Dell is the Enemy: A Lesson in Poor Customer Service Courtesy of Dell Computers

If you’ve read a blog post or two here on the “You Can’t Put Your Logo There, or Can You? blog you’ll notice that good (or bad) customer service is often a topic of discussion here, and today’s post is no different. My blog today is totally unrelated to promotional products, their many benefits, or events taking place in the promotional products industry this week – instead I’d like to call out Dell Computers for how poorly they treat their “home customers”.

The designation “home customer” is VERY important here as Dell cleverly SEGREGATES their customers into four groupings (in order of priority/importance to the company):

a.) Large Enterprise
b.) Public Sector
c.) Small & Medium Business
d.) Home

I’ve had the, luxury?, of interacting with Dell support and customer service on ALL levels listed above except for maybe the Public Sector, but I’m guessing they receive better service than what home users do because they probably purchase a few more workstations and laptops than the typical Joe the Plumber.

My problems with Dell go back many years, but this most recent situation has got me talking.

I purchased a Dell Studio 17 Laptop in July of 2009. It was fully loaded; Blue-Ray player, wireless remote, 2 hard drives, 4 GB ram; it wasn’t cheap. To my hearts desire, my shiny new orange (I love Orange!) laptop shipped in about a weeks time from when I ordered it. I really didn’t get a chance to break in my laptop in until about 6 months after I originally purchased it. I was forced to become a “mobile warrior” when my wife and I sold our house last spring. We rented a small town house while we waited for our new house to be built. Most of our furniture and stuff was in storage so the kitchen table served as my new home office. Try using an optical mouse on a glass table – it’s not easy! 🙂

I first noticed that the speakers on my laptop weren’t worth a darn. They sounded like Rice Krispies with a fresh glass of milk – whether I was using iTunes, Windows Media Player, or the DVD player included with the laptop from Dell; Quality Logo Products AM/FM radios for $.99 sound better! After a quick Google Search I learned that I was not alone – The Dell Studio 17 laptop was (and is still?) just poorly built. 5 points Dell.

I used my laptop primarily for business, so poor sound quality wasn’t really a major concern to me. I just plugged my iPhone into my laptop and used my iPhone’s speakers when listening to music – problem solved.

A few weeks go by and I started to notice that my touch pad was becoming sporadic and unresponsive. Sometimes it would work. Sometimes it wouldn’t. The section of the touch pad dedicated to scrolling long web pages NEVER worked, but now if I attempted to perform the same task/motion twice- the same motion netted different results. There is nothing more frustrating that having something, such as your mouse, only work 50% of the time. Imagine trying to control your computer using a mouse that turns off/stops working at random with no warning. You get frustrated mighty fast. Ask anyone who knows me personally, they’ll tell you I’ve got a mouth on me, but this laptop and it’s spotty touch page has to be the single largest recipient of my many languishing insults and slurs; My wife had to stop me from throwing my laptop into the lake behind the rental house so many times I lost count.

Unlike the pathetic speakers Dell includes with every Dell Studio 17 laptop; the touch pad is something I could NOT live without. A quick (ha!) phone call to Dell support had me running about an hour and half worth of diagnostics on my laptop (on boot, I think it’s located somewhere in the BIOS screen). I was told while there was no problem with my laptop – I could send it back for repair and they would replace my touch pad. Not bad I thought. I asked them how long this would take – 6 to 8 weeks I was told. Not only that, she said that there was a very good chance that Dell would have to reformat my hard drive, causing me to lose all of my data – all over a freaking touch pad. She recommended that I remove the hard drives if I was concerned about data loss.

Instead of waiting 6 to 8 weeks and busting out my Macgyver tool set so I could pop out my hard drives – I purchased a half decent EXTERNAL “mobile” mouse for laptop. It was Blue-Tooth.

Adding insult to injury; the Blue Tooth chip in my laptop didn’t work; so two 1.5 hour phone calls to Dell’s wonderful home service department in a far, Far, FAR away land later; I was told the same thing – I’d need to send in my laptop, be without it for approx. 6 to 8 weeks, and remove my hard drives if I was concerned about potential data loss.

6 to 8 weeks without my primary computer simply wasn’t an option at the time so I returned my recently purchased Blue Tooth wireless mouse back to Best Buy (who by the way gave me NO problems about my return even though the product itself wasn’t defective – thanks Best Buy!) and I purchased a wired mouse. Lovely; here I am with a $3,000.00 laptop, no working speakers, no working blue tooth, a jacked touched pad, and beautifully CORDED mouse. 10 points Dell!

A few months go by; all is well – I’m making do with my makeshift home workstation, but one day I return home from work to fire up my Dell Studio 17 Laptop to check my email remotely. My laptop at first powers on, the keyboard lights up, and I hear a little [FIZZ] noise, after which my laptop failed to power on ever again. It wasn’t plugged into it’s wall charger so I know it wasn’t an electrical surge or anything that caused it to die; one broken speaker, blue tooth, and touch pad later my Dell Studio laptop finally gave up and decided to die.

I go to call Dell Support the next day during my lunch break at work, and little did I know, the laptop that I previously was able to squeeze SOME utility out of despite it’s dicrepid state, was one day out it’s standard/included one year warranty and I was shit out of luck if I wanted to get this thing repaired…


Bret Bonnet

Co-owner of Quality Logo Products - Bret is a high energy, gadget loving nerd who is PASSIONATE about Quality Logo Products. Recently selected as a member of the "Top 30 Under 30" by Counselor Magazine, he has been working in the promotional products industry since he was 16. Bret is constantly playing with his iPhone and his favorite TV show of all time is Fraggle Rock. You can connect with Bret on Google+.


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  3. Christina

    interesting article. I would love to follow you on twitter.

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