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CLEAR Customer Service Nightmare

After seeing a tweet from Jeris JC Miller this morning, I offered to provide her guest blogger privileges on my blog – given that I once suffered the cruel and unusual torture of ClearWire customer service. The following has been written by Jeris:

As an active member of a thriving social media community, I often have need of a portable hub while attending community events. Not every venue that I attend is equipped with internet access as I do a lot of outreach in Seattle’s non-profit community. Of the portable wireless hubs currently on the market, I chose the ClearSpot from CLEAR (formerly Clearwire) because of its convenient size and the fact that the portable modem could be disconnected and carried and used separately without the hub when size portability is my foremost need. It was the design that won the day.

I ordered my ClearSpot hub and modem on 01.15.10 and it was promptly delivered. However, the ClearSpot was shipped with outdated Firmware which kept me stuck in an endless loop of “Capture” on Clearwire’s Home page during set up (very annoying!!) and which required a two hour telephone call with CLEAR Technical Support as they walked me through downloading and installing correct Firmware updates and setting the unit up. I will say on CLEAR’s behalf, the Technical Support team was well trained and effective – for a newbie or intermediate user however, this task would have been very daunting right out of the box! Still, I persevered since I really want this mobile capability and functionality. At the initial time of my purchase, I also opted for an Extended Hardware Warrantee for an additional charge. Although I am not a super highend Power User, I am also not a neophyte. Hardware and software isn’t perfect and it’s best to have a backup!

My initial user experience with ClearSpot upload and download connection speeds was disappointing from my Queen Anne area home, but connectivity speeds seem to perform better at the top of hill (I live on South Slope) and necessitated purchasing a separate homebased cable modem to meet my daily needs. The total package for connectivity only for both services is close to $69 per month.

On March 6th, 54 days after the arrival of my ClearSpot hub and modem, the ClearSpot failed – it stopped assigning IP Addresses and required an internal “reset” as I was informed by Clear Technical Support. One problem however; the sliding panel on the back of this hub is fused to the main unit and it cannot be opened unless I pry it off which of course will void all warrantees on this unit. Totally exasperated, I let the project go another week as work demands took precedence.

I followed up with a second call to CLEAR Technical Support on 03.13.10 and spoke with one of their Second Tier Customer Support Technicians, where I learned that my extended hardware warranty, which I specifically purchased to cover this kind of an incident, did NOT cover the ClearSpot – it was only valid for the mobile modem! What’s more, the ClearSpot only has a 30 Day Warrantee! – not the 90 days typical of most electronic equipment – and CLEAR requires ME to send the ClearSpot to Motorola for replacement.

In the meantime – while I am expected bear the burden of sorting this out with Motorola – CLEAR intends to keep billing me for a service I cannot use! When asked if I could cancel the ClearSpot Service outright and asked for a refund for the defective hub – I was referred to the CLEAR Billing Department – which of course is not available on the weekends.

I pursued the Customer Service Escalation line of inquiry further by asking if there was a Twitter account, an email address, a web site to which I could escalate this terribly inequitable issue and register a formal complaint with CLEAR Customer Service. There is none! The mechanism in place for formal escalation of customer complaints is through traditional snail mail to:

CLEAR Customer Service
5220 Industrial Blvd
Milton, FL 32983

In the meantime, I am automatically charged for a service I am not and cannot use. This ranks among the Worst Customer Experiences I have ever encountered or even heard of! I can think of no other piece of electronic equipment that is warrantied under 90 days!

CLEAR does NOT Make It Simple!

Clearwire Coupon

I just became a Clearwire subscriber the other day. They’re running a pretty good membership special right now, but that’s not the reason I signed up for an account. I’m using Clearwire at home for a few reasons:

  • Broadband backup – when Comcast goes down, I can still be up. Downtime sucks.
  • Bittorrent nirvana – I can transfer large files without saturating my primary network.
  • Better backwards compatiblity – I’m running a wireless router on the Clearwire modem at a lower security level (WEP) for devices that aren’t 802.11g compatible.

Plus, the modem will work anywhere there’s a Clearwire signal present – although I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a PCMCIA or SDIO solution will avail itself at some point. No matter, there’s a $15 Visa reward for every Clearwire referral. If you’re in Seattle, I’ll just connect you directly with the guy who set me up.