Flash! Netgear through poor software practices launches a distributed denial of service attach against the University of Wisconsin. I do not believe this is in any way malicious, but rather through general incompetence. See University of Wisconsin Internet Time Server for details. Netgear made about 700,000 routers with this incompetetent software. The University of Wisconsin is getting messages from 285,000 different IP addresses, sending roughly 250,000 packets per second, which works out to about 150 megabits per second. This has been going on for years.
I bought a Netgear internet router on April fools day, 2001. This should have been a hint of things to come. I bought Netgear because of their good reputation, and the router is a nice sturdy blue metal box, and has a 5 year warranty.
Routers sit between the outside world (like a cable modem or a DSL modem), and an internal network. For home use, they do IP NAT (network address translation), which is a really primitive form of a firewall. Since the internal network address is different than the outside network address, the internal network is somewhat isolated from the outside world. This is good for security, though it isn't nearly as isolated as a stateful firewall, which is available with openbsd, other real operating systems, and high end routers. Routers also allow more than one computer to share an external IP address which is handy for a home with more than one computer.
So I installed my Netgear RT-314 in my local area network, and after a short while, I had it working. The documentation didn't match what it was doing, (there was no web interface) since I had an old version of the software loaded in the router from the factory. But I was able to figure things out.
Early in Feb 2002, I started having problems with my internet connection. It was not obvious what was going on, but after some troubleshooting, it became clear that my router was causing massive problems. I was able to disconnect the router, and use a hub instead, and my internet connection worked perfectly. Now a hub is about as simple and stupid as an Ethernet device gets, and doesn't have the features I want from a router.
The problems I was having were very odd. After freshly booting the router, everything would work fine for 5 to 30 minutes. After that, there would be DNS lookup errors. We tried manually setting the DNS servers to known good servers, but that didn't help. There would also be complete connectivity problems, where I couldn't ping well known sites like yahoo.com and the like by IP address. This indicates that the router can't talk to the outside world at all. If I did a ipconfig/release and an ipconfig/renew (win2k commands) sometimes the connection would get better for 5 to 30 minutes.
I spent much time with Netgear tech support working on the problem. They do have 24*7 tech support, though the first line of techs are in India, and some are pretty clueless, and have a hard time understanding English (though they speak English far better than I speak any Indian language). We tried lots and lots of things, and I probably called them 5 or 6 times for several hours total. We even loaded the latest software, which finally had the web interface the documentation described, but it didn't work any better. Eventually they decided that my router was likely defective, and sent me to the second tier tech support folks in California for a RMA.
I told the techs that I needed a new router cross shipped, and they said no problem, they just needed my credit card number in case I didn't return the broken router. I said no problem, and gave them my number. The new router worked just like the old router, which had serious problems. I called the tech support folks back and spoke to 4 different second tier tech support folks. We tried everything. We even got a third router. They all acted the same.
They suggested that perhaps my ISP had done something that made the router not work. They suggested that my cable modem was incompatible in some way. It seemed to me like they were trying to shift the blame. I asked them to come over, with some network analyzers to see what was really going on. Even though I am within an hours drive, they said they couldn't do it. (Later on, a friend with a different ISP and a different cable modem had the same problems I was having. Also I later bought a new router which is working fine. So the problem was clearly with the Netgear router.)
About this time, I got my credit card bill. There was a charge
from Netgear! I called the number on the credit card bill, and it
asked for some access code. I called Netgear, and was bounced
around for awhile, and I was finally given the email address of a
person who could help me with the charge.
I sent her the following:
Date: Mon Mar 04 14:58:12 2002
Subject: mystery credit card charges
I have been calling Netgear tech support. They suggested trying a new router, so I said ok. I told them I wanted to cross-ship it, and they said they needed my credit card number, in case I didn't return my old router. I gave it to them.
There were more problems with my new router, and it was cross-shipped again.
I now see a charge for $12.95 on my bill, with a 'description of transaction' saying Netgear Inc and listing a phone number of 877 587 1904.
Now, if the tech support people fixed my problem, I wouldn't be so upset. But they were unable to help me, so I now have a useless router, and many hours of my time taken up with the problem.
They never mentioned there would be a shipping charge at all, at any time. I find it highly unprofessional to charge me, without letting me know about it first.
I also find the useless phone number on the credit card bill highly unprofessional.
I wish I had a working router, instead of a useless box...
The RMA numbers I had were: 205 047 20-32944 and 205 047 20-33327
domain owner of weasel.com
I called Netgear some more, and I told them I wanted a newer router, without the bugs of the old one. Eventually I spoke to Tanya Miller. I told her a friend had a new Linksys router, and it worked great for him. I asked him to try mine, and it had the same problems that I was having. Eventually Tanya said I should send her a copy of my receipt (I was a bit puzzled, as I clearly owned one, and based on the serial number of my unit they could tell roughly when it was purchased.) I faxed her a copy of the receipt, and got the following email:
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 10:53:04 -0800
From: "Tanya Miller" firstname.lastname@example.org
I did receive your fax, we are submitting your request. From here all correspondence will be done via email.
Thank you, Tanya M. Miller
Date: Thurs, Mar 14 7:59:33 2002
Subject: Re: Netgear
So where is a working router for me?
It has been almost a week.
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 07:54:05 -0800
From: "Tanya Miller" email@example.com
Subject: RE: Netgear
Turbo, we are not able to get you a refund or exchange your product for an upgrade. You made reference to your ISP making changes, and that is not under our control. Unfortunately, I help nothing else to offer you after 3 replacements.
Tanya M. Miller
Netgear Customer Support
Date: Fri Mar 15 08:25:09 2002
Subject: RE: Netgear
What happened to your 5 year warranty?
Does it mean anything?
I went out and bought a D-Link router, and it has been working flawlessly since I installed it, but I still want a working Netgear router.
I really want a refund, or a working router.
I have no idea if my ISP made any changes, that was an idea of Netgear tech support. I offered for your folks to come out here with network analyzers, and see what was going on, but your techs didn't want to do it. I would think you would want to see what is going on and fix it...
Are you still going to charge me for the 2 shipped routers, since your tech never mentioned any charges, or should I dispute it with my credit card? I fear I will have to make Netgear 'weasel of the month' at weasel.com A fair amount of folks read it, based on the feedback I have gotten from many people...
So now we see what the 5 year hardware warranty means. You
do get toll free tech support, but you do have to wait
on the phone for a long time, and the folks aren't very helpful.
You don't get working hardware, but "we are not able to get you a
refund or exchange your product for an upgrade.... Unfortunately,
I help nothing else to offer you after 3 replacements." (it was
really 2 replacements, and she probably meant 'have' not
So Netgear, welcome to WEASEL OF THE MONTH
If you have comments or suggestions, Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Created with gnu emacs and template-toolkit, not some sissy HTML editor.
both have significant security issues.