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March 14, 2005


Great piece. I feel your pain. Just once I'd like to see someone stand up and be accountable. It sickens me at what they get away with. We've all been there. I hope you get some answers.

Lisa Haneberg

Jory - Perhaps we are really the same people traveling in different dimensions. My experience with Dell is what finally drove me to switch to Mac. I had 3 Dells, a PC, laptop, and Pocket PC (with all the Microsoft software one could buy). After several mind exploding frustrations - different but eerily similar to yours - I cracked.. In one day, I shipped back the new and inoperable PC, posted the pocket PC on ebay, wrote off the aging laptop, and drove to the Apple store and bought an ibook.


My Advil consumption has gone way down, too.


Jory, remind me to never cross you.

As I was reading this, I thought, "I wonder if it'd piss off Jory if I recommended she get a Mac next time." Got to the last line and let out a hearty guffaw. I can tell you that I've got two Macs at work and two at home. They are great machines. (If you're serious, go to dealmac.com and you can sign up for emails about Mac systems)

I will not pretend to be unbiased, because I love my Apple computers. I'm an artsy-fartsy marketing guy who does graphic design and loves music . . . so I'm right in Apple's sweet spot. But, they make "insanely great" machines and an incredible user experience.

So, I'll step off my soap box for now and wait for the day that you join the cult of Mac. Then I'll let out a jubilent HALLELUJAH in celebration with you. Happy that you've "seen the light."

The Most Honorable Reverend G. Dustin Staiger

Jay Rosen

Jory: I like your blog. You write well.

Troy Worman

I know I don't say it often enough, but have I told you lately how grateful I am for all that you do?

I am going to move you to the top of my Blog-0-dex, now.

Steve Mishos

Many of your complaints are valid and they describe some pretty loathsome customer service practices. The trip down the Dell support rabbit hole you so artfully convey, however, was caused by your own misguided expectations.

The computer industry, including Apple, has done a great job convincing customers that anybody can use a computer. The problem is that >usingfixingusingusersuser< to patch their software. Most car drivers still go to a garage even for something simple like an oil change.

That's all well and good.

Tomorrow morning you wake up and your car won't start. You try to boost it since that's described in the owners manual, but it still won't go. If you're like most people, the next step in troubleshooting is to call the towtuck. You call them to come and render assistance in person. You don't call and expect them to start your car over the phone. The towtruck driver shows up and might try some more advanced methods to start your car, but it still won't go so they hook it up and haul it to your favourite garage. Once at the garage, your car is in the hands of a skilled mechanic and is quickly fixed.

The obvious point here is that fixing a broken car requires a mechanic. The parallel is that fixing a broken computer requires a technician. You can spend time to learn to be a mechanic or a technician and do it yourself, but most people don't have time for that.

Unfortunately, the computer industry doesn't have the fixing infrastructure that the car industry does. The car industry has towtrucks, and garages in every small town. The computer industry has call centres.

My suggestion is to either make friends with a geek who knows how to fix computers. Have your geek friend enable remote support in XP so they can reach out and help more easily. Alternatively, find a service like "Nerds on Site" in your area. Those types of services came into being because, as you've observed, phone support sometimes doesn't cut it.

Best of luck,



I see the merits of your garage metaphor, but it doesn't blanket this issue.

#1 Jory's issue with the power cord. You can even buy Apple power cords at CompUSA, why not Dell?

#2 Dell's support rabbit hole, as you referenced.

#3 This type of issue does not seem NEARLY as pervasive on the Apple side of the coin. You lump them in as part of the proliferation of propiganda convincing us that anybody can use a computer, and seem to line them up with the other usual suspects. I do not believe this is so. Apple does create a much easier user experience. They do have fewer technical issues with their product. I have bought four computers for use in my home over the last ten years. Three Apples and one Compaq PC. The Compaq is the only one that has needed service by a technician.

