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September 08, 2000

Linksys Review

Rating: Horrible

Well, for some reason, I figured no-one could screw up an ethernet hub, so I decided to purchase the cheapest one I could find. It turned out to be a simple 5-port 10/100 model from Linksys. It seemed fine for a couple months. When I went to plug in another computer, it wouldn't work in 1 of the ports. So anyway, I contact support, they agree the hub is faulty and get me to fill out this form to have the item cross shipped, (i.e. they will ship me a replacement before I have to ship back the defective item) and fax it back to them long distance. So a while later the courier shows up with the package and is demanding ~$70 in duty and taxes, I refused the package since a new hub is only ~$90 and I would have still had pay to ship back the defective item. After getting a call from the courier as to why I refused the item, they agreed that it was mislabeled and that I shouldn't have to pay for it, but that they can do nothing since Linksys labeled the item as "Sales" and put an inflated declared value on it. I contact Canadian customs just to be sure and to find out how to label it correctly. I contact Linksys inform them of what happened and how to ship the product correctly. No response. I email several times allowing a couple months to pass. (I was being generous and didn't require the replacement immediately since it still mostly worked.) Anyway, still no response, so I escalate the problem and emailed various sales, customer service and other high level people about my warranty not being honoured. Anyway this woke up the technical support. About this time I received my visa bill, and what do I see, but a charge for the hub I refused shipment of. (They required my credit card number on that fax back form....you know, just in case you don't bother to ship back your defective hub.) Anyway I contact technical support, complain my credit card has been charged for no reason, that my email hasn't been answered and that I still don't have a replacement for my defective product. So anyway they get right on it, reverse the credit charge and ship out the product labeled correctly. Strangely, when the product arrived, I noticed that it had been stamped with "warranty replacement" like it should.... but that means they had a stamp that says that, they also included all the correct documentation. This leads me to believe they knew what to do even before I told them in unanswered emails. Welp, the new hub works, and strangely I get faster transfers through it, so obviously the old one was flawed more than a malfunctioning port. Anyway, I am totally horrified by the technical support and pretty annoyed at a simple item such as a hub failing. (Note: I have a friend who also had a Linksys hub fail recently, and other friends have had problems with framing errors with Linksys NICs and cable modems) So anyway, I totally recommend staying away from Linksys products. They are cheap, but you get what you pay for.

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The Sony Store Direct Review

The Sony Store Direct
Rating: Good

Update: New URL, now called Sony Style

I took the headphones in for warranty to get the ear pads replaced as they had ripped in less than a year. It took forever, several months later rather than the 2 weeks the salesman said, I called they still hadn't arrived back from service, so they decided to give me a whole new pair.

Well, I was having a hard time finding a good pair of wireless headphones. I found one good company, but they couldn't figure out if the products were even available in Canada let alone find a dealer for me. Next, I found a Sony model that was rated very highly. I looked around, Future Shop carried it, but didn't have stock, same thing at the physical Sony Store's around here. Checking online vendors they all had the same prices. While checking up on the specifications of the product on the Canadian Sony site (www.sony.ca), I noticed the online store, The Sony Store Direct. Anyway, the price was the same as everyone else, except I saved the provincial taxes. I ordered it up. At least I though I did. The shopping engine crapped out in Netscape. I fired up IE and put through the order. Oops, looking back at Netscape (I left it running), after crapping out, it put the order through anyway. I immediately left an email for them, it was a weekend, so this was the fastest way to get a response. Anyway, first thing Monday morning, they called me up and asked if I meant to make 2 identical purchases. Now, I don't think they had read my email at this point, this was flagged by their shopping engine or someone who reviews purchases. I was quite surprised that they had independently discovered the error, a nice touch, or at least they had quickly responded to my email. Anyway, the product was shipped out and packaged well and included in the packaging was tons of information, labels and shipping instructions for returning the item or having warranty work done. Now this is more than I expected, the complete terms of the shopping agreement, all the information about the purchase and returning the item if chosen, as well as warranty information. The product works excellently, just as the reviews have said. As for my rating, the selection is very limited, it just so happened they had the one product I wanted to purchase. Their prices are also the standard Sony Store ones, usually the MSRP or close too it, which means they are high. The pseudo failure of the online shopping engine in Netscape is also troublesome. However their actual diligence in creating a good experience for online shoppers overcomes these flaws. Note: The online store is actually run by a physical Sony Store in Quebec. As a general note, for online shopping, it seems one of two things occurs. Either the site has an excellent front end, (ie the website pages, descriptions, shopping engine, products) and a poor back end (ie shipping, billing, support) or the opposite is true. It seems no-one can quite get both done at the same time.

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