Saturday, October 16, 2010

tech support hell

In my previous (pre-teaching) life I did technical support for about 15yrs. Long enough to see that sometimes situations can get hopelessly tangled and get worse from there.

Consider my experience today. Bought a refurb wifi extender to go in the back shed. This will provide better coverage in the back yard, but more importantly it will ensure a better signal for the video wificam that watches the back gate and alley.

  1. The unit works fine. Took some configuration gymnastics, but nothing that a tech dweeb couldn't fight through. It's working but in a suboptimal postion. The reason for this will become more clear in the next step.
  2. The device comes with two power adapters: one for mounting on the wall and one with a long cord for mounting elsewhere. Like in a windowsill away from the outlet, which is what I really want to do. Problem: the corded one will not power the device. Multimeter on the contacts shows no juice.
  3. I go online to get an RMA; it says for power adapter replacement they just ship; no crosship, no return. Problem: you can't get an RMA without a case number (ie, have to work with a tech first). Fine.
  4. I do an online chat, as I cannot always understand techies with heavy accents. Chat gets around that. Problem: chat support says my device is out of warranty. I looked down at the just-opened box and read the "90 day warranty" page on Linksys letterhead included in said box. No go. Call tech support. Fine.
  5. I call tech support and waited on hold. Got a pleasant tech. Gave her all information since they cannot see the info I put into the chat earlier (contact info, purchase info, model, serial, etc). Got 75% of the way through the call. Problem: I turned around to look at something on the unit, got tangled up in the headset wires and tore the mic wiring out of my headphones. I cursed. Totally my fault, which made me madder. Went to the geek store and got another set of headphones.
  6. Called tech support again, waited on hold again. Got a less pleasant but more savvy tech who figured out the problem immediately. Problem: tech says they can't ship just the power adapter, I have to return the whole thing. I protest, citing both the RMA page that specifically says they will ship the adapter seperately, and my reluctance to set up the danged expander again. Once was challenging; twice would be annoying. He says I can call customer service, but he will give me the case number I need for the online RMA. Fine.
  7. I plug in the case number into the RMA form and submit. Problem: it promptly craps the bed:

  8. Restart the browser and do it again. Problem: RMA stops in its tracks, displaying this popup about a backorder:

  9. The popup says "will ship" but does not give an RMA # and the page will no longer advance. I go to check on the RMA with the Status Checker to see if the RMA actually went through. Problem: you can't check status by any method other than RMA #, which was not shown on the page.

I'll watch for a while and see if it comes in the mail. If not I'll try to resubmit. If that doesn't work I'll see if I can buy a dead unit off eBay and take the power supply off that. Grrr.

My guess is that there are no seperate supplies, only the ones packaged with the extender. This would explain the 2nd reps inability to ship. I've seen that happen in the support world and it's not something the techs themselves can control.


  1. I get emails for "extender power" all the time. Want for me to forward you some?

  2. Followup: got an autobot QA questionaire about the support session. I gave them this URL.