Lots of company in Dell Hell

Lots of good folks have been sending me email alerts to a new study that shows Dell customer satisfaction falling as fast as its stock price (gee, wonder whether they are related, huh?).

U.S. consumers lambasted Dell Inc. for poor customer service in a survey conducted last quarter, sending the world’s largest PC vendor into a virtual tie with the rest of the PC market behind the industry-leading efforts of Apple Computer Inc.

The biggest complaint was with customer service.

I’ll post my final chapter of the Dell saga shortly.

  • whodat

    Your final chapter? No way–I don’t believe it. The whole thing has been great–nothing like empowerment of consumers, especially against large corps.

  • HT

    I’m surprised that the Apple score is that close to the market average, given their low and slowly declining market share, and the extreme enthusiasm of Apple owners on various message boards. That’s not intended to be a shot at Apple, by the way, just an acknowledgement that their market share has dropped over, say, the last ten years from about 5% to just under 3%. With that kind market performance, almost everyone purchasing your machines has to be a true believer.

    Now, I know that recently their market share has seen a slight uptick from the iPod halo effect, but that doesn’t affect the main statistical point that Apple respondents will tend to be more heavily skewed towards repeat, and therefore (theoretically) happier, buyers.

    It would also be interesting to learn if Dell’s declining scores correlate with any corporate changes, either in outsourcing of responsibilities or general service-related policies.

  • “I’ll post my final chapter of the Dell saga shortly.”

    And not a moment too soon.

  • Larry Hartzell

    “I’ll post my final chapter of the Dell saga shortly.”

    Do not write it. Not here.

  • Angelos

    Apple’s tech support is good, in the sense that you can actually reach someone who speaks English.

    But they really only can suggest one of two things:
    -Verify/Repair disk permissions
    -Reinstall the OS

    Their solutions to everything…

    Mouse problems, Font Book problems, etc. I’m on my 4th reinstall now. Excellent stuff.

    Still, it’s nice to see companies with bad service suffer. Penny-wise, and pound foolish.

    Jeff, I don’t remember how much you paid for you laptop (if you even mentioned it), but you bought the “upgraded” warranty too. So you had every right to bitch.

    I do question the right of some people to bitch, though. What did they expect when they bought a $299 computer? Dell is the public corporation that makes the promises it can’t keep, and I am not trying to excuse them.

    But people need to educate themselves. A good POWER SUPPLY can cost $300. Cheap memory is unstable memory. Cheap video chips, cheap motherboards… Dozen of potential failure points.

    Really, I’m still running a couple 8-year old computers, running Windows 98, and one I turned into a Linux experiment box. Built by a local screwdriver shop, with parts I specified. They were expensive even in ’97, bu they’re still rock-solid. Obviously slow compared to my newer machines, but for certain backoffice work, they run Word 97 and XL just fine. Try running a cheap Dell power supply daily for 8 years.

    Dell needs to stop the fraud, but customers need to realize that coporations are for shareholders, not customers. Their JOB is to steal from you, so the profit margins go up, so the shares go up, so the CEO gets a bigger bonus. You and I are pieces of shit to Dell, Microsoft, the big-3 automakers, WalMart, etc.

    Years ago, I stopped trying to compete on price. While I have a little wiggle room, at some point, I just tell my customers (or potential customers), if you can beat that, go do it. Caveat emptor, though.

    I have vendors to pay (and good vendors ain’t cheap), I have good employees to keep (VERY little turnover over 8 years) with salary and benefits, I have to stay on top of hardware and software improvements, and I have to make money myself.

    This is my price. Deal with it.

    The peace of mind dividends were immediate. And very few customers have left me over price issues. GE, no surprise there; NYS DoH; a couple others. Big accounts, yes, but not really worth the razor-thin margins they were trying to push me down to. And since I can pay attention to customers that give a shit, everybody’s happier.

