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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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RE: shocker
By really on 8/15/2012 7:59:14 PM , Rating: 2
For desktops at work I primarily buy dell precisions and some optiplex and I haven't had any issues with tech support. Corporate side they are fine however I will not purchase anything from their consumer models as everyone I know who has has had some kind of failure shortly after purchasing it though tech support has been reasonably satisfactory.

For laptops we purchase only Lenovo Thinkpads and I rarely have an issue with one. If I do tech support has been stellar.

RE: shocker
By StevoLincolnite on 8/16/2012 3:27:11 AM , Rating: 3
Oh Dell.

Bought a U3011 monitor for a cool $1,400AUD last year.
It arrives dead on arrival... Spend hours on the phone arguing with tech support and they agree to do a replacement.
Except they didn't replace it with a new panel, they replaced it with a refurbished one.

If I wanted a second hand screen I would have gone to Ebay and paid a fraction of the price.
Anyway, got in contact with consumer affairs and got a refund on it, never again will Dell get my cash!

RE: shocker
By MrBlastman on 8/16/2012 11:26:47 AM , Rating: 2
My dell notebook with a 17 inch screen that is seven years old (I just use it to write on) has vertical lines appearing on it that won't go away. Every few days/weeks/months another one pops onto it. I've always theorized that part of it is the notebook powering on at will when in my bag, randomly, causing it to overheat. Even the dell support center software is designed to break it.

Oh well.

RE: shocker
By Pirks on 8/17/2012 1:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
My 5 year old Dell Vostro 1700 is still working like new, after I cleaned all the dust from inside that was blocking exhaust, replaced HDD with 7200 RPM one, added two more gigs of RAM and replaced old Dell wireless with brand new Intel 6300 ultra-N, the wireless file transfer speed jumped up SIX TIMES!!! So I'm happy with my Dell after I gave it a second life. Nothing can beat the quality of Dell's online repair/service manuals BTW. This is for me one of the strongest arguments for purchasing Dell gear.

RE: shocker
By twhittet on 8/16/2012 5:58:27 PM , Rating: 2
Dell business line has fine support. Trying to call them is annoying, but any chat support session ends in 5 minutes, and the next day my part is either waiting for me, or the local Dell tech is replacing the part for me.

Sadly I'm sure their consumer support team is probably understaffed and pressured to keep costs down and sales up.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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