Fun with Dell, part 3

Posted by NZgeek | Filed under

After almost a year of use, my wife's laptop decided to die on her. The power button just wouldn't respond.

Dell sent out a tech to replace the motherboard, but the laptop died again shortly after the tech left. The computer was taken to the local repair centre, where it was finally pronounced completely and utterly dead. A replacement system was to be ordered.

It took a few days, but finally someone from Dell finally emailed me about the replacement. The new system was quite a bit better than the original (Core i3 instead of Core 2 Duo, twice as much RAM), and I happily accepted the order. That was at the very end of March.

The ETA for the new system was the 12th of April. The online tracking system showed that progress was good. The laptop was in New Zealand on the morning of the 6th, and I was checking every day to see when it was handed over to the local courier.

The 12th came, and... no change. The system was still stuck at the local Dell office. I called up customer support, and was told that it looked like the laptop had cleared customs on the 9th (a Friday). Figuring that it may take a day or so for things to happen, I decided to just wait.

There was no change by the next morning, so I hit the online contact form and sent out an order status request. There was no response by the afternoon so I called up customer support again. This time I was told that the sytem was still in manufacturing, and that I could expect it on the 30th. This didn't make sense, as the online system was showing that the laptop was in NZ. How could it be in the country, and still be in manufacturing at the same time?!?!?

I didn't sleep much that night, 4 hours if I was lucky. The wife was starting to get anxious, as she hadn't had decent computer access for 3 weeks. I was mad, and my mind wouldn't stop spinning.

An email response arrived overnight, saying the same thing. The laptop wouldn't arrive until around the 30th. Confused, I replied to the email and asked why the customer care system showed one thing and the online system another.

The 15th rolls around and I decide to check the online status system, just in case things had changed. They had. The laptop was given to a courier the previous day, and arrived in the afternoon.

Now, at this point, you might think that I should be happy that the system arrived only 3 days late. But I'm not happy. How could the laptop be in NZ for more than a week before they finally decide to send it out? Why was I told that the system wouldn't arrive until the end of the month? I was angry, and I wanted Dell to make things better.

So today, I called up Dell's customer service and explained my problems. I told the lady on the end of the phone that I expected Dell to make things better for me. She asked "Are you requesting compensation from Dell?", and I said "I would like a warranty extension for my trou..." *click*

She had hung up on me. No "sorry, we can't do that" or anything. She just ended the call.

So I was back on the online contact system, to send a nicely-worded letter to Dell. Here it is for your reading pleasure:

The order number is for a replacement system under warranty. The original ETA of this system was the 12th of April.

I have had nothing but problems with the handling of this order. It generated enough stress for me that I was losing several hours of sleep per night. There were a number of issues:

  • According to the online tracking system, the computer arrived in New Zealand on the morning of the 6th of April. There were no visible changes to the computer status on afternoon of the 12th. This is approximately 5 business days without action.
  • I logged an online (email) order status request on the 12th. I received a response late on the 13th informing me that the system ETA was the 30th of April, 18 days after the original ETA.
  • I called customer care on the afternoon of the 13th, before the email response had arrived. I was told that the system was still in manufacturing, and was given the same ETA as the email.
  • I checked the online status system around noon on the 15th, and it finally showed that the system had been given to a courier on the previous day. That is around 6.5 to 7 business days after the computer arrived in New Zealand.
  • I have just called customer care to complain about all of these problems, and to see if Dell could compensate me in any way (e.g. a free warranty extension). When I asked about compensation, the customer care representative simply hang up on me.

This has left me completely unsatisfied with Dell's order processes. I have several burning questions that I want answers for:

  • Why did it take so long for the local Dell subsidiary to forward on the order? Is a delay in excess of 6 business days acceptable?
  • Why was I told by customer care that the system was still in manufacturing when the online status system showed that the computer was in New Zealand?
  • Does Dell consider it acceptable for a customer care representative to simply hang up on a customer, when that customer is not being abusive to the rep?

Considering that I have been given the complete run-around with this order, I would like to politely request some compensation from Dell in the form of a warranty extension. I do not consider this too much to ask, given that I have had to make several calls to customer care to try and figure out what was going on, and that I was unable to sleep because of stress brought about by this order process.

I can understand if Dell is unable to recompense me in this manner due to internal policy. If this is the case, I at least want an official acknowledgement that my experience here was unacceptable.

I do hope that this matter will be dealt with in an acceptable fashion. I have plans to buy from Dell again (notably an Alienware M17x later in the year), but this may change if my complaints are not taken with the gravity they deserve.


It'll be interesting to see what they come back with. Let's hope it's better service than I've had for the rest of the month.


Update: 20 April

I got an email reply back from Dell on the 17th, and now have even less faith that they can get anything sorted out.

Thank you for contacting Dell Customer Service.

I have checked on the progress of your Dell order# [3635XXXXX] - and it's in production.

The estimated delivery date of your order is on (or before) [ 2010/04/30].

Thank you.

Dell Customer Service

I was using the wife's new laptop at the time, so I replied with this:

I find it hard to believe that the laptop is still in production when I'm using it to write this email!

The laptop arrived on the 15th, about an hour after I checked the online status system. I thought I had mentioned this in the email, but must had deleted it by mistake.

I have 3 questions in my original email that I want answered. One of them is why customer service's computer system is showing the laptop as in production when it isn't. As you have just proven, something is very wrong with your system, and I demand that someone figures out why! This is not just for my sake, but for customers in general.

Please answer my 3 questions.

The response came back today.

Thank you for contacting Dell Customer Service.

We apologise for the delay to your order.

Your current estimated date of delivery is on (or before) 04/30/2010.

Due to the popularity of the product our demand has exceeded supply. Dell will always try and improve the delivery date on your order.

Thank you.

Dell Customer Service

I don't know who answered the email, but whoever it is didn't even bother to read what I had written! My order wasn't delayed - it had already been delivered.

My next step is to try other methods of getting hold of Dell. Hopefully I'll finally reach someone who will actually read the words I have written!

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