Dear Lifehacker, I just upgraded to Ultimate Cable (from Telstra). When I connect directly with the supplied NetGear router, I can get really good speeds, but when I hook up via my Billion 7800N, the connection becomes a lot slower.
I did some further research into the issue and it turns out the Billion 7800N router doesn't have hardware fast enough to support the internet speeds I am receiving. I was quite disappointed to find this out, as when I originally purchased the router I had ADSL2+ and was planning on upgrading to cable in the future. I chose this model because it had an EWAN port which Billion claims is suitable for Fiber To The Home (FTTH). From this I presumed that it was able to handle fast speeds through the EWAN port.
However, I have since contacted Billion and they have confirmed that the speeds I am receiving are what is possible with the device. I am a bit disappointed as I was expecting more after spending over $200 for a router that is not even a year old and now needs to be replaced if I want to use my cable service.
But my question is: what can I do in regards to resolving my issue? Could I request a refund from Billion or a credit of some kind?
Cheers Unhappy Slowpoke
Dear Unhappy Slowpoke,
While we hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, in this case the answer to "can I get a refund" is, in all proability, "no". I'm not a legal expert, and there's probably no harm in asking: the worst that can happen is that you'll get told "no". But that does seem a very likely outcome.
A minor factor here is that internet speeds in general, and cable speeds in particular, are highly variable, which makes variations in performance a difficult basis to argue over. But the bigger issue is that while you believed that the device would be suitable for use with a cable system, it doesn't sound like you got a specific commitment from Billion (or the retailer you purchased it from) that it would actually work well in that context.
The ACCC's notes on this issue sum up the situation neatly, noting that one of the grounds for asking for a refund or replacement is if:
The product is substantially unfit for a purpose that you told the supplier about, and cannot easily be made fit within a reasonable time
Unless you specifically asked for and received assurances that you could use this device with a cable service, it's hard to argue that the device doesn't meet its intended purpose. The fact you've been using it with an ADSL2 service for a year further undermines the argument: it's not as if the device has been completely worthless right from the start.
We've answered this question because it highlights one of the most important considerations when buying almost anything: if you have a particular use in mind, establish clearly that the item you're buying is suitable for that purpose. Don't just rely on general Internet research or a presumption that something will be fast enough/large enough/robust enough; specifically ask a representative of the business you're buying from. If it's a major expenditure, get it in writing. That way, if it doesn't perform as expected, you'll have much clearer grounds for seeking redress.
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