  • I have no real complaints about Dell’s products or actual customer service. I like their machines, have gotten plenty of use of my 3 year extended warranty already and whenever I’ve called them up on something, my issues have (almost always) been resolved smoothly.

    My actual gripe though is about how they’re _tracking_ customer satisfaction. When I interact with customer support, I’ve grown to anticipate a follow up email asking me to rate my experience, and that’s fine. Last time around I noticed everyone that I spoke to would remind me at the end that my experience with them would rated, which is OK I guess, but then they even started to ask me what I would rate them.

    Finally, today (before I get the actual email to rate the interaction with them), I get _another_ call, reminding me that I’m going to get an email about my experience with them and asking me what grade I would give.

    Huh? That’s the third time you’ve asked! Why don’t you just wait until I respond to the email survey?

    I get that they have to track satisfaction, but do you have to annoy me about it (and call me in the morning while I’m in the shower at that)?

  • kent

    I heard nothing but great stuff about Dell’s vaunted customer service, etc., so I bought one a desktop pc back in 1997. I can tell you that I hated the service, I found them rude and short tempered. One customer service rep even sighed at me. Perhaps I bored him.

    Full disclosure–and a laugh or two–I’m a Dell shareholder, and only because of their business model, the cut rate price thing, which is brilliant. I’ve made some money on the stock, but only because the general public is–like I was–stupid, and falls for the PR spin that Dell is the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread.

  • As you can infer from Joost’s comments customer satisfaction surveys are a crock. Car dealers routinely get scores in the 80s to high 90s due to the same kind of goosing that Dell’s doing.

    As I write here the simple way to find out if customers like you (are satisfied) is to measure how many times a business fails to follow through on the 4 or 5 basic expectations of their customers.

    No surveys necessary. Just roll up your sleeves and see how many times you’ve dropped the ball for customers like Jeff Jarvis.

  • To me, one of the simplest ways to track customer satisfaction would be to check for repeat business (lock-in through printer cartridges doesn’t count here BTW).

  • Angelos

    Absolutely right on the surveys.

    If I have a warranty repair for my truck, I take it to the dealer, and get it fixed free. They do it fine.

    Any other service, I take to a shop I’ve been going to for years.

    When the dealer calls after the service with the damned questionnaire, they always ask “How likely would you be to get your vehicle serviced here again?”

    But they don’t leave any room for the qualifier “I’ll bring it back if the service is free…”

    So how valid are the answers I try to give?

    Not everything is yes or no, or 1 thru 5.

  • David

    Thought I’d add my Dell rant, although I’ve generally been satisfied with their products.

    I wanted to add a second hard drive to an older machine, so I called Dell to order a $6 mounting bracket. That’s all. The JERK I dealt with asked me, “what is your intended use of this computer?” I told him I didn’t think it was any of their business what I use the computer for, and that I wasn’t gong to answer the question. He replied, “if you are not going to tell me, then I am not going to sell you the bracket.”

    It was a good thing at that point that I was here and he was in Bangalore, instead of behind some service counter, within arms’ reach. I invented an interesting but false story and eventually received the bracket.

  • Customer service, it goes without saying, is integral to a company’s success.

    In other words, you can have the coolest products in the planet, but if you can’t lend a support system for them, you’re as good as yesterday’s newspaper.

    If you own a Dell and have ever tried to reach the customer support line, you can emphathize with this: the length of time on hold with Dell customer service representatives was the #1 complaint.

    Moral of the story, Mr Dell: don’t increase revenues at the cost of service capabilities.

    Customers are still frustrated by PC technology so pay attention, Dude.

  • Jon

    I am going through the Dell Hell too. I am trying to help a friend who ordered 8 computers for his office. Dell sent him Windows XP Home Edition knowing that it was for an office environment with a server.

    I am collecting Case #’s and still haven’t resolved it yet.

