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beananimal
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Open letter to Cisco regarding the UC320 platform

Cisco,

I have never in my life been exposed to a "production" piece of equipment with so many bugs, missing features and oddities as the UC320. While I am sure many of you are working hard to reign in the problems, this platform is an utter embarrassment that should be in the preliminary alpha stages, not a channel product being sold to end users.

It is clear that Cisco has little understanding of how SMALL business works and how SMALL partners work with small business customers. A larger partner may be able to string a larger business along with promises of bug fixes and feature additions while charging them to make things right and.or padding the overall cost to account for the callbacks. True small businesses don't have the time, patience or money to deal with problematic hardware. When a partner sells a small business a piece of technology, it better work (at a reasonable cost) or the technology and the partner are out the door.

I was extremely excited when this system was announced and saw great potential for small business customers and an alternative to the Avaya Partner IP and other platforms targeted at the same demographic. I jumped in and put a UC320 in the office of one of my small customers. This whole experience has cost me the trust of a client and is going to end up costing me $3000-$4000 out of pocket (hardware, labor, travel) to make things right with the customer.

As it stands, countless hours have been spent trying to get this system to operate in a reasonably stable and productive manner. At this time the UC320 system has been reset and reconfigured in KEY mode (this time using 2.1.3(0), as the problems with steering digits, call routing and redial in "hybrid mode" made the system more than a little cumbersome to use. Now in KEY mode, caller ID only works on some stations AFTER a call is picked up. On one station, incoming calls are somehow routed to the "Phone Monitor" buttons instead of the "Shared FXO Line" buttons. The user has to press the monitor button to pick up a call, but the call does not always ring at the station so she has to watch for the lights. While the caller ID functionality is a bit better after the latest firmware update, it is still far from working properly. These basic call routing problems are not reasonable and not acceptable, period. The customer is tired of "we are working on it" and so am I.

Other problems (to mention a few):

  • The GUI is full of buggy behavior. One example if many: The impendence matching dialog only works the first time around and then the GUI loses track of what it is doing and must be reset.
  • It takes 7-10 minutes for the GUI to load to the login screen over a remote connection. The UC320 is connected to a Verizon DSL, while not blazing fast it is a decent connection. Initial GUI loading on the LAN is almost as bad.
  • The IE9 product that ships with every new Windows computer is not compatible with the GUI. This is not reasonable.
  • The AA is somewhat unpredictable with regard to picking up calls and sometimes results in a busy tone and dropped call, even if the call is the ONLY call on the system. Sometimes the prompts are garbled and sometimes the AA does not even pick up.
  • Steering digit redial issue - still not addressed. Redial on hybrid mode is useless, as is the phonebook.
  • Caller ID only works part of the time, yet on every other system I have ever used, it works 100% of the time. This is not acceptable.
  • Answered calls on shared FXO lines show as MISSED on other stations with those lines. The workaround: remove the missed calls display feature. This is not acceptable.
  • Thus UC320 is not happy unless it is the only router, DHCP and DNS client on the LAN. The grayfield implementation appears to fail no matter what LAN topology and equipment are used. This device is far from friendly to the typical SBS or existing LAN with a dedicated DNS and/or DHCP server.
  • The handsets have a cheap feel to them compared to the Avaya and other competitors phones.
  • The sound quality of the ringtones is almost laughable if not sad
  • The speakerphone quality and overall voice quality are not as good as the competition's.
  • The filtering functionality of the logging feature does not appear to work properly
  • Firmware updates often result in a HANG condition where either the GUI needs reset, the system needs a physical reset and/or sometimes defaulted
  • Firewall port forwarding rule oddities where a rule is deleted from the gui but is still active in the firewall, yet the inability to easily use another data router to work around this problem.
  • The inability of the device to properly use the LAN port for INTERNET based functionality (Time for example) if the WAN port is NOT connected,
  • countless other 'issues" raised in the support forum and other venues...

These are ALL very basic functions that one would expect to be fixed BEFORE a basic telephone system platform is released for production. It is absolutely unreasonable for a CUSTOMER to have to put up with a system this buggy and it is absolutely unreasonable for a partner to have to devote this much time and money to getting system to work at even a very basic level of functionality.

