Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fields Data Recovery - The Biggest Scam On Earth


As much as it pains me to tell this story, I'm doing it in the hopes of saving anyone who reads this from being scammed by a company that preys upon people who are in a state of panic and are ripe for the picking - like I was a few months ago. And, if you're reading this, please share it any way you can. You never know who may someday be in need of data recovery from a computer, a phone, a hard drive, or anything that stores data and they should be aware of what a loathsome scam Fields Data Recovery is perpetrating on the public.

I had the misfortune of having a hard drive crash. It started to make funny whirring and clicking noises and like an idiot I had not taken the time to back it up. I panicked. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, this was a 3TB hard drive that had all of my images from the last couple of years. Everything.

Two years of work gone in the blink of an eye.

Fields Data Recovery Facebook Ad

I freaked out. Then, as if by divine intervention, I saw an ad on Facebook for Fields Data Recovery, a data recovery business that seemed to be exactly what I needed. I immediately went to their website and poured over the pages. The testimonials were music to my ears. Everything I read turned panic to hope.

Fields' Website. The testimonials are written by their own people.

I contacted them and spoke to the most pleasant young lady imaginable. "I'm so sorry to hear about your drive, but we've got you covered", she said. "Just ship it to us, our team of experts will inspect it, and within a few days we'll be in touch. While I can't make any promises, you're not the only one who we've helped and you stand a great chance of getting all your images recovered and transferred to a brand new hard drive. Did I mention there's no charge until we determine what needs to be done? You're under no obligation to pay us anything after we diagnose the issue and we quote you a price. From what you've told me, I'm guessing it will probably cost around $400.00 or so to recover your data, and that includes a new hard drive onto which your images will be transferred."

She was so reassuring, so nice. How could I go wrong? A new 3TB hard drive was $150.00 alone. $250.00 to recover my images was a lot of money, but well worth it. I shipped the drive off immediately and waited. 

A week later, Kris Nordberg from Fields Data emailed me in response to a call I made trying to find out if there was any news:

___________________________________




Hi Miguel,
Sorry, I was unable to call and reach you for a follow up. Our technicians have recognized a clicking noise- just like how you had described. We currently have your drive mounted a data extractor that can tell us what faults the drive may be experiencing (sic). I will let you know as soon as I have more updates. Please feel free to email or call me if you have any questions. 

Thanks, 
Kris Nordberg 
Fields Data Recovery 727 N 1st St, Suite 320 St. Louis, MO 63102 
_________________________________

The next day, I received another email from Kris:




Mike, 
Our technicians have identified a mechanical fault with the drive. The drive is being moved into our clean room. I would assume that the drive will be needing a head swap. I'll let you know as soon as I have another update.
Regards, 
Kris Nordberg  
Fields Data Recovery 
Account Manager 
727 N 1st St Suite 320 Saint Louis, MO 63102 Phone: 866-879-1281
____________________________________

I replied, asking how much a head swap would run. He said that they typically start at $650.00 and go up from there. Ouch. This was way more than the nice lady had told me she thought it would cost to recover my images. And I still didn't know if the images could be recovered. So, I waited.  

A couple of days later, Kris called back. He said the drive needed the new parts. Before they would order them, I needed to pony up a $400.00 non refundable payment. As soon as I paid that, they would order the parts, install them, get the drive running and then perform a ghost image of the contents to see if any data was recoverable.

What could I do? If I didn't authorize the $400.00 payment, I would never know if the images could be salvaged. I agreed, and luckily (you'll see why in a bit) I made the payment over the phone using my American Express card. 

Time passed. I had heard nothing. Then Kris emailed me again. The parts had been received and the head swap was complete. Most important of all, the drive was running and Fields was conducting an imaging phase to ascertain what data was on the drive:

_____________________________________




Hello Mike,
I hope you're doing well. I wanted to let you know that we are still going through an imaging phase with your drive. The drive itself is no longer making any clicking nosies (sic), and it spins at a healthy rate. We have identified that some of the storage regions (sectors) are being read at a slow rate. Once we have completely read the sectors we will be able to tell what information is recoverable. 
Regards, 
Kris Nordberg 
Fields Data Recovery 
727 N 1st St, Suite 320 St. Louis, MO 63102
_____________________________________

