February 20, 2004 4:00 AM PST

Growing pains hit Dell's customer service

Dell continues to win market share and turn out record quarterly profits, but two recent surveys show that the company has slipped, when it comes to a more subjective measurement: customer service.

According to two new reports that rate the satisfaction of PC buyers, Dell's scores have declined in recent months. While statistically, the results are not catastrophic for a company that prides itself on offering superior service, it's a potentially troubling trend Dell executives acknowledge and have taken steps to address.


What's new:
According to two recent reports, customer service at leading PC seller Dell has slipped in recent months. Although the declines are statistically small, they show a steady trend of sinking satisfaction with Dell's support.

Bottom line:
For a direct seller of PCs in a largely commoditized business, customer service is a chief concern, and the company is actively trying to improve its satisfaction scores.

More stories on Dell

The March issue of Consumer Reports, which came out last week, included a survey of 4,100 consumers, who gave Dell 62 points out of a possible 100 for its support on desktop PCs. Although it still managed to top competing brands Hewlett-Packard and Compaq, which scored 54 and 51, respectively, Dell's rating represented a decline from the magazine's last desktop support survey, published in June 2003, in which it received a 64.

Apple Computer led the pack, with 74 in the recent survey, while Gateway scored 61. A score of 80 would mean that respondents were very satisfied, while 60 is described as fairly well satisfied. Differences of more than four points in the survey were meaningful, the report said.

While the most recent changes appear incremental, Dell's overall tech support scores for desktop PCs have dropped substantially since 2001, said Jeff Fox, senior project editor at Consumer Reports. Dell scored a rating of 74 in December 2001 and a 65 in September 2002.

Dell's score has "stayed down and hasn't gone back up," Fox said. "We can't say why...but they haven't solved whatever problem that brought it down, whether that's increased volume (or) outsourcing. It's probably a number of different factors."

Consumer Reports' findings are echoed by data from research firm Technology Business Research (TBR). The Hampton, N.H., firm's fourth-quarter report on support satisfaction among corporate buyers, published this week, shows that Dell's satisfaction rating slipped to 80.98, down from 83.4 in the third quarter of 2003.

TBR's survey polls buyers on eight aspects of support, including their overall satisfaction with a company's support service, and assigns each one a weighted score for a total of 100 possible points.

Although Dell still topped rivals HP and IBM in the TBR survey, its score was the lowest seen since the research firm began tracking Dell's satisfaction levels in the first quarter of 2001. Although part of the change could reflect Dell's rapid growth rate during 2003, the company's fourth-quarter score dipped well below its average rating of 82.9, said Julie Perron, manager of primary research at TBR.

Dell doesn't dispute that its satisfaction levels have dropped. Instead, it is working to remedy the situation, said Gary Cotshott, vice president and general manager of service at the Round Rock, Texas, company.

"We recognize that we've had some issues, particularly in the client area, which we're addressing," Cotshott said.

Hold, please
Indeed, Dell ran into a perfect storm of sorts during the period in which the surveys were taken. Telephone tech support hold times were lengthier--at times they were exacerbated by occurrences such as computer worms--coupled with some shortages of replacement parts, Cotshott said. Dell was also in the process of expanding and training its tech support staff.

"We reacted to it, and we have driven improvements in the metrics that we believe will drive through ultimately--because TBR's a lagging indicator--as we move through the course of the next three to six months," Cotshott said.

Shipments for the company, which pioneered direct sales of computers to consumers, surged 25 percent year over year to 25.8 million units in 2003, making it the world's largest PC maker, according to research firm IDC. Thanks to the increase in shipments, Dell's market share grew to 16.9 percent in 2003 from 15.1 percent in 2002. Shipments for HP, its closest competitor, grew 14.5 percent last year to 25 million, giving it a market share of 16.4 percent in 2003.

While all PC companies talk about the importance of customer service, Dell has been particularly vocal for several reasons. By cutting out the middleman, Dell has a closer relationship with customers, thus taking all the praise from happy buyers--and all the blame when things go wrong. In addition, the PC business is becoming increasingly commoditized, marked by similarly equipped machines and price erosion. One way to stand out from the crowd is to pamper buyers by offering better service and support than competitors.

Dell's emphasis on service emanates directly from the top. CEO and founder Michael Dell wrote in his 1999 book, "Direct by Dell," that relatively sketchy support offered by electronics stores inspired him to build his own company. Dell goes so far as to spend time each year manning the phone lines, taking orders.

But Michael Dell didn't answer the phone when Phil Isernio, a business owner in Seattle, called to inquire about a late shipment.

Isernio said it took Dell more than two months to deliver his Dimension 4600 desktop PC, ordered in October 2003, for which some accessories arrived in three days. After growing frustrated with his salesman and Dell's other customer support options, Isernio turned to e-mailing the company CEO.

The tactic worked. A company representative contacted Isernio, resubmitted the order and offered a $150 credit for his trouble, as well as a $150 discount coupon for a future order. Isernio is now considering buying a Dell notebook, despite not yet hearing back from Dell regarding questions about the price quote.

Anecdotally, Isernio isn't alone.

"Dell's service reputation has always been based on its quick response in handling customer issues," said Brooks Gray, an analyst at TBR. But, he noted, "Of the 20 people I've recommended Dell to over the past few years, at least 50 percent of them have experienced issues with support in one form or another."

