Dell hell: fell post bell. Yell: sell pell-mell!.

Well, well, do tell:

Many, many folks sent me news that Dell warned of a bad earnings surprise and that its stock crashed like my Dell laptop. No, I don’t take credit or blame. But I’m not surprised. What do you think is going to happen when a company’s products and service decline? So will sales! So will profit! So will marketshare! So will stock! Doesn’t take a computer to figure that out.

Quelle surprise.

  • I highly unrecommend HP’s customer service plan on the HP450 portable printer, as well; especially a guy who calls himself Walter (probably on the line in Calcutta) who told me he’d hang up on me for speaking sarcastically — as is sometimes my wont after being left on hold for 45 minutes then being hung up on. Oh, I am such a cur.

  • Carmen Hughes

    One of my Dell machines is only 1.5 years old and the first hard drive went bad after 1 year, i’ve had 2 system reinstalls on it, and the second hard drive is acting unstable. Dell doesn’t get it. People want solid, reliable products over customer service, price and a build-to-order concept. I’m frankly surprised Dell’s earnings haven’t fallen a lot sooner.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Swell, is this the death knell? Oh well.

  • PSGInfinity

    The swell Dell trick is to get a “Precision Workstation”, which puts you in the Enterprise support group. OUr Dell’s still run swell. ‘Course, we pay a pretty penny for that support, but oh well…

  • That is the best Blog Article title that I have seen in some time.

    I think Dell’s problems are rooted in the overall decline in PC sales and the failure of Dell to move into a new strategic area. When Michael Dell was asked in the past about declining PC sales, he always countered with Dell’s large B2B business. (The Economist interview for example) And now Dell is warning on a weak consumer market. There is clearly a lot of strategic confusion at Dell.

  • Required (Name)

    >No, I don’t take credit or blame.

    Ummm who was giving you credit or blame? Dell earnings decline probably has more to do with the fact that you can get a decent computer for less than $500 (few days ago I saw a laptop for less than $400) but people still want customer service like if they paid $2000.
    By saying “No, I don’t take credit or blame.” it would seem to me you have it in your head that you actually do take credit for this. If you were to talk to the last 10,000 people who bought a computer I doubt if even one of them made their decision based on your dell hell stories.

  • Jeff,

    I actually (no idea why) bought a Dell – funnily enough reading your whole thread kept Dell top of mind and I was curious to test the waters out myself – and throughout the whole process I kept on asking myself, “how the hell do these guys make money?”

    Even with my next day on site plan I purchased (small business, no IT dept to run to) which I know is 100% profit essentially, they kept on bending over backwards to the point where I heard bones break.

    I couldn’t believe how much they kept on throwing in…to please me. And I was lapping it all up.

    Bottom line (and it is the bottom line), their margins must be so tight that there is a bit of suphocating going on. Contrast with Starbucks for a moment to reveal the power of brand and premium pricing.


    PS The way they buy online advertising is the same way – all on a ridiculously performance-based margin, which probably makes being their agency exceptionally difficult. I guess its just a vicious circle…

  • Bill

    Hey Jeff,

    I got a good one for you. I ordered a Dell Desktop CPU for the pastor of our church. I was suprised that I received 2 boxes and thought there must have been a special I did not know about. Sure was, the second box, which had the same shipping label as the first one, had a Dell Latitude Laptop, not a cheap one either a Dell D410 with 1GB RAM, 60GB HDD, CD-RW/DVD combo drive, WinXP Pro, Wireless the entire bit. So I contacted them via the web (first via email then via chat) and got a reply that said to return it using my order but my order was for a desktop I did receive. I then proceeded down the rabbit hole and after multiple contacts, strange responses and a certified letter to Dell, I received a call just to ship it to the warehouse. Yeah that is right, oh and guess what, they wanted me to pay for the return shipping. So since I just wanted this thing gone, I paid $15 + dollars to use USPS trackable mail to return the stupid laptop to Dell. So I spent hours working on returning this laptop, paid for a certified letter and return shipping to return their laptop. I would have thought they could have sent a pickup for it but they refused. So as in life as with Dell, no good deed goes unpunished.


