ISSUES: iPhone Wireless Service

In Progress?

COMPANY RATING: ZERO stars (out of five)

For two years now, I have continued a hate/hate relationship with AT&T in order to stay in the iPhone ecosystem.  The iPhone remains an amazing, breakthrough piece of technology that has forever changed the way I do business.  While AT&T remains a monolithic dog who is the boat anchor to all my communications.  It is the ultimate yin and yang of the modern consumer experience.  One of the best hardware products paired in a monopolistic partnership with one of the worst service providers.

I'll start this saga of a story with my most recent dashed hopes.  I came to AT&T from Verizon two years ago in order to get my hands on the iPhone.  During the time since, I experienced bad cell coverage, many dropped calls, failed outgoing calls, missed voicemail alerts and slow 3G data speed.  After reading, researching and doing my own experiments, I figured the problem was a combination of the iPhone's antenna system and the relatively weak AT&T coverage in my metro area.  My hope was that by buying the latest generation iPhone 4, my reception would improve enough to significantly reduce the call drops and this make the AT&T phone part of my phone useful.  By, was I wrong!

Jon Stewart has roasted AT&T on "The Daily Show" multiple times. So, too, has Steven Colbert. Beyond the laughs, they also brought truth to the masses. AT&T 3G simply isn't ready for primetime.

The AT&T-gestapo
I have been complaining about my 3G reception issues to AT&T since the very first day I bought my iPhone 3G.  Having moved over from the much better Verizon network, I was accustomed to decent coverage...something I'd soon learn was not going to be the case with AT&T.  I called tech support almost daily, worked my way up to Tier 2 support, then found my way to the Executive Office Support staff and a gentleman we'll call 'Larry'.  For many months, I got what amounted to a human call log.  I'd call and complain, they'd type the notes into the system, promise me a call back and then there was inaction and silence.

It took me a while, but I started to figure out shortcuts to reaching key people.  Not that they did anything, but at least I didn't have to hear someone tell me to "reboot" my phone, pull my battery (really?!? Ok, you try to do that on an iPhone) or better yet, tell me to sync the phone to my computer because that would resolve the reception issues (yes, I was told that several times).  My favorite repeated excuse for bad service was that "due to recent hurricanes in Florida, we are experiencing problems with towers in your area and repair work is underway."  Mind you that the last hurricane in the area was in 2006, struck hundreds of miles away and I was experiencing bad service in a 50-mile radius (far beyond 'towers in my area')... Eventually, I wore 'Larry' and the rest of the AT&T clan down.  They actually started listening and responding.  Or at least they said they were.  I was told multiple times over two years that they had specifically dispatched engineers to my home area and they had determined that there were no problems with their signal.

I live in the Miami area.  There are no mountains (or hills for that matter).  There are few building-dense areas and even the trees and vegetation are light compared to the Northeast where I received great cell coverage with Verizon.  Regardless, the entire South Florida area is, according to AT&T, "a tricky coverage area where the coverage map may not be accurately represented."  I'm calling B.S.  AT&T simply does not have enough towers, phones lines and bandwidth to support the explosive iPhone user base.  They charge full price for hideously bad service and I will not back down until they correct this.  I know that cellular coverage can never be 100%, but I'm not paying premium prices to have about half of my calls drop.  Neither should you.


I won a victory with AT&T about a year into my complaining.  AT&T applied a large cash credit to my account and promised that work on a new tower in my area would be complete in a few weeks.  Once complete, the tower would solve my issue permanently. They expected me to go away.  And, if the problems subsided, I would have.  Now a full year after that, I am still waiting.  I've dropped calls during million dollar real estate deals.  I've been through hour long periods with plenty of bars but every outbound call failing.