Despite the evidence that customers have been unsatisfied with Dell's tech support, executives maintain that the vast majority of its customers are happy with their purchases.

"The majority of our feedback from customers is positive--both from surveys and the awards we win (from) third-party publications," said Todd Penner, director of Dell's U.S. consumer tech support operation.

Get it solved the first time
Dell also constantly evaluates its tech support operation. Aside from increasing the size of its staff, it has shifted its priorities to resolving problems on the first call. The company is also examining how its customer care organization can resolve order-related problems more quickly, Penner said.

Among the methods Dell is using is a new jack-of-all-trades approach that enables some customers to speak with one person who has the skills and authority to tackle any number of customer care or tech support problems in the same call. Dell may not implement the system widely, however, as customer care agents and support techs typically do very different jobs.

The company has also rerouted some telephone tech support calls back to the United States from Bangalore, India. In addition, Dell opened an Enterprise Command Center to help anticipate the needs of large server and storage customers in the United States.

While those and other changes may help Dell reverse its recent survey results, at least a few people may consider them too late.

Trevor Anderson, an information technology manager at a law firm in Canada, said he switched brands because of rising frustration.

Anderson said he finished swapping the 220 PCs and servers he manages to HP models last year, after he grew weary of the way he said Dell's telephone tech support employees treated him. He said they asked him simplistic, trouble-shooting questions and put him on hold for long periods. He also said he disliked working with different salespersons and on-site support people Dell contracted.

"HP works locally with resellers. I've had the same (HP) reseller since 1998. I know the salesman. He knows our history here," Anderson said. With Dell's support, "it was like you were being talked down to; like you didn't have any experience with technology."

In some ways, Dell is fighting an uphill battle; its focus on growth naturally means that it will attract more consumers who are naturally less skilled in operating PCs and thus need more assistance.

"As the proportion of the consumers in the mix rises, (Dell) is naturally going to increase in its share of complaints, even if it isn't doing anything differently," said Roger Kay, an analyst at IDC. That's because increasing market share requires a "devil's bargain. You have to support inexperienced buyers in order to get their business."

Indeed, historical data from Consumer Reports shows that few people were satisfied with the service they got from any vendor. Only 52 percent of those surveyed by Consumer Reports said they were highly satisfied with support from any PC manufacturer in 2001. During 2003, those who were highly satisfied shrank to 43 percent, Fox said.

Regardless of the reasons for its slide, Dell said it is committed to improving the PC-buying experience for consumers.

"The actions we've taken have (already) driven substantial improvements across the board," Cotshott said. "Over time, you'll see us emerge again as the industry leader."


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Good Product, Bad Infrastructure
I found this article after experiencing problems with Dell Australia and it's small consolation to know that my sister and I aren't the only ones having problems with Dell's "customer service".

IMO Dell is resting on its laurels. I think their products are good but their infrastructure is hopeless. My sister ordered a Dell desktop online 3 weeks ago and has yet to receive it. Initially she was told she would receive it in a week. Yet Dell and the couriers have given her the run-around on delivery dates and on each date, no-one showed up. My sister had to initiate all the contact with Dell to follow up, and we had to take time off work to wait for deliveries that never came. I do not consider this to be good customer service.

After the last no-show, I contacted Dell and after being put on hold for 5 minutes, I was told there would be yet another delay because they had changed couriers. Surely they could've called us to save us the trouble of waiting for a delivery that they KNEW had been cancelled. I was so disgusted I emailed Dell saying that if we have anymore problems, we will be cancelling the order.
I doubt if anything will come of it, so for anyone who's considering of buying a Dell, don't be fooled by the service hype.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Dell drops the ball
I bought my first Dell in 1996 adn was very satisfied. I bought my next Dell in 1998 and then again in 2001. Each time I was again disappointed with the quality and customer service. I no longer recommend Dell to anyone. Even though Dell offers the best price, I won't buy another one.
Posted by Drathar (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I thought Gateway was bad.... Dell has the absolute worst service I have ever encountered. I was on the phone for 2 hours, and was transferred approximately 13 times. My tech issue was NOT resolved and I was told I would need to pay $150 for the privilege of some "Advance Team" making a guess as to what the problem was. I asked to speak with a manager twice and was put on hold for 15 minutes each time. I hung up in disgust and have cancelled the order. I will never buy another Dell.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
dell doesn't honor next day service
My company owns 20 Dells and recently we have found that they will do anything not to honor their service agreement. First, they will repeatedly ask us to reinstall software including reformating the hard disk. Second, when we finally balked at doing this again, they sent out hardware (hard disk & memory in my case), but did not wait to see if it cures the problem. Third, after the same problem continued, they offered to send out more hardware (memory and motherboard), but did not do it. When I called them on it, they told me their system malfunctioned and said they would do it again. After numerous calls, again they installed the new hardware and left. When the problem continued, I notified the technician and was put on hold, where I still reside over a week after we first addressed the issue.

