Linksys Wireless Game Adaptor: What a piece of crap!
UPDATE 2/22/05 at 8:25pm: It’s been 21 hours since I sent Linksys a customer support email (incident: 050221-002616) and I’ve received nothing. Nada. Zilch. Nice customer service, heh?
Anyone that knows me understands that I have a propeller on my beanie (fairly technical…albeit my propeller is a small one) and I can figure out just about any configuration issue when it comes to consumer electronics or computer products. Love gadgets and problem solving too.
But after my experience last night I have a couple of questions: what the hell does Joe Sixpack do to get all this stuff hooked up!?! If I have issues…Joe has serious problems and companies like Linksys (Cisco) have even bigger ones if they wanna sell more of this stuff…’cause Joe isn’t buying more if it’s this complicated.
Here’s what happened to spur this rant: my 10 year old son has been pretty excited to get on XBox Live. I bought a Linksys WGA11B wireless game adaptor, the XBox Live kit, and last night I set about getting it configured and hooked up. Figured at most it’d be a half hour job.
Quick note about my home network to illustrate that I’m not just some bonehead who hasn’t done this stuff before: I have five machines on my wireless network and one device. I run WPA encryption (since WEP has been cracked), a “closed network” (meaning it doesn’t broadcast its name — also called the SSID) and I have the MAC addresses from each computer/device placed in the access control area of my wireless router for kind of a triple whammy of protection.
I spent 3.5 hours tonight trying to get this thing to work (the last hour was with their India-based help desk). For the life of me I cannot get this damn thing on my network unless I completely turn off ALL encryption. All devices on my network are (I mean were) WPA encrypted. *After* I was on with their help desk the first time for a few minutes about an hour in to my adventure, I was told that THIS ADAPTOR IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH WPA — only WEP!
Of course, do you think Linksys could’ve printed this important fact on the box? Nah…that’d be too easy (unless their target market *is* boneheads that run unencrypted wireless home networks). I had to dumb-down my network to WEP encryption in an attempt to get it to work. It still didn’t.
There’s a lesson here. Is the answer to have Joe Sixpack (i.e., the mass market) be insecure with their wireless networks in order to get wireless products to work? Is it possible to make it any more difficult to get this configured? I also am stumped by my poor experience with the India-based help desk since it was pretty clear that the young woman I talked to was used to dealing with Joe and yet was very limited in her knowledge and not terribly helpful. It was noisy in her call center, tough to hear her, she often put me on mute, and it made my frustrating experience all that more so. Oh yeah…their support website and product documentation were both incomplete and weak.
So tomorrow evening I’ll be returning this product and the XBox Live kit to Best Buy for a refund and Linksys will have to eat the return (plus I can’t imagine what that one support call for an hour to India cost). Can you guess whose wireless products I will *never* buy again, never recommend nor give positive feedback about in the future?
Most importantly I’ll have to figure out an alternative or deal with a disappointed boy.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.