Dell’s human

Here‘s a MySpace tale of a Dell customer who’d had it and was contacted by one of the customer-service people now assigned to respond to bloggers, John Blain. When she was dealing with Blain, life was good; when she got back to the outsourced machinery of alleged customer service, it was not. But then Blain fixed it. At the happy ending, she writes:

And he wrote to me as if I was a person, not going by a script or any of that other bullshit.

There it is, there’s the essence of good customer service: to people as people. Chug-chug on the Cluetrain.

  • I just had recent experience with Dell customer service — yes, the machine in India. And it was AWESOME, especially compared to the experience I first had when I purchased my Dell Inspiron 8600, with extended premium four-year warranty and service. And NO, I’m not paid for by Dell. And here’s my full story, a positive one…Dell Heaven:

  • I’m big on filling in Customer Feedback forms–often with very mundane feedback–and it’s interesting to see the different responses. I recently filled one out for T-Mobile, and included a little message about something they should add to their site. A few days later CS responded, and then they made the change. So I then sent another message, asking about planned coverage expansion in my area. I received another responses a few days later, and it was a big long message, none of it seemingly from a form response, replete with a few typos. And it was nice; I liked it. She even double-checked my usage to make sure I was using a suitable plan (I am, she said). It made me believe that they are actually planning on expanding in my area. Sometimes I’m really surprised at how much effort CS workers put into simple little messages. I guess I sometimes imagine that they’re swamped by Grandpa Simpson characters who spend all day typing up complaint letters about any mundane issue.

    On the other hand, I also like automated phone services. I think there are many instances where they’re superior to real people — they are so streamlined and easy to use; no static or missed words; and if I need to talk to a person I just press a button and it sends me straight to one. But I’ve been told through countless advertisements, sitcoms, and vacuous nightly news reports that automated customer service is slow, monotonous (and as such a slight to our senses), and ineffecient. I’m sure that results may vary, but my experiences with them have been, on the whole, positive. And it takes some effort to judge them mostly on my own experience.

    “You’ve picked regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen who’s been murdered, press 1.”

  • anonymous

    I just bought a new computer, a desktop for my kid. And I bought an HP because of their customer service record.

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  • sam

    too little, too late. I bought 3 Dell machines when 2 of my kids went to college and one for myself. Then the motherboard went bad a few weeks out of warranty. The cus svc idiot in India outright lied to me and never responded to e-mails. Domestic Dell people were no better. I had to go through the corporate purchasing guy at my company to get any satisfaction. Now the kids need upgrades…Dell isn’t even on the radar screen. The stockholders should be up in arms. There was no need for matters to get to this point.

  • I was wondering why my blog generated so many hits today.

    Anyway, yes, I am pleased with how John responded to my query. But I’ve shared with him and others that their outsourced customer service personnel could use plenty of help. At this point, after dealing with such incompetence, I think Dell would do better to invest its money into more like John and just do away with their call centers altogether.

    My favorite part was a week after I received the empty box from Dell, when I spoke to the fourth customer service agent. They asked me if I knew the person who signed for the package. Ugh.

    Anyway, happy endings. That’s what it’s all about. Keep fighting the good fight, Jeff. If it weren’t for you I probably wouldn’t be sitting pretty with my brand-new mp3 player right now.

  • Boris

    Hi everyone,

    here in Europe, it’s the same issue. These Dell-guys don’t even have a clue about “service”.

    Some “ages” ago, heading for university, I decided to buy a laptop. Well, should be my first one and as I still believed in the promises of high quality from Dell’s advertising, I even decided to buy a expensive, high-performance one.
    Worked like a maniac during the school-hollidays to earn enough money for that “dream”. Well, it finally was a nightmare.

    Two month after the end of warranty-period, the same issue like sam described. Somewhat with the motherboard.

    One letter, three emails: No response. Nothing at all!
    Called this “service”-hotline for about half a dozend times. Two of them didn’t have a clue, three told somewhat about a service-checkup at half the price of a new (non-Dell) laptop.
    Another guy at the hotline told me, I should have handled my laptop with more care…
    Actually I transported it three times in sum and as I really worked hard to scratch enough money, I DID handle it with care.

    Yeah, that’s it. Bought another one (Fujitsu-Siemens) and everytime someone askes me for a recommendation concering laptops I just say: No Dell!

  • Andrew Jackson

    I am a Dell Value-Added Reseller. I sell, repair, and sell warranties for them. I can solve ANY problem that arises with a Dell computer.

  • Anne Harvey

    Dell UK is beyond hopeless.

    The modem on my four month old £1300 desk top has packed in for vthe third time. I spent two hours on the phone to them on Monday night as they transferred me between departments – all to speak to a guy for six minutes (he couldn’;t help me). They promised a supervisor would call. Called again on Wednesday night. After 25 minutes got through to guy – who cut me off as he took the call! Called back and after 20 minutes got a woman who said wait time was currently 65 minutes. She took the details and said they would call me back as soon after 8am as possible. Well it’s now 5 hours after that and I’ve haerd nothing

    The reference number is 515693 *** if they really read these blogs (they’ll be able to work it out). Let’s be hearing from you.

