Last January, I decided to invest in a new router. I decided on the ASUS RT-AC56U, based on the fact that it has a ton of cool features for power users like me, but still was somewhat reasonably priced at only $120 at the time. For the past six months, I’ve loved every minute of having it – I’ve come to rely on the built-in VPN server, its media streaming server, and its ability to download torrents and other large files directly onto network attached storage, while simultaneously backing up my downloads to the cloud. Perfect.
But then on Friday, my router died – when I got home from work, it was entirely unresponsive. It can’t communicate to anything through the ethernet ports, and it isn’t broadcasting a WiFi signal. It won’t even boot into recovery mode. Instead, the power light comes on and remains a solid blue, but that’s it.
I Googled around the internet and tried to recovery the router using some other methods I found online; nothing worked. So I finally gave up, called ASUS technical support, and walked through all the troubleshooting steps I had already done myself, this time with the technician on the phone. He seemed stumped, but said he would email me instructions with some additional steps to try. I waited all weekend, and nothing come.
First thing on Monday morning, I called back and explained what had happened to the woman who answered the phone this time. After describing all of the troubleshooting steps I already took, she said she thought an RMA was the best option (i.e. sending my router in for warranty repair). Unfortunately, I was at work and didn’t have the serial number handy (even though I had already given it to the guy on Monday night). In any case, I agreed to call back later that night to start the process.
Monday night, I called back a third time. The woman who answered this time said she would get the RMA started, but I would have to fill out some forms that she would send me over email.
I never got an email.
After waiting all night Monday and all day Tuesday for the email that never came, I called back a fourth time on Tuesday night. This time, the woman who answered said that she saw no record of an RMA even being started. (This is where it starts to get really good.)
She tried to start troubleshooting from the beginning, but I told her I already spent several hours troubleshooting with an ASUS rep on the phone already. I had already gone through all of the troubleshooting steps, and I just wanted to send it in – it’s obviously a hardware failure, the last person I spoke to agreed, and I was promised an email that never came.
The woman asks me to describe exactly what troubleshooting steps I had already done. I explained that I tried entering recovery mode by pressing the recovery button while powering on. I told her that I tried to connect two separate computers to run the recovery utility software, and neither of them could communicate with the router because – surprise – it can’t get into recovery mode. In response, she accused me of holding down the recovery button too long and damaging the router that way.
I said I thought that was ridiculous, and she told me that most likely my two computers either had broken network cards or faulty ethernet ports, or that my ethernet cables were damaged. I explained to her that I had connected my two computers to an older router with no issues, and I had already tried using several different ethernet cables.
She told me that I would need to find a third computer to connect to the router, and that if I didn’t do so and opted to send my router to ASUS anyway, I would be charged a diagnosis fee and return shipping.
I told her that it was ridiculous to imply that two of my computers were broken, since they were functioning perfectly with a different router, and that I would refuse to pay anything for what was obviously a hardware failure that should be covered under warranty. She told me that she would notate my account, indicating the RMA would be charged.
I asked for her supervisor. She said I can only speak to supervisors between 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday-Thursday. Infuriated, I hung up.
Rather than waiting until Wednesday morning, I called back right away and asked to speak to a supervisor immediately. That never happened, but I did finally talk to someone who sounded a little more helpful.
After explaining what I had just endured, she apologized, said it was not my fault, and again promised that I would get an email with RMA instructions.
Still no email.
Thinking I would be clever and try an alternate method to get help, I initiated a chat with customer support. The chat guy told me that my case number didn’t exist, and that if I wanted an RMA, I would have to create a new case and go through all of the troubleshooting steps all over again.
I clicked out of the chat window, quickly realizing I was going to get nowhere with this guy. So I called back (this is the sixth time I’ve called, for those of you keeping track). I dialed the same number and selected the same options as before. But the person who answered said that I called the wrong call center, and he transferred me to another department. (Of course, I had to wait on hold around 30 minutes.)
Eventually, the same person I talked to yesterday picked up, and insisted that the RMA email had already been sent. We confirmed that she had the correct email address (she did), and I told her I have been monitoring my inbox and my spam folder, and nothing from ASUS has arrived. She then told me that my email must not be properly configured to receive messages. I told her that I use Gmail, and that I’ve received dozens of emails since I last talked to her. She promised to resend it.
Here I am, waiting. No email.
I’m at a loss. I’m utterly appalled at the incompetence I have experienced, the unwillingness to help, and the implications that I have done something wrong.
Have you experienced something similar from ASUS or another tech company? Let me know below. And if you have suggestions of what I might be able to do to get some help, I’d appreciate it. After all, all I want is a working router again.[Image credit]