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RMA – Return Merchandise Authorization

What is RMA

If you are wondering how to RMA an item, there is no reason to feel intimidated by the acronym at all. All it stands for is Return Merchandise Authorization. A term universally used by product manufacturers for the return or exchange of a product that is either defective or no longer deemed operational in exchange for a working item. This process can save you a lot of money if applied with a little bit of patience and know how. Feel free to refer to this page as a guide if you need a refresher on the subject in the future.

How to RMA

Now that you know what an RMA is the next step is to learn what the qualifying criteria are to receive an RMA for an item you have. Generally speaking, an RMA is granted if the product is not functioning appropriately and within the manufactures covered warranty period. In this example I will discuss a product that I have had to do several RMA returns over the years, a computer Hard Disk Drive.

Where Can I Find RMA Information

To find RMA┬áthere are numerous sources. Normally what I like to do is type the word “support” in front of the manufactures website (domain) name. Below are a few computer manufactures support site links (feel free to let us know if you know of any we are missing):

Once you are on the manufactures website, look for RMA through the manufactures “search” box if you are not presented with the option right away.

Here is how the Western Digital RMA site looks…

Western Digital Support Page

How to Initiate the RMA

Using Western Digital as an example, I followed the steps outlined on the page. This meant finding and entering the serial number and product number to register my device. Once my hard drive was registered, the warranty status was confirmed and I was presented with two options.

WD RMA Guide

One option was to pay for an overnight shipping label; the second was to accept a free shipping label that would take 4 to 6 days for my hard drive to get there. They did not include the return shipping time into the calculation because most manufacturers will pay return shipping costs.

RMA Shipping LabelRMA Approved Shipping Label


Once you have located the correct manufacture and shipping address the next step is to place your hard drive or other device into a shipping box. It is always a good idea to protect the component as much as possible in the box because you never know what can happen during shipping. I have seen boxes come back deemed unqualified to RMA due to damages incurred during shipping.

RMA Packaging

RMA Boxing

It would really suck not be able to have an item repaired under warranty for something that you did not have anything to do with. Shipping takes 3 to 7 days depending on your shipping method and when the RMA is complete they will ship it back to you

Once you receive your RMA exchanged device, unpack it and installed it. From that point you should have product that works appropriately. If what you receive is not working the way it is supposed to, immediately initiate an exchange.

Please keep in mind some manufacturers have slightly different shipping process than the example here. But generally the process is the same with most manufacturers doing an RMA. Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns, and or stumble across any noteworthy issues doing an RMA. We are interested to learn new ways of resolving any complications that may arise, and hope you have found this information helpful to you.

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