  • Jay

    I’m currently in an interesting, albeit annoying, situation with DFS (Dell Financial Services AKA Don’t Foment Satisfaction). When my top of the line Dell Dimension XPS PC went kaput for 15 days (it needed a new motherboard and power supply after just one (1) short year of ownership), I requested that DFS place a stop on my account until the system was fixed. They refused to do so. So I inquired about their charge dispute process. Per their instructions, I completed a dispute request form and submitted it in hopes that they would reverse finance charges and late fees incurred during the time my system was inoperable. After denying my request twice, they sicked STC Solutions, Inc. on me. STC is a third-party collection agency and has called me nearly 100 times over the last several weeks to chase down payment on my account, even though my dispute has gone unresolved. A few days ago, STC offered a settlement: a reduction of 20% from my outstanding balance if I paid them immediately. I requested the settlement offer in writing, and I indicated that I would pay off the ENTIRE balance of my account upon receipt of said offer letter, but neither STC nor DFS would comply, citing legal hurdles. STC, in the meantime, continues to call me, even though I’ve escalated my request for a written offer to a third-level manager. In fact, the reps from STC ignore the fact that my request for a written settlement letter is documented in the notes on my account, as well as my willingness to pay off the ENTIRE balance of my account if they provide that letter–it’s like they’re calling me for the first time, every time, oblivious to any documented conversations I’ve had with their management team. So . . . I continue to wait in hopes that someone at either STC or DFS will somehow figure out that a simple written settlement offer will generate a check from me for the full balance of my account.

    In the meantime, while my XPS machine was out of commission, I filmed myself speaking with Dell Customer (Who) Care(s?). I have about one hour of footage documenting my struggle to get someone to help me resolve my situation. I also emailed Michael Dell to let him know about my negative customer experience. Nevertheless, my collections nightmare continues to smolder.

    Is there someone who might be interested in the video for documentary purposes? Perhaps Michael Moore will delve into the phenomenon of large corporations investing so heavily in marketing and sales yet turning their backs on their customers through offshore customer care centers (India, Panama, etc.). It’s bewildering that such an integral part of running a business, customer service, is paid so little attention by Mr. Dell. Perhaps a new slogan for Dell: YOU BOUGHT A DELL, NOW GO TO HELL.

  • Al

    i am in the preocess of buying a dell and have already ran into terrible customer service. Not only did they screw my order up , they then cancelled it and nobody had the common courtesy to tell me! I’m terrified a tthe prospect or receiving the wrong system and having any further problems. Its also a pain in the butt to call different departments about the same order, “customer care(yeah right!) can’t help you call your sales rep (in india godamit !!)” .My dealing with Dell (so far) has been hell.

  • Elaine

    I have been a Dell customer since the mid-80s. Many friends and relatives have been the recipient of my hand-me-down machines. Never again. I don’t know what my next computer will be, but I know for damn sure one thing: it won’t be a Dell.

    I remember getting a Dell in 1995 or so for my girlfriend. She opened it up, tried to put a game on it, managed to mangle the operating system, and spent the night on the telephone with competent customer support getting the OS re-installed.

    Contrast this to my recent experience with a corrupt HD on my brand new top-of-the-line Dell XPS. First, I call customer service. Wait on hold for 30 minutes. Then an Indian guy with an American name comes on the line. He has me go through some troubleshooting until he realizes I have XP Media Edition. Oh, says he, I must transfer you to the Media Edition people. Now I listen to 30 more minutes of bad on hold music before getting an American guy with an American name. I explain my dilemma and he says, “sorry I can’t help you — you need to talk to the India guys — I just deal with problems hooking up TVs to computers.” I beg and plead to not be put on hold again, but to no avail. 30 minutes later, I talk to another India guy with an American name who almost transfers me back to the Media Edition guys but fortunately does not. Two hours or so later, we confirm what I thought was the problem — my HD is corrupt and I need a new one.