A few days later, Kris emailed me and said that the imaging phase was almost complete and that he would let me know the results as soon as it was complete. I was so close to getting my images I could taste it. Then I received another email from Kris:

_____________________________________




Dear Miguel Olivella, 
The lab process on your damaged device was completed. Unfortunately, even after the advanced work no functional data was recoverable. The negative results were confirmed with further review by a senior-level engineer.Conclusion: No recovery possible.
Should you have any further questions regarding the specifics of your case please don't hesitate to call me direct at 866-879-1281, or email me at kris.nordberg@fields-data-recovery.com. 
Please accept our apologies in this instance and we will return your device ASAP. 
Regards,
Kris Nordberg
Fields Data Recovery
727 N 1st St, Suite 320 St. Louis, MO 63102

__________________________________

I was devastated. Clinging to any shred of hope I asked Kris to return the drive as well as the parts that were replaced. He eventually replied that the old parts had been tossed but that the drive would be shipped to me with the new parts installed.

A few days later, the drive arrived. Thinking that since the drive was now supposedly operational with new parts having been installed, perhaps a local computer place could try to run some data recovery software on the drive and find something. I took the drive to a local shop and it was plugged into a computer. You could have knocked me over with a feather. It was making the same whirring and clicking noises it had made before I had sent it off to Fields. Further, the techie said he could find no evidence that the drive had been opened, which Fields would have had to do in order to install the new parts.

I sent Kris an email:

____________________________________

From: Mike Olivella 
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 3:34 PM
To: Kris Nordberg 
Subject: RE: Tracking for Hard Drive
Kris, I’m extremely disappointed with your firm. I have taken the drive to another computer company and they said that the drive was not repaired as you said it was. It still makes the clicking noise that it made when I sent it to you which tells me nothing was done by your firm. I paid $400 to have it repaired. You said in an email (that I have) that the drive was repaired and running. It is not. 
I expect a reversal of the charges to my American Express in the amount of $400 immediately. 
Mike Olivella
___________________________________

One of the images Fields sent me of "the" hard drive and "replacement" parts
Kris responded promptly. He said, "A head swap was completed on your drive, please see the pictures attached. The other party would probably find that to be the case because the head swap was unsuccessful. The money upfront (sic) for parts and labor was a non-refundable fee. I cannot authorize any refunds."

I guess they thought I was born yesterday. Sending me generic images of a hard drive was supposed to defy logic? I replied, reminding Kris that in several emails, he had assured me the drive was repaired and running. Apparently, he decided to turn the matter over to his branch manager who sent me the following email:
___________________________________




Mr. Olivella, 
Thanks for your emails. I hope you saw the email sent on August 10, informing you that the data was unrecoverable. Unfortunately even though the drive was not clicking for some time, the replacement read-write heads again failed - this is why your drive is now clicking, again. I'm a bit surprised you expected a working drive after knowing the recovery attempt was unsuccessful, I'll make sure Kris is more clear about this if a similar situation arises in the future. 
We are very sorry that the recovery attempt was unsuccessful, but Kris made it clear there was risk and that we could make no guarantees to success. We acted in good faith throughout, I'm sorry you feel otherwise. 
Regards, 
Todd Taylor  
Fields Data Recovery  
Branch Manager  
727 North 1st St  
Suite 320 
St. Louis, MO 63102
__________________________________
Seriously, dude? Did you think I just fell off the turnip truck? You charged me $400.00 for replacement heads and these brand new heads you supposedly installed just happened to fail in a matter of days? Or maybe, just maybe, you charged me $400.00 for doing absolutely nothing.

I Googled Fields Data Recovery, something I should have done before pinning my hopes on a company I knew nothing about. My jaw dropped. I was not the first person to have been duped by Fields. The first thing I ran across was this YouTube video from a German guy that got fleeced by Fields:


Then I found page after page of reviews slamming Fields, with many of the comments describing a story that was eerily identical to mine - people sent a drive off, got calls saying parts were needed, they paid a non refundable $400.00 charge, were told no data was recovered.



I went to Yelp. Fields has a one-star rating because of all the complaints. The Better Business Bureau's web site specifically disclaimed Fields as not being BBB accredited and listed 31 customer complaints and 35% of customers lodging complaints.