  • AllenR


    You’re inspiring! A party line dedicated to Dell Hell

  • John Field

    Have just caught up with your illuminating weblog on the iniquities of Dell. I was rash enough to put in an order with them some two weeks ago. Haven’t got it yet but I’ve already had my fair share of hassle just trying. So, for your information, the blight now extends all the way back to ordering the stuff.

    The reasons:
    a. Dell is now outsourcing its orders to India. The first person I dealt with was very efficient – but, after a routine credit check on my credit card held things up for 24 hours, I began to get a string of e-mails, phone calls and mobile messages from somebody else. I had to listen around eight or nine times to the first message (and I’m an ear-trained linguist, for heavens sake) to puzzle out what number I was supposed to ring; when I rang it, all I could get was a voice mail. Left a message but never got a reply. I got various confirmations of my order at the same time as demands that I ring Dell because there were problems with it. Worse: they even rang my computer adviser who had originally discussed my needs with Dell and asked him if he wanted to proceed with *his* order. To confuse things even further, they gave me not one but three order numbers!!

    b. Dell is using a UK courier who are to say the least not customer friendly. The target date for receiving the PC was 24th August. Great – because I was going to be working at home that day; so I was prepared to put with Dell’s unhelpful proviso that delivery can be at any time between 8 am and 6 pm (even British Gas do better). Then, on 21st, I get 24 hours’ notice from Dell’s delivery service that it’s going to arrive on 22nd. No apologies; no request to know if I’m going to be at home (which I’m not). The mail is cursory to the point of arrogance:

    Dear Dr. John Field

    Your Dell Order 335744958 will arrive between 8am and 12pm on 22/08/2006

    Please arrange for someone to be there throughout this time – as we cannot be more specific about the time of delivery.

    For queries regarding the above delivery details please contact Walsh Western Call Centre on: 0870 606 3355 between the hours of 9am to 5:30pm

    As your order is already on its way we regret it’s too late to change the following details:
    Delivery time
    Delivery date
    Delivery address
    Order details



    Wasn’t at home – didn’t even read the mail until this evening. They just left a card saying they’d tried to deliver it and would try again on [ …….] That’s it: left completely blank. So who knows when they might turn up again expecting me to be in?

    Frankly, I have no illusions about why Dell’s share price is sliding. Customer? What customer? Just count the golden eggs and forget the geese!

    A great pity as they were a great firm to deal with a few years ago.

    Best wishes

    John Field

    PS: They said they’d send me a customer feedback form. Haven’t had one … I wonder why!

  • kai suzuki

    I got fed up with Dell charging sales tax so I bought an ABS computer – my god, you don’t know the meaning of bad service. For one you cannot call them directly, you leave a message and they call you back hours later, it takes an average of 3 days to get an answer as you work the chain from the “Not qualified for Radio Shack” because he doesn’t speak English tech to someone who knows what they are doing. And you’ll make a lot of these calls because this is the worst computer I have ever owned. It cost $3000.00 and is slower then the 2.5 year old dell it replaced. It breaks down an average of once a month and it’s always hellacious problems (the ASUS MoBo sucks, I don’t care what people say) The first MB died within 30 days and the second one is on it’s last leg. I could tell when I got it it was crap and I tried to return it, instead they sent me a new video card, it took them 15 days to get the card to me – thus running out the clock on my return period, and anyway in the fine print is a clause you can’t return the CPU! As for the card, they didn’t accept my RMA and stuck me with an additional $500 charge, I paid $3500.00 total and I have 2 nvidia cards gathering dust and a piece of crap computer. I could have bought anything off the shelf at circuit city or Best Buy and it would run circles around this thing, even an e machine. They have a D rating on the Better Business Bureau site, which I found out by investigating the company AFTER i purchased the product. They act like they are doing you this huge favor by letting you buy their computer. This week a ram chip died (it’s the forth ram chip to die) and that bitch at ABS scolded me!! And made all these threats about if they had to look at my PC they would need to reformat the hard drives, as if I’d send a PC in for repair with the hard drives attached. I’m trying to get one year out of it, but I doubt I’ll make it, then it’s back to Dell. Dell seems like a wonderful dream compared to what I’ve gone through. It’s back in the fold for me.

  • Barb Boyer

    Wow. I guess not much as changed since I left Dell Hell in 2003. Had a great experience with Dell in the late 90s when I purchased a PC. As a loyal customer, I returned to buy a laptop in 2003, including the extra warranty to have someone come to our home for repairs. For three weeks we were troubleshooting on the phone, hours on end. They shipped parts to us to replace and refused to send someone to the house. Finally, they agreed we had a bad computer that could be returned and replaced, but we were told the 30 days would run out after original purchase date, which was just days away. So they wanted us to trust them that they would send a new computer with no problems and let our return option expire. We had no choice but to ship back, get our money back and buy a MAC. We’ve been happy MAC customers. In searching for a new computer for my Dad, I decided to consider Dell as an option, but I can’t see putting my Dad through Dell Hell. What does Dell have to say about that?

