Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Stuck in Dell Hell

I knew better. My last purchase of a Dell made me acutely aware that they pull a classic bait and switch. When you call Dell to buy a computer, you speak to someone who speaks English who is no doubt located in the US. But once they get your money and you need service, you call an 800 number that is located in Bangalore or somewhere in India. Although they speak a version of English, it's virtually impossible to understand them. To make matters worse, they seem to work off some script and if the problem isn't on the script, forget solving it.

Dell seemed to leak rumors that it was returning its customer service to America, but that apparently never panned out, despite screaming (just for fun, google "I hate Dell) consumers. But in March, Dell announced its intent to double its Indian workforce over the next few years.

Despite knowing how Dell operates and hating the product, I needed a new computer a few months ago and although I really wanted to migrate back to a Macintosh, on which I have never lost a piece of data nor even needed customer support, I bought a Dell. The salesperson I spoke with was American and she helped me build the model I needed. The computer arrived within five days of the order and set-up was a snap. However, I had problems almost immediately (and am still experiencing them) with "dumps," where the screen tells me that the computer has dumped its memory to avoid damaging data. I tried taking off a new printer driver I'd loaded and this helped for a few weeks, but it's back at it again.

So I called Dell and the customer service person, in India, he said, was almost unintelligible. I'm pretty good at deciphering various dialects because I've lived in some big cities where you hear many dialects in one day; however, this guy was really bad. I kept thinking "What if some grandmother who just wants to email her grand kids calls him?" Technically, he wasn't much better than his English. My problem apparently was not on his script. It remains unsolved. It's probably a Microsoft issue, but that's for another rant.

About a week later, my phone rang. Believe it or not, it was a Dell follow-up call asking how well I liked my customer service experience. This guy's English, if anything, was worse than the guy I talked to originally. He asked "Could you understand the person to whom you spoke?"

"What?" I had to ask. He repeated himself and I finally figured out what he was saying. Dell is a joke, but then I must be crazy because a good definition of insanity is repeating the same mistake, in this case purchasing another Dell, and expecting different results.

But Dell not only screws up their customer service, they can't seem to get their billing information right, either. A few days ago I received a phone call from a Dell representative telling me my payment was late. Why is it late? you might ask, whispering "deadbeat" under your breath. It's late because while Dell sent the computer to my new address, they somehow neglected to change my "bill to" address to my current address and my bill went to my old house where I lived over a year ago.

Of course the money person from Dell, wanting to know if she could take a check by phone, speaks perfect English. If they want your money either on the front end when purchasing their product or on the back end when obtaining payments, they speak perfect English. But if you have a problem, then it's your bad luck to have to call India.

I think I've finally learned my lesson. My next computer will be a Macintosh. I have seen the light and it ain't in India.

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