USB Swiss Army Drives Lose Security, Prompting Refund

Image from Victorinox web site
Swiss army knife maker Victorinox has decided to take the sting out of ditching support for the security software in its range of USB-knife drives by offering customers a full refund.

In a message posted to Facebook but not apparently anywhere else, the company said customers unhappy with the ending of the security features on the company's combined penknife/flash memory drives could send them back for a refund.

"Ultimately, if you simply aren't happy with the product based on this development and would like to return it, we understand," read the announcement.

The company announced the end of support for the security features a few days ago in an ambiguous Facebook post that failed to clarify that all of the drive's security features - including an encrypted partition, biometric authentication and secure password management - would cease functioning.

However, the seriousness of the issues was underlined by the company setting 15 September as the date by which customers must back up all data on the encrypted section of the drives.

Customers wanting to take advantage of the refund offer must do so by contacting the company by 31 December 2012 using an online form. A member of the support team would phone to confirm the process and issue a refund within two weeks, Victorinox said.

Despite the simple refund process, the company will have won itself few friends by the sudden decision to withdraw security from a range of products it only started selling 18 months ago. This is a company whose corproate tag line is "companion for life."

Many customers will have paid a hefty premium for the pocket knives on the basis that each came with a flip-out secure USB stick as a feature. The storage on the drives will still be usable after 15 September but without this element they look like desperately poor value compared to the alternatives.

The drives are hugely expensive over buying a conventional Victorinox penknife without the secure store built in; a 16GB Victorinox Secure retails for £159 ($252) on Amazon. They remain on sale through a variety of outlets with the security features still mentioned as a selling point.

Victorinox contact details: consumer.inquiries@swissarmy.com or (for US customers) 800-442-2706.

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