OT: I Don't Think This Company Should Go Bankrupt But - Good Lord!

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Dell has the worst customer service of any company that I have ever dealt with.
My journey into Dell Hell began a little over a week ago, when I ordered an Inspiron 8600 from the Dell website. I wanted a unit with the newest in processor technology and wireless capabilities, while having parallel and serial ports to run some of my older peripherals. The 360 degree product tour showed that the 8600 had the required ports.
A couple of days later a Dell catalog came in the mail. There was a chart in the catalog that showed the 8600 as not having parallel or serial ports. I went back to the Dell website to look at the 360 degree product tour and, sure enough, the ports were there. I took a screen shot of the rear view shown in the product tour.
Then I called Dell customer service to see what they had to say about the ports. I was passed around to a number of different people, none of them could give me a definitive answer concerning the ports.
After many emails and phone calls it was established that the 8600 no longer ships with parallel and serial ports, although it apparently did so not too long ago. I asked what they were going to do for me, given the fact that I had ordered the unit based on information from their website. The woman who was handling my call put me on hold and never came back on the line. This was the first of three times that I would be treated this way by Dell customer service people.
Finally an email was sent to me apologizing for the confusion about the ports and offering a discount of $75.00 on the purchase of a port replicator, which would give me back the ports that I had already paid for. When I called to purchase the port replicator, I was told that the $75.00 would be taken off the full price of the unit ($199.00) and not the price of the unit that I would have paid if I had ordered it with the 8600 in the first place ($119.00). Through Dell's generosity, I was now going to pay $124.00 for a unit that would have cost me $119.00, if ordered with the machine that I already thought had the ports on it that the replicator was replicating.
It turned out not to matter, anyway - because the guy that I placed the order with lost the order and nobody can find any record of it. I figured I'd just wait on that until the 8600 came.
Today, April 5, the day that my 8600 was supposed to ship - I got an email telling me that it would not be shipping for up to two weeks. When I called to find out the specific problem that was holding up completion of the order, no one could give me any information. During two separate phone sessions the customer service people put me on hold and then never came back on. I was never able to determine what was causing the delay. If I had gotten that information perhaps I could have substituted another component that was in stock and thus get the order out in a timely manner.
But I was not given the opportunity to do this. The customer service people were unfailingly polite while failing entirely at their duties.
This experiment with using offshore customer service people is a failure. The people do not extend themselves to help remedy the situation. They are not confrontational but allow the customer to hang on the line until they go away. They are very difficult to understand.
I feel that I was lied to by Dell about the shipping date. I feel that I was deceived by Dell about the ports contained in the unit. I feel that Dell's commitment to customer service and satisfaction is beneath contempt.
I am not going to make any further phone calls or send any more emails. I am going to wait twenty four hours to get a satisfactory reply from Dell, and then I am going to go out and buy an IBM.
I am also going to post this message on the laptop forums and send it out to a number of the computer magazines. And every chance I get I will badmouth Dell. You deserve it.
(Sent yesterday to Dell "Customer Service" and again this morning to snipped-for-privacy@dell.com)
(coda: the port replicator that no one could find an order for showed up today - now I have a port replicator for a laptop that was supposed to have the needed ports - but don't got no laptop to go with it - sheesh.)
(but they seem to keep making money.)
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker (ret) Real Email is: tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet Website: http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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Tom Watson wrote:

Think twice before you go with IBM. We tried to get one to operate and after talking to an offshore fella for 3 hours, we gave up and returned it and got an HP. Much better machine and have had no problems. The offshore phone call was long distance and we were not told it was. It took a long time to get IBM to reimburse the phone bill.
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...
Careful of IBM: The way the set up the machines isn't necessarily what you expect ubnless you're used to the IBM methods. I can recommend Gateway - their CS is considerably improved and the order process a lot simpler and more detailed than Dell. They also give you actual CDs with the software on them. Only, well,Gateway's talkng about minimizing their PC business now, so for tomorrow-protection? Guess it's all a crapshoot anymore. Only thing they have left they can sell to distinguish themselves is service and most of them don't know what the word means.
Dell: I would go to a Thomas Register, get the president's name, address, etc. and send a couple of well placed registered mails to them, asking for a win-win remedy because you "know they're so good, but ...". You might get a quick response and an unexpected break on the costs.
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Pop Rivet notes:

