Cisco Linksys tech support adventures

Recently, my Linksys VoIP adapter malfunctioned. Here's my adventure in customer support.

As you might know from our FAQ, here at ConsumedConsumer we publish stories from our readers and we do not discriminate in any way between readers and staff members when it comes to publishing. We try to remove personally identifiable details, but in this particular story we’ve decided to leave as much as we can, as we hope that Cisco will use the information to improve their processes.

Here’s an outline of the events. We’ll expand on them as we verify the details.

xkcd-tech-support1. December 22, 2010

I went to the Cisco / Linksys website for the product. I could not find a way to file for an RMA online. All that appeared in the sidebar was a link to “chat online now” or call a toll-free number. I clicked the online chat link and the following ensued. The CSR Jun would type replies every 1-2 minutes, suggesting that she or he was either handling several customers at a time or playing a game of WOW.

Chat start time
Dec 22, 2010 12:39:42 PM EST

Chat end time
Dec 22, 2010 1:03:30 PM EST

Duration (actual chatting time)


Chat Transcript

info: Thank you for choosing Cisco.  We will be with you shortly.
info: You are now chatting with Jun.
Jun: Thank you for choosing Cisco Systems.  How may I assist you today?
A**: I have a PAP2T bought for a customer that won't boot up.
Jun: I will be happy to help you with that.
Jun: Are you a local partner or reseller?
A**: I'm a consultant. The product was purchased via retail channel.
Jun: I see. I believe you are looking for a technical support for the product, Unfortunately, this is the end user pre sales department and this is beyond my skill set. Do you have a Smartnet Contract to support this product?
A**: No
Jun: Oh okay, I'm sorry but they need to contact the retailer for support. They need a Smartnet Contract for technical support and since they don't have one best to go with the retailer.
A**: The retailer offers only 1 month support. Isn't Cisco / Linksys backing up their products with a 1-yr warranty (at least)?
Jun: I'm sorry, the Smartnet Contract is the warranty. We have 1 year, 2 years, 3 year's and even 5 years. I'm sorry but I believe your retailer is not actually a Certified Cisco Partner.
A**: so you are telling me that if an original linksys cisco product is malfunctioning, support is always provided by the retailer and never by cisco?
A**: what if the product needs replacement?
Jun: Let me rephrase that, a retailer is not a Certified Cisco Partner, Our partners will never sell a product that does not include a Smartnet Contract. It is usually ordered with the product.
Jun: May I have the name of the retailer?
Jun: Let me check if he's Certified Cisco.
A**: N**.com
A**: sorry, it's Dir***.com (division of N**)
Jun: I'm sorry N**.com is not a Certified Partner it's computer shop. The only Certified partner we have in Canada is CDW.
Jun: Sure let go ahead and double check it.
Jun: I'm sorry, A**. Still the same. Not a Certified Cisco Partner.
A**: So, I purchased a Cisco product from a retailer which makes me an end-user. The product needs fixing / replacing. You are telling me that 6 months later I should be contacting the retailer for fixing / replacing the malfunctioning product, not Cisco?
Jun: I'm afraid so. Since the device they purchase didn't come with a Smartnet contract.
A**: alright, thank you.

Armed with this information, I emailed my retailer:

I have ordered on June 28, 2010 n Cisco Linksys PAP2T units which shipped July 6, 2010.
Internet Order #: 254294
Invoice #: 347642
One of them is malfunctioning. I contacted Cisco for support but they told me I should be contacting you. Please clarify.

I got the following reply:

Brad B***.com
Sent at 2:56 PM (GMT-08:00). Current time there: 5:20 AM.
date Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 2:56 PM
subject RE:Customer Comments - By ***

Hello, you need to state to them that we only cover warranty for the first 30 days. I have sent you a copy of your invoice if you do need it. Now if they still refuse to help you which they wont please let us know and have them email you and forward to us stating why they cant help you. Cheers.
***: Great Deals. Fast Delivery.

I then decided to call the toll-free number listed next to the product. I first spoke to Jen 10857 for about 30 minutes. She first checked the entitlement status of my unit, FLI00K129* and found that it had a 1yr warranty expiring may 2011. That was good, we were on the right track. I then explained to her the problems with this unit: it would randomly drop calls in progress (or when simply ringing) and then it would be unusable for at least one day. After a while, it would magically come back to life on its own. This time, however, it did not come back to life at all. She then created a case number ( 101222-006747 ) and told me that she will activate the case and I will receive an email detailing what needs to be done next.