The surrounding area is no better, even where AT&T says they work great. I regularly went to Dolphins home games where I knew I'd never get a byte of data and rarely a full phone conversation complete.  Week after week, I'd complain and they'd fail...even after telling me they'd worked on the stadium and added capacity and cell towers. Their excuse?  There are a lot of people there during games.  Really?!?  What a shocker!  I bet you even can anticipate the exact demand by counting the number of seats in the stadium and perhaps build your network to support it.  Lame AT&T. Lame. Lame. Lame.

As much as you want to tell me that you have engineering-approved coverage in my area, it simply doesn't work.  Which is why, for a while, I was tricked into thinking it might be my iPhone hardware.  Thus, my dream that the new iPhone hardware would be the answer.

After getting tired of AT&T Larry not responding during a particularly bad stretch of (bad) coverage at the beginning of 2010, I turned my attention to Twitter and Facebook to see if AT&T might be embarrassed enough to respond and fix my issues.

When I started making comments via Twitter, I met The AT&T-Gestapo. Make no mistake about it, they are there to quiet the public outcry and provide lip service, not solutions. Here are a few great messages from one of these Internet "helpers"...


Once you connect with one of these AT&T clowns, you also get daily messages about what time they have coffee, hot hot the day is, when they are on vacation and similar non-helpful verbiage spewed into the Twittersphere in an attempt to make you feel like they are a friend and 'responsive'. Hey, here's an idea AT&T... fire these dopes and get people in your real tech support departments to ASSIST customers. ATTMollica chased after my first ever #ATTepicfail tagged Tweet like a dog in heat. As soon as it was time to actually help, she was gone.

The "Broken Antenna" Debate
Since it's such a hot topic, I wanted to touch upon why the iPhone 4 is NOT the reason for 3G coverage issues. Many iPhoners are in the midst of heated debate online blaming Apple for their latest woes.

Sorry iPhone 4 users, antennas are fickle instruments and even magical Apple engineers can't alter physics.  In order for an antenna to work efficiently it must be a specific length to match the broadcast frequency.  With simple mathematics and a tight manufacturing process, it is a sure thing that Apple got this right on their new phone.  Antenna also work best when they are not touching other objects.  Other objects tend to create signal reflections and block the signal from radiating out.  They can also effectively change the length of the antenna causing attenuation, which does "bad things".  Your hand, head, pocket and purse are all objects.  So are the electronics and materials that make up the rest of a cell phone.  So there is no perfect antenna isolation.  Without going into detail, all cell phones have significant challenges to creating efficient antenna systems.  Thirty years of innovation took us from external whip antennas, to nubs, bumps and then various internal antennas.  I believe Apple, using the phone's shell as the antenna, is a master stroke of genius and likely the next advance in the pursuit of the perfect cell antenna.  It puts the antenna outside all the electronics and shell to give the signal its best chance to radiate efficiently.  Talk and argue amongst yourself, but coating or covering the iPhone 4's exterior antenna may help avoid hand interference, but it also creates "object interference" itself.  Bottom line: the iPhone 4 antenna is not worse (and probably better) than any other cell phone's antenna...except that far more nit-picky eyes are scrutinizing it right about now.

Reception, Reception, Reception
The real issue with the iPhone 4's reception is the network.  Make no mistake about it, AT&T over-promised and continues to under-deliver on its 3G network.  And why not?  Most iPhone customers are in love with the iPhone ecosystem.  Not only is the iPhone an elegant piece of hardware and software, it has an amazing array of software.  "There's an app for that" says it all.  It means that the iPhone is a nearly-perfect match for every single user.  No other mass production consumer product even comes close to the "personal fit" of an iPhone.  So, as you would expect, once you are in the ecosystem, you are very unlikely to ever want to get out. Another 1.7 million iPhone 4s sold in three days will tell you that this is a phenomenon.

Despite coverage maps, "more bars in more places" and whatever else AT&T wants to embellish about, it means nothing if you can't place/receive calls or use the data network.  At heart, the iPhone is a communications device.  When it was introduced, Apple and AT&T formed a partnership to "make the iPhone experience the best in the world".  AT&T has failed so miserably in what should be a symbiotic relationship, that many users (including me) regularly contemplate giving up their iPhone just to get a successful phone call. Jon Stewart quipped, "Hey AT&T, how about making my iPhone work as a phone?! I dropped the same call four times riding down the West Side Highway..."

