Dell Hell: One of many postscripts

I hope Rick Segal won’t mind my quoting this in entirety but it’s too wonderful a postscript to my Dell saga (which isn’t quite over but will be momentarily, a coda to follow):

I work in an office tower with standard food courts all filled with people like me; complaining about prices but too lazy to make our lunch at home.

I happened to be sitting across from a couple of bank tellers from TD Canada Trust, the bank in our building. These two ladies I’d seen before so I knew where they worked.

Lady one: I was going to buy a new Dell but did you hear about Jeff Jarvis and the absolute hell he is going through with them.

Lady two: Yeah, I know the IT guy told me that the cobler blog was recommending we stay away from Dell.

Okay, after you are done laughing at this; laughing at Scoble’s name being mangled, laughing at two random bank tellers talking about some one line blog entry about some guy pissed off about his Dell experience; after you are done: Pay Attention.

I’ll accept that an IT guy would be reading scoble’s blog. I’ll even accept the IT guy offering an opinion which, randomly, I overheard.

The pay attention part: Lots of people (Dell?) are making the assumption that “average people” or “the masses” don’t really see/read blogs so, we take a little heat and move on.

Big mistake.

That interchange probably cost Dell at least two sales and lord only knows how many over time. And those lost sales are coming from a feedback system that didn’t matter a few years ago.

This “blogging stuff” is moving mainstream seriously fast. You and your management team had better be watching what’s going on because Jeff Jarvis and Aunt Mildred both have blogs and both can call BS on whatever BS you are serving up.

[Side note: I don’t think Scoble ever said don’t buy Dell as the Redmond OEM Mafia would have him killed. ;-)]

That lunch is on me, Rick.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Well, Jeff…you scared me away from Dell.

    I'm going to buy a new laptop to replace the old coal-fired one I'm using now.

    It will be a second hand one, but I'm shying away from Dell. It will probably be a Toshiba with a 17 inch screen.

    I'm just not ready to go Mac.

  • I have a Toshiba with a 17-inch screen. Two years old, fast as ever, and runs enormous datasets in monster stats propgrams in a jiffy. Runs a touch hot though, but who cares. It does all the things I need it to do. Plus the wireless is super, with great reception.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Cool, Jenny.

    I think that's the one I'm looking for.

  • I once had a Toshiba laptop depart from my motorcycle at about 65mph on a curve a bit north of Chattanooga. I reined-up as fast as I could, only to see it laying right in the middle of the road where it had stopped skidding. I ran back — waving at tractor-trailer rigs to not run over my machine — picked it up and brought it back to my bike.

    After a ride like that, that thing fired up without blinking right there on the side of the road. It was the very last thing I expected would happen.


  • von

    Once you know, you NewEgg .

  • One of the other things that Dell misses when they think that "the masses" don't pay attention to weblogs is that – and I think you've touched on this before – is that it doesn't matter.

    Why? Because "the masses" use those webloggers as resources. Folks call them when their screen freezes, when their printer starts spewing random characters, and when they get ready to buy a new machine to replace the one completely smeared with malware. And those folks (the informati, if you will) have read the words that you've spread, letting them know where to spend instead.

    And that is not Dell. Because Dell Sucks.

  • Reputation is, always has been and always will be, essentially word of mouth, and now that word can spread like wildfire. Instead of Aunt Matilda gossiping at the supermarket checkout to a couple of people, one of whom may have a nephew who may possibly be considering buying a laptop at some point in the future and may or may not rate his aunt's advice, she now has a megaphone and a potential audience of thousands (maybe even a clip on primetime TV with no editing out of the juicy bits). If what she's saying is unreasonable, everyone will see that very quickly, but if what she's saying is in any way justified, that will show up just as plainly too.

    What Scoble says (which as Lady Two so astutely noticed is usually a load of old cobblers anyway) as a front man for a major corporation is now relegated to a partisan view in a highly democratic, open debate.

    The Ancient Greeks would have loved blogging!

  • Sami

    My inlaws got a dell and I told them what things to upgrade and what to not get… I've been working with computers for 30 years and figured I'd beef the system up at a reasonable cost. Lack of additional memory slot, NO bay for a floppy drive if you didn't pay them for it, NO additional mounting space for a second drive if you didn't pay them for it, etc…

    Later I got a voucher from work to buy a machine from Dell. Hours of frustration trying to get it to recognize a new main harddrive, due to their recovery partition among other things.

