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badice.com ~ travel musings for the masses

I tried making this post yesterday but the database choked or something and the post did not go through (another reason to write the post in Notepad first).

To begin, I have never been a huge Dell fan. I’ve always thought of their products as being second rate and even though recently their product quality has increased I still have issues with their technical support. In general I find outsourced tech support to be the most unuseful thing to a computer buyer.

I agreed to help a friend with her printer, which she received as a gift (along with a laptop) from her grandparents. She had a single piece of paper that had all of the information about the computer on it, which I thought would suffice.

On Friday afternoon I went to her apartment and started looking at the printer, it was one of those models that has a built-in scanner. The problem she was having was that the printer would crumple the paper and jam every time she tried printing. After a few different tries with it I thought I would use the paper feed to see if it jammed during every action. It did. My next course of action was to call technical support and see if they could give me any guidance.

Surprisingly, I was only kept on hold on Dell’s automated system for 10 minutes. After that I spoke to a human who asked me for the account number, which I gladly provided. He then asked me for the name on the account to verify the identity; No problem. The “representative” then asked me what my problem was and I explained the issue with the printer. He wanted me to give him the “service code” located on the back of the printer and I provided it. I was put on hold for a few minutes as he retrieved the information, after which he came back and said that there was no information available for the service code I provided. I again provided the code, this time using the NATO Phonetic Alphabet so that there would be no confusion about the letters. He put me back on hold and came back again telling me the information could not be found. At this point I was not frustrated, until I repeated this process probably 3 more times. Finally, the rep put me on hold to go talk to his supervisor. When he came back he informed me that the service code I had given him was associated to another person and our printer was associated to someone else. He explained that I would need to talk to customer care and have them switch the numbers around so that everything would be on the level. After that was over I could call him back and get my problem solved. By this time it was 9pm and I was ready to get home.

Saturday came around and I was back over at my friend’s apartment spending some time on the phone with Dell. I reached customer care and explained the issue, at which point I was quickly told that my account was a higher education account and I would need to talk to that billing department. What?! This is not a billing issue, it is just an issue with your records. Their response was to forward my call to billing. I again explained the problem and the representative acted like she may actually get something done. It wasn’t to be. She took some notes on my problem and gave me a case number to tell the finance department. Why they ever connected me to their finance department I’ll never know, this computer was completely paid off and I didn’t need a loan. Once I was connected to the finance department, the guy on the other side of the line told me that he couldn’t handle my issue and that I would need to be connected to customer care. What?! I just spent an hour and a half talking to 3 different people and now you’re telling me that I have to start the whole process over again? Needless to say I gave up and her printer never was fixed.

I have never been thrown for such a loop and I have talked to a lot of technical support people. I will say that they were cordial and understanding but they were no help. If Dell wants satisfied customers they are going to need to address the problem of effective communication. Just pushing someone from one rep to another will not work, it frustrates people and eventually they will give up and go buy another computer (ok, maybe that’s a little extreme). My fear is that Apple may go down this road and end up with the same problem. I am hopeful that they will catch the problem before it gets too far.

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