Customer service and defective products

Last week I ordered a Belkin USB->serial adapter so I can reconfigure the ethernet interfaces on my router. The router can be accessed either via a serial port or over the network via SSH, but messing around with the network interfaces while connecting to it over the network is a good way to lock myself out if I mistype something. So this type of thing is normally done over a serial connection. The problem is, my computer doesn’t have a serial port. Apple hasn’t made a computer with a serial port in probably seven or eight years. Good riddance I say, except that Cisco apparently hasn’t changed their calendar and noticed that it’s now the 21st century.

So I ordered the aforementioned adapter. It arrived today and I went to try it out only to realize that Belkin is also a few years behind the times in that this adapter doesn’t come with drivers for OS X. Their offered “solution” assumes that I’m dual-booting OS 9 (I’m not) and suggests that I reboot and use that. Very helpful, that.

After double checking the CDW web site to see if I misread the system requirements, I called their customer service to explain that, while I had opened the package, I only did so because their web site said this adapter will work with OS 8.6 and above. I naturally assumed OS X was included in that. They said no problem, they’d credit me the amount of the item, and explained that items under $50 they don’t even expect back so I can just donate it or whatever. So I got a free adapter out of it. Sure, I can’t use it, but I’ve got stuff I need to list on Ebay anyway, so this will be tossed in the pile.

Unusual policy, but it works for me. I suppose most RMAs are defective, so cheap items probably aren’t worth the cost of receiving back. I just wonder how often this policy is abused. I wish more companies handled defective products this way. Compare this to waiting nearly six weeks for a replacement motherboard from MSI, which I’ve also done recently. The only communication I received from MSI while I was waiting was in response to my inquiries, and they were usually of the “you’ll get it back within x number of working days” canned answer variety. I wasn’t even notified that they received the motherboard; I only knew when they got it because I had the foresight to get USPS tracking for the package.