I have been a loyal consumer for a variety of products and brands for several years. I understand that it is a challenge for companies to deal with customer service issues and I rarely get frustrated or discouraged with the process.
Today, however, I had an experience with Netgear that was by far and away worse than any other experience I have had with any company that I have ever dealt with. If you have your own Netgear story, please, feel free to tell us about it in the comments below.
Our company just moved into our new office in Santa Monica. I decided to spend yesterday in our office getting everything ready for our first day of work in the new office Monday. I purchased a Netgear wireless router so that our computers could be hooked up to the Internet via WiFi. However, while some of us have laptops which have built in wireless cards, we have three desktop computers without wireless cards. So, I had to head over to Staples and purchase three Netgear n300 wireless routers so that each desktop could get online via WiFi.
I was able to get each desktop connected, but when this was done it automatically password protected our wireless network. I hadn’t yet set up a password for it, so now essentially each of our desktops could connect to the Web, but our laptops couldn’t because we didn’t know the password.
I figured Netgear would be able to quickly address this problem for me. When I called them, they told me I would have to pay to get on the phone with someone from technical support. They said I could pay $34.95 for 30 minutes of support or $69 for six months of unlimited support. The Netgear representative went on to tell me that this was a common issue which they would be able to quickly fix. And, since we plan on growing our company and accessing the Internet is important as ResourceWebs is after all an Internet company – I decided to pony up and pay for the six month support plan.
When you call into customer support you have to be prepared for some headaches. But when you prepay for support, the expectation level you have immediately changes. In fact, one of the reasons I agreed to pay $69 for support was because I assumed the support would be reliable and legitimate.
At any rate, once the Netgear sales rep had my credit card information, he quickly transferred me to Netgear technical support. I waited on hold and after 65 minutes had passed I hung up and called back Netgear. After I explained that I had just paid and then waited on hold for over an hour, the Netgear sales rep apologized and said I would be moved to the front of the queue. He transferred me back to technical support, and 40 minutes later, I was still on hold — so I hung up and called back Netgear.
This time, I calmly asked to speak with a supervisor. After waiting on hold for 20 more minutes, I spoke with a supervisor in the Netgear customer support activation department and he apologized profusely and said he would directly transfer me to a technical support person named Eric, who would be able to help me with my issue. He promised me I wouldn’t have to wait on hold. He transferred me but then that painful Netgear music came on again. I sat on hold for another 20 minutes.
Now I’m almost three hours into my day, I am out $69, and still, I have not been able to speak with a technical support rep to get help with my issue which I was told was very common and simple to address. So, I called back one last time — to cancel the 6 month support package. Remember, I was told that with this package, I would get 24/7 round the clock service. I was getting the opposite of that. And of course, when I called back to cancel, I was transferred somewhere — and put on hold for another 10 minutes until I hung up for the final time.
So, as I write this now, from a desktop computer in our office since our laptops are still offline, I have given up and I must admit defeat. Ijust called Netgear again, I told the sales rep that under no circumstances should I be transferred, and I was able to cancel my service plan and I was told that within 24 hours, I would get confirmation of my cancellation. Based on what I dealt with today, I am sure that I’ll have to call again to get the cancellation pushed through.
Even if technical support was free at Netgear, this would have been poor customer service. But as we all know, it happens, and I would have dealt with it and waited on hold all day if I had too. However, to charge a customer $69 for access to round the clock technical support, and then for me to not be able to get on the phone with a technical support rep after three hours is plain wrong. Netgear should ashamed of themselves.
We must keep in mind that I already paid for a Netgear router and three separate portable wireless routers for each desktop. So, to have to pay for support on a product I just purchased yesterday is questionable in the first place. And to have done all that I did, and still not be able to get on the phone with a technical support rep – is unacceptable.
This experience highlights why Antitrust laws exist. Without them, these types of experiences would be more commonplace as companies would be able to stomp all over consumers because there wouldn’t be other options. Fortunately, we have other WiFi router makers to choose from and Linksys seems like a solid option for me to now consider.
The only problem is that I am stuck with all of these Netgear WiFi routers and I probably can’t return them because I didn’t save the boxes that they came in.