This appears to be a ploy to wear me down and have me buy a new system rather than waste my and my employee's time.
Posted by jjobcorp (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
dell not repaired
My New Dell 4600, has a l6 bit ms dos sub system driver that has gone bad, or out, the help l got from dell through config set up covers up the problem, it did not repair or fix the problem. l have called 7 times. a local service tech told me the problem can not be fixed by phone,my restore system don't work,l cannot delete my yahoo e-mail and many other functions won't work.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Terrible Service from Dell's India Outsourcing!
First off, I'm not racist and I do care when it comes to communication. I am very frustrated with Dell. I love their products, but the service for customers has got to go back to the good old days. Save a buck and lose a few customers. Doesn't add up. My experience:

I ordered a new Dell Axim x50v before New Years Dec. 27th. I was suppose to receive it on the 6th of January according to the site (with next day shipping). I sent a few emails after reading on their site that it was shipped to Fedex on 1/3/05. I called Fedex and they said they never got it in their possession. I sent emails to Dell with the run around. There were not answering my question. "yes I would like to help you with this." Well no sh*t that's why I wrote to you. Anyway, they told me they personally checked to see it was shipped but they didn't do a great job about it because Fedex tracking indicated they still don't have it. Liars!

Day after the promised ship date: 1/7/2005
I called them with rage asking to speak to a manager. They ignored that I said that. Then I asked to cancel my order because I am not happy at all with this service. They said we can have one out to you 4-5 business days. I said well that's not good enough. I want one tommorow and if you can't have one at my door step by tommorow I don't want one anymore. I'm tired of waiting. So she offered a $75 gift certificate and I started to calm down and said fine just send it.

Moral of the story is NoMoreOutSourcing.com

A very frustrated long term Dell believer,

Cesar Ramirez
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://djczer.com" target="_newWindow">http://djczer.com</a>
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Dell=Poor Support=Bad News
Having owned one Dell product after another since 1995, I have seen the Tech Support Group age in a not so graceful way. Most recently, I had a problem with a Dimension 8300 which is just less than a year old. I called Tech Support and worked with them for 3+ hours trying to fix the problem with no success. The next day (Saturday)I contacted them again and we picked up from where we left off, worked another 2+ hours and was told that I would have to reinstall Windows XP. I backed up everything in sight and reinstalled Windows XP following the tech's instructions only to find that the problems still existed. The tech then determined that a hardware problem existed and that they would have to send out a technician to replace the video card and motherboard. With next day service one would expect Dell to live up to their contract. Not so fast....not so fast. On Monday, I again contacted Dell and was told the parts were being shipped to the third party technician and that the computer would be repaired on Tuesday (24 hours). I took the day off from work. On Tuesday I contacted Dell once again to try to find out exactly when the tech would be here since I had already taken the day off. I was told (after being on hold for 50 minutes 35 seconds..)"maybe not today". The person on the phone said he tried to contact DHL to find out if the part had been delivered. He said DHL was closed. He would try DHL again. It is now 54 minutes and 28 seconds and counting...still waiting.....music....music....more music.....56 minutes 45 seconds.....more music....and a new guy answered the phone.....and asked....why I was calling......I told him (after all that time it was an effort to remember why I was calling) and he transferred me to the wrong department. Now I have a new guy in tech support......1 HOUR, 2 MINUTES, 5 SECONDS......he's checking the case number......he sees that I asked to speak to a supervisor twenty minutes ago and asks, "Do you still want to speak to a supervisor?" I answer, "Yes.".......AT 1 HOUR 5 MINUTES 16 SECONDS I'M PUT ON HOLD AGAIN.......I'm on hold (no music)(You'd think that after being on hold for over one hour they would at least let me listen to some music, WRONG!.....1 HOUR, 7 MINUTES 23 SECONDS...he's back and says, "Please hold...I am getting the supervisor." (Apparently the supervisor works at another location, possibly in another time zone)......1 HOUR 9 MINUTES........TEN MINUTES.....ELEVEN MINUTES.....TWELVE MINUTES.....he's back....tells me to hold on while he gets a supervisor, that it will be another 3 minutes, puts me on hold....(music)......1 HOUR THIRTEEN MINUTES.......supervisor on the phone, I ask what has happened to the wonderful Tech Support that Dell was known for. He actually told me, "Dell Tech Support is still excellent and better than ever." I asked, "Where".....1 HOUR 16 MINUTES 37 SECONDS....he's checking to see where the parts are...were they shipped....were they delivered to the repair guy?...still checking.....1 HOUR 18 MINUTES 5 SECONDS..........1 HOUR TWENTY MINUTES...the phone is starting to overheat...1 HOUR 22 MINUTES 18 SECONDS..he's back...he says the part was delivered by DHL and the tech support company should be contacting me within the hour. Call ends. My conclusion: While I will wait to have this computer repaired, I WILL NEVER NEVER EVER BUY ANOTHER DELL.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Bad experience with buying a dell
Recently bought a laptop..don't even have the time and space here to describe the mix-ups and the like. Short story:
1. Online order rejected because not enough credit on my dell account - shouldn't it be able to tell me this at the order time??
2. Spoke to rep to have it billed to my debit card...little did I (or anyone else) know that he then reentered my order under a different "customer number"
3. Three hours of phone support to figure out that this is what happened
4. Also turns out that I was chared more for it then the price of my original online order - without being told.
5. etc etc etc ...I'll spare you all the details.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell lives up to their new reputation
Just received my new DELL computer. THey Sold me McAfee and Yahoo with discounts, but they do not jive when it comes to email. McAfee does not do web mail.So, all my emails are locked inside McAfee. McAfee, Dell and Yahoo all have one thing in common with support. YOu get a person who (1) can not speak english (2)Doesnt know that much about computers. A lethal combination when it comes to support. I spent most of my time saying, "huh? what?" trying to interpret their english. Ordering from Dell on accessories is a nighmare. Each order, I approximate took about 3 to 4 hours to straighten out over the phone. They send the wrong item or the tracking numbers are wrong or it went to some other address. This has been an extrememly time consuming and frustrating ordeal. DELL has created in me a "for life" advertisement that says, "Don't do business with DELL". And, I have run into alot of people in alot of business circles here in Dallas that have stated, "We dont do DELL any longer." They used to be good in the 90's, but for some reason Michael has thrown his support into the toilet. I have bought my last DELL. The Secret Guide to computers by Russ Walters is the best "advice" book ive ever read on computers. It says, "Dont buy a DELL and explains why ... it says, "Go with a computer called ABS. Their customers are happy with the service and the computer quality and price. We are going to buy some ABS computers this month. I think I will take my DELL computer to Austin and "sledge hammer" it on the front steps of DELL to make a point. Anyone out there want to go with me?
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I'll never buy Dell again
1. I paid $3000 for an Inspiron 8100 that I found out could be purchased for $1500.

