Dell Tech Support Hell

After reading "A laptop hot enough to scald," writes Pete, "I thought you might be entertained at my expense by my experience with Dell."

Pete bought an Inspiron laptop for his daughter to take to college. "I bought it in March," he says, "[thinking] that would give me plenty of time to install her applications, get her familiar with it, and have her and the computer ready for school in September."

The plan went well right up to the day his daughter moved into her dorm room. "I installed the drivers for the printer we picked up for her a couple of miles from the university," explains Pete. "I confirmed the system restart, so the driver settings could take effect. But the laptop would not power back on afterward. It was completely dead. Now I was in tizzy."

[ Also on InfoWorld: "A laptop hot enough to scald" | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]

Pete had purchased a three-year, extended replacement warranty from Dell, so on Thursday morning he called technical support. "Between Thursday and Saturday," he says, "I must have spent over 20 hours on hold. While being transferred from technical support to customer service and back again, I began to think the call center was being paid by the number of call transfers. Not until late Saturday afternoon was I connected to anyone who could provide technical support. He diagnosed my problem as a burned out motherboard."

The technician shipped a replacement motherboard to an authorized repair agent in the city where Pete's daughter was attending college and made an appointment for Monday morning to meet Pete and make the fix. "This was getting close to the beginning of my daughter's classes and my plans to depart to make the 800 mile drive home on Tuesday," says Pete.

Pete waited at the appointed location with his cell phone in his pocket. "No one showed," he says. "And no one called." After two hours, he called and fell right back into the technical support vs. customer service loop he'd endured on Saturday. He spent several frustrating hours on the phone looking for someone who could help.

"Finally, with no logical end in sight," he says. "I gave up. I went to a local retailer and purchased another laptop for my daughter to use at school and began the long drive back home with the broken Dell in my car."

Two days after he got home, the repair technician called Pete. Now he was ready to repair the laptop. "He didn't find it particularly funny that I was several states away," says Pete. "And he had no intention of shipping the motherboard to me or a repair technician near my home. He said he would return the motherboard to Dell and that I should start over again in that endless customer service vs. technical support loop again. No thanks! It will be a cold day in you know where before I subject myself to that experience again."

Got gripes? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

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