[Warning: Rant eminent]
The following is an account of our tale of woe using Cintas Document Storage for our offsite tape storage.
We currently back up our infrastructure to tape in multiple ways. Including but not limited to:
- Critical daily backups, these get rotated off-site daily. There’s a box with these tapes that get’s swapped out with the vendor every morning exchanging the tapes from the previous nights backups and retrieving the tapes for the next days backups. These tapes never leave their carriers. The carriers are stored at the offsite facility and are never opened by them.
- Weekly archives, every weekend we backup all the critical stuff, plus the next level of things deemed necessary are backed up every weekend. These go off-site in bulk about 2x a month. These tapes also live in a storage container and are never touched by Cintas unless we move them to the archive pool.
- Archives, we also backup everything, full server bare metal restore, at a minimum monthly. We also backup *most* workstations on a best effort basis nearly ever 60 days. These also go offsite for bulk storage approximately monthly. these tapes are handled by the vendor, they are removed from the travel containers and are slotted in storage racks.
A little over a year ago we contracted with Cintas Document Storage for off-site vaulted media storage and tape rotation. The rotation part has always been acceptable. The tape retrieval process has failed miserably. While we have been fortunate enough not to need our tapes critically fast, we contracted with them to have this ability.
They use a web based application to ‘request’ tapes or items to be delivered the next business day during their run. On multiple occasions (3x in one year) they have failed to service our tape retrieval requests in less than 5 days.
They have miss-slotted our tapes, and simply miss placed them. They have also miss-placed our daily rotational containers… All of these things are bad, very very bad.
A better solution comes along…
About two months ago we were contacted by a competitor. Unfortunately for Cintas this sales person called on us while we were in the midst of a miss-placed tape container episode. So we were certainly open to receiving a quote for services.
This competitor is just as secure, and is actually geographically 30 miles farther away. Their cost for the same daily rotation and tape storage space was literally 1/2 the monthly cost of Cintas and they don’t have any of our other document storage or shredding business (yet). This may be too good to be true, but it honestly can’t be any worse so we agreed to switch.
While signing the contracts we were warned by this vendor that Cintas would not play nice. That they behave like 3 year olds when it comes to customers leaving them. They flat out told us we’d have trouble retrieving our tapes. Imagine that…
Well silly us, we thought they’d be professional.
The following Monday we requested our archival tapes through the website. We should receive these tapes the following day (Tuesday) per our contract. Tuesday came; no tapes… Wednesday came; no tapes… Thursday came and the Jig was up…
We had already started our daily rotation with the new company so it became clear to them that we were no longer going to be customers.
This is when all hell broke loose.
Nearly a week went by with no contact from Cintas, emails and voice mails were not returned. Then out of the blue we get a phone call from the sales person attempting to save the account. Something that should have taken place after any of thier tape handling failures. Once it became clear that the account wasn’t to be saved they decided to play hard ball. We received an invoice for 3 months of tape transportation and a year and half’s worth of storage (discounted 50%). Apparently I didn’t realize we had to give 90 days notice. Fair enough. I was not aware that their contract is so one-sided.
They can drop you at any time for any reason.
You on the other hand, have to give them 90 days notice, and 30 days to resolve any issues. So when they misplace your tapes as long as they get them to you within 30 days, they are off the hook for their poor service. As a penalty for leaving them you still have to pay them 50% of the storage fees for the remainder of the contract. (In our case another year and a half’s worth).
Given their repeated failures, I was not about to give them that. Regardless of what the tapes were worth. (We have and still have duplicate archives of nearly everything we’d need on site anyway).
About two weeks ago they sent out another representative to try and salvage the account and discuss the ‘settlement’. This obviously wasn’t going to go anywhere, but we agreed that we’d pay for 90 days of service (the notification period), provided one of those months was the current month. We’d pay the transportation/delivery fees for this period and a final delivery charge, but we wouldn’t pay for vault storage past the 90 day window. We reached an accord. I now have checks on my desk for the 90 day period, and the previous monthly invoice.
We’re ready and willing to exchange these checks for the hostages (our tapes), but even that has proven to be difficult. Again they are non-responsive to emails or voice mails. I suspect it will happen, but I don’t know when.
My advice to you:
If you’re a Cintas document storage/vault customer, get out while the getting is good. Review your contract, if it has clause 16 ‘SERVICE GUARANTEE AND TERMINATION’ you’ll need to be stealthy about getting your stuff back. It appears even though they have you over a barrel contract wise, they think nothing of going Al Queda on you and keeping your stuff hostage.
Yes they will loose our other business, and that’s a damn shame.
It gets better…
As part of our settlement, we paid a Final delivery charge. I just spent the last day and a half trying to arrange this final delivery (basically the exchange of the hostages for the ransom money). I was just informed that:
“Apparently they trust their drivers with our entire business on our tapes, but they don’t trust their drivers with a couple of checks of their money.”
Because of this, we’ve apparently agreed to pickup the tapes. I don’t think so… It’s the principle of the exchange and the fact that they charged us for final delivery.
As of right now their supposed to do the deal tomorrow. I’ve never, ever dealt with a company (or manager in charge) that was so full of excuses for not doing their job. Since they can’t commit on a time, they are to give us a call 20-30 minutes before they head over. I highly suspect that won’t happen either.
As expected, they didn’t call they just showed up, and as Murphy would have it we were at lunch. We should have made them wait longer but in the interest of getting our tapes back we rushed through our lunch to get back within 15 minutes. We have our tapes and they have their ransom monies. All is now well with the world.
Again, I highly recommend that you avoid this particular part of the Cintas organization.