2. Dell Financial Services' calls when my payment is even 1 day late are practically harrassment. Callers are rude, &#38; they call incessantly. They call at all hours, &#38; I know that it must be a human being on the other end, but it really doesn't feel like it.

I am completely disgusted with Dell customer support. My last 3 computers have all been self-built for a fraction (a third or less) of Dell's cost &#38; no problems to speak of. Newegg.com ftw!
Posted by Self Built (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Poor Quality Control; Abominable Service
I purchased a Dell notebook 8 months ago, and have already had the battery, hard drive and RAM replaced, and my system is currently not working. I have reformatted the hard drive but XP will not reinstall. In addition, the display screen has a line across it, the keys sometimes stick, and the touch pad (mouse) sometimes fails to work -- none of which is critical but evidences poor quality control.

However, I rate customer service far far LOWER than product quality. In no particular order, these are some of my experiences:

I've yet to receive my $150 rebate, despite several complaints and assurances over the month that a check will be sent.

After 2-3 hours of holding and redialing, I finally reached someone who agreed that my battery was dead and promised to send a replacement, but none was ordered. Another time, only half the RAM was sent. And yet another time, it took two long days of dozens of calls until I got someone to agree to send a new copy of XP after I told Dell that XP repeatedly failed to install on a reformatted hard drive that was 3 weeks old and passed all diagnostics (as had the CD drive).

Hold times when calling technical service (hardware) or customer care are rarely less than 10 minutes, and sometimes exceed 45 minutes, and then one is often transferred to another department and placed at the end of the holding queue. On several occasions calls have been dropped or misdirected. After 45 minutes on hold, a hardware technician told me he'd place me on hold for "2 minutes," and a minute later I was tolding to someone in software -- in another time zone -- who told me I had to call back and wait again. When I reached someone 30 minutes later and told them to call me back if he loses, explaining what happened, I was told that Dell had been having that problem for a couple days.

Representatives, including people claiming to be supervisors or managers, promise to call me back, but 9/10 times they do not. One person gave me his "personal" extension, but it was merely voice mail for an entire department. and I have several times obtained telephone extensions from individuals that are inoperable.

And my personal favorite: One self-proclaimed manager gave me his first name only, his extension, told me solving my problems was his "top priority," said he would call me back in a conference call with a highly skilled technician (supervisor or above), and promised that if the problem couldn't be fixed, he would personally ensure I received a new computer. He further instructed me to pay $50 to the software technicians to obtain some immediate help, and that he would reimburse me for the amount, saying it was faster that way and that software lacked the authority to provide any service without charge. I questioned the 5-digit extension he provided, which he said was his direct line with voice mail, because I recalled recordings on the phone system saying all extensions required seven numbers. He said not for managers, they only had 5-digit extensions. I paid the $50 to the software group, but he failed to call back, and when I later tried to reach him, I learned that I needed a 7-digit extension. Several times I called other departments asking to be transferred to the extension, and all but one said they had no record of any such extension. One transferred me, but I only received a recording saying "no one is available . . . please call back later" and then disconnected my call.

Numerous times I was told I'd be transferred to a manager, yet was instead transferred to the main line for the department. Or that a manager would return my call, but none did.

One customer care manager once told me I'd be credited $30, and have my warranty extended another year for my troubles, but that never happened, nor did she make the follow-up call to me she promised.

With a few noteworthy exceptions technicians are incompetent, lacking the most fundamental understanding of the system. They also lack any authority to contact anyone else at Dell on the customer's behalf, requiring one to call or be transferred to the main number and placed on hold. Hardware technicians are polite, and they often DO make follwow-up calls and respond to email; however, not one has suggested I do anything I hadn't done before talking with them, and most had a poorer understanding of their own hardware systems and diagnostic software than I did. Before I discovered that I had diagnostics software on a CD, I was prepared to ship the computer to Dell's lone repair facility in Tennessee for 7-10 days, where they would have run the identical diagnostics software, according to the technicians. Dell's courier service had already delivered the box for me to ship the computer in. Other than running diagostics software, they only suggest system restores or -- all too often and quickly -- reinstalling XP. I do want to add that I did NOT have significant communications problems with the hardware techs, most if not all were based in India -- there were a few times I'd have to repeat myself, ask them to repeat themselves, or answer questions like "what state is Los Angeles in." My criticism lies in their lack of training by Dell, both regarding Dell systems technically, and in the structure and functions of Dell's various departments that interact with customers.

