Dell: a coda

Business Week Online just wrote about my Dell saga. See also BW’s Steve Baker.

And Dell’s PR person just sent me email:

Please contact me at your convenience to discuss your Dell issues. I look forward to hearing from you. Jennifer
Jennifer Jones Davis
Dell US Consumer Communications

I’ll fill you in after we talk.

  • This is amazing…that it would take this long, or an article in Business Week, to get a response from someone at a–presumably–high level in the company. I used to run a region for a billion dollar company and if a single customer complaint got through to anyone at the corporate headquarters the COO would call the customer and do whatever it took to make sure they were happy. This would be embarrassing to me, of course, so I’d do whatever I had to to make sure complaints never got to that level. I’m sure Jennifer is now an avid blog-reader.

  • AnonForThis

    Are the 10,000 unique visitors per day stats correct?

  • Gosh, check out that tone of voice. Are you sure it’s from a human being and not a PRbot?

  • Amy

    Geez, what a curt note! She isn’t doing herself or Dell any favors with that.

    I am always amazed by the poor communication skills of supposed professional communicators.

  • Kim


    A friend of mine recently purchased a dell through a discount offered thruogh his employer. He has had nothing but problems since he plugged it in. They screwed up his original order and has spend countless hours trying to get things resolved.

    Another friend purchased a Dell within 6 days of the frist one mentioned, the same desktop series. She paid less than the one with the discount and has had zero problems since she got hers. She also got a 4-year warranty and the one with the discount got a 1-year warranty. What the hell is this?

    Could Dell’s service be catering to the ones willing to pay full price? Seems like the one holding the discount coupon recieved the refurbished piece of shit while the one who did not came out the real winner. Go figure.

  • Andy Freeman

    If it takes a blog with 10k daily readers to get Dell’s attention, why would the rest of us buy from them?

  • Bob


    You are a hero!

    I too had horrendous problems with a laptop. This lasted the better part of a year. I figure that I spent an average of 15-20 hours per week with tech “support”, et al. Language problems, technical incompetence, little or no follow-up, etc.

    It degraded to the point (after an in-home service call) that the computer was totally unusable. The tech replaced the motherboard, the CD-RW drive, and half of the memory (why only half I will never know.) Oh, and there were several screws and other parts I found in the carpet after he left.

    After many emails, letters and calls to senior management I finally got a refund. One year of pure, unadulterated frustration.

    Thanks again for bringing your experience to a wide audience!


  • Neither Intelliseek, who’s quoted, nor Business Week, who quotes, asked me about traffic. I don’t think I saw any particular Dell-related bump; it’s hard to ascribe traffic to such things anyway.
    My server logs through July and August show a range of 20k to 50k pages per day (which does include RSS, but does not include cached versions of RSS).
    I would argue that the page views aren’t what matter here; it’s the links and, to some extent, the comments; that is the indication of the conversation. That is the indication that I’m not alone in my Dell views and experience.

  • This is practically an aside, but I hate this kind of email. It’s the sort of corporate non-speak that tells you they aren’t Cluetrained. “I look forward to hearing from you” is not something you’d say to someone if you were truly concerned about their situation. You’d jump right in and start discussing it, wouldn’t you?

    Nor is it something you’d say in the email era; it’s a voicemail leftover. “I want to communicate with you. Even though I am communicating with you right now, I want you to start.

    “Furthermore, please CALL me, even though you are obviously a man of letters.”

  • t.r.mcloughlin

    Regarding the Clurtrainedness of the little note, it looks OK to me. Basically, it’s just:


    without a lot of wasted words.

  • Jim Dermitt

    The new thing: The Customer Service Blog. It really seems pretty simple.
    1) Buy a product.
    2) Have issue(s).
    3) Use a blog to get solution.
    4) Others can discuss and find solutions.
    Everybody is happy.

  • Dave Miller


    Your orginal problem sure rang a bell with me. Had simular problem last summer with my Dell portable. After more than a dozen calls to service, which is in India and finding only a couple with enough english that I could talk too, finally took machine to local computer repair and had it fixed in less than 2 hours – replaced modem. Nothing in the troubleshoot script worked for those in India and when they got stuck, they simply disconnected! Needless to say, my days as a Dell customer are over (own 4 Dell machines but will be replacing them with something else as they fail. I am now keeping a list of companies that use India as as service support and crossing them off my purchasing. So far, Dell, GE, and Comcast are at the top of my “do not buy from”!

  • Jim Dermitt

    I have an old IBM PS/2. They were around 6 grand new. The thing still works great. Never had a problem with the machine It isn’t very fast, but it is very reliable. It’s all put together solidly, unlike some of the junk out there today.
    I use it for word processing and for ebook reading. It’s heavy.
    Here’s a picture of the old IBM

  • zgatt

    I find this frustrating. I’ve seen this pattern before:

    1) person with influence makes noise about problems
    2) lots of people concur
    3) company decides they’re getting unhealthy PR
    4) company spends resources fixing famous person’s problem
    5) famous person praises company, company basks in good PR
    6) rest are out in the cold
    (but some think they personally have won)

    Way of the world, I suppose. But don’t expect me to hail this as a consumer victory. More of a spectacular failure, as far as I can see.

  • Hairy

    Why should Dell or ANY company pay attention to a blog and give a hoot about what it says? A blog is nothing more than ranting by an individual. I am a happy Dell consumer. I have three and I have never had a problem with any of them.

  • Robert

    Having worked at Dell for 7 years I can tell you that the culture did change for the worse. From 1996 to 2001 it was a great company that took pride in its products. The change took place when Mort Topfler stepped down and Kevin Rollins became the number two guy. The emphasis went away from the customer and turned toward cost. This can be seen with the Smart Step line that was totally developed in Asia and ended up being some of the worst products that Dell has ever sold.