    I'll definately build my next system myself like I had since my first 286 Packard Bell.

  • pst314

    I have been a Dell customer since the mid-80's when they were PC's Limited. I used to recommend Dell, but not any more. I too have had very bad experiences with tech support and customer service.

  • Evan

    My Dell experience was similar. About a year ago a bought a top-of-the-line Dell Latitude D800 laptop. Problems so far:

    * Motherboard didn’t work from day one and had to be replaced
    * Bluetooth didn’t work; when I finally got around to calling Dell, it turned out that it had never been installed at all in spite of my having paid for it
    * Docking station failed after less than a year. Their e-mail customer support people insisted I try my computer with a different docking station, and that I try my docking station with a different computer — as if I had spares laying around. They refused to provide a replacement until I did this. Eventually they stopped answering my e-mails entirely. I sent an e-mail complaint which was also ignored. Finally I was able to get some joy via their telephone support, and I got a replacement docking station.

    I am expecting to buy about 20 PCs for my company over the next 1-2 years. They won’t be Dells.

  • Here’s a story: I sent the Jarvis Dell Hell thread to the president judge of a court I practice before in Pittsburgh area. The judge had been thinking about buying a Dell for his son and I told him to hold off until he read what I had to send him. He did hold off, and after reading it he forwarded the thread to his entire office staff. Only problem was he accidentlty sent the forward to every attorney in the bar association in his address book. Embarrassed, he immediately sent out a email to everyone telling them to disregard the email, but you might as well tell folks not to think of the color blue. I have no idea how many sales Dell has lost from all this but it could very be dozens in the short term, and many more long term.

  • Madeleine

    Dear Mr. Hell,
    On my dead body, I’m never going to by Dell again as long as I live, or have any my children by Dell again, it’ll be in my will. I bought a computer for my daughter when she entered college. It’s a lemon!!! The only thing worse than the computer was the customer service.

  • Orhan

    I bought three sets of computers from Dell on a zero percent financing. Some reason or another last September they did not send me a bill and they charged me a late fee because I made no payment, plus interest or a total of $204.77. When I saw that I tried to call Dell customer service and no matter when I called the line was busy. So I decided to write Mr. Michael Dell himself with a check $1718.42 to pay my balance as of October 2004. I have not heard from Dell nor do they cashed the check. So in December I sent an e-mail to Mr. Dell’s assistant and asked her if they received the check, if not I would send another check. She called me and told me that they had not received the check, so I sent them another check fro the same amount. But Dell was not an honest company. They cashed both checks via ACH. Needless to say I had my bank stop the payments on both checks. And I instructed my bank to cash only the first check. Dell eventually cashed that check and I thought the problem was over and closed. I was wrong I started getting, daily annoying calls from Dell Financial. No matter how I explained to them that I owe them nothing, they kept saying I, now, owed them $240.

    I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The answer, to my complaint, from Dell looked sincere and satisfying. I wrote to BBB that I was happy with the results.

    Dear Better Business Bureau of Austin,
    I am writing on behalf of Dell in response to the complaint of Mr. Orhan Agaoglu. Thank you for making Dell aware of his concerns.
    I spoke with Mr. Agaoglu, June 27, 2005, in regards the $274.79 balance on his Dell Financial Services account, in which $112.75 was from Homework Plus and the remaining $162.04 was Interest.
    Mr. Agaoglu explained he never received or cashed a $4.00 check from Homework Plus. The check stated that if it were cashed there would be a $112.75 charge incurred. Homework Plus advised me a credit was applied to Mr. Agaoglu, Dell Financial Services account, in November of 2004, but records indicate the credit never processed.
    The Homework Plus representative resubmitted the $112.75 credit and requested (7-10) business days for it to process to the Dell Financial Services account.
    I notified Dell Financial Services of the Homework Plus credit, and asked that they cease all collection calls. Once the credit posts to the account, any remaining interest, and fees will be removed.
    If you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue, please contact me directly at
    1-800-624-9897, Extension 724-9524. I will be happy to assist you.
    Irene Stewart
    Dell Executive Services

