Inside D-Link’s RMA House o’ Mirrors

Infinite customer service recursion is a wonderful thing, like running around in a house of mirrors with your hair on fire and your face full of glass, looking for the exit.

A proper analogy for trying to get help from D-Link, whose customer support system is so labyrinthian and self-folding, it may very well be physics first concrete proof of the wormhole.

Mark wrote us about trying to get an RMA on a D-Link router for a customer. The website tells him to call or email. The email tells him to call. The call tells him to check the website. And so on, until Mark — in an interesting space-time paradox — finds that he’s become his own grandpa.

Well, not really, but it’s still mind-bending. Mark’s email after the jump.

I am a computer repair technician who runs my own small business. One of the things I pride myself on is the extra attention and help that I give to my clients. D-Link is refusing to be even half as helpful.

In February of 2006, I recommended to a client that they buy a D-Link Wireless Router and PCMCIA card to make their two home computers able to be used on the Internet at the same time. They took my advice and purchased the two units. A couple of weeks ago, the client called me to troubleshoot a problem they were having after being told by their ISP that it appeared as though the router was bad. After my troubleshooting the unit for them, I informed them the unit was bad and needed replaced under warranty. They decided to find the original paperwork to return the unit.

The client could not find information on where to send the unit for warranty repair, so I decided to check the warranty replacement procedures on the D-Link site for them. On the site, owners needing warranty tech support are instructed to call “or” email. So, I sent D-Link an email on behalf of the client informing D-Link that the unit needed returned for repair as the lights continued to just blink after a factory reset and that the unit never initializes properly.

On 7/18, tech support responded, giving me a case ID and telling me “the unit may be defective” based on my description and that I need to **call** tech support because they can’t handle the problem via email.

Ok…. now they are wasting my time by telling me the warranty support can be handled via email when it can’t. So, I call the phone number which has a voice prompt for RMA’s if you have a Case ID. If you have a Case ID, you should go to the website address given and get your RMA. So, now I’ve had my time wasted twice. I hang up, go to the url given, only to be told that my number is no good, and that I need to call tech support for an RMA. So, I call to get an RMA **again** only to be told by the woman who answered that my Case ID number isn’t valid because it comes from an email and email case IDs are not valid for RMAs, that I need to troubleshoot the unit with tech support.

Do we see a pattern here? Multiple redirects to dead ends that result in nothing more than time wasting. The first sign of problems is when they falsely direct you to email to handle a problem that they can’t handle via email. If they can’t handle something via email, don’t tell the user to email in the first place. Just put the phone number there and tell the user to call.

At that point, I tell the woman on the phone that I need to file a complaint about the very inefficient and poor handling of something so simple as giving someone an RMA on an obviously malfunctioning unit which I have already done the troubleshooting on. So, I file a complaint by phone. In the meantime, I had already complained to the email tech support rep concerning this matter. I got a response back that, “….you need to talk to someone in Tech support Live to get help on this because it is Broken and it is going to have to be RMA’d and it cant be done by email.”

So, I call D-Link again to talk to tech support. I tell the person who answers that I need an RMA on a dead unit. I give him the case number, which he reads and I tell him that when power is supplied, the unit either flashes all the lights or all of the lights stay on, even after a factory reset; which is obviously a defective unit. To this, he responds that I need to troubleshoot the unit. I informed him that I am a computer technician making my living doing just this sort of thing, that I had already done the troubleshooting, and that it is a dead unit. He informs me that he can’t help me unless I troubleshoot the unit. I tell him that I am not going back to the client’s location to hook up and troubleshoot the unit, as it is a waste of time and of my client’s money if they have to pay me another service call to do something that is a waste of time for an obviously dead unit that their email tech support has already acknowledged is dead.

He asks if I want to be connected to customer service to file a complaint. I instruct him to connect me again, as I have no problem complaining again.

I never got connected to customer service again despite repeated attempts to call and having sent email to customer service complaining about the handling of this situation. As of late evening of 7/20, D-Link still has not replied nor given me an RMA number to return this dead unit.