And, although I can never empirically prove this, I honestly believe one of the past iOS3 upgrades goosed the signal bars artificially to make people feel that their iPhones were working better.  I believe this because I had dead zones in my house before I applied the software update and I had the same dead zones after.  But interestingly enough, I went from 0-1 bars to 3-4 bars in an instant.  Calls still dropped, incoming calls were missed...but I did have more bars.  I also placed an upgraded phone next to one that was not upgraded and saw the "mysteriously embellished signal bars" side-by-side.  Now, there is rumor that a new iOS 4.0.1 is about to be released to address the signal bars again.  If it comes, I bet it is another snow job to cover up crappy coverage.

Reception Sucks In The Magic Kingdom Too
You'd think AT&T would do their best to shine at Disney World.  It is a great marketing opportunity.  Keep families together.  Help them communicate.  Win new customers by word of mouth, right?  Wrong!  During a trip last week, most of my outbound calls never went through.  Inbound calls went to voice mail.  Data was nearly useless.  The only thing that worked was texting.  Given the throngs of people at the parks, I gave AT&T a little bit of slack on this.  By the way, Disney is partnered with Verizon.  Hmm... I wonder why?

Then came the fateful night.  While at Disney, my home alarm system called ADT indicating there had been a break-in.  In turn, ADT tried calling my iPhone (at a Disney hotel room), then my wife's iPhone (also in the same hotel room), followed by my brother-in-law's iPhone (still in Miami).  None of their calls ever rang the iPhones and they left a voicemail on my phone.  Next, they called my mother-in-law (who was in the very next hotel room) and guess what... her AT&T 2G cell phone rang and connected immediately!  In turn, she tried calling my iPhone, which again failed to ring and went to voicemail.  Then she banged on the door and told us about the break-in.  After about 25 minutes, the voicemail indicator on my iPhone finally alerted me to the fact that ADT and she had left me messages.


The rest of the night had several failed and dropped calls as I tried to talk to the police department back home.  I finally had to revert to text messages in order to communicate with them. All-in-all, a horrific night of AT&T failures.

Microcell, Shmickocell
The next day was an angry call/email thread to AT&T Executive Office Support staff member 'Larry'.  It was agreed that AT&T would pay to put a Microcell in my home.  All I had to do was go to an AT&T store (they wouldn't send it), buy it (they couldn't waive the charge), set it up and then they would reimburse me for it on a future bill. And no, they would not toss in any of the Microcell monthly plans to help me out. Gee, thanks!

Still, I was encouraged that we were finally going to solve my home reception issues. I had long requested that I be given a Microcell during the beta test period by AT&T to resolve my issues at home. The answer during beta was no.  Thankfully (for them), just a few days ago, the Microcell went on sale in the Miami market which gave them this saving grace option.  You'd think the story would end there...

After buying the Microcell on the morning of June 26 from an AT&T corporate-owned store, I took it home and set it up, which included me going to the AT&T website to register it.  I'll let my email to Larry tell the rest of this story...


So, I once again have been disappointed by AT&T.  As you agreed, with AT&T reimbursing me for the unit, I got the Microcell this morning.  I set it up. I waited on hold TWICE for tech support, once for 27 minutes (and got hung up on) and again for 17 minutes.  I find out that the WHOLE DAMN MICROCELL SERVICE across the country has been out since Friday night (6/25/10) at 8pm with no ETA for repair.  Do you think the store was aware of this when they sold it to me?  Do you think the website at would have any notification of this?  Nope!  Brain dead behavior on both counts.

