Cisco/Linksys customer support is almost as useless as the U.S. Congress

If you are thinking of buying a residential networking solution, let me recommend that you might want to get it from a vendor other than Cisco/Linksys.  I almost hate to say this because I have been a faithful user of their products for years.  The problem is not so much with the products as it is with the customer support and service system Linksys now has in effect.

I had a Linksys WRT56 for years.  I wanted to upgrade to an N-class router so I went back to Linksys.  I went directly to Cisco’s online store and purchased an E1500.  For a few month’s it worked fine but then the wireless download speeds went below 1 Mbps.  I follow all the troubleshooting steps twice over.  Uploads were fine.  Connections wired to the router were fine.  I contacted their tech support and had a ridiculously bad experience.  I had already typed out the problem, the troubleshooting steps I had tried, and the results.  When the tech came on the support chat line, I pasted the text into the chat window and sent it.  I might as well have typed in Morse code.

For example, the tech would say, “let’s see if you have the latest firmware.”  I said, “I have the latest firmware.  I just downloaded it from your site and installed it.  The version is 1.0.01 (Build 7).”  The tech said, “here are the steps to determine what version of the firmware you are using.”  For a second time, I explained I had the most recent version.  The tech must have a been from the town of Stepford because once I got done talking, she reverted back to her near-robotic litany of help desk script reading.  I went with it.  The tech even told me to change the size of my MTU window and let the router sit for a few hours “to get used to the new setting.”  I did that and when it was as effective as Joe Biden I called Linksys back.  After another half-hour of them telling me to do stuff I already told them I had done or had been told by a previous tech to do, they relented and sent a replacement.

It arrived a week later and didn’t work.  I followed the troubleshooting steps twice to no avail.  Then I figured I’d swap the patch cable that came with it for a cable elsewhere in my network.  It worked.  I contacted Linksys to get a replacement cable. As hard as they made it to be, you would think I was asking them to find a man with gold teeth, kill him, remove his teeth, melt them, extrude 2m of wire from them, remove his vas deferens, and use them for insulation.  I got swapped around more times than an unloved wife at a swingers convention.  Finally I gave up.  If I would have spent half the time I spent with Linksys support on dumpster diving for aluminum cans to be recycled, I could have raised the money to buy a cable at Best Buy.

Here is the transcript:

This is the session transcript you requested for session # 628815707 with Jeg Mark P. (17580) on Thursday, November 17, 2011 3:49 pm

   Please wait… Your number in the queue: 1
   A representative will be with you in 1 minute(s)
   A representative will be joining you shortly.

Monchy N. (26830) has joined this session.
from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Hello Andrew! Welcome to Linksys Live Chat. How may I help you?

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Hello. I just received my replacement E1500.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
It wasn’t working but when I switched the patch cable with another one on my network it worked.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
I just want a replacement patch cable.

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Okay. I’ll be glad to help you with it. Before anything else, may I know which country you are based in?

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
U.S.

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Thank you. May I know the serial number of the router?

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
10910c12142956

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Is this your first time to contact Cisco Live Chat Technical Support?

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
No. Cisco replaced my defective E1500. This unit is the replacement. It works fine. I just need a replacement patch cable because the one shipped with it was bad.

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Thank you for all the info, Andrew. By the way, the computer you are chatting on, is it wired to the router?

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Or to the modem?

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
It is connected wirelessly. The cable is bad. I replaced it with a known working cable and it is fine. I just need a replacement patch cable to replace the one I cannibalized from elsewhere in the network.

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
You are referring to the ethernet cable, right? If that is the case, we cannot replace an ethernet cables. I suggest to purchase it on any retail store.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Cisco just shipped this unit to me. I bought it directly from Cisco. I should not have to purchase something I paid Cisco for. It did not go bad. It was defective out of the box.

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Okay. It would be better to contact our Customer Service for this. You can contact them at 1-800-546-5797 and follow the voice prompt. They are open 8 am – 5 pm PST weekdays and 6 am – 8 pm PST weekends.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
So I have to wait in their queue? Why can’t you just replace it? I paid Cisco for a router, a power supply, a CD, and a patch cable. I have a right to all four items in working order.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
May I speak with your supervisor?

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Please give me 2 – 3 minutes for this.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Fine.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
4

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
5

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Please give me more time. I’m still trying to transfer this session. Hold on.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Why is this so hard? I just want a replacement cable? Are you incapable of shipping one?

from Monchy N. (26830) to All Participants:
Thank you for waiting, I’ll be trasferring this session to our immediate superior.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Great. How much longer will that take?

Jeg Mark P. (17580) has joined the support session.
Monchy N. (26830) has left the support session.
from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Hi Jeg.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
Hello Andrew.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
I have a simple problem.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
Please give me a minute or two to read your conversation above.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Sure. Take your time.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
Thank you for waiting Andrew.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
So you need a replacement for the Ethernet cable right?

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
No problem.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Exactly. That’s all I am looking for.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
The replacement device was received just today, right?

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Yes.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
The device is fine. Only the cable is bad.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
Okay.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
Did you ship the cable along with the defective unit?

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
Yes. I shipped everything as I was told to.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
Alright.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
Please hold on while I check for our possible options.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
OK. Why is this so complicated? If the power supply was bad, you could replace it, couldn’t you?

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
We normally replace defective units.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
This has something to do with the shipping so I’m looking for the best option that we could offer.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
You can just mail it. I don’t need it to be shipped overnight.

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
The warehouse or the source for devices and accesories is in another location and as part of protocol we will have to channel it through the customer service department.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
OK. Can I just give you my address so once it is figured out, it can be shipped?

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
So we would advice you to call the customer service department. We will note in your case that this is already approved for cable replacement.

from Andrew Knaster to All Participants:
The other person suggested that. I didn’t want to wait in another queue. Can’t you just contact customer service and tell them to ship it?

from Jeg Mark P. (17580) to All Participants:
Just give them your case number/reference number which is 111117-006718.

I called customer service and gave them the number.  The tech must have been reading the same script the other had and was using the same technique of waiting for the pauses to ask questions that had been answered and to tell me things to do that I had already done.  She wanted me to call sales support.  I asked her if she could just take my address and once this was figured out have somebody ship me a cable.  She kept repeating the number to call and telling me they could help.  I said good-bye and told her it was fruitless to continue.

I can’t remember a company that I have worked for in the last two decades that didn’t use Cisco Systems networking components.  They make exceptional products.  I just got done writing a case study for grad school where the recommended solution included a Cisco 7609 router chassis, a Cisco IPsec blade, and dozens of Cisco Aironet 1250 wireless PoE Wi-Fi routers.  I’m assuming Cisco gives good customer service and  that it sends all of its reject techs to Linksys.

11/22/2011 – Cisco did get a hold of me to replace my cable.  I was given a number to call and a claim number to use to get my pre-approved cable.  I was pleased.  It seemed like some change had come.  Then I actually made the phone call.  I was on line for almost 13 minutes trying to explain to the tech that no troubleshooting was needed since I already had an approved cable.  At 13 minutes the tech told me that I had to call a different number to get help.  10 more minutes at the next phone number got me more of the same. The customer service person wanted to switch me elsewhere.  After the umpteenth time explaining I had a approved part replacement, finally the light lit up over the tech’s head, “Oh, you just need a cable.”  “Yes,” I said, “I just need a cable.

I haven’t gotten it yet but I have received two e-mail messages telling me it is coming.

 

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