Software technicians seem to be hit and miss. The one in Virginia was polite, tried hard, placed me on hold repeatedly when he wasn't sure of himself, but simply lacked an understanding of the operating system and hardware. Between being on hold and talking with him, I spent 1.5 hours, the end of which resulted in him finally understanding what steps I told him I took to install XP and what errors I received. In the process, I repeated for a fourth time reformatting the hard drive and attempting to reinstall XP from a CD. At least 10 minutes were spent with him explaining that XP would "automatically" copy from the CD to the hard drive ("You'll be amazed," he said) if he changed the boot sequence in the BIOS to have the computer boot from the CD instead of from the hard drive. He didn't explain it that way, however, and I didn't understand him for quite some time. He also had no familiarity with the BIOS, and was perplexed when he couldn't find what he was looking for on the first page. When I suggested I look on the other six pages, he told me not to use the page advance command or touch anything, and had me re-read the page again slowly. Finally, I figured out what he was looking for, and found it on page six. After explaining it to him, he seemed relieved. I was dismayed, however, and told him that there was no difference between booting automatically from the CD or manually hitting F-12 and selecting the CD instead of the hard drive to boot off of. Of course, XP did not automatically copy, but went through the slow installation process, which failed as it had on my three previous attempts. Before doing this, however, he repeatedly instructed me to backup any files I hadn't because I'd lose them. Each time I told him there were no files, for I had reformatted the hard drive several times on my earlier failed attempts to reinstall XP. He clearly did not understand that reformatting a hard drive erased the data.

I must compliment, however, the software group in Ottowa Canada. Technicians were competent, understood hardware and software far better than I (not much of a feat), and tried to compensate for failed promises from other departments, on matter that weren't their responsibility. They provide access to their managers, who are prompt and responsive, although the first-line SW techs appeared quite knowledgeable, competent and articulate.

Finally, Dell shipped my computer to me with an old version of XP that had known problems in general, and in particular had problems with Dell's platforms. This caused me considerable problems, among which prevented me from being able to successfully update the operating system. Furthermore, Dell failed to inform me of the problem, or the existence of the updated system, or instruct me to immediately download the updates, which would have prevented the problems. The newer improved version of XP, along with the problems of the earlier version, were available and known to Dell at the time I purchased the computer. The error was compounded when my hard drive needed replacement, which I believe should have come with XP and core applications installed, as had been on the original hard drive. I asked, but Dell refused. This left me to reinstall the older XP version, which required 21 software updates, including to System Pack 2, which would not install properly because the earlier version -- I then learned -- could not delete spyware. I also could not delete these files, which were in hidden directories that one couldn't find in XP, even when clicking on the option of seeing all hidden files and directories, even using the DEL command with the DOS command prompt. It took me a long time to learn about commands like ATTRIB that could change whether the files were read-only, or hidden, and flags on DEL that deleted read-only files that otherwise won't delete, but I still couldn't delete these files. Finally, I rebooted in safe mode and discovered I could delete the files if logged in as "administrator," which didn't make much sense to me as my user profile supposedly possessed superuser administrative authority. All of this would have been prevented had Dell sold me the then-newest version of XP.

But the problem worsened when a week or so later, my system began crashing again -- those so-called blue-screen errors. It reached a point where I decided to reinstall XP, along with the 21 separate updates, and various drivers and software, again. Yet XP failed to install, as mentioned above. Error messages indicated the CD was corrupted or not a proper installation disk. Yet customer care and hardware technicians said Dell refused to stand behind the CD and replace it because my 1-year warranty was limited to hardware. I explained that my hard drive failed, and had been replaced 2-3 weeks earlier, and that Dell was obligated to replace my hard drive the way it was when I purchased it, with XP and core software packages. I further said I believed that Dell should have shipped the hard drive with XP installed, but at minimum they had to stand behind the CD containing XP that Dell originally sent me, and ensure that I could install it properly. But several people at each of customer care and hardware technical support told me no, and referred me to sales to purchase new software. It was only after considerable persistence and repeated calls over a 2-day period that I was able to get any agreement from Dell on this matter.

Frankly, if I wasn't in the midst of a career transition, or if I wasn't so tenacious by nature, I wouldn't have had the time nor resolve to fight Dell. The value of the time I have spent solely on hold and talking to various Dell employees and managers would equal about five times the amount I paid for the computer at my last billing rate. Most rational people would have given up long ago. This begs the question: How many people have mothballed their Dell computers instead of forcing Dell to comply with their warranties and service agreements? If my experience of consistent pattern of malfeasance and nonfeasance by Dell in numerous individuals in sevearl different departments, and on different days, and in different months, is standard operating procedures at Dell, then that suggests that the amount of system and component failures in Dell's computers may be an order of magnitude greater than the actual replacements made and reported. Sadly, Dell profits handsomely from its malfeasance and nonfeasance, as word-of-mouth bad will invariably pails in comparison to Dell's marketing.

