December 28, 2006
One Dell Way
Round Rock, TX 78682
To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in the level of service I have lately received from your company, specifically with regard to technical support, under-warranty hardware repair, and general customer service. My disappointment stems not only from the performance of certain support personnel, but also the lack of concern and respect for the customer displayed by the company as a whole via its policies and procedures. I will begin by relating the specific events that occurred in the course of my hardware problem with as much detail as I can manage, though my narrative will be necessarily incomplete due to the negligence of your personnel on more than one occasion to send obligatory follow-up e-mails, thereby depriving me of documentation of times, dates, and names of those with whom it was my misfortune to interact, details which I was assured at the time would be provided therein, and which I consequently did not feel it necessary to make note of.
The original problem occurred some time in late October or early November. The LCD display on my computer, though having suffered no external damage at all, developed three vertical colored lines on the display. Through a long and arduous technical support phone session, which entailed much unnecessary rebooting of my computer, an apparent language barrier, and remote control of my system by one of the techs, it was determined that the damage was internal and was covered under my warranty. I was told I had only to send in my system and the LCD panel would be replaced free of charge. Since I am a graduate student, and it was the middle of the semester, I declined at that time to send the system in for repair, electing instead to endure the minor annoyance of the LCD defect for the time being and to send in my system over the winter break when its absence would be less inconvenient. I was told by the tech I spoke to that I had only to reply to her follow-up e-mail when I was ready to be sent shipping materials and that they would be provided. The promised e-mail never arrived in my inbox, despite confirmation of my e-mail address.
A month later, my computer suffered some accidental damage which destroyed the LCD panel beyond usability. Considering that I had a previously documented defect to the monitor and a promise of free replacement, I was confident that arranging for replacement of the LCD would be no problem at all. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The phone call that followed was the most frustrating exchange I have ever experienced. The first tech, Stephanie, and her supervisor, who identified himself as George, assailed me with endless repetitions that “accidental damage is not covered by my warranty” and offered to sell me an accidental damage policy, which I declined. They absolutely refused to consider the fact of my previously documented damage, and insisted that if I sent it in, the repair technicians would immediately see that the damage was accidental and would refuse to repair it. I was told that they could do nothing to communicate the already pending issue to the repair depot so that they would consent to the repair. Through much insistence, I was granted yet another escalation to higher management and was scheduled for a call-back two hours later.
When I was finally called back, twenty minutes after the scheduled time, I was given the number for DHL and instructed to contact them for shipping materials. I was given no guarantee that my system would undergo any repair at all. Instead I was informed that the repair depot would be informed of the repair already pending on my system one month previous, but that it would ultimately be up to the repair personnel whether to repair the system at no cost or to charge me for the repairs. I was told that it would take five to eight business days from the date of receipt at the depot for me to receive my system back. Not terribly reassured by this exchange, I removed my charger, battery, and hard drive and shipped in my system a few days later. After that phone call, I received no communication to apprise me of the status of my repair whatsoever.
When over two weeks had passed and I had not received my system back or received any word at all with regard to the status of my repair, I was understandably concerned and immediately tried to contact support personnel on December 16. Not sure who to call for such a concern, I first attempted to chat online with general customer service to find out who I should call. I soon found that your chat system is not friendly at all to dial-up internet users. Nevertheless, the tech I finally spoke to was very helpful, and was able to provide me with my express service code and service tag necessary to speak with hardware support personnel. However, when I called tech support, the tech I spoke to could find no record whatsoever of my repair and was unable to help me at all. Instead he told me to call DHL on Monday (this was a Saturday) and ask them where my system was. Again, I received no follow-up e-mail.
After two days of worrying and waiting, finally contacted DHL and discovered that my system had arrived at the Repair depot on the morning of December 1. Understandably, I was upset and confused. My system had been in the hands of your company for over two weeks, apparently unbeknownst to anybody. For all I knew, it could have been stolen or misplaced. I made yet another urgent call to technical support, luckily answered by a very helpful English-speaking technician who was willing to go off-script in his efforts to resolve my issue. After I explained the situation and my worries that my system could not be located, he contacted his supervisor while I was on hold and offered to send an e-mail to the repair depot on my behalf. Though it would take 2 days to receive a call back, this was more than the previous technician was able to do for me, and I was grateful, though I couldn’t help but think that if the previous tech had done so when I called on Saturday, I might have received more prompt answers to my concerns. For yet a third time, I received no follow-up e-mail, nor was I called back two days later as had been promised.
