I was busy typing on my keyboard yesterday when I heard a sharp click to my left. I looked up and my new broadband router looked dead. I tried to access the Internet but nothing was doing so decided to follow some logical steps.
First I checked to see if my Network Connection was OK. As I was doing this the router came to life, but not with its usual array of steady and flashing lights; instead all five green lights were going on and off together. Very odd. I clicked the icon labelled Hub Manager and the message said everything was normal, although I still couldn't access the Net. Next the instructions told me to unplug the modem power and wait for 30 seconds. I did this and rebooted the computer as well while I went to pour myself a cup of coffee.
When I got back the desktop was normal and I plugged in the router power lead. After a moment the right hand "DATA" light came on, but nothing else and, after a few minutes, this too went off so I unplugged the power and replugged after a little time. The data light came on again and nothing else.
I rummaged around and found the Installation Guide and looked for the troubleshooting section. Oh dear... "When all the lights flash a firmware upgrade is taking place and, in red capitals, "DO NOT UNPLUG THE POWER".
If anything goes wrong you'll have to reload the factory settings it went on to say... "Read page 21 of the Instruction Book". The only other book I had with the router was full of colour photos of smiling females posing in front of laptop computers. Page 21 dealt with wireless access and not with firmware problems. Maybe there was a third booklet somewhere?
I thought for a minute then decided to look on the Installation CD. This self booted and by then I'd noticed a phone number that I was to ring if I wanted assistance, so hinking this would take me straight through to the solution, I rang the number.
After pushing various buttons I was told that they were very busy and I should try again between 2pm and 5pm. As the clock said 3pm, I decided to wait, but then the line seemed to go dead so I decided to try another number. Instead of the technical help digit I tried "Sales" as that usually doesn't have a big queue of callers hanging on.
After a few minutes a young lady appologised for the delay. We're very busy today, she informed me. You're very busy EVERY DAY not just today I replied. We've been very busy all month she said... I wonder how many potential customers are lost and how many give up on BT and go elsewhere I wondered... I must write to the MD sometime and let him know what it's like having to press a phone to ones' ear for 30 minutes...
I explained the problem about losing my firmware and I wanted to find out what Page 21 had to say about restoring factory settings...
I hung on for about 10 minutes until an "engineer" came on the line. At first I thought he was a guttaral spoken Welshman but I realised he was probably a native of Delhi or Hyderabad, definitely a lot further away than Wales.
Every question I put seemed to be followed by a wait of about 30 seconds (I realised later that he was probably waiting for his computer screen to supply the next answer).
The young lady I spoke to told me I had a "210" router. The Indian chap wanted to know what I was using. I looked at the device but was unable to find anything telling me what it was. I said I thought it was a 210. I explained that I needed to know how to restore its firmware following an unsuccessful attempt at updating.
It was as if I was talking to myself. Every question I put seemed to undeter him from asking his next question and telling me to press this key then that key.
I kept telling him he was wasting my time and all I wanted was new firmware and how did I go about this. But he seemed to just ignore me.
We rebooted. We unplugged the router. We tried to address it via Internet Explorer... lots of things that I kept explaining were a waste of time but he continued for about 30 minutes until finally I was asked to insert the Installation CD. I didn't have to do this as it was already in place as just before I phoned I'd decided to see if the User Manual was on the CD.
Finally he directed me to open the utility folder. I'd already done this as (I mentioned before it took ages to get a response from him.. it was as if the telephone line went round the moon and back, such was the delay) and I'd already spotted the utility that said it would reload the firmware...
At last the reload started and the Indian gentlemen was winding up... how else could he help? he asked... I'd like a refund for the 40 minute call I've just made I said and replaced the phone.
After the firmware reload had finished everything worked OK except I had to backtrack and fix the addresses in the TCP/IP windows he'd asked me to put in... lucky I remembered.
So the moral is BE WARNED don't always unplug the power. If all the lights are flashing leave well alone and make yourself a pot of tea.