D-Link: Customer Experience – Opportunity Lost

nodlink2.jpgMy D-Link wireless router died this past weekend. Again! and I’m not a happy customer.

I purchased the D-Link DIR-615 router last September after a lightning strike took out my cable and just about everything attached to it. After mail-in rebate, it cost about $50.00. Two months later, it stopped working. I tried to return it to Office Depot, but was that told that they only accept returns within 15 days of purchase and that I would have to call D-Link to get it repaired or replaced.

I worked with a D-Link technician to troubleshoot the router and eventually a Return Authorization was issued. I was then told that I would have to ship the defective modem back to them at my expense. I tried to argue that they should send me prepaid UPS tag, but did not prevail. I sent the router back costing me about $12.00. A week later, I had my replacement.

Fast forward four months to this past weekend. The replacement dies and I start the process all over again. After roughly two hours on the phone, the Return Authorization was issued. When I asked the support rep about getting D-Link to pay for the return this time, I instructed me to call Customer Service.

I tried several times starting last Saturday to get through to D-Link’s Customer Service, but they were either closed or left me waiting in the queue for over 30 minutes (I refuse to wait any longer than that). If the wait times are any indication, D-Link has lots of customers with product issues. I finally got through to a Customer Service rep today after a 20 minute wait. I explained that my router was dead for the second time in six months and that I didn’t think it was fair for me to have to pay shipping a second time.

I was told that D-Link will pay for shipping only when the product is diagnosed as defective within the first 15 days. I explained that I understood the policy, but that considering that this was the second failure, perhaps they could make an exception. The CSR replied that she understood, but then restated the policy.

At that point, I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was told that the supervisor would give me the same answer, but after I insisted, the CSR transfered me. Sure enough, after pleading my case to the supervisor, I was politely told that D-Link would replace my router, but that I would need to pay for the shipping. I expressed my disappointment in having to pay nearly half of the purchase price in shipping costs for in-warranty repairs and ended the call.

When a customer needs to buy a wireless router, the best deal often wins. There are lots of choices in residential wireless networking products and there isn’t much differentiation in terms of price, quality or technology. In a marketplace with these characteristics, brand loyalty is difficult to maintain, but the ability to deliver an experience that exceeds expectation can make a customer for life. In my case, D-Link had the opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer in the a happy one. The cost would have been less than $10 (volume shipping discount). In return I would be writing a very different blog post right now. I would not have told friends and co-workers about my bad experience. I would not have told followers on Twitter not to buy D-Link products (OK, maybe that was a bit melodramatic).

Perhaps D-Link does have some larger quality issues and the cost of paying for return shipping for all that defective product would be cost prohibitive. I don’t know. I do know that I’ll never purchase another D-Link product.

13 comments so far

  1. Roland Smith on

    Your D-Link experience echoes mine of over a year ago. The cost of the return was more than half the cost of a replacement from a different company. I bought a replacement and have crossed D-Link off of my list as well. Someday they might learn … but I seriously doubt it.

  2. Todd on

    By linksys or apple airport

  3. Steve on

    I do have had D-link issues.

    While great post-purchase support goes a long, long way to customer satisfaction, the number 1 way, often overlooked by commentators and bloggers, to build strong brand loyalty and advocady is to simply build better products.

    I bought an apple router after my crappy D-link experiences, and man, the product work as stated, and I’ve never had issues. When you don’t have any issues, you have no reason to require support.

    This for me is the key. D-link just need better build quality, if they solved that, so much attention wouldn’t be brought to their horrible service offerings!

  4. Doug Meacham on

    Thanks for the comments! Steve, You are right. I mentioned in the post that most suppliers do not differentiate themselves. One way to do that (and to drive loyalty) is to build a reputation for consistently high quality.

  5. Jon Burg on

    After having similar issues with other products, I went with my friend’s advice and purchased only Netgear components. The speed is consistent and the product just works as promised, consistently. I have only called customer support once, and while there was a 10 minute wait, the matter was resolved in about 6 or 7 minutes.

    HP on the other hand, is a brand I wouldn’t touch again with a 10 foot stick.

  6. abacab on

    Office Depot kinda screwed you, too, imo. It wouldn’t have been anything to them to send back a product still under warranty as defective and get credited for it. Best Buy has done this several times for me, and I know they’ve done this for other people, too…all the time: if a product is still under manufacturer’s warranty, they’ll quite often swap it out, even many months later. OD could have done this, too, and would have lost nothing, while maybe gaining a little more customer loyalty in the process.

  7. mangostreetdad on

    Wow, when did you draw the line at 30 minutes for waiting in the phone queue? Mine is 12 minutes. We own two retail stores here in Memphis, customer service is huge – almost as important as the products we sell. Catch me on a different day and I might say even more important! I agree with abacab, Office Depot screwed you, too. They should have taken it back and given you a new box. Period. Costs them nothing…

  8. Doug Meacham on

    Hi Everyone and Thanks for the comments.
    mangostreetdad & abacab: I thought about writing a post last fall when Office Depot refused to take it back. I have not done business with them since then either, but I know from my ears at Circuit City, that they are not alone in this policy. one of the ways CE retailers negotiate better terms on the purchase side is by reducing their return privileges or negotiating a lower labor rate for returns. In the case of Circuit City, the service/repair organization has little influence in these negotiations and must deal with the cost issues. In Circuit City’s case (and I assume Office Depot as well), the cost of repairing a product is usually greater than the negotiated reimbursement rate, so several years ago they switched to a policy where customers must deal directly with the manufacturer for warranty repairs.

    This is a classic case of siloed functions within a business competing with each other at the expense of the customer.

  9. sans on

    Still having experience with dlink.

    Print server broke down. Called tech support. Went through the same routine 3 times. Got an RMA.
    Send them device.
    Got replacement. With the same problem!
    Called tech support again. The only thing they could offer me is an RMA. I refused, since I don’t want to send it second time on my expense.

    Finally got reach of customer support (they always busy).

    And customer support rep is telling me that last technician wrote in my case – solution provided.
    Outrageous.

    No more dlink for me.

  10. DerekSunshine on

    Back in the 90s, I managed the LAN for the small business that employed me. Even back then D-Link had a poor rep for its Ethernet hubs and NICs. Since Linksys is a subsidiary of Cisco, they should have decent fabrication and engineering standards for their gear – even if it is consumer oriented.

  11. Randy on

    I have published a detailed log of my 5 months of customer service hell with D-Link. Yes, it took me about 5 months to even come close to a resolution with my problem with a D-Link DPR 1260 print server. It’s a long drawn out tale of incompetent technical and customer service personnel, DOA replacement units, and neglectful company processes. Read on if you dare…

    http://www.wrong-keyhole.org/dlink.html

  12. Tim Neumann on

    Dlink is on it’s way out, for the same reasons GM is. cheap parts and cheap construction. The founders made a mountain of money though

  13. jason k on

    D-Link blows. They suck big time. DOn’t buy d-link crap


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