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.