However, the next day, I received an automated e-mail communication, informing me that my system had been received at the depot and that I would be notified of each change in its repair status. This was nearly three weeks after the date of its receipt at the repair depot as documented by DHL. Additionally, my contact information, despite having verified it during each of my conversations with support personnel, was incorrect in the e-mail. Quite frankly, I was livid. I was not at all confident that my system would be shipped back to the correct address: if they had a two year old phone number in that e-mail, how did I know they weren’t operating off of my two year-old address as well? I strongly suspect even now that my system was misplaced and was only discovered and placed in the repair queue because I took the time to inquire as to its whereabouts. I hate to think how long it would have taken to be found if I had not. No doubt I would still be without my computer today. At this point, I was frantic. I had been without my computer for approximately three weeks and the holidays were rapidly approaching. I was due to go out of town in a few days and was concerned that my system would be undeliverable while I was away and would be eventually sent back to the depot, further delaying the return of my laptop. I was not at all confident at this point that I would be kept informed of my laptop’s status and return. I made yet another call, which confirmed the receipt date as December 1 and informed me, much to my chagrin, that my computer had still not been so much as touched by a technician, though according to the time frame I was quoted I should have had it back a week ago. I was told that “things take longer around the holidays.”
At this point, I would like to make a slight digression to ponder this assertion. I will grant that shipping does get backlogged around the holidays, but I fail to see any reason why computer repair should be delayed. I see no reason why the holidays should affect computer defects and a need for warranty-covered repairs. This I took to be a very unconvincing and badly thought-out excuse. Desperate and understandably annoyed by this point, I asked either that my system either be shipped to my parent’s address in Iowa, which I provided, or for return shipment to be delayed until after the holidays. I provided my cell phone number and was promised a call back, which, as I should have expected by this point, I never received. Uneasily, I left town for the holidays on December 20.
A few days later, still having received no word at all, I decided to chat with tech support yet again and inquire as to my machine’s whereabouts. Imagine my surprise when I was informed that delivery had been attempted at my Minneapolis apartment the previous day! Needless to say, I was not pleased. Having been given the tracking number by the technician online, I was able to contact DHL in my area the next day and ask that delivery be delayed until I was back in town, a request which they very kindly obliged. My laptop was finally delivered to my apartment today, a month after I sent it out, and luckily I can find no complaint with the repair. My new LCD works perfectly. This doesn’t mean that I am at all pleased with the level of service I have received from this company.
I’ll be blunt: Your company continues to make money because your machines are among the most affordable on the market. It certainly is not due to the quality of hour hardware, nor because of your supposedly “award-winning” technical support, which as far as I can tell, is of the poorest quality imaginable. I remember a time when this company took pride in, and actively advertised, the fact that its support call centers were all in the United States. Now the vast majority of your calls go to centers in India, in which the technicians are plainly working from a set of scripted trouble-shooting instructions and responses to frequently asked questions, making for extremely impersonal and inadequate service. By contrast, the few times I have been lucky enough to receive service from an American tech, they were extremely friendly, personable, and able to think on their feet. They are willing to believe me when I tell them I have performed the required troubleshooting already and have identified the problem myself.
The quality of your hardware is not much better. My first Dell system lasted me only three years before it eventually ceased to run in any useful capacity, and my latest system has had three parts replaced under warranty in the year I have owned it: my AC adaptor, keyboard, and now my LCD. I only hope that nothing more goes wrong with my machine because I absolutely refuse to spend another penny on extending the warranty on this computer. I will willingly pay any other company whatever it takes to repair my laptop if needed rather than give your company another cent of my hard-earned money, nor will I ever, ever, purchase another Dell system. The monetary savings simply do not compensate for the extraordinary costs in time and aggravation which I have suffered in the past month. No doubt the loss of my own modest purchases in the future does not concern so large a company. I can only hope that if enough of us make our displeasure known to you (I assure you there are many), you might eventually find it prudent to make some necessary changes to the quality of your products and services.