I am Jack's Smirking Revenge

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Thanks for Nothing, Netgear

I've spent several years doing networking and technical support, and in that time I hae had many opportunities to try out different hardware, different brands, and for some time, Netgear stood out in the consumer-grade class as affordable, well-designed, well supported, and reliable.

Houston, we have a problem.

Recently I bought two Netgear WGR614 v6 Wireless routers- one for a friend, another on behalf of my local coffee shop. In the past few months, these routers have proven about as useful as some of DLink's early hardware- it worked, if you didn't mind stopping what you were doing every five minutes to monkey with it.

In my attempt to track down the problem, I have discovered that a vast majority of the people in the world who bought this hardware have had a bad time with it, and the biggest complaint is that it needs to be reset all the time.

The tech support is the #2 complaint.

Synopsis? Netgear has followed the path of all other large companies in their solution for their bad hardware. When the cost of a recall or repair threatens to exceed what the company has anticipated for their product, they outsource the support for said hardware to the cheapest possible vendor which could still be referred to as "support", make no mention or admission of issues with the said hardware, and do what they know will get them through the storm: ignore their customers until they give up and go away.

The bean counters seem to feel that keeping the cost of doing business down must unavoidably involve pissing some people off, and that's OK.

The WGR614 retails for about $49. After testing someone's patience with a.) setting the device up [which can prove daunting even for someone familiar with the process], b.) figuring out what the issue is, c.) gettting through to support, and d.) finding that 'support' is a questionable term for what they receive-- Joe Average is probably going to get back to paying the bills, doing the laundry, walking the dog, etc, and try to forget how he now has $50 less, and a malfunctioning piece of junk.

You want my money, Netgear? Act respectable. You clearly sold a product which had not passed thorough testing. Put up a website and allow people to sign up for your free replacement service: they enter their serial number, you ship them a sase to get their junker back to you, and you ship them a different model which actually works as a replacement.

I suspect I will see pigs flying before that, though.


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