    Dell has taken a “if you ain’t cheaten, you ain’t trying” approach. Such examples were the use of prison labor for recycling and the issue with the Muslims in Nashville. Once both of these issues hit the media, the company acted like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar, “oh we are sorry (that we got caught)”.

    There are other things that I could mention. But I would be here all night.

  • Ter Sullivan

    I am so relieved that the word is finally out about the violent way Michael Dell trashes his customers with non-functioning machines and brutal disregard for any customer service whatsoever. I purchased a Dell Dimension 8400 that never worked and for which their overseas boiler rooms refused to give me any help in returning it or having it repaired. I spent my own money having it repaired and the defective hardware replaced, and then Dell never had the courtesy to answer my thoroughly detailed letter with repair bill and defective parts that I included. Don’t support this unethical rip-off out of Texas (and India, Philippines, Panama, etc.)

  • Richard

    Dell UK recently started sending me “fax spam” … which in my opinion is an activity associated with low-grade companies.

    A company with the reputation & stature of Dell should certainly not be enagaged in such an activity.

    I was so annoyed that I sent a letter to the CEO of Dell and was then contacted by Dell Customer Services by someone spouting PR speak.

    They did however arrange to stop sending me the fax rubbish so I suppose I am now happy.

    (I also have some Dell PCs which work fine)

  • Gerry

    About 5 years ago, I expaned my graphics service business dramatically. I needed at least 6 new computers and a laptop. I called around and compared. I went with Dell. I went through their leasing company. When the computers arrived, we started setting them up. Bottom line, only 1 of the 6 would work properly. 3 would not even boot up. I called Dell support. I turned it over to my in house guy, that was terrific at graphics and understood hardware more than the rest of us. He go so frustrated after a week of Dell’s stonewalling and inepness, he almost quit. I contacted Dell sales and got to a manager. He could have cared less. I told him I was going to ship them all back and I was informed they would not accept them without RMA# and they would not issue ibe until tech support did everything they could by phone. This went on for weeks. When the first lease payment was due, I contacted them and told them I would not pay and was sending all the lemons back. I got the ol’ standby crap, “that’s between you and Dell, we don’t have anything to do with that”. So frustrated and upset, I finally called for Michael Dell. After several calls and a dozen or so lies, I got through to some assistant and within an hour I got a call from a nice lady executive. After explaining the fiaco, she said for me to pack up the hardware and she would have it picked up and a full credit issued. She also said she would take care of the leasing company. Great!… I thought.

    I bought 6 more machines from another company. When delivered, we set them all up and they ran perfectly. In the meantime, the 6 machines and laptop from Dell were stacked up in a hallway of my office. After 3 months, I was concerned about why they were not picked up. Also after 3 months I got a call from a collection attorney representing the lease company. What a complete mess. I called the nice lady again and she was shocked. The attorney finally quit calling and writing, Dell sent a pickup for a monitor, then a few days later, a computer, etc…after a few weeks, they had picked up all but 2 monitors and 1 computer and the laptop. 6 months went buy and still no more pick ups. I called the nice lady and told her and with a great amount of embarassment, she said to hell with it, just keep them or throw them away, she didn’t care. We parted out the computer, still use the monitors and the laptop. So all in all, if you want to go through the hassel of doing business with Dell, you might profit from their slapstick inept service and technical support. I was also told by a tech support guy in the beginning of it all, “unfortunately” I had placed my order in early December and Dell was so inundated with orders for Christmas, they were letting a lot of computers go out without the quality control checks they normally would use. What I would term as shotgun manufacturing.

    I wonder if anyone has done a study to see if the Christmas rush thing has any merit or correlation to bad or problem equipment? In conclusion, I do not buy anything from Dell and have persuaded hundreds of other not to as well. Since then, I have also bought more than 40 new computers and never once considered Dell. It was more of the cavalier attitude of the people I had to deal with after the sale was made that irked me the most. They should make the guy that sells the machine also be your guy all the way through the process including tech support. And finally, if you have a problem with this guy or the product in anyway, the name, phone number or at least an email address of some executive within the company that will expedite the resolution of such frustrating and inept problems and processes.

  • Mike Hebner

    Jeff, thanks for taking on the “Bad Dell”! I used to “Love” Dell and over the years bought many computers from them; and ranked them up there with the “Second Coming of Christ”. Now when I think of them it has “Christ” in the sentence. Recently, I’ve given Dell another try and purchased two more computers. The “Coupon” stuff was misleading at best and very hard to figure out if one was getting what was promised. Maybe Mike has been employing Orwell’s 1984 “Double Speak”? Trying to do “Online Chat” was very difficult; they advertise but offered all types of “Common Problems” and I never was able to do online chat? I also noticed I had made mistake about amount of memory ordered; I sent email a few days ago and have yet to hear back from them. I was able to phone and get support and I was told my problem has been solved, we shall see. I dream of the “Old Dell”; don’t offer services “Chat” unless its up to “Old Dell” standards. When I say old “Dell” this is what I mean. Several years ago I had problems with Dell Lap Top on the Friday afternnoon after Thanksgiving. I called Dell and they had service pick up the computer that very same afternoon, and had it fixed and back on my desk the very “Next” Tuesday, wow! I told hundreds of people how wonderful Dell was! They even fixed stuff like crack exterior, that was my fault, wow!

  • tim g

    Dell has me by the gonads !!!!
    bought a 2500 laptop
    work for 9 months
    you know how the rest goes
    hours with indian techy who have no idea
    exept how to read off a flow chart
    now they want 500 to fix a motherboard
    that i spilled liquid on

    no i didnt really spill anything on it but how do i fight this one !
    please email me anyone [email protected]