Linksys technical support sucks… REALLY sucks

Thursday, May 18, 2006 5:10 AM
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Right before the SuperBowl, I made the switch to HDTV. I got my TV, DirecTV HD receiver, and a power line filter/surge protector from Best Buy. If you’re a member of their Rewards program, you get coupons based on the amount you spend. Well, spending a bundle for my setup, I got about $80 in Rewards coupons. Finally decided it was time to upgrade my broadband router at home & let Best Buy pay for it. What I wanted was fairly simple: wired/wireless router that has a built in firewall, port forwarding, DHCP client, and most importantly, VPN endpoint(s). After looking at what BestBuy had to offer, I picked the Linksys BESFX41… no big deal it’s not wireless… I can move my existing wireless router into my living room where I need wireless much more often.

I picked up the router in early April, but never had a chance to install/configure it until this week. Right away I’ve had problems. On the first screen of the web admin tool, you specify the Internet connection type. My DSL provider uses PPPoE so I selected that… looks like a OnSelectedIndexChanged event fired as the page refreshed, but my selection didn’t “stick”… it went back to the default “obtain IP automatically.” Hmm… that’s odd… let’s try some other settings. So I tinkered with the DHCP settings and changed the IP of the router… those applied and “stuck”. So I tried the connection type again… nope, same deal. I need to be able to change this because it changes the UI so I can enter my credentials to login.

Fine… stuff happens… so now what? Upgrade the firmware! Nope… that failed trying to upgrade to the latest. So I check the forums at DSLReports.com and find people have issues with the latest. I grab the most recent, stable firmware and apply it… success! Try to change the connection type… same problem.

OK, now I’ll result to getting some help as this gearhead is not a networking/hardware person. I try Linksys’ online chat… the person has be do a bunch of hard resets, clearing my laptop’s cache, cookies, disabling antivirus, disabling popup blocker, use the restroom, get a fresh drink… nothing worked. So she came to the same conclusion I came to: it’s defective and I should exchange it. No sweat… stuff happens. It was interesting that the person doing the chat inadvertently pasted a URL to an Australian job board… guess she wasn’t totally focused on my problem. No worries, I’m sure she was just reading from the script.

On Tuesday I exchanged the router for an exact replacement… but unfortunately, I have the exact same problems. Try the online chat again, but this time the person on the other end just stopped talking to me. Started a new session and had the exact same experience. I’ll give the company the benefit of the doubt… the first person logically thought the router was defective… I did to. The second person is just a bad apple… big company… bad hire falls through the cracks… no problem, there’s always room at McDonald’s for another overly enthusiastic burger flipper (yes, that’s just a bit of sarcasm).

Now I’ll try the email support. I explain my problem in great detail… give them the URL where I tried to get and apply the most recent firmware, explain it fails, and that I got the last version before it working. Explain all the things I’ve done… provide the reference links to my historical chats… basically the person who gets this email has a ton of info. So what do I get back from them? “Upgrade your firmware” ??? Did you read my original email? I tried the most recent version but it failed… but I did upgrade to the immediately previous version successfully. I politely reply and re-explain my issue, and ask “did you read my original post?” Got a reply… this one says “are you sure you upgraded your firmware?” You’ve got to be kidding me! I even gave you the version I’m running!

I’ve given up… Linksys is of no help and even if they have good products, if they don’t work for me, it’s worthless to me. I’ve got a thread going on DSLReports in the Linksys forum hoping someone can help (they’ve been a hell of a lot more helpful & responsive as you can see by the thread). If I can’t get it fixed by this weekend, I’ll return it again and look to a different brand.

Anyone have a recommendation on a good broadband router that’s wired/wireless, has a built in firewall, DHCP, port forwarding, and VPN endpoints?

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