  • I discuss Dell’s problems from a lean manufacturing perspective on my blog, I don’t understand how Dell’s quality problems add up to a $300M writeoff.

  • From a Cnet news article:

    “However, Dell also has been dogged by complaints about service. Back in February 2004, Consumer Reports and Technology Business Research reported that customer satisfaction among Dell customers dropped. Although the company ranked higher than most competitors, it was a stinging criticism for a company that can be obsessive when it comes to customer service. Founder Michael Dell himself occasionally dons a headset and fields customer service calls, according to sources close to the company.

    Dell took immediate action and improved customer service by December, according to the TBR surveys. But consumers this year have become more vocal about complaints. Dell customer service stories are now a staple of many blog sites. “

    According to this they’re better than average and improving? Then again the article was written by Rodolfo P. Dell which seems suspicious…

  • Brian

    Okay, glad I saw this post. I was about to buy a Dell desktop and laptop for my family this Xmas. What would you recommend instead of this brand? Anyone?

  • jbachandouris

    Regardless of what other may say, I have had great luck with HP, but do yourself a favor: buy a PC from a Best Buy or Circuit City or even Staples. They all have onsite technicians. They may not be the best, but at least they speak English! I also recommend extended warranties.

  • Jbachandouris – “I also recommend extended warranties.”

    Homer J. Simpson “Extended warranty, how could I lose!?”

    You know, the price you pay for an extended warranty + interest would probably buy a pretty nice replacement laptop three years down the line if something does go wrong. I used to work at Staples in the computer department as a teenager. We had a secret shoppers that would come in randomly and grade us. I always did well except for the part where I was supposed to push the extended warranty. Didn’t have the heart.

  • My four-year-old Dell Inspiron 8000 is my daily workhorse. I’m quite surprised by its long life because I work with six road warriors afflicted with Dell Hell and the laptops they got in early 2005. I’ve heard stories like Jeff’s from several corners of the internet. I’m glad my old, loud, and hot Dell keeps ticking over.

  • I bought a laptop from DELL online on the 19th October, money left my bank account 20th October. [726.81 GBP]

    I e-mailed 4 days later to see how the order is, they said it’s been cancelled because bank refused credit. I checked with bank and they deny this and my account statement backs this up – the money has left my account.

    After 3 days of constantly calling Dell customer “care” in India, being hung up on, fobbed off, waiting for call backs that never come etc., I manage to negotiate that I can fax my bank statement to Dell

    Fax sent 27th October

    No response.

    Rang to let them know I sent a fax, Indian woman said she’d inform finance dept, and they’d ring me urgently.

    No telephone call.

    Sent letter to the Dell Managing Director this weekend informing him of my situation.

    They have my money and I haven’t received goods, refund or ANY support/acknowledgement

    i have now told my bank who are starting a dispute process/

    DELL are awful!!!

  • Brian: I’m happy with my Apple.

  • John F.

    Stories about poor customer service are hardly unique to Dell, and are unlikely to explain its recent performance. The real story is probably this: the strength of Dell’s business model–mass-customization and lean inventory–are nullified in a world where PCs are true commodities. The countless variations, which used to be relevant when component prices were higher, can be replaced by a handful of segment-specific models (casual user, gamer, etc.). The variations gave Dell, with its innovative inventory management system, an insurmountable cost advantage. Absent a significant price difference, why buy your toaster online? A physical retailer can’t ignore your e-mails. [Of course, as average selling prices have stablized, Dell’s margins have stagnated as well.]

    Its consumer business, the source of its earning shortfall, now consists of these toasters, laptops (where it competes with Thinkpad, Sony, and Toshiba), computer accessories (e.g., HP), and consumer electronics (even worse). The stock is cheap for a reason.

  • Brian

    Thanks to everyone for their comments. I am skittish about buying a PC online, and Jacob G. confirmed for me that it’s a valid concern. As for Apple, I love Apples, and used to buy bunches of them when I was in technical operations at a TV network. Graphic artists, editors, sound mixers….Apple has always owned that market. But, being that my family are all PC users (at work and school), is it big jump to switch between OSs if we had Apple at home? Apple laptops are beautiful machines, and I have a soft spot for their cinema displays.