In Dell's home state, they like to say "bigger is better." I disagree. Next time, which I fear will be quite soon, I buy a computer from a much smaller company, one trying to create a good reputation instead of one relying on its reputation from 10 years ago.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
terrible customer service!!!
I agree! I was on hold for about 45 mins being transferred and not resolving anything, WASTING my time and when I asked for a manager, they said he was at lunch and gave me a voicemail. I told the manager I wanted a phone call from him ASAP and all i got was an email. When I replied with my simple issue, of DELL messing up and not getting my order through, I NEVER got another response from him. Therefore, I am back to square one with no solution, no contact info to resolve my problem, and I am VERY UNHAPPY WITH THE CUSTOMER SERVICE! Also, I have a very hard time understanding their call center in India as well.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
This ain't rocket science, ya' know
Come on, everyone.. Throw some statistics at me, if you can find any. How many of these Dell tech support nightmares originate (and get reported) from the huge corporate accounts that keep Dell's coffers overflowing? I honestly don't know (because it isn't worth my precious time to research it myself) but I'd be willing to bet a fair amount that the answer is "not many, if any". Fact is, like any other business, it all comes down to $$$$, and in Dell's case, that's a whole bunch; a whole bunch that they desperately don't want to lose and a lesser bunch that, well, just doesn't quite rank up there on the corporate financial barometer. That would be "us" guys, by the way. Sure, Dell (and the other big players) spend a lot of marketing bucks on "us" but that's for the trivial purpose of building market share that can be quoted in board rooms and in shareholder reports. Those numbers play up nicely when it comes time to negotiate that corporate order for several hundred if not thousands of new systems, software packages and peripherals, not to mention the highly beneficial effect they have on upper management salaries and option packages. (God knows it does nothing for the poor over-worked, under-payed tech support staff that just want to put a gun to there heads after listening to us bi*ch all day.)

So who's going to get the REAL tech support? No big surprises here...it ain't "us". Why? Because, even collectively, we don't appear as even a small blip on Dell's (HP's, etc.) cost of doing business. Put another way, they just don't give a rat's a** whether we EVER buy another system from them because they managed to dupe "us" into buying the first one. Why? Because the millions and millions of advertising dollars they spent on fooling "us" will continue to make the ad executives rich while ultimately getting the "new crop" to place those orders for those first systems which, we all know, keeps those much-coveted market share numbers rolling along and the multi-million dollar corporate accounts rolling in...you know, the one's that actually get tech support and customer service.

Bottom line -- quit griping and quit buying. And, while you're at it, get your buddies and your buddies' buddies to quit buying from them, too. Thumb your nose at the pompous marketing departments and throw, quite directly, your next Dell sales flyer into the garbage, where it belongs. Complaining NEVER works unless you've got huge bucks to back it up and, let's face it, individually, you and I don't have the money to put where our mouths are. Where they're concerned, we're invisible and Michael Dell, for one, should be ashamed of that. Had it not been for "us", twenty years ago, there would be no corporate accounts and there would be no almighty DELL. Think about it Mikey. And here's daring you to show a little pride in your own name.

Too bad we didn't know then what we (painfully) know now....
Posted by HowardFox (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My anti-Dell Blog
can be found at: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.blogster.com/blogApp/default.asp?u=Consumerblog&#38;p=2" target="_newWindow">http://www.blogster.com/blogApp/default.asp?u=Consumerblog&#38;p=2</a>
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bigger, Not Better
Dell, bit the hand that fed it. Dell got its start in the US market. Americans bought Dell computers and in return Dell expanded throughout the globe. Unfortunately, Dell initiated its record growth by offering quality PC's and excellent customer service. Along the way it figured it could continue growing without investing in quality support and service.

Neither exist anymore. Dell knows that. It banks on the numbers game. It returned its corporate client tech support to the US because it needed to win at its numbers game when corporate America balked. It retained its consumer tech and customer support in India to maintain the profit margin the Dell monster demands. Until the American consumer balks Dell will ignore the few of us that rant and rage over the Dell insult.

Now that Dell is worldwide, it can allow for American consumers to get shabby customer and technical service by people of a different culture who are trained more in offering the Dell Dance rather than actual resolutions to consumer pc problems.

I recently experienced the Dell Dance. That is:

Listen to the Consumer
Apologize to the Consumer
Forward customer to another Department
(don''t solve the problem)

After dozens of phone calls, chats, emails, I was still unable to discuss my core problem with anyone who would actually listen. Instead I got the dance until I realized I would have to get a third replacement for my defective Axim X50v rather than what I really wanted: a refund.

The CS and TS were rude, did not listen, did not care to read the log on their pc screens concerning my problem forcing me to continually retell my problem. They were always quick to apologize, slow to offer any viable solution.

Dell has marginalized the very people that got it where it is today. In return for US citizens initially buying their products Dell has sacrificed US jobs, downgraded their pc quality, and accepted the fact that people in the US would get quite frustrated with the Dell Dance provided by Dell CS/TS based in India.

As I see it, only when US citizens will stop buying Dell will Dell perhaps listen. I strongly encourage everyone to get the word out: Dell only wants our money. Dell will not provide the quality they claim. Dell has taken American jobs and American money. So, don't buy Dell.

In exchange for its success, Dell has chosen to punish the American consumer. Our response should be to turn elsewhere until Dell gets the message:

We demand quality in product and support in exchange for our hard earned American dollars.

