The worst modem in history?

Page Last Revised: Friday, April 28, 2006 01:25 PM


Over a year ago, I made the tragic mistake of purchasing a Zoom Telephonics Model 2849 K56 Flex "modem." This has proven to be the worst modem I've ever encountered, rivaled only by its eventual replacement, the Zoom Telephonics Model 2949, with equally poor documentation, "technical support", and warranty performance.

1) First the modem wasn't shipped until several months after it was ordered (and my credit card billed), and then only after an irate e-mail was addressed to the ISP whose website had featured the advertisement for the modem.

2) Then, upon attempted installation, the software supplied on the accompanying CD destroyed my system registry, making my computer completely unusable (until I performed a full system restore from a backup, which I thankfully had on hand).

3) Then, although Zoom admitted that they had shipped some defective CD's and offered to replace mine, they never fullfiled their promise, despite repeated telephone calls, and postal and e-mail letters, demanding that they do so. Of course, that very promise was what stopped me from immediately returning the modem and demanding a refund, which is probably why it was offered (and not acted upon). So I ended up with a poor quality modem, with inadequate documentation, and no software to use the more advanced (advertised) functions of the modem.

4) Over the next year, Zoom refused (or neglected) to respond to any of a large number of email inquiries addressed to their "technical support" email address, in respect to a large number of problems I was experiencing with the modem.

5) Additionally, the "latest drivers" available for download at Zoom's website, are several years older than those supplied with the modem, which are older than those supplied with Windows 98, indicating a lack of (concern for the) maintenance of their "technical support website" (or ability to do so).

6) Finally, and then only in response to my sending a copy of my letter of complaint to a broad cross-section of the computer media that has seen fit to bestow Zoom so many undeserved awards, Zoom replaced the modem with another (even more defective) model.

7) The same circus of lack of response to email requests for technical support went on for another several months, when I again sent copies of a letter of complaint to the computer media, and demanded a refund of my wasted money.

8) This time, Zoom alternately (and mendaciously) claimed

a) not to have received any prior correspondence from me;

b) not to have my telephone number (which appeared at the bottom of the message to which they were [finally] replying);

c) that I hadn't purchased the modem from them [which, of course I had], and that they therefore were unable to refund my money; and

d) that too much time had transpired for them to refund my money, even though they had failed to provide a modem which performed as represented, and had completely failed to honour the "7-year warranty".

9) Finally, they did offer to provide an RMA number, so that I might return the modem at my expense for them to "check out thoroughly". Of course, it "passed" all their quality-assurance tests, and they returned it without repairing the myriad of (non)performance problems.

In contrast, we see that Zoom's internal and external modems have received numerous awards from the computer media, including a ZD Internet Magazine "Net Best" (Nov. 1997) and a MacWorld "Editor's Choice" (Apr. 1998) award.

One has to wonder at the basis for all these awards! Perhaps it is simply because when one magazine issues an award, all their brethren immediately and blindly follow suit. Or perhaps it is because the computer medias' "test results" are written by Zoom's advertising staff?

Have any of them actually tested the modem's performance (or, more accurately, lack of performance) and reliability? Have they actually tested any of its highly-lauded features, such as "ZoomGuard lightning protection"? Or are those features as fictional, elusive, and worthless in practice, as the "full 7-year warranty"?

This is by far the poorest quality modem I have ever had the misfortune to use (and I've been using modems since the 1970's). It has the poorest and most incomplete documentation. It does not perform even basic modem functions properly and reliably, much less the more advanced functions that are advertised. Additionally, the latter are unavailable in practice because of lack of any usable software, or documentation of the modem software commands needed to invoke them.

Technical support is non-existent, and warranty support is a hoax (1-1/2 years to have a defective modem "checked", and then to be told "it works fine" is not a warranty --- it is a fraud). And those who purvey this type of product, and sing its praises, propagate that fraud.


Carl D. Goldin