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  • Hmm I live in LA, we ordered 2 PCs for business, we lost time and money because of its customer service.

  • Ian

    We ordered a DELL on the 8/11/2006 for my son’s birthday.

    The first thing that made me a bit fed up was that they instantly updated the spec and dropped the price on the machine we tried to buy. A complaint to DELL just got the response that we couldn’t cancel and re-order. In fairness to DELL they did ring and say they would ring and discuss after delivery.

    That’s when the problems really started – we made an appointment for the delivery on the 15th which involved ensuring someone was here all day. Nothing happened! The same thing on 18th, 20th and 21st. We managed (after countless phone calls) to get hold of the actual delivery company who informed us that the items had been marked as ‘could not find’ or something similar, some time previously. DELL / Walsh Western were arranging deliveries for an item which they knew had already been lost! This led to considerable disruption to us and upset for my son who is only 11. Still had no indication (on 25th Nov) from DELL as to how they intend to resolve the issue. I now see no alternative but to use the ‘Small Claims Court’ to find a resolution.

    Having had a look about on the WEB similar problems seem to be common for DELL customers. I won’t use DELL again despite being a customer for years. When things go wrong they seem incapable of sorting it out. They just seem to think that you’re greatly honored to be a DELL customer. Customer service consists of broken promises and inactivity.

  • I just wrote my own Dell-related rant on my blog, then I found *this* blog. Hmmm.. does this mean someone from Dell will be reading my blog soon?!

  • Dell Inspiron B130 battery problem and service problem-
    I have had several problems with Dell Service. The Inspiron B130 is my daughter’s ‘college’ laptop, and college is 6,000 miles away. Within 3 months of purchase the battery would lasted only 10 minutes with a full charge. The B130 would also die (not turn on even under wall power) at times. I emailed Dell for help and did not receive an answer for 5 days. Then they only answered one of my questions. Now nothing. (In the mean time the dying problem seemed to vanish.) She says the battery now lasts only 5 minutes.
    Just had another problem with a customer trying to use Dell service (2 in a week). I do computer service at nights and on weekends. I have previously recommended Dells to customers and I bought this laptop from Dell for my daughter. I don’t think I can still recommend them. Actually Dell’s poor customer service has been a benefit to my ‘night job’ repairing computers. People prefer paying me to fix their computer, than to deal with Dell. My daughter’s problem has me feeling pretty helpless, though. Up to recently I thought their hardware was pretty good. I guess that has gone down hill too.
    Hopefully we can get this fixed when she gets home?

  • john Liittle

    Dell has the worst customer service…No Dell does not have customer service.. HOURS on the phone over something as simple as non payment of a rebate will get you nothing but angry

  • Marie-eve

    I bought an Inspiron 1300 on Jan 26, 2006. It was working perfectly well before that weird message. A message popped up telling me that the battery was over a year old and that it could be during less longer. It recommended buying a new one. Just before the message, the battery was working for at least 1h30. The night of the message, I just turned off the computer and went to bed. The day after, I turned on my laptop (which was on the charge all night long), unplugged it from the wall and went in the kitchen with it. 25 minutes later, I needed to charge it. No matter how long I was charging the battery, it was now lasting 25 minutes max. 2 weeks later, I unplugged my laptop after an long-night charge and the moment I unplugged the power cord, the laptop turned off. I noticed that the battery LED was flashing “orange” 4 times and then 1 time “green”. Normally, it was green. I tried calling the Dell service in French (I’m a French-speaker) and after having wait for 55 minutes, I hang up. The next day, I called again. After 45 minutes, a lady answered me. I briefly explain my problem and she told me it was guaranteed (I was a bit surprised because the guarantee had expire 1 over a month ago) and she transfered me to some guy who would send me a replacement battery. After another 45 minutes of waiting, I hung up (yes I have other things to do than wait for them to answer a call. I have a life, lol). I called back tonight. the guy who answered me was arrogant and didn’t even care about my problem. The first thing he said after I gave him my tag service was: Your guarantee has expired. Like I didn’t know that!!
    I asked to talk to a supervisor. He should be calling me back in the following days. It looks too suspicious to be only a coincidence. The message, the battery lengh decreasing and then it stops functioning… Looks like a way to do some extra cash by selling additional batteries. I looked on other forums, and a lot of people seem to have problem with the Inspiron 1300 battery. I hope there will be some collective measures against them ( And by the way, my battery wasn’t part of the big “DELL battery Recall” )
    One thing is certain, I’ll never buy ANTYHING ELSE at Dell, first because of the way they treat their customers and because of the quality of their products.

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