AT&T has failed yet again and now I am steaming mad.  Please get me in touch with your manager.  This is going to end by this coming Friday and more than likely with you sitting on a whole bunch of used equipment and one household who will permanently leave the AT&T family.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 4 seems not to resolve the dropped call issue at all.  Can you say overloaded, crappy network?  I can...and quite loudly.

This brings us to the near present.  It is now nearly 11:00pm on June 27.  The Microcell service is still down and the tech support staff tell me not to expect it for ANOTHER 48 hours!  I still have crappy 3G coverage, I have spent nearly $700 on new hardware because they kept telling me the network was fine, the Microcell is a complete failure and I feel like the fool.


Except I won't be the fool!  I plan on ending this by Friday just like I said in my email. 

UPDATE: This morning, June 28, the Microcell service started to work. Five bars throughout the house. I made a few calls and it seemed to work. Of course, that was short-lived as well. Although most calls now work, I often can hear them but they can't hear me. My wife also had two CALL FAILED calls when seeing M-Cell right on the display.

Pasted Graphic

AT&T's Larry has not returned phone calls or emails all day. Shocker! Ball is in your court until Friday AT&T...

If you want to voice your opinion and/or support my cause, please Tweet with #ATT3gFail.  You can also do your part by sending, tweeting and republishing this article to others.

-Hal in Miami


An Open Letter to AT&T Wireless Services

ISSUES: iPhone Wireless Service

In Progress?

COMPANY RATING: One star (out of five)

See 7/17/09 & 7/18/09 updates below...

As instructed, I sent this letter out today to the AT&T office in Greeley, CO. Let’s see what response I get. I’ve learned that sharing with others always elicits a more timely response, so here is the open letter for the whole Internet audience to see.


To Whom It May Concern:

I must begin by saying that it seems somewhat counter-intuitive that I was told that the only way to lodge my complaint with a technologically advanced company such as AT&T is by sending snail mail to your address.
However, it somewhat follows suit given all the issue I am having with your wireless services. Since becoming an AT&T customer (after 18 years with Verizon) nearly a year ago and purchasing three iPhones, I have had sub-par network performance. This includes voice and data.
And despite your telephone reps being cordial, kind and attentive… they just haven’t accomplished anything. I’ve been through countless hours with tech support, customer care, cancellations, billing, etc.
In short, both my location at home and at the office are “dead zones”. I regularly drive through two other such zones. In these areas, I can be assured of failed call attempts, dropped calls and people who call me going directly to voicemail. Odd, since your coverage maps show the entire Greater Miami area as having “excellent” 3G coverage. Meanwhile, most of the time I call into reps, they tell me ”there are several towers down in your area“ or ”we are building new towers to address those dead spots” or (my personal favorite) “the hurricanes from last year have affected South Florida service”. None of which sounds particularly convincing after you hear that several months in a row. You also have data saturation issue at Dolphins Stadium, which means I have never been able to surf the web or get voicemail during the entire season of going there.
As a rather technically minded person (I run a large IT team), I also have concluded that my issue is not a rouge or faulty piece of equipment. I have three phones that are experiencing the problems. They can’t all be broken, right? Despite my pointing this out, I am usually run through the standard drill of troubleshooting almost every time I call in. I always do what the techs ask me to do and have my assumption confirmed. I’ve been to Apple Stores to have the phones checked, swapped SIM cards (that makes no sense at all), and a few other steps to re-program my phone with new cell tower information. The problems persist.
I have now hit my level of tolerance. I have logged approximately 20-30 calls in a year to try to resolve these issues. Each time I am promised it will get better. Well, over the past two to three months it has noticeably gotten worse.
I am not expecting perfection. I know wireless networks can’t ever run at 100%. However, I have a case where I can easily argue AT&T has failed to perform against the contract terms. The fact that I’ve been told that I’ve exceeded all limits for AT&T to refund me for service outages proves that this is an extreme situation and not “normal”. I defy anyone looking at my case notes to tell me this is acceptable service. It is clear to me that we need to find a solution or part ways.
I am hoping that AT&T can do one of the following for me:
A) Provide iPhone hardware that works properly on the network. I have unconfirmed data from numerous sources that the chipset in the iPhone 3Gs may be to blame for many of these issues.
B) Until rectified, provide ongoing, significant discount to make up for the poor level of service. It makes no sense for me to pay the contract premiums without the services stated being provided.
C) Refund my money for the iPhone purchases and allow me to leave AT&T without an early termination fee. As I have not breeched the contract, I feel there is no reason for me to be penalized. I am essentially being forced to leave due to lack of service.

