DDR3-ECC modules anymore. Well, still better than buying an exact replacement (~25ish € at this point) or even changing platforms again – but a downgrade nonetheless, even if I don’t use ECC at all.
As for the RMA itself, I was asked to send the defective module to them, on my own expenses, and I better be using a tracked parcel for it. You know, it could get lost, or the worthless piece of defective electronics could get more defective. Uuuh. Well, Hermes small parcel for 4,30€ then. I found a great little box of a Datalogic handheld barcode scanner that just fit the sizing limits of that parcel type and offered lots of padding. Off it went.
A week and some delays due to “DHL repackaging after minor damage” later, the replacement was delivered. To my mailbox, which doesn’t even fit a regular A4-sized magazine without bending, let alone a parcel of typical parcel-like dimensions. Small that’s-not-right alarm siren going off in the background.
(my address is listed elsewhere, I just don’t want to be part of the Google image collection as well)
Look, mom, DDR4 has a curved pin arrangement, but my DDR3 is curved entirely!
Rotating display stand from WHL #62 next to it as it would fall over on its own – not my definition of a parcel!
Yeah, well, that DRAM handling container is just a few tenths of a millimeter of bendy plastic. I did not expect it to hold up against the forces of automatic parcel sorting machines. Bent it straight again, inserted, booted some memtest (thanks, Ventoy!) and verified the memory.
Old DIMM for reference, since the system stalled (errorless) with both DIMMs installed individually on the regular memtest86+ 5.01a that is included in Ubuntu ISOs. That was a nice “gotcha” moment when it first happened to the new module, but it also happened to the old one at exactly 63% during the first test, so that’s a false positive. Both DRAM modules seem fine on their own and it also works fine when installed concurrently, contrary to the experise of the worry wart that didn’t even offer the non-ECC RAM in the first place since it is not compatible…
Now typing up a mail to the Kingston guy again to see if the replacement is under warranty for the remaining almost-twenty years, and if that packaging is their original box of DHL replaced it with that after their original flimsy box was torn to shreds. While the module is currently working as intended, I wouldn’t trust it till 2040, not with that bend and the shitty lead-free solder that they are required to use. Also selling it right away “new, unused” in case a nice ECC Reg compatible Supermicro X9SRA or the like comes up on eBay would be shady, so we’ll see how they react.
Either way: Kingston, get your shit together in terms of packaging. Any regular shop would decline my return in THAT packaging, rightfully so, and you’re not some dude selling memory from your mom’s basement, you’re the fucking manufacturer of it. Next time, I’ll tape the defective RAM to a postcard with ESD compliant tape, and don’t you dare rejecting it…