Steve Mishos

Hey Dustin,

I'll take your word on the better Apple user experience in general (I'm a lifelong PC user).

There may be a few reasons there are more PC horror stories than Mac.

1 - there are far more PCs than Macs. This is self evident.

2 - the Mac community seems to be a tighter group and may provide some self-help. This is just a distant observation.

3 - people are less likely to bash their luxury item than a commodity item. This I'm only half convinced of. What I'm thinking here is Mac users have spent a premium for the Mac experience. Once they're hooked on that experience, they can't pull the plug on the relationship and find another partner. Apple's the only partner in that relationship.

I'll leave it at 3 bullets since I don't want to look like I'm trying to 1-up you in the bullet department.

You probably know this already but I still feel the need to state the obvious. The Apple power cords are available at computer retailers because that's Apple's distribution model. Dell's model is direct sales. When people buy into Dell's low price model, that comes with a price. That price is a disconnected relationship. One might argue that the (rather large) price delta between a Dell and a Mac could pay for onsite service by a competent tech if the Dell needed it.



Your points are good. I don't necessarily want to further this argument infinitely, though I disagree with you. :)

The only point I will address is the (rather large) price delta. A comparable Apple laptop is competitive with the Dell price. I used both companies' websites to create a comparison between the Dell Inspiron 700m and an Apple iBook (an entry-level Apple laptop). With EXTREMELY SIMILAR specs, the difference is $36. How much customer support can you get for that?

Jory, my apologies for turning your blog into a debate of tech evangelists.

Steve Mishos

I agree to disagree.


On a similar note, I had two light bulbs blow out at the same time in my kitchen light fixture last week. I wrote Congress in hopes of forcing a hearing but they are currently too involved in the baseball/steroids issue which, I suppose, is important in some way in how this country will continue to function. I only care about my bulbs. Bastards!


Jory - I could have written your Dell piece. But you said it better. The word is surely going to get out sooner or later. If Dell spent on product and customer service half what they spend on advertising -- so they could actually deliver on some of those promises!!! -- what a great world this would be. 'jumoke

Alan Gottschald

I have used Dell in the past and always had first class support but that I now discover is well in the past. My wife wanted a new laptop so I looked around on the net for a reasonable low priced model. Dell had the best deal. I should have had some hint when I tried to order it the sales guy kept coming up with different prices to the one I found, I actually had to read out the URL to him so he could see the good deal. Eventually it was ordered. When it arrived I started to set it up and discovered a hard error in the connections to the display, an intermittent switching of the whites to cyan. And so begins the circular saga.

I'll explain up front I'm an IT consultant and have worked on so many different systems I have difficulty listing them all. I make the call to Dell Technical support and get shunted off to India, where I explain the situation and they ask me lots of irrelevant questions. They then decide that I have to talk to a Technician who picks up my line after a half hour on hold where I hear a string of messages which tell me how to solve all manor of problems which dell laptops, a real confidence booster. The Technician asks me all the same questions the lady before asked and then asks me to run the built-in diagnostics. I point out that this will not prove anything as it is a mechanical failure of a connection of one of the signals to the display and no diagnostic can see what's on the screen, however he insists so we do the diagnostics only to prove me right. The technician tells me I have to speak with customer service which is now closed, he gives me a case number and a phone number. Next morning I call and am told that they do not recognize the number so we start all over again. When we get to the part where I get put on hold which the machine tells me will be over 10 minutes I get the feeling of deja vu and hang up I call sales and blast them and they connect me to the commercial support team which connect don't want anything to do with my product (it's a consumer product) and connect me to the consumer customer care, by this time I'm feeling in need of some care but I'm unlucky as I end up speaking to another Indian lady who also wants to pass me off to someone else. I do manage to stop her and reminded her that this is an effective DOA and that if I didn't get a replacement I'm not so far away that I couldn't go and present this item to Michael Dell him self. Then I got some action. I am now waiting for the replacement, I do hope it's OK and I don't have any more trouble.

