Dell Computers: A Customer Service Nightmare

A few days ago, I published a blog post titled Fuck Dell, where I chronicled the beginning of what has been probably the worst experience I’ve EVER had dealing with a company.   Since that post was published, I’ve continued my quest for customer satisfaction without any success, so I wanted to take a moment and chronicle the rest of my experience with Dell, in the hopes that someone who is planning to buy from Dell will first hear about my experiences.

After my initial problems with Dell’s customer service, the next day I decided to both try their online customer service, as well as to phone them and speak to a supervisor.   My phone call required 2 transfers, one hangup and call back, then 20 minutes of the representative trying to talk me out of talking to a supervisor, but I was finally able to be transferred to a supervisor.  In addition to the problems I referenced in my last post, I also was having troubles getting the dual monitors to be extended to both screens.   He was eventually able to help me fix this problem, but then transferred me to someone else to discuss returning the defective mouse, the incorrect monitor, etc.

The next representative I was transferred to was trying to sell me a new monitor instead of just letting me exchange the incorrect one for the one I needed.  To make it worse, he kept suggesting monitors that weren’t compatible with the setup they built for me!!  Finally I decided I would just return the monitor for a refund along with the defective mouse and be done with it.  He instructed me that he would need to transfer me to ANOTHER person to handle the return.   I ended up “conveniently” being disconnected during this transfer, so I gave up for the day.

That night I began installing software on the new PC (now that the dual monitors were functioning I was planning on at least keeping the hard drive and one monitor) and Vista kept freezing on me.  When I rebooted the PC, I could no longer even get logged into the computer!   I just kept getting a blank screen each time I rebooted the computer.  The only way I could access it was via safe mode. At this point, I decided I was out too much time and wanted to cut my losses, so I decided to just be done with it and return everything for a refund.

The next day, after 3 transfers and a 30 minute hold time, I was finally able to speak to their return department.   The representative then informed me that I would be charged a 15% restocking fee for my return despite the defective merchandise and the 21 day return policy which I was supposed to be given with my purchase.  They wanted me to go back through their technical support again instead of accepting my return, but the thought of doing that made my head spin, so I declined.

After another 20 minutes I was finally able to get the return authorization information, the merchandise was packaged as best I could, and it was returned for what will hopefully be a full refund.   If not, I will have to initiate a chargeback with our credit card company.  (I will update this post with these results).

My Final Thoughts on Dell

For the past several years, I’ve been buying both desktop and laptop computers from Dell (2-3 annually as my wife and I wear out and upgrade computers quickly).   Now, it will NEVER happen again.   In fact, I wouldn’t wish the experience I’ve had with Dell on my worst enemy, which is why I’m publishing these two posts in the hope that someone will read this and know what they are getting into before they buy a Dell computer or other product.

I feel that I’ve been the victim of a bait and switch.   When I called to place my order initially, I spoke to someone who was VERY helpful and worked hard to find me a computer to meet my needs at the price I wanted to pay.   Once I crossed over from being a potential customer to being an existing customer, things changed quickly.

Their sales team all seems to be very friendly and spoke excellent English, but once I became an existing customer, everyone I spoke with (including supervisors) all spoke very broken English, which I think contributed heavily to my frustrations.   In addition to the possible language barrier, over the course of 3 days and numerous calls, I had been transferred a total of 23 times, hung up on 3 times (“inadvertently” of course), and lost an entire weekend that could have been spent working or spending time with my wife and kids (I would estimate about 19 hours has been put into setup, tech support, and return).   To make it worse, I was also forced to use a paid day off work to take care of packaging and returning the defective products.

From now on, I think I’m going to mostly be buying Apple products.   After all, Apple’s products are so good that their customers advertise and promote their products for FREE because they enjoy them so much.  I also like the idea of having an Apple store here locally where I can get face-to-face customer support.  For my wife, she is a creature of habit and will be sticking with personal computers; however, these will all be purchased locally with local support.   Right now, we are planning to go with DIT computers and I expect we will have a great experience.

Have a Dell customer service nightmare you’d like to share?   Leave it in the comments below!   My hope is that working together, we can educate as many potential Dell customers as possible about what they are getting into!

  • Jovita Rao

    With the decrease in price of acceptable laptops i tend to think of them as throw away items now and buy a new budget one every year!

  • joy rutter

    At 79 7ears I have in the past had wonderful service and help. Sadly I have had problems with a new computer, spent at lest £15 plus on calls to Dell. I would like you to tell me where I can write to someone who might listen to my problems. One is my new Inspiron has been set up in French and I am English.
    A 21 mins call to you yesterday did not get this changed. Exeter, some 20 miles away said they would charge me to change this for me. I am not happy.

    PLease help me to get sorted soon please.

    Where is the contact us and a space to write to you

    Joy Rutter

  • Hi, First of all thanks for your post… And I think laptops now days include all the options provided by a standard desktop computer like keyboard, display, a pointing device (functions like mouse) and speakers. Laptops are powered by a rechargeable battery that can last up to a few hours. Personally… I have a HP Pavilion dv600, I like it since it was my first laptop 😀 but I’m thinking now to buy something better since its became old now… I’m not sure what it’s better, But i think I’ll look for a Dell since I can’t buy a Mac 🙁 it’s too expensive!! So what is your advice please?

