Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Broadband woes and customer service triumphs

WirelessRouterMy Broadband router died the other day. One night it worked, the next morning – caput! No lights on the front panel, no response even when I prodded the reset button with a pen. Our house seems to be an unhealthy environment for electronics. I blame my wife: when she was at university, she could crash a computer just by sitting down and putting her hand to the mouse.

But my luck was in. This was a Belkin router, and it came with a lifetime guarantee – and not a gnat’s lifetime either, as it turned out.

I suspected a fried power supply, so I got chatting to technical support (Live Chat does an excellent of rendering an Indian accent intelligible to British eyes!), intending to ask them to replace it. I got more than I bargained for.

Having cleared the hurdle of First Line support, Second Line agreed that they would give me a replacement – of the whole router. In fact, they would give me an upgrade, since the model I had was obsolete. And to top it all, they emailed me a postage-paid label by which to return my old router.

Now get this: I bought the router for £20 second-hand from a colleague more than a year ago, yet that didn’t concern Belkin – at no point did they ask for so much as a whiff of a proof of purchase.

The router duly arrived, I plugged it in, and – no connection. I borrowed a friend’s router – no connection on that either. Clearly my line had rotted from lack of use.

That was when I discovered the magical iPlate from BT. It’s a widget that costs less than a tenner, that really does install in minutes (on top of your home’s master socket), and it brought my line back from the dead. It works, I’m told, by cutting out the bell wire (used, in the olden days, to ring your phone’s bell, but now defunct and the cause of much interference on the line). My download speed is pretty much as it was before, but my upload speed has almost doubled!

So now I don’t even have dead Broadband as an excuse for not updating my blog in over a month!


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