To repeat the scenario: This config is as basic as it gets running 2.1.3(0) with (3) system phones, (3) users, (2) pots trunks and that's it. There are no odd call routing scenarios, no complex AA rules or schedules (in fact the AA is defaulted, including prompts). All (3) system phones have BOTH shared FXO lines (KEY MODE). Each and every firmware version has been tried and the system has been defaulted numerous times. The system fails to meet even the most basic expectations of myself or the end user and has become a sore spot between our company and a very good client.

I am somewhat baffled, if not outright bothered by the fact that this device is riddled with so many problems and the fixes are taking so long to be implemented, if at all. I have been asked (ordered) by the customer to get this "hunk of crap" out of their office and replace it with something that works "at no additional cost". I could not agree with the customer more...

A very unhappy Cisco Partner.

William Burnett

53 REPLIES 53

Dear Cisco,

Nine months and several updates have passed, and this phone system is still the same buggy unstable toy that it was when the open letter was posted. The system can't consistently ID or retain basic settings like auto attendant mode after a power failure.

The problems are to numerous to list and instead of timely fixes, we get new "known issues" and obscure regional features. I am not sure what stuns me more, the fact that you let this buggy crap go to production and then out the door or the fact that it has been over a year and barely any progress has been made to resolve the glaring problems with basic functionality.

Bill

William Burnett:

While I can agree that the UC320W has some issues, I have yet to see the two that you mention first. Our's comes up fine after a power loss, AA works, etc, and several of our clients also are very happy.

Just my two cents...

John

danplacek
Enthusiast

We have quite a few UC320's installed now.

About 85% of the customers are very happy.

However, we have had a small number of systems that have just had unending problems.

One of the most frustrating things about it is that Cisco's only real "troubleshooting" method seems to be to factory reset the box and completely rebuild it. (Which obviously wipes out voicemails, etc -- nice way to give your customer confidence in the system)

I have done this for at least 3 customers now -- more than once on one of them.

The most frustrating issues I have encountered:

1. Redial STILL does not work.

2. Hunt groups STILL leave missed calls on all the member phones

3. CDR's are not usable because of garbage characters in them -- Cisco claims to have fixed this, but I am still see'ing it in some situations. (Specifically -- calls that are forwarded via  call-forward to an external number have some character in front of them that shows up as a "box"... excel chokes on this -- which is what most people would use to view the CDRs)

4. Bizarre FXS port issues -- seen several different issues at several different customers... FXS port does not seem reliable.

5. Difficulty installing unit as an "appliance". There is no good reason for this. (I mean -- this is a linux appliance... "

route add default gw "..... DONE.)

These complaints aside, we are overall very happy with the product and have had success selling it.

Most of this just ties back to Cisco's development department moving at seemingly glacial speeds. (Or so it seems)

Daniel,

Excellent news about the 85%, Wish it were higher for you though... I think we have more like 95% or maybe better in satisfaction.....

I agree that the "troubleshooting" method is not ideal, and yes, we have gone through that with one client.

Redial works fine for us...     Missed calls, just have to hit "9" before dialing though.   Not too inconvenient, but something to remember for our clients.

I think there is a PMF for removing the "missed calls" banner.

CDRs have had issues in the past, have not checked them recently.

FXS is not being used by most of our clients, as SIP trunks are so much cheaper.  I use two of them here as extra lines, never had an issues though.

You are referring to adding the UC320W to an existing network, where there is a firewall/router in place? Yeah, we had issues with that, and it shouldn't be that way....  Agreed, but I think it is better now than when we first tried.

Overall, I believe the UC320W to be exactly what it was designed to be... Small office IP phone system. Giving a small business with a handful of people, the ability to use all those great big boy toys, at an affordable price.

To be a serious player in this market, Cisco should consider a few things that I see posted over and over again:

Generic SIP softphone support should be added.

Remote office support should be added.  (Goes with generic ip phones/softphones too - we should be able to use an Android or iPhone with a softphone client on it outside the office)

Ability to use generic IP phones or devices (since it is Asterisk based, it should be no problem) - This allows us to sell the UC320W into environments that already have some junky IP phone solution in place, without having to sell them all new handsets. Churches and non-profits cannot afford the additional 1000+ bucks, so they go with other options and Cisco loses out on the sale (or I do).