Maybe once Dell sees it is losing the American market will it return to its former glory. Dell will only change once informed consumers see the lies in Dell marketing and respond, "Dude, I don't buy Dells!"
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell Customer Service-Technical Support-Not
It is pretty much an oxymoron to use the terms Dell
Customer Service or Dell Tehnical Support. I have
been in the Dell telephone-email hell since July 13 with
no resolution to my problems.

Not only has Dell failed to repair my computer
(purchased the end of January) after three separate
visits and installation of new parts (new memory chips,
new fan, new hard drive, new power supply and more
new memory chips), now it is trying to foist off a
"refurbished" computer on me instead of giving me a
new tower as promised (in writing). I fully expect that
they will say that the person who promised the new
tower was not authorized to do so.

No one ever performed any diagnostic test on my
computer as requested weeks ago. Also, I told Dell
technical support weeks ago that I believed there was a
problem with the motherboard. They insisted that there
wasn't. Then after all less expensive attempts failed to
remedy the problem, they wanted to try a new
motherboard. Too late. I was promised a new tower
and that is what I expect to receive.

Dell has:

-- wasted hours of my time on the telephone (holding or
going in circles with technicians who have no idea what
has been done or discussed previously and who have
accents so strong that we have to spell virtually every
other word in order to communicate),

-- caused more than 34 emails to be generated in an
effort to get this problem pending since before July 13

-- advised me to do things like download an operating
system when my computer will not bootup or go to
websites which only the most technically astute
individual could understand and follow the instructions

-- caused me to miss work, to spend hours on the
telephone an dealing with email, to pay for a DSL
service that I cannot access without my computer, and
to experience an inordinate amount of stress due to
either total ignorance or deliberate lies.

I am looking at my options: ABC 7 On Your Side, class
action lawsuit, Internet message boards, letters to Dell's
Chairman, President and VP in charge of Customer
Relations, nonstop emails to Dell, rejection of all
attempts to dump a refurbished computer on me, etc.

Dell may be making money today but they are losing
customers left and right. I so regret is ever purchasing
a Dell computer.

So Done with Dell
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Horrid Dell sdervice and communication
Brand new dell inspiron for daughter in collage, won't power up after 20 days. The meriad of callls that have to be made and the wait is enough for anyone to turn postal, there service is the worst. CAN I TALK TO A HUMAN IN THIS COUNTRY PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't buy it.
Posted by thomas hoffman (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
dell does not stand by its word
Dell promised me when I ordered my lap top, a 4 year warranty and a $50.00 router free. The salesman, Mark, was kind enough to give me his extension if any problems. When he sent me the sales confirmation, no router was mentioned, and there was only a 90 day warranty. I called his number and extension, left a message, he never called back. I've been trying to contact someone at Dell for over 1 month now. I am constantly being told I have the wrong department (Customer Service) to help with the warranty, but they would send out the router. Then I call on 8/30/05, and am told they cannot send out the router, and was given a supervisors e-mail address to contact. I have sent him 3 messages thus far, and no reply at all.
No one at Dell is able to help and they are all unable to give me a person to speak with who can help.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Dell Does Not Care
I agree with your commments. Is one supposed to feel lucky if Dell even gets an order to your address after a PC sits in another person home for five days before you notify Dell you never received the order.

Dell is fraught with less then honest sales and Dell Financial Services employees.

The company has no personal to answer any live complaint.

If I had access to the Internet when I ordered a new PC, why would I need a new one?

Despite clearly stating that I had a crashed PC Dell sent emails. I find this a joke on the consumer. Dell is well aware of a person's address when they pull a credit report.

How can Dell send a PC to a person and address in your name via UPS at an address you have never used and you have lived at the same address for over 14 plus years?

I say it is greed.
Posted by nottalib (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell - I swore I wouldn't do it again
I bought a desktop from Dell in October last year (2004). From the first day when I turned it on, I got error messages. They weren't constant, but they were every day. This was my first experience with Dell "customer service", which is such an oxymoron! It didn't matter how much I screamed, cried (which I finally did on Christmas Eve), begged, promised, whatever...they would NOT let me speak with anyone in the US with English as first language. And because the people who were reading from a script in India couldn't fix the problems, it went past the 30 days money back or replacement guarantee. So when they realized they just simply gave me a lemon, they sent me a REFURBISHED computer to replace it. I PAID ABOUT $1,700 FOR A NEW COMPUTER. But when I demanded a NEW computer to replace it, they wouldn't send me one. I got my "new" replacement computer in January.

A few weeks ago, I needed a new laptop. I checked Consumer Reports, and sure enough, they recommended the Dell Inspiron 6000. When all was said and done, I had spent over $2,200 for everything. I pulled it out of the box and had a problem with the factory settings denying me the ability to connect to my network. When I called "customer service" they informed me that was not covered and despite the thousands of dollars I had spent, I had to pay $99 to speak with someone on the phone to fix it. I was beside myself! I finally hung up on them after I got tired of hearing the woman in Bombay read the "script" over and over. They even called me back. I told them I was sending it back and they could go straight to you know where.

Before packing the thing up, I called my cable company and this nice guy said, "oh, all you have to do is this..." It cost me nothing, he was just a nice guy, and I spend far less with them than I spent with Dell in the last year. They are just a better company.