I intend to file complaints with the BBB, the Attorney Generals of the involved states and with the Federal Consumer Protection Agency.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Wet_Baloney says:

    The BBB is useless, the other avenues of protest you mention will take forever to accomplish anything useful (in the remote chance that they take an interest in your case). The only way to get anything done is to go to someplace like, find the name of the CEO of DLINK, and send him a letter. Better yet, call their corporate headquaters and ask to speak to his executive assistant. When you get connected to someone, explain the problem and ask for the name, phone number, and address of the person in their company who manages customer service and/or tech support.

  2. tinfoil says:

    Computer technician or not, they still need to verify the unit is bad using their own methods. Don’t expect an RMA until then. It’s a pain in the arse, but it is a necessary evil.

    D-Link may have a less than intuitive RMA system in place, but you need to jump through their hoops to get the RMA. Walking through some steps on the phone is not at all unusual and I’ve had to do this on many things from consumer to enterprise level products.

    Complain about the system, but don’t complain about not getting an RMA until you have gone through their not at all unusual sounding system.

  3. cudthecrud says:

    This is super simple. You call them up with the router unplugged next to you. You let them “troubleshoot.” They ask you to plug it in, you “plug it in.” Mind you, you don’t have to actually plug it in. Make believe. You should know what the router should actually be doing, and if you’ve already done the troubleshooting, you can supply the appropriate answer to get an RMA number super quick. Super easy.

  4. this doesn’t sound good – i just purchased a d-link usb wireless adapter. oh well.

    @ wet_baloney, the BBB has actually helped me successfully settle a number of disputes i’ve had with various companies over the course of time, such as at&t, hewlett packard, etc.. often it helps when you copy the ceo of the company on your complaint to the BBB.

  5. iankasley says:

    I used to have to do the sort of thing cudthecrud suggests all the time when dealing with Apple’s brain-dead support a couple of years back when I was working as in technology at a public school district. One of the recurring issues we had was that kids would break (completely off, in some cases) the CD-ROM trays on the earlier iMacs.

    I’d call up their support line and after navigating their voice prompt Hell and being asked for my home address (despite telling them the machine belonged to a public school, apparently I now own hundreds of iMacs according to their database) they’d finally ask me what the problem I seemed to be having was and I’d say, “Someone broke off the CD-ROM tray, this is under AppleCare and our rep says replacement is covered for education customers…” and they’d then go “Hmm, I want you to insert the System Restore disc that came with your computer”.

    I did try to explain the ridiculousness of my following their lobotomized support script when there WAS NO CD DRIVE anymore, but they didn’t get it and rather than run around in cirlces with them or be told that student-inflicted failures weren’t covered under AppleCare (our rep said stuff like that WAS under the education level coverage, but he had a tendency to be completely full of shit) I quickly learned to just bullshit them and would often not even have the downed machines in my office, but rather just kept a double-clickable sound file of the Macintosh statup chime on my own computer to make them think I was rebooting repeatedly per their instructions.

    Only way to get anything done was to game the system to the point where they’d have to send out a 3rd party contracted tech who (hopefully) would take one look at it and say, “You need a new CD drive” and swap out the part.

    Inexplicably and inexcusably, our Apple rep never revealed that there even was a seperate education support number to call until just before he quit. (Not that they were much more helpful, but the missing hundreds of thousands of dollars of AppleCare extended warranty coverage policies are a story for some other day.)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I went thru hrs of troubleshooting. Finally get a case# and phone # for RMA. I call, placed on hold for 19 minutes, the person answers and says I need to go to a website. I ask why they can not provide an RMa Not my job. I get on the site. Step 3 proof of purchase- gives you the choice to upload or browse. I have an Office Depot receipt. cannot do either. Type in Office Depot. Will not accept it. Call RMA and get voice mail. Someone will call you.
    This is the worst circle jerk in the business. Strongly suggest you avoid doing business with this company! Glenn