Support for new gigabit SPA phones (I understand the 514G is not supported?) - Nobody wants to use 10/100 anymore, they want gigabit!

IPv6 - as this becomes the "standard", nobody is going to want to buy a router/firewall and put in front of the UC320W, they want to use the thing to do all their voice/data routing.

Once they get the known issues wrangled and add the "wish list" that others have mentioned, then it will be hard to find another device in this price range, with the name recognition of Cisco. =)

John

Here are some updates on some of the issues addressed in this thread:

1) Redial of missed call.  Under evaluation by the development team.

2) Missed Call Banner on Hunt Groups.  PMF was created and published:

https://supportforums.cisco.com/docs/DOC-16301

3) CDR Record parsing error.  Defect CSCua31579 opened on the issue.

Thanks,

Randy

Thanks Randall.

I would like to point out that #3 is really just a bandaid and not a fix though.

The ideal case would be still having the missed call banner... just not for huntgroup calls. It is still desirable to have missed call notifications for calls directly to you.

John (and Cisco)

The customers system is as basic as it can get.

  • key mode
  • two pots lines
  • three system phones
  • AA DISABLED
  • Unit acts as broadband router and DHCP server
  • Only programmed buttons are line appearances and extensions


Both my company and the customer are tired of defaulting the system and tired of having to call us to login and "fix" the basic functionality several times a month.

After a power failure, the AA still shows that is not enabled, but ALL calls are DIRECTLY routed to AA anyway. The only way to fix the problem is to log into the GUI, enable the AA and then disable it and save the config.

Why are we not using AA? Because it did not route calls properly about 20% of the time. Instead of being forwarded to the proper mailbox or extension, calls were dropped, or the customer heard the wrong prompt, gibberish or a busy signal. Again this AA and setup were as basic as they could get. 1 menu level and 3 mailboxes.

I am not going to (again) list the numerous issues we are still having, as it is a waste of time.

Daniel,

Respectfully, the fact that 85% of your customers are happy would indicate that they are blissfully ignorant to the problems with the system and/or they have never had a real phone system to compare to, or you are blowing smoke up their hind ends and convincing them that the bugs are features or expected behavior (like having to hit 9 before a redial).

John,

100% of my customers have an existing network and router with 99% having an on-site server that does DHCP, DNS, etc. This system WILL NOT work in that environment regardless of what the white paper says, it is a disaster any way you configure it. As an IT consultant, I have never worked with ANY device that is this hard to integrate into an existing network.

Randy, Christopher, etc,


It is over a year later and the product still lacks a large number of fixes for BASIC functionality, things that should have been taken care of before launch. We are not talking about minor usage issues or obscure bugs. Many of these problems are blatant-in-the-face issues that are simply not acceptable.I have NEVER worked with a telephone system (Avaya, Samsung, Nortel, Toshiba) that is this poorly implemented or bug riddled.

To be frank, this product more resembles a stereotypical "open source" nightmare run by teenage linux geeks than it does a professional quality small business telephone system produced by a global networking giant.

The result is that we will never offer another Cisco voice product to a customer again and will (have already began to) steer customer interest to other platforms. To that end (and maybe not relevant here), we have also abandoned the other Cisco SMB products (like the RV220W) due to similar issues with blatant issues that are never fixed.

William,

I would like to discussion the issues you have reported on UC320W. Please send your contact information to nmanglik@cisco.com and I will schedule a meeting with you to discuss.

Regards,

Nitin.

William,

I too, am willing to join the call with yourself Nitin to discuss the above issues.

Chris

Chris and Nitin,

I am sure your intentions are noble, but respectfully I am not sure what else there is to discuss. The concept of the UC-320 is wonderful and I was extremely excited to offer it to our small customers. However, as it stands there are simply far too many issues with this platform to even consider giving it another chance. This adventure has cost the respect of a valued customer and pockets full of money attempting to make that customer whole over the last year. Devoting even more time to this disaster by spending it on a feel-good conference call (regardless of what fixes or work-around are proposed) will not help regain the respect of the customer or mitigate the financial losses that have resulted from the installation of this product. I gave the UC-320 more than a fair chance and would have loved for it to deliver, but the damage is done and a valuable lesson has been learned. The only (rhetorical) questions (at least in my mind) are when will Cisco ever learn that lesson, and how does Cisco manage to make simple things so utterly complicated.

