Sunday, July 18, 2004

Router Madness

Linksys. Its a name you should consider when buying a router. Mainly it's a name you should consider avoiding.

A few days back you heard the tale of woe and intrigue about losing the router very near to its three-month anniversary, my (mostly positive) experience with Comcast and my (mostly negative) experience with Linksys. So I went looking for answers elsewhere, in the form of one of Kate's gaming group, who works in IT and is well-versed in such things (Thanks, Chuck!). After walking through the problem, pinging the box, and all that cool tech stuff (which included holding my hand as I went out in DOS, which is like being on the outside of the spaceship looking in). After about five minutes of consult we pretty much settled on the fact that, yep, the power light shouldn't flicker that, and the router box wasn't recognizing that anything was plugged in. Looks like hardware on the fritz.

So fortified, I went back into the hell that is Linksys Tech Support. My personal opinion is generally that tech support is a really crappy job, and a lot of customers bring an attitude to start with (they wouldn't be calling if life was going well for them). My previous experience with Linksys Tech Support severely tested that theory, and the most recent one shattered it into little tiny pieces. The new tech support also had problems with English, tended to mumble, was hard to understand and ended every sentence with OK, yeah?. Also, while we had a case number, I had to walk through everything done by the previous tech, and everything I did with Chuck. Then there about fifteen minutes of various arcane actions with the restart button ("OK, now hold down the reset button for thirty seconds, then unplug the router and hold it down for sixty seconds, then plug it back in and hold it down for thirty seconds, OK, yeah?"). And through it all, a blanket ignorance of the fact that the bloody lights that showed its was plugged in were, in fact, not showing that it was plugged in.

Over the course of the discussion, I finally forced the Tech to admit that they did not support Macs, and they didn't know what they were talking about. When I started talking about a return the tech started talking about how it was absolutely necessary I try some more tests with a PC platform before they could even consider it (there were several discussions in the middle of this with her manager when I pointed out that Washington State had a "lemon law" on electronics).

So they left me hanging (and I had to put my protocols back on my own), after about an hour and half of total discussion, and a series of experiments that I swear was going to end with the suggestion "Put the parts in the bag, stand out on your front yard, wave them over your head and scream like a chicken!*. Exasperated, seething, and deeply frustrated by the total lack of response, I took the only reasonable course.

I gave up. I drove up to the Mac Store in the U District, bought a new router that WAS Mac-supported (that's the Mac Store, for ALL your Mac-related needs) for ten bucks CHEAPER than I paid for the Linksys Hunkajunk, came home, put it together, and got that part of my life back under control. Of course, Linksys, who made the crappy router and has perfected the customer deterence factor known as tech support, remained unpunished, but I am at least free of their foolishness. And some times the bad guys get away with things like this.

Except I have a journal, a mechanism to pass word along to others, a means of sending warnings. And if in this tale of woe and intrigue might convince you, when making your own router choice, to avoid Linksys like the plague, and to pass onto others that Linksys is to be avoided like the plague, I would be greatly appreciative. And if I cost them one sale to make up for royal screwup they handled me, I will feel vindicated. Two or more would be icing on the cake. And if you mention to the poor saps selling this crappy material that they are, in fact, selling this crappy material, hey, that's a bonus.

Linksys. Remember the name. Crappy workmanship. Really, really, crappy tech support.

OK, yeah?

*Dick Van Dyke Show reference.