But wait, you say....that means 65% of the people contacting the BBB had a positive or neutral experience with Fields. Sure, except those 65% later turned out to be shills for Fields.

Some further digging revealed that after being lambasted with so many negative reviews on the BBB site as well as others such as CNET, Fields began to create its own fake testimonials and having surrogates sing its praises on web sites:




Now I was really ticked off. You've heard that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? That's nothing compared to the fury of a Cuban that has been fleeced. 

I started with a bit of restraint, choosing not to cut off my nose to spite my face despite every fibre of my being wanting to rip Mr. Taylor a new one. I took a deep breath, counted to 1,000 and emailed him back advising him that what he said made no sense; that obviously no replacement parts had been installed; and that even if the replacement heads/parts failed it was ridiculous for Fields to expect me to eat a $400.00 charge for parts that failed within a matter of days. Mr. Taylor responded sarcastically, basically telling me to kiss off. There would be no refund.

Mr. Taylor didn't know that he was screwing with the wrong guy. I told him I would immediately contact American Express and have them reverse the transaction, a service AMEX provides for its customers when they've been charged for something that smells to high heaven. Mr. Taylor scoffed at my response, saying:
"We will provide American Express with all documentation regarding this transaction, including all emails of the receipt that while you did not sign, you viewed (with IP logs) and discussed with Kris. We will also provide the photos you have viewed showing your drive (with serial) open in our clean lab, during the head replacement procedure."
My next move was to call AMEX. No sooner had I told the representative why I was calling, he interrupted me and said, "Is this about the charge to Fields Data?" I said yes. He said that I was not the first person to contact him about a problem with Fields. He had dealt with several other AMEX customers who had related virtually identical stories to mine, and further, that AMEX was well aware of Fields and their scam.

In cases like these, AMEX notifies the vendor of the dispute and solicits a response before deciding whether to honor the charge or reverse it. Despite Mr. Taylor's bravado, Fields did not respond. I received a notification a month later from AMEX advising that Fields had not responded, the matter was closed, and the charge was reversed.

Suck on that, Mr. Taylor. And now for the next step - exposing Fields for the scum suckers that they are.

While I'm not out any money to Fields, I fear that others in my position may not be so lucky. That is why I'm asking anyone who reads this to share it, post it, pass it along, and do anything you can to get the word out about these dirtbags. They are bottom feeders and should be avoided like the plague. They routinely advertise on Facebook and are able to suck people into their scam, take their money, and laugh all the way to the bank.

Don't let them do this. Let's do what we can to get the word out. Please pass this along.

5 comments:

Andy Butler said...

II have been helping victims of Fields Data Recovery for longer than I had first thought, but initially for the first few years between 2003 and 2007 I just put it down to bad luck, incompetence on the part of Fields. It was only as my company expanded did I begin to see the pattern emerge. By 2008 2007 I was expanding my operations and more and more Fields / Rapid Data customers were contacting me and I personally and my engineers had successful recoveries of drives declared unrecoverable by Fields. My thought was here is an opportunity to act as a subcontractor and offer my labs services to them. Imagine my surprise when I broached the subject of the reports being misleading and recoveries were possible the response in a phone call from the Chairman and Court Appointed Expert Witness DR Daryl Hamilton Wallis "you tell anyone about this and I will have you put out of your home and business" .

Andy Butler said...

I soon realised I was not competing in a fair playing field, not only were my staff being enticed with bribes but also the 3 or more adwords campaigns I was competing against were then added to by Compare IT www.comparedatarecovery.co.uk (I have since bought this domain) Compare data recovery was supposedly an independent company providing a platform to get work and reviews for data recovery companies. This was flagged by and ex Fields data recovery engineer who clearly knew more about how Fields worked than the rest of us.

When telling people who come to us with their experience of Fields / Rapid Data / Data Recovery Specialists and hearing their distress it is not always realised just how distressing this is to the owner of a competing company. We are not only undercut on quotes, we too are defrauded of a fair profit for our work having to clear up the mess left by Fields dozens of young staff who cannot get the experience or expertise they need.

siddik said...

Phone call will be a voice message, which says the placed order cost and order number.Make phone call alert to store owner when they got new order

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