    Next, we have the saga of getting the new HD. The India guy says he’ll mail me a new one — I install it and send back the old one. Friday, the day when the new HD is supposed to arrive rolls around. No HD. The Indian guy calls up to help me with the installation. I inform him no HD. He looks in his records and wants me to run more tests. I get totally PO’ed and tell him I am to angry to deal with him right now and hang up. 5 minutes later he calls back. I tell him to leave me alone and hang up. 5 minutes later the same guy calls back. I enunciate very clearly, D-o n-o-t c-a-l-l t-h-i-s n-u-m-b-e-r a-g-a-i-n. No more phone ringing.

    The following Monday, an American guy shows up on my doorstep with a new HD. He installs it. So far it seems to be working fine.

    I will never ever buy another Dell again as long as I live. Sorry, but the customer service has gone to HELL over the past 10 years, and so can DELL as far as I’m concerned.

  • Jamie May

    Sure wish I had found this web site before I purchased my new dell 42″ plasmaHD tv- I am now experiencing my own “Hell in Dell”, I can’t even get corporate dell, only people in India. My Question: Anyone have Michael Dell’s email?

    I would at least like to write him and his company before I start using my own Dell’s Hell experience in teaching new business students how not to run a company. I will be using this experience to show them the absolute worst customer service ever and having been in corp. sales I thought I had seen everything. Funny thing is I am not sure the corp. people know you can’t negate this kind of bad PR-ever, no matter how much ad time you buy.

  • Janice D

    I bought my second Dell one year ago (a couple weeks after warrenty). It was a lousy Laptop from the start. Way too heavy and too slow. Inspiron series. The weight of the product broke the LCD screen. I paid $1500 for the laptop and the support tech from India wanted to charge my card $800 to send someone to pick up the laptop and fix it. The website doesn’t respond, or the response comes again from India. I will never never buy Dell, nor will anyone I talk to. I owe approximately $800 on the laptop and I’m not paying it. I don’t care what they do. Is there anyway a class lawsuit can be brought against a company that deals with customers in this country this way? The number provided in my packaging is actually MSN not dell. They don’t want you to call them.

  • brian

    It seems that computer companies are using cheap components in their computers. We recently repaired a compaq computer that had a motherboard made in china. We replaced several bad capacitors on the motherboard. Also I’ve noticed that some pc’s come with a mini power supply that is only 150 watts.

  • Cherri

    This post is in hopes of reaching the poster named Jay who posted n August 19th. I have also had extremem trouble with SBC Solutions and was wondering if you have ever recieved paperwork from them. Plese respond to jasoncherri@hotmail.com if you would. Thanks

  • ben

    I have been in “Dell Hell” (it was the exact phrase that occurred to me at the time strangely enough). I am in the UK, and found Dell to be a very scary company to deal with. How do they get away with it is what I’d like to know.

    Dell sent a system to the wrong address (well over two miles away), then suggested I should collect it from there! Naturally I refused. For about three months I fought with them to get my money back. Eventually, after my bank’s intervention, I got my money back, but my health had suffered a lot.

    Trying to get any sense out of them is nigh impossible. No proper address, no proper company phone number, nothing. Just an impenetrable wall of confusion. I feel ill just thinking about the memory.

    Right now I have a fujitsu siemens system (winxp professional installed as standard) with a sony x-black monitor (sublime) and love them. There is still some quality out there, but you have to do a bit of research before buying.

    Please anyone reading this, don’t make the mistake of buying a Dell!

  • Carmen Bello

    I make the mistake of buying the second DELL, the first one, I bought in 2003 and I never received the $100 rebate. Technical support it was hell waiting to be lucky and get somebody to know what they were saying. Customer Service is no good and if you are in luck and get somebody it is a person that make you feel like nothing. Trying to get credit with DELL it is the worse experience of my life.

    Now inb Nove 2005 I bougth another one and I won’t be able to do the installation for more than 21 days, I am sure if I have a problem they won’t give me my money back. I bought it and I am all ready sorry did it


    If there are images in this attachment, they will not be displayed. Download the original attachment
    DELL Inc.