William Burnett

William,

We understand your frustration and feel that a call may be helpful as it has with many other partners, but respect this choice to pass on the option.  We apologize for the issues experienced and are sorry to have lost your confidence in the product.  Please know that the engineering team continues to work to address customer found defects and that the Cisco Small Business Support center is there to provide support for our partners.

Regards,

Chris Edgeworth

Its now April of 2013. What is the state of the UC320 now? The issues and fustration with the product listed here are downright scary to those of us who play in the SMB market. Some customers are patient and will work with you some are not and will demand a refund if a key peice of production equipment is downright buggy and unreliable.

The story of the UC320 is a lesson for us all: Take advantage of Cisco's NFR program and test the product significantly before deploying in a production environemtn. Still, I know that the reality is that it is not always possible to spend a whole lot of time testing equipment for bugs and issues before selling it. One hopes that by going with a "repuatble" manufacturer like Cisco that you would get a certain amount of Quality assurance and be shielded from some of the nightmare issues described here.

William Burnett's open letter and subsequent comments have provided valuable inside into the reality of dealing with UC320 at the time of writing. I was very impressed by the presentations I saw on the product and the pricing, but alas, I too am staying clear of this until at least it matures a bit as evidenced by peer feedback and "other research". Cant afford to lose customers in this economy.

To the Cisco UC320 product team, the idea and concept seems good, but the quality control was very bad and not worthy of Cisco. Lets try to get this corrected and please keep us informed. Thumbs up to you for not trying to BS anyone on the forum. It seems your approach is good: take your criticism constructively and then work (very hard) with your partners to correct the issues.

cnscisco,

I think you will find that Cisco has tried to play in the SMB market without even begining to understand how true small business operates. They have (over and over) failed to understand that a small business will not pay for call-backs based on poorly delivered promises and never ending bug-fixes.

Chris Edgeworth indicated that he understood my frustration, yet another year  has passed and nothing has changed. In fact, in that time CIsco has taken the same "open source" path with several more of its other SMB products. The extremely poor support, buggy firmware and missing features are starting to spread like a disease.  The tiny development teams tasked with implementing what appears to be off the shelf hardware and open source firmware. In that context they are simply not capable of handling the issues they create or that are present in the open source platform to begin with. Seeing that they they are building solutions on open source platforms that they did not engineer they must rely on the open source community and documentation just as we would. If I wanted to go down the open source rabbit hole, I would do it myself.

As we don't deal with large enterprise where fortunes can be made delivering missing features, broken promises and bug fixes, we are pretty much done with Cisco. There are simply too many other companues that offer reliable products, support, attention to detail and timely fixes for issues.

Dear William;

Thanks for your comments. Just want to highlight UC320 is developed and supported by Cisco. We incorporate open source in any product/device where it make sense (think about linux OS for example). That does not mean it is unsupported or bad quality, we have skilled engineering teams supporting every aspect of Cisco solutions.

In the last year we released 2 Software release versions that included features and quality enhancements (please check release 2.2.2 and 2.2.3). There has been activity on the product since day 1 (6 releases in ~2 years of product lifecycle) as our commitment to help our partners be successful, no matter whether it is Enterprise or Small and Medium Businesses.

We consider the feature set and quality is good for a partner to have a successful practice in this space. We have partners doing a successful practice with this product, as you see in this conversation itself. Our focus have been to improve the quality of the product by incorporating additional means to help partners to perform troubleshooting (e.g. FXO loopback introduced in 2.2.2).

Regards;

Alberto Montilla

Manager, Product Management

Thanks for your input Alberto. I think one of the problems (well my one anyway) is that us partners/customers bought into a product that had an advertised roadmap that included remote worker access, smartphone integration and additional support for wireless handsets\conference phones.

This has failed to materialise. In my opinion, the UC320 now falls behind other similarly priced competitors, it has not kept pace with the market. I'm now in the position where I will not sell another UC320 and will look towards another system. I'd like to test a UC5xx but my Cisco rep says that there are no demo units, i'm not going to buy a NFR unit just for a look!

I'm now looking at other suppliers.