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Adventures in tech support

September 2016
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I’ll preface this with the fact that, to my students over the years, I have constantly referred to Dell as the gold standard of customer support. That’s not just a reference to the computer industry, but customer service overall. I have stayed at some rather nice hotels over the years and they didn’t treat as well as Dell support has in the past.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

My old Dell Inspiron laptop, a 2010 model, finally started showing signs of moving on to that next plane. For example, when you open the optical drive, part of the physical drive carrier droops down. Yes, it’s been dropped.

I purchased a new laptop at Staples but returned it the next day because it had been used. Used, and not wiped, by the way. At that point, I decided that ordering a new one from Dell and waiting until it was shipped may be a better choice.

“May” is a very powerful word. After about five weeks, I started getting warning messages that the computer could not recognize the AC adapter and would no longer charge. This is where warranty service comes in, and armed with several previous dealings with Dell service support, I figured this would be pretty quick and dirty.

I’ll break this up by mentioning that Dell now outsources its call centre to somewhere in India. Many such centres use what is called by some outsourcing agencies as a “pay for performance” model. In short, when I submit my computer for repair, the person from the centre who convinces me to do so gets a commission.

So far, I have been given five different options for resolution and these have come from about 10 different techs. However, each of these wants me to acknowledge to them that I intend to go through with the repair, meaning, of course, that they will be the one who gets the commission. They actually have been, basically, competing to be the one who gets paid for this.

My options have been:

1. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via FedEx.
2. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via Purolator.
3. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via the mail.
4. I can arrange for onsite repair.
5. You have to provide your own shipping box and send it using a waybill I will send you.

Some of the others have provided the same suggestions, but have also asked that I confirm which one I will use with them specifically. A lot of these conversations have taken place through Twitter and their Dell Cares account.

As a note, I’ve found the Dell Cares account is just the technicians and any real social media manager for a major company should be having fits over the level of conversation conducted using their brand name. For example, I pointed out after the first (I’ve had several from several different people) mention that my warranty is supposed to provide onsite service. Dell hasn’t had an authorized technician here for years.

When my last Dell laptop needed a new keyboard under warranty, I did manage to convince the tech that I was able to replace it myself after he had spent about 20 minutes trying to find someone to replace it. I pointed this out and I was somewhat rudely informed that I obviously had access to a technician since my warranty called for onsite repair. Also, they certainly wouldn’t have sent a technician to replace a keyboard anyway, since the user would be expected to do that. I don’t quite think he or she understands the difference between replacing a desktop and laptop keyboard.

I seriously doubt that Dell is going to pay to send a repair tech from Prince George or Vancouver to come and replace my motherboard.

I got enough of both rude and repetitive from Dell Cares that I actually blocked their Twitter account. There’s probably enough Norse blood in my dating back from 1,000 years ago that I can go with burning the odd bridge every now and then.

So currently, I’m at the point where I don’t know which choice is actually the right method for sending it back, and quite frankly, I’m still not that sure where it’s supposed to go. I can think of a suggestion of what someone could do with it, but that may be anatomically difficult.

I have twice asked to deal with a supervisor, through the Dell Cares account and through their Facebook page. Times were arranged for them to call on two separate days, but no one called either time.

I do get a kick out of the attempt of one of their techs to blackmail me, namely, that he would arrange for a supervisor to contact me in a few hours, but first I should confirm to him that I was sending the computer back through arrangements he would set up.

In short, the concern is not how to best service my brand new laptop, but how to ensure that you are the one who gets the commission for getting it serviced.

A suggestion: unless you can be guaranteed that the computer will never need warranty work, you probably don’t want to buy a Dell computer…

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