[snipped my signature and account information from the letter]

7/17/09 UPDATE:

Just as I was giving up hope that a human was ever going to read my letter, I got a call.

A representative of AT&T spoke to me at length regarding my letter and its claims. He provided me his name and direct phone number and promised that he’d be following up with me on Monday. The conversation was pleasant and upbeat. Although the rep was careful not to provide language on any admission of network issues, he did say that his next calls would be to high level engineering to see what might rectify my issues.

I’m not holding my breath, but at least it’s a step...and one in the right direction. Thanks for starting my weekend off right AT&T!

7/18/09 UPDATE:

TechCrunch also seems to be loving their AT&T....

11/6/09 UPDATE:

The lumbering giant is starting to do the right thing, albeit only after I hounded them for the better part of a year. First, they recently issued me a $500 credit for my troubles. Next, my downtown office location seems to have been retrofitted with a nearby cell tower. I can now hold a conversation nearly everywhere in the building. Yes! At home is still pretty spotty. Dolphins Stadium (I mean Landshark Stadium) is still a dead zone for any data.

1/12/10 UPDATE:

AT&T is still at FAIL stage. No contact from the executive offices after two weeks of leaving email and voice messages. Service stinks. Some days are near communication blackouts. I see AT&T admitting to various levels of non-service, but I don't see any real improvements being made. Maybe fewer commericials and more techs would do the trick?

AT&T (Billing and Wireless)

ISSUES: iPhone Wireless Service & Billing


COMPANY RATING: One star (out of five)

In the history of me dealing with companies for lies, billing and/or general stupidity, AT&T is a runaway #1. As a Florida resident, we were gobbled up into AT&T’s grasp a few years ago with the BellSouth merger. It has been downhill ever since. Oh, how I relish the days of fighting with Verizon. Sure, they made mistakes too, but not one after the other.

The big event that leads me to writing this article is our dependency on AT&T for our wireless services. As many have done over the past two years, we moved from a reliable service (Verizon) just to get our hands on the iPhone. Every day it is a love/hate relationship.

As a former Apple employee, generally well-informed consumer and by the experiences of several iPhone owners in the area, I can assure you that the AT&T 3G network and the iPhone do not work well together. Even though things have improved since the early days of the iPhone 3G, we are still paying for late alpha (not even beta) service. Five bars should mean five bars, but it doesn’t. In fact, a few software updates back, I noticed that the bars miraculously went up by two in the exact same areas I was in moments before the update. That’s right, the bars were goosed up via a software update! Total fabrication. Often, I see five bars but can’t place or received calls. Data coverage is spottier and seems to be disjointed from the signal strength bars altogether. In particular, my house and work locales are both freakish dead zones. And don’t start down the path that maybe it’s my iPhone hardware, we have three iPhones and they all do the same thing.

My open complaint is that consumers should get more for their dollar. I call each month with new complaints about service and get placated with a service credit or some vague promise about how they are very close to fixing the issue(s) I bring up. Hogwash! This is simple lip service and its time we all stand up and demand to get value for our money.

I am particularly annoyed about the issues they are having inside Dolphins Stadium. I have yet to be able to use data there for an entire year. Phone coverage is spotty. If I see five bars on my phone and the cell tower is inside the stadium and visible from my seat I should get service, right? Nope... not the case. Their excuse is that too many people are using the service at one time. I argue that it’s a football stadium with a fixed number of seats. They know EXACTLY how many customers they need to serve and on which days they need to serve them.