    Unfortunately, I continued getting the annoying calls. Finally they stopped. Then I got a letter from a collection agency. I wrote to them that I disputed their claim and enclosed a copy of Irene Stewart, the Dell rep. I really thought that was the end of this problem. Once again I was wrong. I continued getting statements from Dell showing increasing amounts of what they claim I owe them,

  • Michele

    I bought a Dell and they told me I could pay it in 2 months without any interest or fees. In two months, I paid the entire bill. Strangely, I received an invoice saying I owed $400 and interest and fees. So I called… their #800 financial fee center (sounded like it was in India) and they told me they could not send me a copy of my check.

    So I called my bank, and they told me since Dell put it through as an automated check that only Dell has a copy of the check. They also said that there is no way that Dell could have run it through for anything but the amount is was written for.

    I called Dell (in India) again. They again told me I needed to pay the balance, plus interest and a $75 fee. They told did not have a copy of the check and all they could send me was a statement of my account!

    I told them that was illegal (not sure about that, but it sounded good) and that they needed to send me a copy of my check. After a long hold, they told me that someone would get back with me. Hours later, someone from Dell (US) called me and apologized. They said they ran the check through for $400 less than it was written.
    Something seems very strange about this….

  • GB

    I hate to make a tacky sales pitch for another company, but I just can’t help myself after reading the “Dell Hell” saga. There’s only one PC company left that doesn’t outsource its support and they answer the phone in less than 2 minutes every time you call (they actually post their service metrics on the front page of their website: They also have an upgraded warranty for their laptop products where they ship you a replacement system (minus the hard drive) by 10AM the day after you call. You swap the drives out and your done….no shipping it back, no waiting for an onsite contractor to show up. Its the best laptop warranty I’ve ever used. They are the only PC company that realizes that the only way to stand out while selling a comoditized product is through providing better service. You usually have to pay a little more than you would for your “Dell weekend special,” but it’s been worth it everytime so far.

  • I admit I owe money to Dell – no problem. I would like to pay. I would like to write a single check to Dell and have them never call me ever again. They told me over the phone that they “Cannot tell me the payoff amount because the account is in collections”. The also told me to mail the check to DFS in Carol Stream. DFS tells me they can’t talk to me about the account because it’s in collections – so, who’s really running the show there?

  • SC

    I purchased a Dell PLasma TV and filed a BBB complaint after the third replacement set in less that a year. I was an avid Dell customer but no more. Currently waiting on Dell to pick up the TV and send me a check for a refund. I know this may take several months but it is the least I can do to make them feel a little of my pain of having to deal with them

  • Maria

    Dell sucks. They kept sending my bill to my shipping address 3 times until they finally got it right. That’s until I checked the bill and realized that it was not my account, although my name with the wrong middle initial, but in fact some else’s account.

    I am sick and tired of corresponding with DFS every month. I’ll be done with my payments in just a few months, why do I have to deal with this now? If I had only known about all the Dell complaints, then I would have never bought a Dell.

    Why do all of their customer service reps suck?

  • I gues I didn’t pay attention too all the warnings and now I am going through the Dell Hell and We don’t care attitude of Dell Customer Service… I am in IT industry and will make sure that I never deal with them again and no have any one I know of go to them either .. Thank you Dell for your Customer Service and Customr Satisfaction ….
    Details of mY experience with them are at my blog

  • maryb

    Brand new Dell that I have had less than 30 days, died. It needs a complete reinstall including the bios. I don’t want it, I want to send it back and get my money back, but it’s been more than 21 days since I ordered it!
    I guess they think I’m a geek or something that enjoys installing bios software and operating systems every week or something.
    Any advice to getting it sent back and getting my money back would be helpful!

  • Donna

    Heck, I can’t get past the financing group at Dell to even buy a computer because I have a security alert on my credit bureau. Apparently that is reason for an immediate decline for financing & they aren’t inrerested in going through any verification steps. Dell Financial Services has some of the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced & they don’t seem to care if they obtain new customers. I’m wondering if I should re-think my decision to by Dell products at all. Does anyone out there have the name & address of the person in charge of the Dell Financial Group?