Dell hell: nearing the end (and aren’t you glad?)

Yes, I bought the Powerbook. And, yes, there have been moments when I’ve despaired: It feels like moving to Paris and not speaking French (though it sure is pretty there). There is as much illogic in part of the Mac world as in the Microsoft world. I damned near didn’t get my printer working (and I still cannot get the proper drive installed; I keep installing the installer and then it won’t show up anywhere). I damned near didn’t get my Treo to sync. But I have it. And so, next week, I’ll send the Dell back.

Meanwhile… Dwight Silverman, tech guru of the Houston Chronicle, writes about the saga here:

For at least the last three years, I’ve heard a growing number of complaints from consumers about Dell’s customer service. The gripes run from the basic — confusing phone menus, ridiculous hold times, clueless tech support relying too much on scripts, outsourced call centers with poor English-language skills — to the more complex, including accusations of not honoring the specifics of premium warranties and using loopholes to avoid fixing or replacing defective parts.

I’ve asked Dell executives about this repeatedly, most recently at January’s Consumer Electronics Show. The answer is always either a.) we’re aware of this and we’re working to solve the problem, or b.) we’re aware of the problem and we believe it’s getting better.

But I don’t think it has.

He quotes Ed Bott who says, quite rightly,

I’m writing to express my disgust with the response that Jeff’s series of rants got from other people who have high-traffic Web sites that are run by popular content-management systems (blogs, I think they’re called). These folks seem to think that because Jeff is semi-famous and gets quoted a lot on other Web sites and occasionally has his face on TV to talk about these blog things, he’s entitled to special treatment.

There’s no doubt that Jeff’s high Google juice will result in lots of people reading about his experience. When they do, they’ll get an accurate picture of how broken Dell’s customer service is and how their Complete Care guarantee doesn’t deliver on its promises….

Google Dell customer service problems and you get 2,950,000 hits, with titles like “My unbelievable experiences with Dell” and “How bad is Dell support? A lot!” and “If you have problems, expect no assistance from Dell” all on the first page of results. (And Jeff, if you had done that search before you made the purchase, maybe you wouldn’t have bought from Dell.)

My point is that there is already plenty of evidence available to anyone who knows how to use Google that Dell’s customer service sucks, to put it mildly. Granting special treatment to so-called A-listers only convinces me that A is for arrogant.

A is for absolutely right. Here’s what I said in response in his comments:

I agree that bloggers on whatever list shouldn’t be treated differently. But if Dell were smart, it would use blogs as an opportunity to see what customers are saying … and to fix problems (and get good PR for it)… and to learn about their own products and service…
Dell has people clipping media services to see what Walt Mossberg is saying and, yes, Walt is influential, but he’s not a consumer; he’s a reporter.
On blogs, Dell would find its consumers… including the many thousands who are pissed at Dell. That should teach them something. But it won’t if they won’t listen.

: Jason Calacanis follows the saga here; Steve Rubel does here; Robert Scoble does here.

  • John C. Randolph

    Jeff,

    Hope you’re enjoying the powerbook. If I’d seen your blog a month ago, I’d have been happy to apply one of my Apple employee discounts for you.

    -jcr (Ex-Apple Engineer)