We also have our local and long distance, Internet, and DirecTV service through an AT&T bundle plan. Wow, how did I ever get to one company for all my services? Dumb! And now they are cramming U-verse down my throat. One wire for all services. ABSOLUTELY NOT! If you get pitched for U-verse, run away! On top of everything coming down one wire (zero redundancy and diversity), they lie to you that the service is fiber optic to the house. In most cases, this simply is not true. Again, AT&T lies.

This brings me to my last point, billing. Should I really find mistakes each and every bill? This is exactly what I’ve found since July 2008 (when we got iPhones). I dread getting the AT&T bill because it becomes at least an hour of WORK to research, correct and pay it. Up until this month, the mistakes all favored AT&T. One mistakes was so egregious that it amounted to overcharging me by more than $300.

This month brings a new story. I receive my statements on combined billing, meaning one bill for everything and with that I receive some bundle discounts. So, imagine my surprise when the bill came without the wireless charges at all! My bill is about $300 less than it should be. Being an honest guy, I tried calling them. Their offices are closed today (Sunday). So, here I sit with no way to resolve yet another AT&T billing mistake. I’ll open it up for comments. What would you do in this situation?

7-11 (Gas Station Fill-Up)

ISSUE: Gas pump malfunctions twice in about three weeks causing excess charges to my credit card

RESOLUTION: Barely refunded my money

COMPANY RATING: One star (out of five)

As if gas prices aren’t high enough, get a load of this...

About two month ago, I went to the corner 7-11 where I regularly fill up my tank and started pumping some gas. After the nozzle auto-stopped, I placed it back on the pump and glanced at the display to see what the damage was. To my surprise, the digits were still slowly clicking up.

I ran inside the gas station and brought out the attendant who witness the mystery pennies being added to the bill. After a stunned look or two, he asked me what I thought I owed and he paid me the difference. He also promised to have the pump tested.

Fast forward a few weeks and I was back at the same 7-11 looking to fill up my four 5-gallon gas cans to prepare for the possible arrival of Hurricane Ike.

I pulled up to the same pump and started filling up the cans with $3.72/gal gas. As I was getting toward the top of the 4th gas can, the pump slowed down considerably. I looked up to see that the display was nearing $85 (which is the maximum amount you can charge on a single credit card swipe). As expect, *bang*... a hard stop right at $85.00.

How could this be? Twenty gallons x $3.72 = $74.40... and I had not even filled the 4th can yet!

I rushed inside the station to once again alert the attendant to an issue with the pump. This time I got a song-and-dance about how it might be a display issue and that I should wait to see my bill -or- perhaps I had overfilled the 5-gallon containers.

As I looked at the receipt, it showed that I had pumped 22.795 gallons. Doing some quick math I explained that to achieve this amount of pumped gas I would have had to be pumping gas onto the ground. Unfortunately, no understanding or reason would occur that day. The attendant simply took down my info and said someone would call me.

Several days later, I had not received a call and I stopped by the 7-11 to speak to a manager. Long story short, this game of cat and mouse lasted about 3 weeks when I had finally had enough. After broken promises of return phone calls and a resolution from the manager, I called the 7-11 Corporate Hotline for some satisfaction.

At 1-800-255-0711, I was issued case #0809112984 and assured a field rep would contact me in about 24 hours. Now, 14 days later and a few calls from me to them later, I am still waiting for a call from 7-11 Corporate.

In the meantime, the gas station manager and I finally settled up. One day on my way home from work, I stopped in again to see if the store manager had taken care of the issue yet. The attendant went in the back office and came back with a handwritten note showing that they should pump $7.44 worth of gas into my car. The note arrived at this figure by multiplying 2.8 x $3.72.

I explained to the attendant that the manager (a) couldn’t do simple arithmetic, (b) forgot that I had gotten *less than* 20 gallons and (c) hadn’t taken into consideration that the gas price was now $3.98/gal. I fought with the attendant and he finally provided me $10.75 worth of gas.

