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Company takes shady Indian call support and battering the beleaguered customer to new levels

Laptop magazine has unearthed a rather large steaming mess of hustlery and hucksterism in a series of support calls to Dell, Inc. (DELL).  Dell, the world's second largest computer retailer has been in midst of a big round of layoffs and outsourcing, as it has struggled with
"sluggish" profit growth
.

Mark Spoonauer, editor and chief of Laptop, spent hours being willing sucked into a nightmarish vortex of Dell support calls, which the company insists are unusual and a series of "misunderstandings".  The calls began when inquiring about issues with a Dell laptop.

First the Dell representatives in India tried to pitch a $239 USD warranty "discounted" to $199 USD or a one-time payment of $129 USD to solve the firmware issue. Dell would later acknowledge that the issues should have been covered by the hardware warranty, blaming the sales attempt on a "misunderstanding".

On a second call Mr. Spoonauer inquired about using Dell DataSafe to back up his computer, at which point a second Dell rep in India informed him that software questions were not allowed under hardware warranty and customers without warranties could not ask questions.  The service rep's manager "Raj" then again pitched the software warranty, bafflingly unveiling a second pitch -- that he could support those kinds of questions if the caller bought an affiliated hard drive at their local electronics store.  

But the real kicker came in the third call when the service rep Sherma interjected in a discussion over poor battery life in a recently purchased device with an exciting announcement.  Describes Mr. Spoonauer, "In a surprised tone, told us that we had won a daily drawing to purchase a four-year extended hardware warranty for our laptop for $317.


"You may already be a winner!" Dell tries its best Publishers Clearing House impression in Laptop's latest investigation [Image Source: Ticker Times]

When Sherma's excitement was met with caller apathy he went into panic mode, attempting a harder sell.  Only three customers win the drawing a day, he informed.  And the normal price was $512 USD.

Dell comments:

Daily drawings are not a regular practice nor encouraged tactic in technical support and we have used your feedback to reinforce this with our teams. Their only priority is to resolve our customers’ issues.

As much as Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is criticized for its belligerent legal tactics, customer support is one major perk of the computer makers' products.  After all, Apple is one of the few companies to offer in-store support covered by warranty, and better yet to offer U.S.-located tech support.  Dell, apparently opts for quite a different approach, though its products are, of course, significantly cheaper than Apple's.

Source: Laptop





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