I have always bought Toshiba laptops for my self and companies and never had any trouble. Agreed they are not always the fastest but they are solid performers and stand up to sales forces. The way I see it is when your main product line is laptops and there is little else to rely on they'd better be good and so far they have been. I've had some very good customer support from Toshiba too even on very old models, they've given me advice on modifying them to extend their usability. You'll not get that from many places.

I doubt if I'll ever buy Dell again, certainly not for laptops. If Dell screw up on this replacement I'll even put my hand in my pocket and return the Dell for a refund and buy the more expensive Toshiba and end these hassles. Life is too short to have to deal with people who read from scripts, can't understand what you are saying and know next to nothing about the computer systems.

Your post is right on except what you say about socialized medicine, when it's done right like in the UK and other parts of Europe it's better than anything in the USA no matter what interested parties will tell you, I've experienced both.

Keep at em!

Rob Whitfield

Dear Jory

I agree whole heartedly with your comments as I just had a similiar experience with Dell while trying to buy one of their computers. The Sales guy was great but their customer service is another thing. If Mr Dell wonders why his sales are off he need look no further than his own company. I've owned 3 Dells but I will not buy another. Maybe some smart corporation is looking for a good place to make some bucks. All they have to do is buy Dell, fire their Indian customer support and hire a few regional firms to provide localized customer support. They could make a mint but they would first have to change the company name from Dell as the current ownership has ruined the reputation it once had.


Don' t you guys we do complain about anything, everything.
We Blame Saddam to destroy our two buildings..Funny.

Guys It's the food what we eat. Its the TV what we watch.

We DO need a Change in every corner of our Life.First Kick Bush OUT.......



It never ceases to amaze me why people buy computers if they have no intention of learning how they work.

I've bought several laptops from Dell and have never called them or purchased any of their surport plans. Everything you need to know is available on the web.

I can't imagine how many people call Dell about things like viruses ,spyware etc. No one wonder they have to outsource this. They'd go backrupt or they'd have to raise their prices and then those who know what they are doing would have to pay more.

Vincent Choong

I have always been quite comfortable with having a Dell. I recognise that no brand is perfect and Dell had been providing some decently priced items of decent quality to me (Malaysia). To an extent, I actually rather like Dell until recently when I had to deal with Dell China. I have still got this issue outstanding with them, no one is answering my e-mails. Maybe it's just Dell China, I really think Dell China suck big time.

Ken In No. Va.

Having read many negative comments online about the ordeal of placing an order with Dell for a PC, I was not shocked when I realized I am unable to even navigate and negotiate Dell's online ordering process! It seems each time I try to set up an order, at some point in the process I am whisked to a different Web page and have to retrace my previous steps.

Moreover, I am disgusted and frustrated with a company that purports to be reputable, yet is too cheap to include a free mouse, keyboard, or printer cable with an order for a new PC package! What's going on here?

At a distance, Dell's "order-by-mail" process always seemed to me a bit customer-risky. But now having personally experienced an inability to even PLACE an online order, I will continue to shop the Best Buys and Circuit Citys in my corner of the world. And I don't feel up to speaking to a disembodied voice in telephone "sales."

I think there's something to be said for doing this in person, on-site, confident that the computer and peripherals I place in my car will at least approximate what I want. And shipping costs, "free" or otherwise, are not an issue!

-- Ken in Northern Virginia


I feel and know Dell Hell pain....Dell has been messing with me for years!!!!!!!!! My story is here.........http://bewaredellcomputers.blogspot.com/

Caroline Andruchuk

Hi Jory,
My name is Caroline, and I used to work for Dell. The support in India is CRAP (take it from a previous insider, we hated calling them as much as you do), and there was so much red tape that even when I TRIED to do the right thing for my customers I was told it was wrong by my superiors. I feel that the poisoned work environment that they create has seeped down to every level, and as such nobody wants to do what they should ONLY BE CONCERNED WITH....helping the customers! I appologize that you had such a horrible experience with Dell and hope that you have changed to MAC. As for me, I'm fighting with the stupid company hoping to get some wages that I am entitled to and haven't been paid. Awesome blog, take care!