  • Hello, sorry for being offtopic but what theme does this blog use? or did you make it yourself? I really love the theme here on this blog.

  • Eric Wagner

    I feel for you. We bought our fourth (and last) Dell in July. We’ve had online access problems with it for months now. It has been RIDICULOUS! Long waits on hold, too much time spent on the phone. They simply WILL NOT exchange it. They keep calling back, but unfortunately we have lives beyond sitting on the phone all day trying to fix this thing. Therefore, we’re just gonna do the whole “spread the word” thing and chalk it up as a bad investment. Bought a Mac last year and will stick with Mac from now on. Haven’t had ONE issue with it.

  • Chris Chaney

    Total agreement with Dell Hell comments. I put a promotional order from this Monday into the “cart” they provide for on line orders , that I’ve used successfully for over 20 years of purchasing Dells. (I currently am looking at 4 Dell products as we speak). I put the potential order in the cart on the day the promotion came out…Monday this week. I decided to order the cart, so I called Tuesday trying to reach the nice sales associate who had sold me a machine this Janury. They get paid commission so that was the least I could do. Will Watson (his hame) wasn’t in on Tuesday. I tried Wednesday (yesterday) and he still wasn’t in. I left him a voice mail and sent him an email yesterday as well. No response. Not to worry, the promotion is good until May 2, 2011 as clearly stated on the print-out of the cart I made. It did indeed state to “see details”. In my mind, that means a description of how long it may take to ship the computer, some items may ship at different dates, etc. In any case, yesterday (the SECOND DAY OF THE 14 DAY PROMOTION), I called again and thought I’d speak to a sales associate about some questions I had about my cart before I finalized it with Will Watson. He strangely didn’t have the same “cart” available on his screen…(the price was several hundred dollars higher than the one I had originated two days prior). Not to worry, I thought I’d get that straightened out when Will Watson called back. He to this minute has not responded. Because of that, I tried to actually place the order this AM without giving Will his commission. The lady I spoke to…in “Concierge” since Will wasn’t available, reviewed an email I sent her of the CART I had printed out two days prior when the promotion came out. She said that unfortunately that promotion had been pulled! She said she’d try to put the best order she could together for me. Why bother, the guy yesterday had already done that. I asked for a SALES SUPERVISOR. From that point on (one hour and forty-one minutes), I spoke to SHERWIN who was unfortunately in “Business Sales Support” and he’d have to transfer me. I told him I was on hold for a SALES SUPERVISOR. Next, I was put in touch with GUSTAVO. He was a receptionist! I went through the entire “what is your name, your address, etc.,” with him so he could “properly connect” me. Then I was on hold until AHMED answered the phone. He is a basic customer service man. NOT a supervisor. I told him again I was on hold for a SALES SUPERVISOR. His verbatim words to me, again after being on hold for about 3 more minutes, was “I’m sorry but I spoke to the Sales Team and they said there was nothing they could do”. That was it. I never got to speak to a Sales Supervisor, and I can now see why. This smacks of the epitome of “bait and switch”. I can understand a promotion being pulled early for whatever reason. However, 2 days into a 14 day promotion…is the definition of “bait and switch”. Also, had I not tried to be loyal to the sales associate who had helped me before there wouldn’t have been ANY delay in my order. This all fell on deaf ears at Dell. APPLE, here I come. Enough is enough. This is over 20 years of, some would say, blind loyalty to Dell. They know how long I’ve been with them and apparently they simply don’t care. That was one of the reasons I asked to speak to a SUPERVISOR. I was unfortunately disallowed to do so by the sales people who surely don’t care they lost just another prospect. Little do they know who they lost today.

  • You are right. I totally agree with you. Thanks.

  • George

    Hi, thank you for your post. I’m going through “Dell Hell” as we speak. First, I bought a new Dell Inspiron (aka “I-spit-on-u-moron”) in Dec and my monitor suddenly stopped working last month. Like all the above comments, I had a great experience ordering my Dell, but not such a great experience trying to get the monitor replaced. After I called Dell and went through the several transfers, hang-ups, and call backs that seems to be status quo for Dell per my experience and comments above, I finally reached someone through the online chat, which didn’t end well and I completely blew up. Fast forward, I’ve since mailed my dell to the U.S. to have a buddy of mine assist, but no such luck as Dell Customer Service is a complete joke. I’ve called 5x, my buddy has called 3x. We’ve both explained same story, given same Service Tag and Serial Number information and it’s like every time we call, we have to start from the beginning only to be cut off. Seriously, after paying for all the long distance calls, shipping my monitor back to the U.S., wasting my time, my buddy’s time, I could have bought a new computer system and monitor. I have a MAC and love it, but need a PC for work. My solution was to buy a used (smaller) temp monitor which is working great. Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. Here’s a copy of the online session…you decide:

