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My experience with Netgear’s customer support

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It all started with a burning smell coming from my basement… not fun! As I don’t like charred toes I quickly searched for the source which turned out to be my Ready NAS NV+ from Netgear. The LED display was toast and the unit refused to boot. I am just glad I was in the house and able to unplug the NAS, who knows what else could have happened?

Checking Netgear’s community pages I discovered this is a common problem with that particular model and a recall was issued, so I called Netgear. You would think such a simple matter could be resolved easily, well, not so fast. If I was frustrated about my dead NAS, dealing with their customer service really pissed me off! By the time I write this I had to make three calls, each time listening to at least 20 minutes of moronic marketing messages and 80’s tunes, please!!! I already had to deal with three different support agents, who each time assigned me a different case number even though I clearly stated that I was following up on an open case. Finally I was transferred to the warranty department, and just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, there is always Netgear! The dude was rude and basically told me to go to Walmart and fix it myself. WTF? Before I hung up, I told him I would take this up with a Supervisor later.

About 30 minutes later, he called back to tell me that they were out of this particular part and it would be “days or weeks” (huh?) before they would have that part in stock again. Well which is it, days or weeks? Obviously he didn’t care…

Why does it always have to be difficult? It would have been so easy to make me happy, take my info, confirm that the unit was in fact the recalled model and offer a replacement or, if nothing else, a replacement part, done! One call resolution. From my perspective as an experienced business owner this would have been a great case to turn a failure into an opportunity; however, endless waits, rude customer service agents who don’t give a damn and requiring follow-up calls just to resolve one simple matter is not the way to go!

In my previous life I managed large customer support centers in the US and Australia and looking at the situation from Netgear’s perspective I can’t see any positive side of this incident either. I totally get it, some customers will never be happy no matter what you do, but is this a license to piss everyone off? I think not, besides instead of one call, they had to pay for three while the course of action they would have to take was the same either way. Netgear’s handling of my complaint strongly smells like 20th century thinking, where customers didn’t have much of a choice other than to put up with crap like this. In 2012, when customers have a huge forum to exchange opinions (Internet anyone?), this type of issue resolution will do only one thing – backfire! You anger the wrong guy and you could easily have a PR nightmare on your hands……