The final straw came tonight when I made my third post-complaint call to 7-11 Corporate. “Is anyone going to call me back,“ I asked. ”The manager settled with you already, so there is no need,“ replied the voice. A few more minutes of insane dialog occurred before...

”So, let me sum this up before I hang up with you...“ I said. ”First, you have a pump that malfunctions twice to the same individual within a month. Second, your store ignores, deflects and doesn’t follow-through on a fix for three weeks. Then, when they do ‘fix’ the issue they don’t even settle for the right amount of gas. Next, Corporate fails to deliver on their promise to have a field rep contact me to resolve the issue...“ Disinterested customer service rep: “Yes, since the manager paid you, this issue is considered closed. Is there anything else I can help you with tonight?”

”Yes, I have one final question for you. Do you feel like you have accomplished a good day’s work and have satisfied a customer?“ And with that, I hang up.

Jeers to 7-11. I am working on finding the time to call the Better Business Bureau and the State of Florida Regulatory Commission.

Netgear (ReadyNAS NV+)

ISSUE: Failure to deliver on free promotional item. Corrective action also failed.

RESOLUTION: Weeks of email and phone calls have yielded no solution. Update 3/17/ resolved

COMPANY RATING: One star (out of five)

Wow! This is where a company takes a bad situation and makes it worse...

I purchased two ReadyNAS NV+ units in 2007 Q4. I did so partially because Netgear was offering a great promotional gift...a free matching Seagate Barracuda hard drive with each purchase. Here is the rebate form:

In late January 2008, I started making calls because it was well past the promised due date to receive the drives. I encountered my first issue when the phone number on the rebate form was for a 3rd party call center which wasn’t even handling this promotion! After speaking with a manager at that call center, she told me that Netgear had made a mistake when producing the promotional form. After some more prying, she were kind enough to give me a direct contact name and phone number for the person at Netgear who was responsible for the promotion.

On January 28, 2008 I made first contact with Netgear and was told the drives were late to arrive at their offices, but they’d be going out early next week and since I had called, they’d send mine in the first batch as an overnight shipment.

Three weeks later, after many unreturned emails and phone calls in the interim, I pushed enough to get another contact name of a Netgear manager in Los Angeles. As I had grown to expect, he never returned my emails or voice mails either.

I spent the next two weeks making calls and sending emails to the whole group at Netgear with no replies from anyone.

Finally, with the arrival of two DHL packages at my door in early March, I thought the issue would come to a close. Excited and hoping to put this consumer experience behind me, I opened each box only to discover they had SENT THE WRONG (AND INFERIOR) DRIVES!

Another three days of trying to contact Netgear and again silence...

...Until March 6, when DHL delivered two envelopes containing the following letter:

Finally, I thought, Netgear had seen the error of their ways and this would soon be over. In the letter, it clearly showed that they had made a mistake and they were going to correct it as quickly as possible. Wrong again. Despite me following the letter to a "T", Netgear failed on every point. They didn’t use DHL Next Day, didn’t reply to my email (ever) and only sent one drive!

I now sit here waiting once again for a promotional drive that was supposed to be delivered 9-plus weeks ago...

This is how to irreparably lose customers, piss people off and thus get top billing in my hall of shame. JEERS Netgear. No matter what you do at this point, you’ve already lost this customer.

Update (3/17/08):
The Los Angeles-based manager finally called me and apologized. He said several people were no longer with the company based on the failures of this promotion. Here is his final letter to me.


Again my apologies for the lack of customer service. Attached is your tracking # 263718xxxxx. I’ve requested Sat delivery but it is 50/50 %. You can track tomorrow.

I took the liberty of sending you 2x750gb drives instead as you will probably need the space.

Please let me know if you need additional support.

Best regards,
[name removed]

I received the drives on Saturday, and, despite the months of bad customer support and contact, consider this issue to be resolved.