I just got off the phone with Dell "Customer Support" (a loose term)spending about 3 hours trying to get my 16 year old daughter’s 2005 Christmas present (an Inspiron 6000) fixed. I was busy moving, so she took it upon herself to call in and try to get our “under warranty” laptop repaired. She said the word “dropped” and we are totally hosed now. The laptop’s audio never worked right, the keys started to fall off randomly and then the LCD screen went (which I think is the vertical line problem Dell isn't acknowledging). She’s 16, she knocked it once harder than she thought she should and felt responsible and was honest with them. Now they say the motherboard needs to be repaired and we have to pay $798. I flipped at that and guess what … the price changed to $490 plus taxes. I gave them a choice since I knew we were doomed because she said “dropped” … I offered $200 to fix the LCD since I knew her words couldn’t be erased off their work order AND we would buy the 3 year, $209 accident insurance OR years of my badmouthing Dell and never being a customer again. They wouldn’t budge. So you know, I feel much more comfortable giving the probably $400 repair money to a local businessman and making sure I tell everyone that Dell products aren’t worth the hassle of the guaranteed repair needs.
They need to tell the customer service people not to say, “Thank you for chosing Dell” at the end of an angry, unsatisfying call! I said,”You are kidding right?”


I am sorry I did not browse the website before purchasing a Dell Laptop. It is only a week since I purchased it and suddenly a notice poped up stating that a drive by Sonic Solutions is not compatible with the soft ware and is being deactivated. I do not know what that drive is for. The message disappeared after some time. I called Dell and after about 20 minutes a lady picked it up and took all the information including order number. Then informed that I have to talk to someone else. I asked If I had to wait again and I was told it will not take much time. Again I heard the music. After 20 minutes I hung up. If this is the service I get after one week then what recourse I have in the remaining 4 year service warrentee I have contracted for. My son who bought a new Dell computer few weeks ago informed me that after trying to call Dell service people and gave up. he said that is why when he started my computer he talked to a friend of his rather than call Dell. Lucky for him he took only the normal warrentee and not the extended warrentee. I wonder whether I can return for a full refund within 30 days?

dell in india is really a hell...


I use to work for Dell, I know your pain, 8 out of 10 people that i talked with on a daily basis asked me if I am in India, Then I always tell them that I am from Pakistan. But in US and don't worry I will not leave u alone, they always guess from my accent that I am in India. I worked for Dell for three years and Got hundred of appreciation letters from my customers, which gave me an isight about good customer service. I think the main problem is off shore customer support. I hope that Michal Dell will take care of that one day and it will automatically take care of Dell's revenue.


