Friday, March 5, 2010

Dell Customer Support : Not better than a sharp poke in the eye

I don't normally do a lot of ranting on my blog. I like to keep things generally positive, inspiring, or at least informative. But real life doesn't work that way so neither should my blog. I recently had (and continue to have) a frustrating, bewildering and completely negative experience with Dell Customer Service that I decided to share it with you. For both our sakes. For me, I need an outlet for my rage so I don't take it out on the cat, and you need to be warned of what you are in for if you ever contact Dell asking them to stand behind their product.

I bought a Dell laptop, Studio XPS last May, about 9 months ago. It never was a stellar piece of hardware but over the months, it grew increasingly more unreliable. The screen would black out, the sound would come and go, it didn't recognize peripherals, it took no less than 15 minutes to shut down. Applications would freeze and the battery drained unusually fast. And all these problems would occur randomly and without warning. Like half-way through a blog post or when I was presenting, in a hurry, or trying to make a deadline. I actually grew accustomed to rebooting the thing from 3-5 times per day.

I bought the computer at Best Buy and made that my first stop for help. The said they only take returns within 20 days of purchase. They'd be happy to run diagnostics and try to repair it, but for a price. I wanted whoever made it to fix it or give me a new one. Since we were still within the year warranty period, they said I needed to call Dell. I should have seen where this was going to end.

I took notes and tweeted during the call to Dell, mainly because I needed something to do while I was on hold for so long and thought it would be fun to capture the adventure. I don't want to bore you with the annoying details but here were the highlights via my Twitter stream:

There is one exchange during the call I will never forget. I had asked for the manager and was explaining to him that the return window at Best Buy had expired so I was invoking the one-year warranty that came with the computer. This is as close as I can remember the conversation:

Manager: If you bought the computer at Best Buy, you need to take it back to Best Buy.
Me: But the warranty on the computer is with Dell.
Manager: Who did you actually pay the money to when you bought the computer, Best
Buy or Dell?

Me: Well, of course I paid Best Buy, but they bought the computer from you.
Manager: Well Best Buy buys the computers in bulk, they didn't buy your specific computer individually from us.
Me: They still bought it from you. So you're telling me that I have to take the computer back to Best Buy if I want any problems fixed.
Manager: yes, ma'am
Me: But the computer says Dell on it, its your product. You manufactured it.
Manager: I am sorry we can't repair it for you. I can transfer you to a technical representative who can help troubleshoot the problems over the phone.

Can you believe that?! The Manager actually tried to convince me that because I paid the actual money to Best Buy that Dell was not responsible for the defective product. And this isn't a reply this guy was making up on the spot. HE WAS TRAINED TO SAY THAT.

I eventually caved after an hour because I wasn't making any progress and we scheduled a service call-back for later that day. That call was to come from a technical rep who would walk me through their trouble-shooting process. That was 4 days ago and they have yet to call back.

I haven't decided what my next steps will be. I know now that will never never never buy another Dell product. Not only will I not buy one, I will encourage everyone I know and care about not to ever buy a Dell product EVER.

In the meantime, meet my new BFF. She's fast, powerful, reliable, sturdy, elegant, and comes with great customer service.


BPO said...

Customer care is there for your help.
all you need to have some patience.

Holly said...

Hello BPO - thanks for your comment. I checked out your site and it looks like your company is a call center so I imagine you have lots of experience in the customer care area.

What I got from your comment is that you think the way Dell Customer Service works is just fine and the problem lies with me not having enough patience, is that correct?

If I read that right, then that right there is the fundamental core of Dell's Customer Service problem. If customers are consistently having a bad experience with customer support, shouldn't you change your service? I paid $1000 for the laptop and couldn't get one single person (out of 7) to solve my problem. I get better service from stores I buy $15 products from.

Your comment speaks volumes. It also implies that it is the customer (the people who buy Dell's products and keep the company in business) who should adjust to a process that doesn't work. Why not adjust the process to serve the customer??

I'm sure your company is a fine one. But if that is your prevailing view of what is wrong with customer service (that we customers just need to have more patience) than I see rough waters ahead for you.

Queen Mumma said...

Wait, you bought a new PC?!?! What happened to getting a MAC?

Rebecca at Toothwhale said...

I would say I can't believe your experience with the manager, but I CAN believe it. I have a Dell desktop and a Dell printer. The printer is a lemon; it never worked. By the time I figured out it was more than just me being the goof I am about all things technical, my 30 days were just up. I tried to get a replacement through Dell customer service, and they absolutely would not replace it. They said they'd help trouble-shoot, but that was all. I have NEVER in all my life been so frustrated during a "customer service" call. Like you, I will never never never buy a Dell product again. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Unrelated, it was good to talk to you at the Hunt's lunch at BlissDom!

nancy compton said...

Well, if one can't have a Mac, a PINK Sony is a very good choice! Having seen her in person, I can confirm she is sleek, groovy and cool.

Hope it is a long and very happy relationship. :-)

Holly said...

Thanks, Nancy! Your comment reminds me to look on the bright (and pink) side of things :)

Old School/New School Mom said...

I could not agree more! I hate Dell Customer "support." And yes, I put support in quotes for a reason! They are not supportive at all. This is what became of my computer after a brush with their people:

Midnite Skys said...