    December 10, 2005

    I had previously believed that Dell was a quality company, however my recent experience has left me realizing that it is suffering major customer service problems and its stock price will likely be affected eventually.

    The quality of the computers it sells is as important as its ability and desire to service its customers properly.

    My experience in what should have been a routine order is as follows:

    I created an order on-line on December 3rd, but called to get some advice on a couple of issues. Before calling my “cart” already reflected an instant $50 rebate as well as a $50 mail-in rebate, free shipping and a free monitor upgrade.

    When speaking with the salesperson (Mark Lewis at extension 7134430), he enticed me to apply for credit with Dell Financial Services (DFS) and said that if I was approved, it would result in another $50 discount on my order. I did not want to buy it on credit, but decided to do so based on the $50 additional discount that he promised. I was approved, and the order was completed.

    When I checked back via phone a day or so later, I was told that there was no additional $50 credit available, and that the original $50 (which was there before I even spoke with Mark about Dell Financial Services) was the Dell Financial Services Credit. I made about eight more calls, before someone at DFS told someone at Dell Customer Care, to apply an additional $50 discount to the order. However, when I checked back a couple of days later, this had not been done.

    I therefore called Mark’s manager (Michael Cooper, Jr. at extension 7137957) and after about four conversations with him, he agreed to reduce my order by $75, due to all the trouble I encountered so far. However, when I called back to verify that he had done so, I was told that this $75 had not been applied to my account. I therefore started the calling process again, leaving messages for Michael Cooper, but he did not return my calls.

    I eventually spoke with a person (per him, his name is John Williams) who said that he was on the phone with me days earlier and that he was the employee who was told by the person at DFS to provide a $50 discount. However, he had not done so and could not explain why he had not. In this current conversation, he said that he would apply the $50 discount, but that it would take three days for it to show on my account.

    He said that he could not trust customers since they often lie and say that they were offered discounts that they were not actually offered. However, it is unethical at best, and illegal at worst to simply not provide a discount because one feels that a customer may have lied. An employee should research each situation first, and based this, either grant the discount or deny it, not simply deny it out-of-hand because they feel someone may be lying.

    In addition, when Mark ran my credit to apply for the DFS financing, he badly misspelled my name and address. This resulted in erroneous data on my credit report, which I obtained after this transaction. In fact, these errors were reflected on the Shipping and Billing addresses and I had to make about six calls just to have this fixed.

    Even after all of this, the e-mail that I received from Dell has my name spelled wrong.

    I will likely have to dispute the entire amount under the Fair Credit Billing Act. I will then determine if there are enough other customers that would be willing to provide documentation in order that a class be certified to initiate a class-action against Dell for false and deceptive sales practices and various federal credit violations.

    Drake Ross

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  • Kelly Ingino

    I have been a Dell customer for 5 years, have three desktops and never had a problem with them. So I never had to deal with customer service until last week. I pulled my credit report and saw that I had two dell accounts open and decided to close them to raise my beacon score a bit more. It turns out “I” opened and ordered through a third account and spent just shy of the 3000.00 limit just four days earlier. And I did this from a home in CT, although I live in NC and have for 25 years.
    11 f’in phonecalls later, the account is still not closed. I am still traveling the world to third world countries for customer” service” and have yet to speak to someone in the “fraud” dept. How the hell did they open up a new account when I had existing accounts under my social?!!!!! I just bought another system in June, put it on my account, and paid for it in August after I returned home.
    Forget about speaking to someone on this continent, or getting a number for corporate. I am so frustrated, but I will tell you something that is not going to happen, me paying for their screw up. And never again in life will I purchase anything from Dell.

  • Greg Noel

    Dell Support recently recommended an upgrade to an E310, a replacement motherboard, to address unadvertised inadequacies of that particular discount machine. Compatibility was assured at a cost of over $130.