    06/10/2011 03:39:23PM Session Started with Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642)
    06/10/2011 03:39:28PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Thank you for contacting Dell Small and Medium Business Hardware Support. My name is Alex. How may I help you today?”
    06/10/2011 03:40:13PM George: “Hello Alex. I just purchased a Dell from you in December and my monitor isn’t working.”
    06/10/2011 03:41:32PM George: “I’ve researched and changed power cords, plugs, etc., but screen remains black and no lights whatsoever….how do I return?”
    06/10/2011 03:42:33PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Pleased to meet you, George.”
    06/10/2011 03:43:05PM George: “Likewise”
    06/10/2011 03:45:02PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Can you confirm the system that you would like to have support with is the INSPIRON ZINO HD with the Service Tag:8D4ZPN1 ?”
    06/10/2011 03:45:38PM George: “Yes, this is the system and service tag.”
    06/10/2011 03:46:12PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “In case we get disconnected in chat, would it be okay if I call you at this number 702-395-7219 ? Also, is your primary email address?”
    06/10/2011 03:46:27PM George: “Yes and yes”
    06/10/2011 03:47:16PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Thank you for the confirmation. To give you an update, you still have an active Hardware Warranty contract that will expire on December 17, 2011. Going back to the issue that you mentioned earlier…”
    06/10/2011 03:47:47PM George: “Thank you for warranty update.”
    06/10/2011 03:49:15PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “When you power on the system, check the power button if it shows in blinking amber.”
    06/10/2011 03:50:32PM George: “The inspirion is solid white and no light for the monitor”
    06/10/2011 03:51:17PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “CHecked the diagnostic LED and tell me which one are lit?”
    06/10/2011 03:51:25PM George: “I’ve tried all the recommended solutions like checking plugs, using new cords, using new power outlet….the monitor is not turning on”
    06/10/2011 03:52:15PM George: “Nothing on monitor is lit. The inspiron only has a solid white power light…I’m using my MAC to type to you and don’t have access to check anything on the inspirion”
    06/10/2011 03:52:35PM George: “except the power light”
    06/10/2011 03:53:13PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “I am referring to the numlock, scroll lock and capslock LEDs”
    06/10/2011 03:54:08PM George: “Sorry about that. No lights are on currently, but I pressed number lock and it’s lit up now”
    06/10/2011 03:54:34PM George: “Just pressed the Caps lock and it’s on now as well”
    06/10/2011 03:55:08PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Do you have external monitor to use?”
    06/10/2011 03:55:55PM George: “Unfortunately, I do not. Just my MAC and don’t think I can connect the insperion to it…can I?”
    06/10/2011 03:57:45PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Based on the symptoms you have mentioned and on the results of troubleshooting, this indicates that the LCD KIT and Motherboard has gone faulty and needs to be replaced. What I can do for you is arrange an “On-Site” service to be conducted after 1-2 busi”
    ness days. I will be booking for a Dell Certified Technician with the part replacement to make sure that all parts are checked and installed properly. In case the problem persists, the system technician will take necessary actions. Would you like me to go
    ahead and book that for you?
    06/10/2011 03:59:54PM George: “It would be fine, but I should let you know that I’m with the U.S. Military and based out of Ramstein,Germany (same place I was when I ordered the Dell and had shipped). Is this ok, or should I just mail monitor back?”
    06/10/2011 04:01:04PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “I apologize for the inconvenience. We can only service and send parts within the US.”
    06/10/2011 04:01:52PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “If you want send the system back to us and once there chat back to us again so that the we can send the parts and onsite technician where the system is?”
    06/10/2011 04:02:23PM George: “Sure, what address should I mail to?”
    06/10/2011 04:03:32PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Mail it on your US address. You cannot send your system to us from there.”
    06/10/2011 04:04:08PM George: “My military address is a US address (PSC 10 Box 15, APO AE 09142)”
    06/10/2011 04:04:52PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Do you have no physical address in the US?”
    06/10/2011 04:06:12PM George: “We’ve been in Germany for 7 years now. The address that you mailed me the computer to me is the miltary address listed above and is a U.S. address.”
    06/10/2011 04:06:57PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Okay. For that case, I suggest you to just transfer the warranty of the system from US to Germany so that it can be serviced there.”
    06/10/2011 04:07:17PM George: “I can mail the computer to you and give you my parents address in the U.S. if you would like to mail the new or repaired monitor back to them.”
    06/10/2011 04:07:42PM George: “I don’t want to transfer warranty to Germany…too hard to get service.”
    06/10/2011 04:08:13PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Then send the system to US address where it can be serviced.”
    06/10/2011 04:08:31PM Agent (CLKsmb_Alex_188642): “Once there, chat back to us so that we can process the dispatch.
    06/10/2011 04:09:36PM George: “OK, I will send to my parents address, but you did just lose all my business for any future orders and I’ll be sure to spread your shitty service to my entire unit. Have a great day!”
    06/10/2011 04:09:56PM Session Ended