Every now and again a company does something so outrageous that its customer base is shaken for the worse… forever. Netgear has done just that. For those that work in customer service, let this be a lesson for you. For some background on this problem, visit this Netgear Forum Topic.
How to irritate a customer
This might sound terribly stupid, but the company put out a software upgrade that, when downloaded according to their instructions, actually killed the device it was supposed to be upgrading. The device in question is the WGT624 Wireless Router. The problem stems from Netgear suggesting that their users upgrade the firmware from version .8 to version .10. Apparently, when trying to upgrade the firmware using the update/install wizard the installation is interrupted. Because of this the routers firmware, the instructions that run the router from within, are not complete and the router is rendered useless.
This sounds like a simple enough issue to fix, right? I mean anyone with common sense would think to remove the corrupted software and any recommendations to upgrade, field all calls related to this problem with fast and courteous customer service reps, and replace any products affected by this change with new products that have the new firmware installed from the factory. This should make sense, wouldn’t you agree?
How to lose a customer
Apparently it is not that easy for Netgear. If you have read the forum thread regarding this issue you will see that not only has Netgear not done anything to support the majority of their customers who have had this issue, you will also see that Netgear has seemed to abandon any thought of keeping their customer base satisfied.
Instead of doing the appropriate thing, Netgear has done the following:
- Kept the firmware update code on their website
- Allowed long-standing customers to be routed to their India call center
- Refused to exchange destroyed product with good product
- Charged customers to ship their destroyed product back (where an exchange was permitted)
- Completely enforced their 90 day warranty issue – Out of warranty, out of luck
In a fairly competitive environment I would have to say that this is corporate suicide. There are talks of class action suits, small claims suits, calls to executive management and myriad other actions that should really not be necessary to resolve this matter. How much can be learned by this event? If you are smart, you should be able to gleen quite a bit from it.
I don’t hate Netgear
I know it seems that I might view Netgear in a less than favorable light. To clarify, this is not the case. In fact, I have no direct personal experience with Netgear products. A close friend of mine has a Netgear router that seems to have just died out of the blue. While looking for resources to troubleshoot the problem (which Netgear is sorely inadequate at providing), I ran across this issue that Netgear had with the same product my friend had problems with.
I am a Linksys person myself and I can say that the few problems I have had with my Linksys products have been resolved quickly, to my satisfaction and in English. Maybe Netgear wants to give Linksys or D-Link some of their business. Maybe they are too busy fielding calls from irate customers to make a decent product or support the ones they have already made?
It just seems to me that with that many customer experiencing the same problem, and being told that it was their fault, and being told that they will have to pay to exchange their product that company destroyed, and being told that because their warranty is expired their product will not be repaired or exchanged even though the company destroyed it, Netgear would be jumping through hoops to make sure this problem doesn’t hit the web in a large-scale public medium.
Only time will tell where this is going. I am just so glad that a) I am not a Netgear customer; and b) I am not Netgear.