I called again the next day and talked to Grace 10916 from Philipines 11:30-46 (EST). She told me that the case was not activated, but she will do so and the email will come out. If not, I should be calling 8005465797 - open 8am PST or 11am EST.

I then successively talked to Michael 10628 then Sam 17195. With each CSR I had to explain again what the problem was and what I had done to that point, despite my case number. Sam finally told me that my issue could only be resolved by the COBO department, reachable at 18666061866. He then created a new case number, 101223-004906. When calling them I also learned of an email address that had not been listed anywhere else:

I then called 8666061866, spoke to Ela 18396 who told me that the issue was “beyond our expertise”. I requested to speak to a supervisor, waited 1h on hold, then, when I asked what is their address for service was told that their HQs were in Irving, California. I was finally “conferenced” to Joseph who set up a new case number, 616384**.

After spending another hour with him, giving all the details again I received the following email:

RMA/Service Order Acknowledgement
Please view page in a non-proportional font: Courier (10),
Mishawaka (Size 9 or 10), or Monaco (10)
RMA/Service Order Number: 83624*****

Authorized Return Parts due by: 12-JAN-2011
Service Request Number:  616384******

Contract Number:
Customer Reference #:
Purchase Order #:
*** CA
Service Order Line Details:
Create Date         Scheduled Ship Date      Product             Qty
23-DEC-10                               PAP2T-NA            1
RMA Return Line Detail:
Create Date    Sched Ret Dt    Product             Qty           Return Reason     Cust Prov Serial Num
23-DEC-10      02-JAN-2011              PAP2T-NA            1              OHW9
PLEASE NOTE:  The service level on this order is Return Replace (RTF) and requires the faulty unit to be returned before the replacement unit is scheduled to ship. Upon receipt of the faulty unit, the replacement unit will be scheduled to ship within 10 Business Days from the received date.
Return Instructions
1. Please write the RMA/Service Order Number clearly on the outside of each package.
2. Return the authorized items to the address below.
3. Failure to reference the RMA/Service Order# may result in processing delays.
4. US and Canadian Customers may schedule the pickup or authorized returns at
Return Address
UPS Logistics
C/O Cisco Systems, Inc.
7315 David Hunting Drive
ON, L5S 1W3  CA
Attention: RMA# 8**Important Service Order Information
- Return Policy Reminder:  All items must be returned and received by Cisco Systems within ten (10) calendar days of actual receipt.  ** RMA/Service Order Number is Valid for 21 days ** RMA/Service Order Number will be Auto Cancelled if not used**
- Part Returns are not expected for Ship Only Service Orders.  The RMA/Service Order Acknowledgment is only sent for confirmation of the Service order creation.
- Replacement parts for Return & Replacement Orders will be scheduled to ship within 10 Business Days from the date returned parts have been received.
- SVO Tools may be accessed to View SVO Status, Contact Information and to Create New Service Orders at
- Access to SVO Tools requires an active CCO/CPR ID and profile.  If you do not have CCO access, you may register at

Why is interacting with tech support so time-consuming? Is 5-6 hours a normal necessary time to do an RMA?

Sources / More info: Cisco Linksys PAP2T


Webstuff said…
it is so time consuming cause there are a bunch of suits handling the management of it. The must go down there list and ask you stuff you already know. What if you called tech support and you asked them a question they then do a search on there internal network and pow you got a good answer. Because i bet you that you are not the only person that has had this same issue
InBonobo said…
That's exactly the problem: with almost anything requiring tech support, all customers are passed around so much that getting a replacement for a malfunctioning unit under warranty costs as much in time (if not more) than a brand new unit..
madyusa said…
The recent rise in the US Dollar against the pound is causing chaos for Cisco distributors who are having to re-quote and re-quote again or risk losing money on Cisco orders. Some organisations are reporting that this is helping to speed up the process of closing Cisco deals before the appreciation of the dollar affects prices further, where some distributors are claiming that rising prices and uncertainty are putting customers off purchasing and are looking to cheaper alternatives.

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