Semiconductor support … or lack of it

My current project uses an Atmel (Microchip these days) WINC1500 Wi-Fi module. The original part I had chosen for my project proved to be difficult to handle during prototype assembly and this made me nervous for production yield, hence the interest in the WINC1500 range. The schematic and the PCB have been updated with the new hardware, however before committing to PCB fabrication and then assembly of the new design I decided to breadboard the wireless module to be sure I had fully understood the datasheet.

Information on the WINC1500 seemed to be very good, with a source-level host interface package and several long technical documents. To breadboard the device I purchased a break-out board from Adafruit and using an STM32F401RE Nucleo board I was able to quickly get the basic SPI channel working to the WINC1500. However, when I used the published API to initialize the module, the provided code hung up.

I was very pleased to discover that Microchip had an online support-ticket system available and duly completed a new ticket. Imagine my surprise when I got a response, very quickly, from a support technician. The edge came off that quickly when I realized the technician had paid no attention to the extensive description in my original ticket post. Completely ignoring that the SPI channel was set up correctly because the chip identifier was being read correctly, together with many other initialization transactions. The advice received simply listed the SPI settings on the MCU master that I should check.

Sad to report, things have not gotten any better. In spite of spending a couple of days documenting exactly what was happening the technician has failed to address the issue at hand. It is interesting to observe that my ticket was only updated around midnight Mountain Time. This adds to the frustration because it means only one interaction with support each day can occur. The timing of the updates and the name of the technician lead me to believe support is coming from India. I think that if a technology company is going to outsource its support, the very least it could insist upon is coverage during the working day of its major markets. Microchip is a worldwide business and I am surprised they believe that this time-disconnect is acceptable. I am hoping that my case will get escalated, as requested today, and that the poor support provided so far will prove an anomaly.

However, the bigger wish is that Microchip would time-align support staff and the time-zones of their clients.


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