  • buzz

    Place I support buys Dell D505 desktops. We have had a number of power supplies go bad on this model after a very short use time. We have next day service with Dell, which means they send a tech with the wrong part the next day. We had a laptop go bad and the next day service turned into more than two weeks. OTOH, we also have a number of HP 530 desktops. They have a problem with the processor fan becoming dislodged, causing the unit to over heat. Approx 10-15% of the monitors that came with the desktops are bad. We have so many parts in transit to repair or replace equipment, that when the quality control people call to see if a particular call was handled in a timely manner, I have no idea which part or call they are refering to. However, the support we get from Lexmark on their printers make both Dell and HP appear world class.

  • Annette H

    My father’s been in “Dell Hell” now for three months over $200 they overcharged him on a monitor. To add to the “Dell Hell” their collection company calls him 4-5 TIMES A DAY demanding the $200 or “basically we’ll make your life a living hell”, as if they haven’t already. I tried to help and sent 7 requests to Dell via email asking for the name of a Director or VP my dad could speak with to resolve the issue. They responded to 4 of my emails with the last one stating that ” this will be our last communication on this issue.” Maybe they’ll listen and communicate when someone from the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office for the State of Texas comes calling asking questions. My dad filed a complaint against Dell with them since Dell refused to discuss resolving the matter.

  • Former Dell Manager

    Dell performs an annual get on the phone and sell a computer media stunt for the Austin rag. He doesnt handle service calls.

  • R West

    Dell and Service are mutually Exclusive. Dell service is absolutely pathetic. I purchased through a Fortune 100 corporate account for employees and opted for the 24×7 at home service. Eight months later my PC died. Called support. Three days later tech showed up five hours late with a likewise dead new motherboard. Three days later tech showed up again with another dead replacement part. Four days later tech scheduled, but never showed. Consider I opted for the “premium” 24×7 on-site support option. Guess what though, nothing occurred during the weekend! As a matter of fact I raised this issue with 3 separate techs and all said.. “well you have a point, we just don’t do much on the weekends. We will not even ship replacement parts except during mon-fri. Anyway… Two days later tech showed up two hours late with another dead part and then left. Next day I called Dell and was told replacement system was ordered but would take 10-15 days to “build.” Ten days later “new” system shows up at my house for me to install only it is DOA! Unbelievable! Looked inside, realized it was a “refurbished” system–a derelict with dust bunnies and bent CPU cooling vanes and a fan that sounded like a worn out diesel! Unbelieveable! Dell: “Sorry about that.” We’ll ship you another after we “build it” in 10-15 days! 3 weeks later while I was out of town for thanksgiving another refurb was dropped at my front door.. alone. It apparently spent turkey day plus 3 days all alone exposed on the front porch. Who’s brain child was that? The box was “weathered” from the experience. I unpacked and inspected the “refurb”. I laughed hysterically from the sad shape this one was in. Once again the insides was absolutely coated in dust and BIG dust bunnies abounded. The CPU cooling fan had nasty brown dust ENCRUSTING every single fan blade in their entirety! Who in the world inpsected that piece of crapola before sending it to me? I took pictures for evidence. To top it all off this one it didn’t work as well. DOA! So let’s recap I’ve been waiting 2 months and 2 weeks for this!?? My only option was to attempt a transplant of parts to try to piece together a working unit. I was able to succeed but I discovred that the refurb was significantly different from the one I ordered: different video card, slower CPU, different s/w and older versions of s/w loaded on replacement HD. Where .. where is that 24×7 on-site support with premium responsiveness? What an absolute joke! It really is quite insulting. By the way, I did get an email from Dell the other day telling me they considered the matter closed! Michael Dell should be ashamed of himself and his sad excuse for customer support.

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  • I got a dell a couple of years ago and I had no problem what so ever that was untill I got a virus and had to reinstall my OS. I then tried to contact Dell and it was as if they had vanshed of the planet. :(