Michael Dell, IIRC.
Charlie Self "It is not strange... to mistake change for progress." Millard Fillmore
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The sad part was, the same person(s) would call every time this happened, and we'd go thru the same routine. The really sad part was, the people calling were alost all 4 year college degree, delectrical engineers, the high school grads all got it the first time they were told.
God Bless college grads & Naval Academy grads! Y'all know what "feedback" in a sound system is, right? Late '50s, USS Salem, 6th Fleet flag in Mediterranean. I was an ET3(E4 Electronics Tech for you non-squids) on the emergency comm watch(basically a sleep-in unless there was trouble), and the same Lt.(O3?), the shining star of his Annapolis class, had called me to the bridge 4 times in 3 hr. on the mid-watch complaining of feedback on the "fleet net"(UHF voice command circuit). First 2 times made careful check & tested, everything OK. 3rd time stayed in shadows and watched. Dodo was standing in front of an aux. speaker talking on the mike! Very courteously explained to him that he should turn his back and move a couple feet away, only to be called back again shortly! Last time I went to O.C.(Officer Country) and awakened our Warrant Officer, explained the problem, then stood back in the shadows and listened (gleefully, I might add) while he very politely taught this Lt. what to do. This was NOT an A**-chewing, he just nibbled around the edges until it FELL out! Never had a feedback call from the bridge when he had OOD again!
--
Nahmie
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving
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Tom,
I feel sorry or your trip to Dell Hell - but I have to say I've purchased two machines from Dell since the new year. Both shipped on or before the day they should have (3 days after order i think), both arrived quickly and both functioned properly out of the box.
I think you just got unlucky on the delivery, but the CSR's not knowing if the machine had ports is unexcusable.
Ian

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I don't seem to have access to the original message so I'm responding to yours...
I have purchased 4 computers from Dell. Two laptops and two desktops. One of the laptops is now over 4 years old. It is the machine that I practically live on. I am a professional software developer. My Inspiron 7500 may not be very fast any more but it is a work horse. I am using it 8 to 14 hours a day. I have had a few problems here and there that were covered under warranty without any problem at all. I called up, said something wasn't working and the next day the technician came to see me wherever I was. (I do consulting so they have visited me in different cities) There are features about my laptop that made it a no-brainer purchase and I have no regrets about it. As long as these same features are available I'll be purchasing another Dell.
I will agree with you that Dell's outsourced customer service is really bad. The language wasn't much of a barrier but some things were not clearly understood and this caused me to lose at least a couple days of billable work. This was after my laptop was out of warranty.
When the COM port on my laptop went out I just bought a port replicator for not more than about $80 and it works fine. -- Jim
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Tom, I'm sorry you had such a difficult time ordering a system. However, I would have expected with your name you wouldn't do business with anyone but IBM. Are you related to THE Watsons?
(In case someone forgot or didn't know: Thomas J. Watson was the founder of the Computer Tabulating Recording Company. CTR was the forerunner of IBM. Tom senior was the President/CEO of IBM for many years. His son, Tom, Jr., followed him in the business.)
After pulling your chain, I must admit, as a retired IBMer, I am a committed Dell user. When OS/2 bit the dust, I gave away my PS/2 and moved to Dell. I've had four Dell desktop systems and my wife has a Dell laptop. I have not had any problems with hardware ordering from Dell. I had one minor hardware support problem. I allowed an overseas tech support person, for whom English was a third or fourth language, to convince me that the answer to my problem was to reformat my hard drive. It did not fix my problem, but it was an almost simple task to rebuild my hard drive. Simple, because at that point, I was already trained/conditioned to keep everything backed up!! So I'm happy with Dell and wouldn't buy anything else at this point. One close friend buys IBM, another buys Gateway and a third builds his own.
Everyone has had a problem with Dell/Gateway/IBM/Woodcraft/Rockler/Lee Valley/Delta/Jet/Harbor Freight/Oak/Walnut/Maple. Problems are just another opportunity.
Variety and choice. Politics and Pizza. Cars and Clothes. Women and Whiskey. Variety and choice: The spices of life!
Jack Flatley Jacksonville, Florida

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wrote:

Actually, my drivers license has the name on it of: Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

Don't I just wish.

I am gratified that your experience has not been the same as mine.

This seems to be a favorite fix of Tier One Tech Dudes. I was taught that this was a Nuclear Level Option. I almost never call Tier One guys - they don't seem to know any more than me. The difficulty is in getting to the people who actually do know something.

Is it really all that simple to rebuild a hard drive, when al the patches are lost and all the tweaks are lost?

Yeah, me too - having been using this crap since the CPm days, but backups are tricky and prone to errors - that may not show up for a good long time.

There's a guy who builds his own laptops - He must be a God. I've "built" two desktops - about the same as assembling your own stereo components - but never saved any money and don't want any further education in this direction.

OK, but promise vs. performance has gotten out of hand with some of these people. If I order a unit online, with the expectation of it being delivered at a specified date - I don't expect to get an email telling me that I "might" get it at a date that represents a 200 percent error.

Thank you for the reply, Jack. I'm just a little pissed at the whole situation right now.

Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker (ret) Real Email is: tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet Website: http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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There is a guaranteed way to get to Tier 2 support, cite a HSE (Health, Safety, or Environmental) concern. This is an "Automatic escalation" on the Tier 1 flow chart.
For example, when the battery on my laptop was shorting out (3 month old battery, with 6 second battery life), I said that I was getting "sporadic" shocks from the exterior of the laptop.
Tier 2 was back to me in a few hours arranging service.
For your case, you could have told them that "Every time I try to plug in my printer, I get zapped" Once they forward you on, you can't talk like an intelligent person to the tier 2 people.
But, thats just my 2 bits (pun intended)
Jay
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John Flatley writes:

Uh, if you say so. But what do I do with a Dell using an NEC CD burner that works weirdly when it works. My singsong boy on the phone used up over 4 of my hours re-installing XP and other fiddlefarting around, which did absolutely nothing beyond giving me a headache. Actually, the headache was from trying to understand a singsong accent from an overpolite Indian with my worn out American ears.
He called back the next day--unlike Tom, I didn't lose him--and left a message, but I didn't respond because I was not about to format my frigging hard drive to make such a repair. What I need, chances in my favor being roughly 999 to 999.1--is a new CD burner. Wanna bet? My warranty has about a month to run, which makes me nervous.
Charlie Self "It is not strange... to mistake change for progress." Millard Fillmore
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Hey Charlie,
I've dealt with these "tech support" weenies before. The quickest and easiest way to get a part replaced is to simply tell the person that you've already done whatever it is they are suggesting you do. If this guy tells you to format your hard drive, say "I did, didn't fix it". It doesn't take them too long to reach the end of their pre-scripted troubleshooting list, at the end of which is usually the authority to RMA a defective part. Just my $0.02.
Mike

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On Wed, 07 Apr 2004 01:38:30 GMT, "Mike in Mystic"

What I do is call and ask to speak to a second tier tech support person or a tech supervisor. I explain that I realize that such an august personage cannot be immediately produced and provide my cell phone number, with the explicit expectation that they will call me within the hour.
Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't.
Most people who can turn on a computer can derive no benefit from Tier One Tech Support.
("Have you checked to see if your computer is plugged in?")
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker (ret) Real Email is: tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet Website: http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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I take it you've never worked a help desk? Believe me, making sure it's plugged in (and turned on) is a vital part of any tech support call. The first rule of tech support is never assume anything. The second rule is don't believe anything the caller tells you that doesn't make sense unless you can verify it yourself.
I work for a company which develops network management software. You've probably never heard of us, but you probably know many of the companies who are our customers. There's a reasonable chance that the software I wrote is used by your ISP to help manage your DSL or Cable Modem connection. You'd think we'd be able to figure out if something is plugged in or not, right?
A while ago, I had a test system set up in an unused office at one of our remote locations. Every once in a while, it would go off the network, and we couldn't figure out why. Eventually we tracked down the problem. Some folks at the remote location needed a room for a meeting so they just used the empty office. They also needed a place to plug their laptops in, so they would unplug the (apparently unused) PC that was sitting there and use the network jack.
So, yeah, "Is it plugged in?" really is the first question to ask when trying to diagnose a computer problem.
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says...

... snip

Yeah, but a little common sense might come into play.
me: "System keeps giving me a blue screen of death when I try running this command. Other commands in this set work fine"
help desk: "OK, first let's check, is the system console plugged into line power?"
me: "Forget it, I'll find the problem myself, you are obviously to flippin' stupid to be working a help desk" [in my mind] "Yeah, can you think of any way I could get a CPU execution halted message or the desired results on th other commands if the CPU were not getting AC power?" [in reality]
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Mark & Juanita notes:

Yes. My deal was a non-working CD burner, not a non-working computer. But the whole horseshit sequence started with "is it plugged in," which is the kind of goofiness that tends to set me up for respnses like, "Well,no. It's been running off my tinfoil beanie for the past 10 months, so why the hell should I plug it in now?".
Charlie Self "It is not strange... to mistake change for progress." Millard Fillmore
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Wed, Apr 7, 2004, 10:36am (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (CharlieSelf) says: <snip> But the whole horseshit sequence started with "is it plugged in," which is the kind of goofiness that tends to set me up for respnses like, "Well,no. It's been running off my tinfoil beanie for the past 10 months, so why the hell should I plug it in now?".
We used to have to go out on the floor to trouble-shoot terminals. It was pretty useless to ask if they'd checked to see if it was plugged in, because the response was always "yes". But, when we got out there, chances were about even that the plug had been kicked loose, or even out. A good portion of the other times, it was things like the screen got turned off, and so on. These were supervisors, mind you, 4-year degree people, hired as supervisors, direct out of college - and didn't have a clue about what anybody working for them actually did. They were supposed to turn off their terminal when they left it, so no unauthorized people would use it, but they couldn't be bothered with a 5-second log in, took too long, so they'd just turn the screen off - and then forget they'd done it. It was either someing along those lines, or the terminal was totally dead and had to be swapped out, never seemed to be any in-between.
JOAT Don't e-mail me while I'm breathing.
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JOAT responds:

Second lieutenant talent. And that's what most recent college grads are.
Charlie Self "Adam and Eve had many advantages but the principal one was that they escaped teething." Mark Twain
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Is that the one that they need to fog a mirror for? Or is that the pulse required?

escaped
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> We used to have to go out on the floor to trouble-shoot terminals.

Had one a few months back. She could not understand why her computer did not work right. I asked if anything happened. "No, nothing. I didn't do anything"
OK, seemed like a keyboard problem so I thought I'd just swap it out and try it. When I picked up the keyboard, water drained out of it. Even though there was a 3/4 empty bottle sitting on the desk, she had no idea how it could have gotten in there. Ed
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