Dell, you have alienated just about all early adopters, who are the biggest purchase drivers in our society. I will never buy another Dell, and I mean it this time, until they fix their joke of a customer service department! What a nightmare!
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
If you have Dell Complaints
I think it would be helpful to other customers if you can post your complaint/opinion at ydell.com

Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dell support
We bought a brand new computer with large flat screen monitor. when we tried to use it, the spell check in email did not work. We thought we had a 2 yr warranty, but have discovered it only covers hardware. It is their software, yet they want another $99 to sign up for software support. Ridiculous.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Before buying from Dell, read this...
Before you order your computer from Dell you may want to read this, because this could happen to you. I've highlighted what I went through when I ordered a simple computer from Dell's website.

When it was time to upgrade my home computer, my first thought was to consider Dell for my systems and software solutions. As a first time Dell customer I placed my order online on September 7.

"On September 7 2005 I placed an order for a DEMENSION XPS GEN 5 computer and flat panel monitor via Dells website.

"On September 8 I received an email from Dell confirming my order along with the 3-5 day delivery date.

"On September 15, I received an email indicating that my order was shipped on the 14th and that it would take 3-5 days for delivery. Since I was leaving for vacation on the 21st, I assumed that I would receive my order in time prior to my departure.

"On the morning of the 20th, I called the customer support number to obtain a tracking number and to find out the status of my shipment. The person I spoke with provided a tracking number and they indicated that my shipment should be delivered by noon time that day. They also confirmed my email address and indicated that they would send a survey to track the quality of the call; I never received such email.

By mid-afternoon I had not received my shipment and I was unable to obtain any status form Fedex with the tracking number provided to me. I called the customer support number again and the person I spoke with was also unable to locate my shipment with the tracking number. They indicated that the shipment most likely had not left the shipping department, although a tracking number was issued. The person indicated that they would look into the matter and that they would call me back. I never received a call from that person.

That evening I called the customer support number again and tried to explain my situation. Since I was leaving for vacation the next day and no one would be home to receive the shipment, I was trying to prevent a delivery while I was gone. Again, as I understood from my last conversation with the customer support department, my shipment had not left Dell shipping.

Regardless of all my efforts to explain my situation, the person I was speaking to could not understand or comprehend my concern and request regarding the unavailability of someone to receive the shipment at my address. They kept apologizing for the delay and insisted that shipment would be received in 3 to 5 days! Finally after half an hour of trying to explain why they should not send the shipment, I thought I had convinced the person to ship the order one week later than originally promised. Again at the end of our conversation, the person indicated that they would send a survey regarding the transaction and again I received no email from Dell customer service.

"On September 21, while at the airport, I called the customer support number one last time to confirm the arrangement I had made the night before. After explaining my situation, I was shocked when the person I spoke with assured me that the shipment would be received in 3 to 5 days. Frustrated I asked to speak with a manager; however the person kept insisting that they would try to resolve the issue. Respectfully I told the person I did want to speak with them and told them that I had very little time and that I needed to speak with a manager as soon as possible. Not sensing the gravity of the situation they told me that they would put me on hold until the manager was available. Fifteen minutes later, while still on hole I hung-up in anger and disgust.

"Sure enough upon my return home there were three delivery attempts by Fedex from Dell. I called customer support on October 4th and finally spoke with a case manager. After explain my situation  yet again  the manager was able to track the shipment as having been returned to Dell. After all the aggravation and frustration I had gone through, without hesitation the case manager refunded my purchase price and indicated that the full amount would be credited to my Visa account.

"On October 12th I called customer support  reluctantly - to enquire about the processing time for my refund. This time the person I spoke with discovered that only a portion of the purchase price had been refunded, which I received the next day. He indicated that he would have to request another credit for the balance of the amount which would be made in two payments. As of today (October 26), I am still awaiting for the final balance to be credited to my account.

This is Dell Customer service.
Posted by chafe99 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
An 8 day service call
Called DELL at 10:29AM,Thursday ,November 3,2005 with BLUESCREEN error,despite having bitdefender,Adaware,Microsoft's new protection as well as counterspy.I knew I'd be in for a rough go and would have to back up files.After speaking with 16 CSR's,it was finally decided on Sunday morning at 5:50 am that I would have to have the DVD drive replaced.A new drive arrived this mornig along with a technician.He told me that my Drive was fine.I simply had to format the DVD disks.To do that,I would need to install the DELL Sonic reinstallation disk that came with my PC.He tried to install it and told me I had a defective SONIC disk.Called DELL and was told the new SONIC disk would take 4 days to arrive !!!!! I pay for DELL service and now the wait goes on.Dell promised me a woman would call me at 1 PM Friday and walk me through the next steps.RIGHT.I'm not technically proficient but I do know when I'm getting screwed.Another thing......try find DELL's mailing address in Round Rock.I'd like to write Mike a letter but he's so insulated from the customer,that I'm sure any letter would be shredded before it reached his desk.The Empoer has no clothes on.....but his sycophants won't tell him.
Posted by wahoomurf (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
24/7 "try "to fix it yourself tech support
I purchased a dell computer 3 months ago and it has never worked correctly. The audio is extremely gargled, screen saver does not always work, pulling up a program can sometimes take up to a minute to open up etc. etc. etc....After (12) calls to tech support who insisted that I do (3) reimages and a compilation of other tasks that used up approx. (40) hours of my time the last parting words from Jeff "tech support supervisor" was get more memory and good luck.

What has happened to customer service??? Best advice-NEVER BUY A DELL PRODUCT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!
Posted by dabell (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.