Windows 7 – Part II – The Good & Atrocious of Customer Service – Dell

Upgrading to Windows 7 can be an adventure if any of your hardware or software has any incompatibility. It’s worse, however, if you order a new computer and it arrives unbeknownst to you with a bad/corrupted installation of Windows 7. Mine did. Windows 7 Ultimate began as Windows 7 “the pits.”

So what did I do? I trudged ahead, using repairs, trying to make things work. Nothing helped. Programs didn’t work, and I was at wits end. Yes, I called Dell, and the first tech I spoke to didn’t know anything – and thus began my trek with Dell that has proven unequivocally that the only person in America who works for Dell must be Michael Dell. In this post, you can read how poor Dell’s support has sunk.

No one had any idea what to do, although they all suggested reinstalling because – well, why not? Never was I given a logical explanation. Then, my system crashed (yet again) and the RAID (the hard drives that mirrored each other) stopped working. At this point, I had probably spent 4 to 6 hours on the phone with Dell, to no avail. This time around it was really fun because no one seemed to know how to diagnose or repair the problem. It took 2 hours to speak with someone who knew how. We resolved the issue, but the Registry had become so corrupt that virtually none of my software worked anymore.

So, I decided to reinstall the operating system. I called Dell, got bounced from one technician to another – and all they seemed to want to do was sell me service contracts – even though I had one. After nearly two hours, I spoke with someone who helped me. Of course, he never told me that you can’t reinstall Windows 7 unless every USB accessory is unplugged, so the reinstall failed and we had to do it again. Then it worked.

Now the system works fine, but I spent at least 12 to 16 hours on the phone with Dell. When I called the number they said was for my computer, they said it wasn’t, and it was an adventure in how not to treat a customer.

But that wasn’t all. Before this, I was trying to find out which toner was the proper one for my Dell printer, and the website wasn’t helpful. So I tried online tech support. Not only didn’t the person know, but he admitted that he was handling three chats at once. After an hour, I surrendered and called. What did I learn? The more expensive cartridge was that way because it was refillable (in other words, when it ran out of ink, I could refill it myself), even though every printer manufacturer tells you not to refill the cartridge. The rep – Oscar, I believe – then asked if I wanted to order through him. I declined, saying  I would order online. He cautioned me, and said that if I ordered online my order my get canceled because the website was so busy. I’m not kidding, that’s what he said. I ordered online, and guess what, it arrived.

My final adventure is probably the worst. My CD drive on one of my PCs hasn’t worked for ages, so I called last Friday (February 26th) and the rep took the information and said a technician would be dispatched to replace the part. With my next day onsite service, I expected the repair by the 2nd of March. No. Not on the 3rd either. So today, I called for status. Guess what? Dell’s computers have been having problems and they told me (after getting disconnected – no matter what they say, no one calls you back like they promise) they had no information at all. They wanted me to call back. This was after being bounced around for another 45 minutes.

Eventually, a technician, David, said he would take the information. But I was upset at this point and asked to speak with his supervisor – Marlon. Marlon said he really couldn’t help me, and when I asked again and again for the name of the other rep, he refused to provide it, saying he could only provide his name and the other rep would have to give me his name. I was transferred back to David, who disclosed his name (although not many Indians have David as their name, in my experience).

I was still upset. After all, Dell has wasted probably 2 or 3 days of my time, and that doesn’t count the days lost trying to get my fancy new computer to work right – and then the days spent reinstalling all of my software. I wanted customer service, and was eventually transferred to Sharon, who kept telling me she was in Panama, not India. She said all of the same pap that every rep is taught from the womb in an effort to appease unhappy customers. She assured me that she would have me transferred to a manager, not a rep or a supervisor and would not get off the phone until I spoke with one. Guess what, she passed me off to a rep, who again re-ordered my CD drive. This time, however, he was insistent that, despite my contract, I would have to install the new one myself. Eventually, he spoke with his (unnamed) supervisor, who granted permission to have a technician dispatched to do the replacement.

The story doesn’t end here. No, David promised that because of the computer problem he would call me today at 4 p.m. (my time) to confirm that the order for the replacement CD drive was made. First, he had to ask what time zone I was in because he didn’t know where Pennsylvania was, and said that he couldn’t keep track of all that information. And guess what, it’s 5:37 p.m. and no call. Also, the rep who re-ordered the CD (and wanted me to install it myself) told me I would receive an immediate email confirmation of the service order. It’s more than 6 hours later and it’s not in my inbox, my spam box or my junk email box.

I have purchased many, many computers from Dell, and own 4 Dell printers as well, plus a Dell DJ, and other assorted products. Always I have been pleased with Dell’s customer service and technical support. Not anymore. Clearly, these experiences demonstrate that it’s more important to try to make a buck than to satisfy customers – even ones like me who are repeat customers. My efforts to get some adjustment for my hassles were ignored, almost laughed at by Sharon (the rep from Panama), and the tech support people are trained to immediately tell you they can’t help with that, they’re just tech support – even when they don’t have a clue.

I ask Dell – is this what your company has become? Have things gotten so bad that it’s impossible to speak with an American, and that it’s equally impossible to obtain tech support or customer service without wasting hours and hours and days and days on the phone? Is it so bad that when you do get a person they make up ridiculous stories about orders being canceled from the website?

One of my businesses is technology consulting for lawyers. While I deal mostly with software, my clients ask about hardware. Forever, I recommended Dell. Now, how can I?

Next blog — more customer service stories.

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