Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 26, 2004
BLOG: STRINGS ATTACHED

OK, rant time. It's 1 in the morning, and I just got off the phone after two hours (most of it spent on hold) trying to get assistance from Dell with our wireless connection. I should have been in bed a long time ago, I've got to work in the morning, and for good measure I'd hoped to work on a long blog entry I've been working over. All out the window.

Here's the deal: my wife and I got a Dell laptop about two months ago. Although there were other uses for the laptop, we paid a lot of extra money to ensure that the laptop would have wireless service so that, among other things, I could blog without having to hibernate in the basement, where the desktop and cable modem are located. We paid for the wireless card, we paid for the router. I spent upwards of 90 minutes on the phone with tech support in early July to hook the ^%!^@! thing up.

Result: we can now use the internet . . . in our bedroom. It's the only place on the ground floor of the house where the wireless signal comes through (it's directly above the room in the basement where the desktop and router are located). To keep the connection, you need to walk very slowly out of the bedroom, and then it's a weak connection that can be lost at a moment's notice, which among other things means frequent saving or risk of losing lots of work on the blog.

So, tonight I got fed up and called Dell for help. 25 minutes on hold, get the call center in India on the line, get a few hugely time-consuming but ineffective pieces of advice. Get switched to the wireless specialist; almost an hour on hold ensues. Wireless specialist walks me througn a few items and then announces that (1) the problem may be that the wireless connection can't work in the presence of cordless phones (both our phones are cordless, and without one I could not call him from in front of the computer) or microwave ovens; (2) the router could be interfered with by walls, ceilings, etc., and (3) if we want it to work we have to buy yet another router. None of which cautions were mentioned anywhere by Dell or any of the other sources I looked at before plunking down the money for this thing. And I'll be damned if I'm going to buy another router only to be told I need to replace my telephone and unplug the microwave to use the computer.

Is wireless access really a mirage? Is it just Dell? Or did I just talk to an idiot in tech support? I don't know. I just know I'm unlikely to ever get what I paid for. And I'll be blogging in the basement for the foreseeable future. Grrrrr.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:13 AM | Blog 2002-05 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I had serious wireless problems earlier this summer too. Spent 20 hours total (I'm a lawyer--I track time) on the phone with my ISP and the company that makes my router and wireless card. I'm not going to get into the specifics of my problem, let's just say none of the 20 or so tech people I spoke with could fix the problem. What happened? Who knows; The problem went away as soon as it started. Bottom line is that wireless systems are moody. Routers and cards from different companies don't always like each other and all sorts otf things can interfere with your signal--microwaves, cordless phones, even your neighbor's phones or wireless router. Try going to a 5.8 ghz phone--it operates on a different frequency than most routers. Good luck. I'm glad that these tech difficulties won't keep you from blogging!

Posted by: Jason at August 26, 2004 2:17 AM

Brick walls can be a problem, so it could be structural if that's the case.
Otherwise, you probably came across an idiot, which happens to me every other time I contact DirecTV.

Posted by: RW at August 26, 2004 7:29 AM

Brick walls can be a problem, so it could be structural if that's the case.
Otherwise, you probably came across an idiot, which happens to me every other time I contact DirecTV.

Posted by: RW at August 26, 2004 7:37 AM

I swear by Hawking hi-gain antennas. You replace the piddling little ones on your router and wireless card with these things.

Anyway, here's a tip for the future. Don't call Dell. Go to dslreports.com. They have forums for every major ISP and many minor ones, every hardware manufacturer, etc. You will get better help there than from tech support -- unless time is of the essence, in which case you're screwed.

Good luck.

-- Attila

Posted by: Attila at August 26, 2004 9:37 AM

I got a Linksys WiFi router running on a Dell PC pretty easily and it's very powerful (with a signal I can access several rooms away -- You may want to consider going with all Linksys gear. Also, consider installing booster stations. True, as others have posted, WiFi implementations are generally not quite ready for prime time yet. I still get wierd inconsistencies in signal strength.

As a general matter, I would avoid purchasing all Dell products going forward. The value Dell provides in low prices dwindles pretty quickly when you get stuck trying to get their products to work properly. You've learned, as many others have, that they have some of the worst customer service in the business. As home systems get more complex with WiFi and VoIP, I predict that Dell, which relies on home users who only surf the web and occaisionally use Office, will fall pretty hard, at least in home PC market.

Posted by: Rob at August 31, 2004 1:49 PM

I got a Linksys WiFi router running on a Dell PC pretty easily and it's very powerful (with a signal I can access several rooms away -- You may want to consider going with all Linksys gear. Also, consider installing booster stations. True, as others have posted, WiFi implementations are generally not quite ready for prime time yet. I still get wierd inconsistencies in signal strength.

As a general matter, I would avoid purchasing all Dell products going forward. The value Dell provides in low prices dwindles pretty quickly when you get stuck trying to get their products to work properly. You've learned, as many others have, that they have some of the worst customer service in the business. As home systems get more complex with WiFi and VoIP, I predict that Dell, which relies on home users who only surf the web and occaisionally use Office, will fall pretty hard, at least in home PC market.

Posted by: Rob at August 31, 2004 1:50 PM
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