I had a ton of fun calling HP support. I had to ask the guy to repeat himself more than I could understand him. English is his second language.... Push the 8 key was FOREVER because I kept pushing the wrong key or asking I'm sorry what was that ???? Then I got frustrated and would repeat what I thought he said and he repeat 8 key...

Rebecca @ Find Beauty Daily said...

Eeeks! What an experience. I hate dealing with computer problems, particularly when people are less than helpful.

Courtney said...

What a big pain. Dell customer service is definitely in the wrong. Good luck with your new Sony!

Bri said...

ugh, Holly. I'm having similar probs with a Point&Shoot Canon i got at BestBuy. Bought in May09, it died in January2010. Three times Best Buy's attempted to fix it. They sent it to a 3rd party repair center, not Canon. I was never able to get out of the store with the fixed one. Frustrating!
~ BTW, i was looking at a pink netbook while I was fuming at BB. Very sweet VAIO. You need to give 'her' a name.

Becky Smith said...


I feel your pain. And I'm glad you ranted. And raved. Because after a call like that, you needed to.

Enjoy Miss Pinky. :-)


Kate said...

Hi Holly!
While I was reading this I kept going "UGH!" and shaking my head.
We've had Dell computers for the last number of years without any problems.
Our desktop was dying and my husband placed an order with Dell for their touchscreen computer. Two days before they were supposed to ship it they informed him that a part was on backorder and would be delayed for several weeks. The customer service he received from everyone he spoke with was disgusting!
He cancelled the order and ended up buying the HO touchsmart and we are happy campers.
I love your new PINK laptop!

Hen Jen said...

your next step should be to buy a mac. We did, never going back to pcs. I turn it on, it works! If something does go wrong, like my dh new macbook pro was having sound issues during ichat we couldn't figure out..he took it to the apple store, they couldn't tell him what was wrong, so they gave him a new one on the spot. That's customer service. That's why we pay more for the mac, and that's why we now have 2 mac desktops and 2 macbooks.

I hate bad customer service, I feel for you. I guess we have a little more power now in the age of blogging and twitter, yes?

Call Center Services said...

This is Heather . Congratulation to maintain such a nice blog. Today i have visited your blog and found some interesting information about Call Center.

Lucy said...

Well.... I think customer care services can be great, if it works. There are companies that really suck, but others can be great
well, that's my opinion
thanks for the post

Holly said...

Lucy, I totally agree. The whole concept of customer support or customer care represents a huge opportunity for a brand to make a lasting positive impression on a customer, or to do the opposite. Chances are, someone who purchases a product (especially something electronic) will eventually need to make contact with customer support. Maybe its for a bill, to change a service, plan, for repairs, an exchange, or maybe to buy more! That gives that company one more change to wow and delight a customer. Some companies (like Zappos) do it so well its what they are known for. Sadly, some companies (like Dell), didn't get the memo. Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Microsoft / Dell /HP are only interested to sell their products and then when it comes to Customer care or after sales support you get no response from them .And after 1 year when the warranty period is over you are not even allowed to talk to them. You certainly can't rely on antivirus software which is a very basic form of protecting your PC from virus and not completely reliable. Imagine a situation when your PC crashes suddenly or antivirus fails. You end up spending more than 80$ for one session to get it fixed by local tech. But, what about those valuable data that's gone forever. Those data could be even more valuable than your PC.

That's when these independent companies like proves to be life saver. They can clean, optimize, backup and restore your computer using remote login software, while you sit back and relax.

I would rate myself as an average computer savvy person. And I know the importance of having an Independent remote tech support company like

I've been a customer of Ring2Geeks since 2 years and I am happy with the kind of Service they provide me.

Phillip said...

Hi Holly! I have to admit, this blog post got me glued. That's the downside of some companies. Sad. I understand that companies should have a fast and effective call center system. They should not leave hotline number stickers on their products if they're not gonna address the queries of customers. After all, if not for the consumers, they won't have profits. I think every customer deserves good customer care experience. I'm glad you got a new device now. How's VAIO's performance?

Danielle said...

I agree with you BPO, customer care's job is to help their dear callers. Thank you so much for sharing us your blog post. This would be really helpful for those who'll be reading this one. More power to you and your blog.


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Anonymous said...

Not to make this long - just got off the phone with Dell and the BBB mediator. Long long story. Case did not get resolved. I wanted to post what Dells rep "Linda" said when asked if hard copies of a warranty could be provided to a person with a disability and was not savvy to download online. Linda responded with "Dell does not do that they are a green company" What? since when does being "green" mean you do not accomodate a disability?

ruben said...

thanks for some insight. i friend of mine dumped nearly $2K for their high end. Now he does better than the customer service guy tells him to do. First they are selling a cheap gaming device--wow!. later you buy and you realize that it doesn't come with a cd/dvd player. have fun now installing anything ?

Based on my friends experience and after months of review, i have yet to decide on two: SONY or HP. Can anyone recommend me if both are good in customer care. I would be getting a notebook to handle HD footage in true 1080p and doing for making short films.

Any input would be highly appreciated.

Thank you again for your feedback. DELL is about CUSTOMIZATION not CUSTOMER CARE ! If everyone who bought Dell came out and spoke, that line would be true.

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