Buyers Beware, a warranty is not all it seems.
Like a lot of self- proclaimed ‘technology evangelists’, I buy a considerable amount of computer hardware. Some of this is for work, some on behalf of colleagues, friends and some (or most) for self-gratification. Also some is loaned for testing by the manufacturers and returned or purchased.
- However I have never bumped into a unit that failed where the warranty the unit is covered under is so blatantly miss represented (and by such a normally great company with great customer service).
- So is the case with Netgear and my Netgear Stora . I recently bumped into a hardware issue, where the device would not allow on a regular basis local files to be dragged and dropped to the hardware (no software involved). The error can easily be duplicated.
- I thought I would do the proper geek thing and update all software and firmware to make sure problem experienced was not easily fixed myself. Unfortunately, on attempting to update the firmware, I then received an error message saying the software could not be updated.
- On calling Netgear technical support (for the first time for the device), I was told that my ‘software’ warranty had expired and was directed to ‘their other department’ but they could help me on the hardware and software.
Note: On the Netgear Stora there is a software element that allows various users to be granted various access levels via the cloud, and there are other apps and features as well.
- In my case the software was not needed to drag and drop files as it sees the Stora as just another hard drive (part of the charm of this device).
- On calling the ‘other department’ the call immediately went to on hold music, with no mention of anything (no thanks for waiting, nothing) on answering the phone, I was greeted with thank you for holding do you have a reference number (given by the other department), which I did. A few moments later I was greeted with I believe you have a software problem.
- I then corrected the technician saying I have a hardware problem for sure but maybe a software problem as well, but did not need the software for the hardware problem to exist. The hardware problem being the problem that I could not correct by updating firmware. I was then reminded that my warranty for software had expired after 90 days but they were happy to help.
- This help involved no hardware diagnostics (I have a 3 year hardware warranty remember), but instead they would help with the software first to see if solved the problem before they could agree for me to send back the hardware. Unfortunately this support would cost me $136.. ouch. A new Stora currently costs $141 at good suppliers like Harris Technology. So if it did turn out to be hardware then I would be out of pocket anyhow.
- I then queried if it was not software but was indeed hardware, would they credit me the $136 for diagnosing a problem that was covered under warranty. Again I was told no.
- This amazed me as I recently had a bad modem and Netgear offered to swap it out after a few minutes diagnostic. Now there was no diagnostic just a charge for $136 to then confirm it was hardware (and covered).
- It then turns out this ‘other department’ is a 3rd party supplier to Netgear called Gearhead and they of course are selling customer service and had nothing to do ownership wise with Netgear.
- I queried why I needed software support for the hardware only aspect of my problem and they insisted they needed to follow process which was ‘software first’. On complaining that the only way I could exercise my 3 year warranty for hardware was to pay for software support, I was directed back to Netgear that again told me they offer no in house support for the Stora at all.
- Netgear really was ahead of the curve on the Stora , there was nothing like it for ease of use and value. The closest alternative was other Netgear products. Times have changed; I have referred dozens of folks to Netgear that I am aware of, (likely more) but will likely be looking to for alternatives in the future as there are many more now than a few months ago and the list is growing almost daily.
- Note: When sked to speak to a supervisor at Netgear or for a complaint procedure in both cases none was offered, again I am very surprised and disappointed by this. Netgear deferred me to Gearhead that had already deferred me back to Netgear.. etc.
- Further checking online shows the 3 year warranty is still being offered but no clear definitions or terms and conditions could easily be found that covered any devices.
- I still believe that the device is a great device (call me a fanboy) but to charge exactly 100% of the cost of the device to diagnose the warranty is just wrong. Netgear should just do away with the warranty.