More than a year ago—I don’t recall exactly when—I purchased a Netgear DGN2000 wireless-N router with built-in DSL modem. The unit was replacing a simple DSL modem supplied to a client by Verizon. Last May, the DGN2000 was replaced by Netgear under warranty because the modem failed to work reliably. The exchange went smoothly, although it took a while to convince Netgear tech support that the DGN2000 was toast.
Today, I called Netgear about the replacement router. The router, now less than six months old, had three of its four Ethernet ports fail. A quick check by the support person led to the response that the unit was out of warranty—I had purchased the first modem more than a year ago, even though the replacement unit was only half a year old.
My telephone call was then transferred to someone who offered me a year of technical support for $100 ($99 and change, as I recall) or support for a single incident for $40 ($39 plus). I asked what would be my options once we determined that the Ethernet ports had indeed failed and was told by the lady on the other end of the line that she couldn’t say until we had gone through the troubleshooting steps, and we couldn’t do that until I paid for support. After a few harsh words, I was reluctantly told that, if the unit was indeed bad, I would have to buy a new one. At that point, I hung up.
Netgear has lost a customer, one who has often purchased Netgear products for clients. I’m sure that Netgear’s perspective is that a one-year warranty simply guarantees the customer a working device for 365 days and that repeated failures of a product could extend the manufacturer’s liability indefinitely. No manufacturer wants to take on an unending financial risk.
As a customer, my perspective is that a one-year warranty implies that the manufacturer genuinely expects a product to remain defect free during one or more years of use. If I received a new DGN2000 in May—I cannot prove the replacement unit was new, of course—it was a reasonable expectation that, a year later, it would still be working. Given my experience—based on a small sample, to be sure—that all DGN2000s fail after about six months, it is reasonable for me to conclude, perhaps wrongly, that the DGN2000 is either badly designed or badly manufactured.
Had Netscape been willing to replace my device a second time, I might instead have concluded that my experience was a fluke and that the manufacturer could easily afford to give me a new unit, since it seldom needed to do so. Apparently, Netscape cannot afford to do that, however.