    The upgrade required tin snips to fit the back port mask, and completely fubar’ed my IDE chain. Pursuing support ( at this point due for both the machine and the new mainboard ) was a total fiasco.

    My Warranty has been invalidated, my IDE chain still refuses to work with their DVD drives. And of course their new spin on customer support surmounts to what can only be called an oxymoron.

    It is astounding the travails I’ve gone through, with executive support, and their consumer advocacy group both calling to assure me, I am indeed screwed.

    In my twenty five years in the computer industry I have never been so flummoxed by company in the consumer market.

    It was also surreal, receiving advertisements and customer satisfaction survey requests associated with my ignored and refused pleas for a resolution to a problem they caused.

    Please take my hard earned advice, look at either HP or Apple as a supplier of desktop hardware needs – I wish I had.

  • Chris Williams

    With all the comments about the machines themselves being problems, I didn’t really see much about Dell Financial. I’ve purchased three Dells in the past four years and recently bought a laptop for my son. I hold a Preferred Account with them for four years. I have always been able to buy the computers on 12 months no interest accounts. Now I got my computer timely, however, their first bill did not get to me for 60 days. No big deal right? No, they had already taken me out of the no interest account (charging almost 19% interest from day 1), reported me as a no-pay to credit agencies, and charged me late fees. When I explained to the folks in India that they have answering their phones that I didn’t even receive my first bill until a month after Christmas, they said I should have called them and asked them when they were going to send me a bill. The computer got to my house, I figured the bill would too! When asked if they would consider my long history with them and the other purchases I made without any of these types of situations they answered: “sorry, that’s the policy.” When I asked for a supervisor, I went through the same discussion and he answered the same way: “sorry, that’s the policy.” But then he added that I could send a hand written letter to their world headquarters in Austin (to a PO Box) and see what happens.

    What a joke. My company wouldn’t stay in business two days if we treated customers like that.

  • will wilberforce

    too had a similar experience with Dell. Dell messed up my order for equipment and I had them returned. After 2 months of several tel calls, I was credited for all but $19. For several weeks I had over 100 calls and messages from dell customer servcies. I reported the matter to the FL consumer affairs and the matter was closed when Dell apologized for not issuing a full and timely credit and promised in writing that any adverse report would be removed foprm my credit history. Low and behold, 6 months later when I applied for home equity loan, my credit score fell from 800+ to 726 as my credit report conatined a $19 unpaid balance over 30 days. I SAY TO EVERYONE….NEVER NEVER PURCHASE ANY DELL EQUIPMENT!! I am only too happy to share my experience with others and so far I’ve denied Dell over $20,000 in sales. My lifetime goal is over $1m. yes, I’m an IT professional and won’t take long for me accomplish this. I’ll just keep spreading the word……hope you all will too.

  • Paul

    Yesterday I called Dell’s customer care at business hours; but got to know that most of the customer care representatives have gone for a picnic. don’t believe? believe it..planning to join Dell’s customer care team to have such a nice time everytime

  • DellHell

    It is rightly mentioned here: “The biggest complaint was with customer service.” As I can experience the same here in Bangalore, India where the largest part of Dell’s customer service center is located. Customer service guys will just ignore you directly. They will give you some phone numbers which do not exist at all, hardly they will reply to your mails. My Inspiron laptop was supposed to be delivered yesterday. But I think they must have been very tired after returning from the picnic; so I can’t blame them :-)

  • I have been in Dell Hell myself and I will never purchase another Dell product. I think it is outrageous that I purchased a brand new computer from Dell and it was replaced with all refurbished parts when it was less than two months old. The monitor was also defective and they replaced that with a used monitor as well.

    So customers pay a bundle for brand new equipment and then less than two months later get used, refurbished equipment. Whatever happened to doing it right the first time and/or keeping the customer happy?

    Try purchasing an automobile and taking it back because the transmission doesn’t work and then receiving a re-built transmission. Think that will fly with the customer?

    Never again!

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