Cisco support – a colossal failure

I’m so fed up with Cisco that I’m ready to switch platforms. Maybe I’ll start building networks by following the Microsoft certification route “Your core network router is a Windows 2008 Server running Microsoft Routing and Remote Access…”

The Cisco debacle began as I attempted to expand a pair of Cisco MDS 9124 fibre switches from 8 to 16 ports. We ordered quantity 2 of SKU M9124PL8-4G-AP=. This gives you an expansion license for the additional 8 ports as well as 8 SFP transceivers. The order arrived on a Monday. I unpacked everything and installed the SFPs. Now I moved on to the licensing.

I plugged the PAK from the first box into the Cisco website and it came back as a bad key. The second one was also bad. I then contacted Cisco licensing to assist as neither PAK worked. Cisco soon issued me license keys, but they failed to install. The switches reported “Installing license failed, not compatible with the platform MDS9124.” I reported this back to Cisco Licensing and got “Please be informed that those are the licenses found to be associated for those PAK Numbers you provided as shown on the claim certificate you provided. Please contact your Account Team or local Cisco Sales Engineer for assistance determining what license are compatible with your switches. My apologies for we at Licensing Team only issue, resend and re-host licenses based on entitlements being provided to us and your understanding on this is appreciated.

I then engaged Cisco TAC, the TAC engineer said that the PAK was for the 9124 model designed for a HP blade chassis. I looked at the PAK that was included in the box and sure enough it was an MDS 9124 kit for HP. But the order we placed was correct, the SKU on our wholesaler’s paperwork was correct, and Cisco even had a record of the correct purchase. Apparently somebody in the Cisco factory stuck the wrong piece of paper in the box.

The TAC engineer was certain that licensing could fix this issue, so he kicked the ticket back to them with his notes. Licensing again refused to assist, saying they could not issue a new license. At this point it had been 3 days of back and forth with Cisco. I went back to our Cisco partner sales rep, but he was unable to get anybody with authority to fix the problem. Finally we ended up back at the wholesaler. They spent two business days using their Cisco contacts to attempt resolution without success.

9 days after my initial contact with Cisco, the wholesaler ended up issuing two new certificates and eating the cost. Cisco gave the runaround to 1) My client, 2) My company, a Gold Partner and Academic Partner of the Year and 3) Ingram Micro, Cisco’s Global Distribution Partner of the Year. Cisco wasted all of our time and money, and ended up getting paid twice for the product.

One week later, I received an e-mail from a Cisco Licensing manager. Part of it said On cases like this, your point of sales should check if the Sales Order that they got from Cisco has the exact SKU that you ordered included in the SO#. If yes, it would be with manufacturing team providing the incorrect license claim certificate, which we could fix by escalating internally.This is exactly what I wanted when I contacted Cisco initially. All the paperwork was correct, but the licensing paperwork was not. This seemed to be an insurmountable challenge for the licensing team. My email chain with the manager ended with Rest assured, this is an isolated incident which has been reported internally on our end and I do hope that this does not happen to you again in the future.

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