Tuesday, May 31, 2005

One desktop PC, ten strikes, Dell is out

Excuse me while I vent about my experience with Dell.

Dell sold me a defective computer, made it difficult to get it fixed (and eventually replaced), made it difficult to return the computer and as of today added insult to injury by suspending my warranty despite that I have tried to do everything Dell has asked of me.

For those interested in the gory details, read on.

Back in February I bought a brand new Dell desktop computer. Paid up for the most elite warranty service Dell had available -- the service where you don't have to wait on hold very long, and the repair guy comes out to your house if you can't work out the problem over the phone.

Within days of normal use, the computer stopped working. Strike one.

When I discovered the computer would not boot, I called tech support, all excited about plugging my service code into the automated system, for this would jump me to the front of the telephone queue. Only problem-- the system did not recognize my code, so I had to wait on hold for the better part of an hour. Strike two. Eventually got through to a tech who talked me through fixing my computer. Okay.

Next day, computer wouldn't boot again. Strike three. Called Dell again. Again waited on hold the better part of an hour since again the system did not recognize my code. Strike four. Tech was unable to fix the problem over the phone; said he'd schedule a visit to my home. Couple of days later, a tech came to my home. He needed parts. Send away to Dell for parts. Came back to my home. Still couldn't fix it. Sent away to Dell for more parts. Came back to my home. Still couldn't fix it. Eventually requested replacement computer. Meanwhile, each time I called Dell, I had to wait on hold forever because a system glitch meant that the system still didn't recognize my code. Strikes five through seven.

A week later the replacement computer showed up. No return mailing tags were with it, nor any indication of how to return it.

Eventually I received a letter from Dell saying I should return the computer with the mailing labels which were enclosed with the replacement. Since there were no mailing tags, I called the number on the letter. Left a message with all the details of the order and requested mailing label or other instructions. Heard nothing back from Dell for weeks. Strike eight.

Finally, last week, a Dell rep e-mailed me and wrote that she could arrange a pick-up even without the labels. So I arranged a pick-up with her for the afternoon of June 1.

Then today I received a letter from Dell suspending my warranty. Strike nine. Here's an excerpt:
We have sent you two reminders and attempted to contact you by way of telephone [Strike ten; see below.] concerning product not being returned to Dell Inc. Your account is now past due and per Dell's exchange policy your service tag(s) have been placed on hold. This hold will interrupt service and support on your current equipment and the warranty will not be transferred to the replacement product until the original product has been returned and received by Dell.
A few reactions:
  • Contrary to the above note, nobody from Dell ever had a phone conversation with me (or left a telephone message) where return of my defective Dell was mentioned.
  • I have, to my knowledge, done everything Dell asked. When Dell sent a letter asking for the machine to be returned, I called and told them I needed labels; and I did not hear back. Dell has suspended my warranty anyway.
  • Within several hours of Dell telling me (last week via e-mail) how to ship the computer back, I made arrangements to do so. The Dell rep even wrote "Thank you for the prompt reply."
In a very competitive computer market, I'll chalk these ten strikes up as motivation to consider Gateway or IBM next time round, whether for my home or company.