Vodafone #Fail and how to unfsck a botched USB stick install

The purpose of this post is to draw attention to poor customer service from Vodafone and document how to fix a botched driver install for their USB internet stick.

My new employer has given me a very nice Dell Latitude E4310. It has an SSD hard drive and with Windows 7 64bit its a real pleasure to use. Fast, smooth, solid. My employer also gave me a Vodafone USB stick for mobile internet access.

Before this nice new laptop I had some old clunker as a loaner. After some wrangling with the laptop and the Vodafone USB stick I was able to get it working. Only after downloading and installing version 10 of the Vodafone Mobile Connect software. I don’t know where I downloaded version 10 of the software from but I suspect it was the Vodafone UK website. All good and happy for three weeks.

Now back to the new laptop, I took a day out of my current engagement to sit in the office and get my new laptop all setup and ready to go. Installed and patched Windows. Downloaded and installed the latest Dell drivers for the laptop. All good.

Installed version 10 of the Vodafone Mobile Connect software, plugged in the USB modem, thought I saw the drivers installing. Then it didn’t work. I toyed with it over the next week or so and couldn’t ever get the Vodafone Mobile Connect software to recognise that I had a USB modem plugged in. What was worse was that with the Vodafone Mobile Connect version 10 software installed my laptop wouldn’t sleep, hibernate or reboot properly. If I uninstalled the software the laptop worked fine.

Yesterday (11/11/2010) I called Vodafone Australia to get their assistance to resolve this. I called at 0900 and navigated my way through the Vodafone IVR and everntually found myself talking to someone in India. I explained the problems I was having and was promptly told that the fault was a network outage that was affecting NSW and VIC and I should try again later in the day. I explained again that my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t connect to the network, the problem is that the USB modem I have isn’t being recognised by Windows and I would like some help to troubleshoot it. The technician took my through some basic Device Manager troubleshooting and determined that a more senior person would need to call me and assist me. No problem, always happy to speak to someone more experienced and technical. I was promised a callback within 90 minutes.

2.5 hours later no call back. I head off to a meeting and sure enough when I get back there is a missed call from the tech asking me to call him back. I ran out of time that day and didnt return the call.

Today (12/11/2010) I realised that I might actually need some mobile internet access on the weekend so called Vodafone Australia on my lunch break, navigated their IVR and found myself talking to Raj at about 1330. Raj took me through some sensible troubleshooting steps. He seemed to get a bit confused though when my Device Manager only contained a few of the Vodafone dongle device he was expecting. He then very sensibly asked me to plug the USB stick into another laptop and see if it worked. I conveniently had a 2nd laptop handy running WinXPsp3. When I plugged the USB dongle in it was installed immediately with no errors.

Raj concluded at this point that my new laptop was faulty and I would need to have it repaired or troubleshooted and that Vodafone couldn’t and wouldn’t assist me with this. I started pushing back, asking polite open questions about what he could do to help me resolve this problem as I disagreed with his conclusion based on the fact that the laptop was brand new and the USB ports worked fine for everything else plugged into them. Poor Raj was having a bad day I think and he started to get quite rude with me, despite my being very polite but firm with him. I was left with no option but to request a chat with his supervisor which Raj was very happy to arrange.

After a few moments on hold I was now talking to Rheese the supervisor. I explained to Rheese why I thought Raj’s conclusion was incorrect and Rheese agreed that there was more that could be done to assist me and that they had seen similar issues with Windows 7. Rheese hunted up another tech for me, first he tried Raj but he was on another call and I didnt really want to talk to him again, then Rheese found a more senior guy called Dev.

After ten more minutes on the phone with Dev my USB dongle was working fine and I thanked him kindly and we went our seperate ways.

For the benefit of other Vodafone users what Dev had me do was:

  • Disconnect the USB stick from the laptop.
  • Uninstall the Mobile Connect Software from my laptop and reboot.
  • Connect the USB stick to the laptop and open Device Manager
  • Uninstall all the Vodafone devices I could find including all the USB Composite Devices.
  • Waited a few minutes in case Windows redetects the USB stick. Mine didn’t but if it does and it reinstalls the devices just uninstall them again. This part is important. You MUST be sure you have uninstalled all the devices for the USB stick.
  • Rebooted again.
  • Plugged in the USB stick. Windows detected the device this time and installed ALL of the correct devices (CDROM, Network Card, Modem, Serial Ports, USB Composite Devices)
  • Installed the Vodafone Mobile Connect software that comes on the USB key and NOT version 10.
  • Dev was very specific that version 10 shouldn’t be used with my model USB key. Thanks for not pointing this out when I downloaded it Vodafone!

My questions for Vodafone are:

  • Why wasn’t I called back on Thursday when you said I would be?
  • Why was Raj so reticent to resolve my problem?
  • Why was Dev able to resolve the problem and Raj wasn’t?
  • Why didn’t your web page for Version 10 of the software tell me NOT to use it with the USB modem I had?

Update (20101116)

The problems have returned and the device is non functional again. Based on what I learnt previously Im trying to make it go again and im not having a lot of luck so far. Watch this space.

Update (20110125)

I finally tracked down the cause of the fault. See here.

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One Response to Vodafone #Fail and how to unfsck a botched USB stick install

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Perhaps Not, Perhaps Not. Perhaps Not said: Vodafone #Fail and how to unfsck a botched USB stick install: http://wp.me/pZKMc-24 […]

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