My dealings with Dell left me feeling frustrated until I ventured to into the blog universe. I felt that, I too should share my experience too. My frustration level has only increased exponentially as I have continued to do business. Until recently, if there was a problem Dell made some effort to correct it, however as of late, I have had no success with this issue. This issue has pressed me to the point of filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s office of Consumer Protection.
When I began work on my master’s degree my brother purchased an Inspiron 6400 Laptop for me. It was reliable and allowed me to be mobile and served me well until I graduated in October of 2008. Because of its reliability Dell won me over as a potential lifelong client. This is the point at which the praise ends. Upon graduating I upgraded the hard drive size and memory and gave it to my girlfriend. I then purchased a XPS 1530 for myself and my nightmarish customer service experience began.
I started my XPS 1530; got two days of use out of it and the hard drive froze. I had purchased the most integrated customer support plan to protect this computer. Upon calling customer service they stated that and taking a far greater period of time to diagnose the issue, the technical support team decided to send me a hard drive and that I could replace it myself. This being a brand new laptop (2 days old) I stated that this was not acceptable; I wanted a laptop that worked correctly from the outset, not one that would require maintenance, from me within the first two days of purchase. I spent the two weeks and countless hours on the phone attempting to get this issue resolved. One of my friends suggested a desktop as it was a better work horse for me. I returned the laptop and then waited two months for dell to return the funds associated with this purchase.
Understanding that from time to time issues occur with laptops I overlooked this incident. After dell finally returned the funds associated with this purchase I purchased a Dell XPS 420 Desktop. Upon its arrival I was pleased with its stylish look and its high functionality…that is until two of the ram chips failed two weeks later. I was livid! Again I set out two get resolution. Given the excellent service plan that I had purchased I called the technical support team. After struggling through the diagnosis of the issue, and then poor logistics and a technician not showing up and me having to call repeatedly to insure the technician showed up to replace two ram cards resolution.
Finally, after these setbacks I had a desktop that has worked well ever since. For these purchases I received two gift cards in the amount of $120.00 dollars. This brings me to the present moment in time. I placed an order for a 42" television 5 days earlier. The order being completed was prerequisite on the funds being returned to gift cards I had used for a previous order. The order was placed on an earlier date so that I could take advantage of a promotion Dell was conducting. Upon calling Dell to find out if this issue was being addressed, I discovered that the information that a person had previously given me was incorrect and Dell had canceled the order preventing me from taking advantage of the sale. I inquired as to what other promotions were being offered by Dell.
Customer service representative David (badge #516740 and who’s name later turned out not to be David) told me that Dell was offering a 42” Sharp Aquos television with a Sharp Aquos Blu Ray player with the starting price $1,199.00 but sale priced at $1,099.00. David offered free next Business Day shipping for my inconvenience. This order was placed on the telephone and David forwarded the receipt to my email address. The next day upon reviewing the confirmation receipt I noted that the Blu Ray player was not listed on the receipt. I called Dell and spoke with Andrew #136462 who stated that he saw the issue but could do nothing to rectify it. Dell disclosed that the Blu Ray had not been included in the order and that it was already too late to cancel the order.
I returned to the website to verify the part number where I discovered that the Sharp Aquos 42” was offered with a Blu Ray player under part #A2288408 and without a Blu Ray player under part #A175500, both of these packages were offered for the starting price of $1,199.00 and sale priced at $1,099.00. Noting my receipt I observed part #A175500 instead of part #A2288408. Given all of my prior experience with Dell I realize that by the time I return the item, it arrives in their warehouse, they check the item, the item is returned to the vendor and the vendor re-credits my account a total of 30 days or more will have past. This will preclude me from being able to take advantage of this sales promotion. At this time I felt a simple solution was in order. Since they had neglected to include the Blu Ray player, it was for the same price, and they had sold me the television under the pretence that I would be receiving the Blu Ray player, I felt all they needed to do was forward the Blu Ray player at a later time.
Dell did not provide this as an option for rectifying this problem. Instead I received an email from Liyah Smith from Dell Sales Support sincerely apologizing for the inconvenience and refereeing me to the return policy. Upon reviewing the return policy there was no clause covering mistake made on their part. I also discovered that while my receipt said that the television would be delivered Next Business Day which would have been 12/17/08 the method which the television was actually shipped (Upon tracking the package)(CEVA tracking number 1307539285) was discovered to be 5 Day Economy, which does not correspond to either what the sales representative said or what the receipt said. After Speaking with Monica #157424, she explained to me that it was common practice for dell to say one thing and do another and that there was nothing else that could be done on my behalf. I have spent innumerable hours on the telephone attempting to be both reasonable as well as having lost my temper in order to get this resolved with Dell in a way that does not further inconvenience me more than I have already been. To date I have yet to receive the television or the reimbursement for the gift cards.

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