News about Nathan and Heather Straz

Wednesday, 5 July, 2006
Netgear, ARGH!
by nate

I got another reminder today of why I shouldn't spend money on Netgear equipment. Their tech support absolutely sucks and their "intelligent" equipment is anything but.

This episode started a few weeks ago when we needed some managed switches at work. We were going to put 2 quad-port Ethernet cards in four different machines to test large numbers of cluster services for Red Hat Cluster Suite. We needed at least 40 ports to handle the connections for the four machines and we wanted to be able to turn ports on and off with a script for failure testing.

I started looking at managed switches and settled on the NetGear GS748T. It had enough ports and it had enough smarts to let us disable ports at will. We purchased three of them.

After receiving the switches I powered them up and ran into the first problem. Their web interface didn't work with Firefox. I was able to log in, but as soon as I selected another configuration function it would ask me to log in again. I started a support case for this and continued on trying to get the switches configured. It turns out Konqueror was able to configure the switches.

I configured up two switches to be trunked together and that worked perfectly. The third switch I needed to configure with 802.1Q VLANs so I started playing with that configuration. After getting the VLAN ID's from the network guys I removed the test VID and added the official VIDs. I mean, I tried to add them. It said the new VID value was invalid. I reset the switch. Still invalid. I did a factory defaults reset. Still invalid. I tried another switch and was able to configure them, so I did a hardware swap. I was able to get the new switch configured and running.

Overnight, the power went down in the lab. In the morning I wasn't able to talk between the tagged and untagged ports on the switch. Argh! I tried a factory reset and got into the same state as before. I added this to the case and waited until after the holiday weekend.

After getting back from the holiday weekend I got a message that they thought it was a hardware problem and that I was authorized to get an RMA and send the hardware back. Great!

I called up tech support and started talking to a tech. They immediately started to troubleshoot the problem again. I had the switch on my desk so I could give them the serial number and get the RMA, but no, they wanted it up so I could try a few things. I put the guy on hold and installed the switch again. He wanted me to try resetting the switch again. I didn't work for me the last ten times, and it didn't work for me this time either. He had me enter VID's which still didn't work. Then he asked me if I could make the switch available to him so he could try out a few things. Ha! No! I told him that if he gave me that RMA number I was authorized to get he could play with it all he wanted. He put me on hold to talk to someone else. He asked me to turn off the cache for my web browser, which didn't change anything. He asked me if I had tried Mozilla Firefox, to which I replied that I stated at the start of my case that it didn't work.

He finally asked when I purchased the switch. June 23rd. Oh, since you purchased it less than 30 days ago you have to return it to the store where you bought it. At this point I yelled at the guy, "THANK YOU FOR WASTING A HOUR OF MY TIME!" and slammed the phone down on the cradle.

I sure hope that after this incident I'll remember not to buy Netgear again.


No one has said anything yet.