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A post from a guest author :) This is a response to a response from my last post about Dell's customer service.
Enjoy. -Joe

Let me start by revealing that I am this blog author's boss; and when he refers to the company's run-ins with Dell, he is speaking of MY run-ins with Dell at our firm.

Having said that, let me address Larry, the "Dell Customer Advocate" and inform him (and the audience at large) that our issues at Dell have most definitely NOT been resolved.  Nor, quite frankly, do I think they will be any time soon.

On the 12th of February, we thought – after (no exaggeration) six hours on the phone with Dell across three days – our issue was resolved.   Someone on the “Gift Card Services” team at Dell stayed with me on the phone while I placed my order and made sure it went through OK.  I had successfully USED the $150 gift card Dell sent me in “customer appreciation”, and that – I thought – was that.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Order not received.  I check with Dell online and discover my order was cancelled before it was shipped – cancelled on the 18th of February.  With no notification to me, and no explanation available online, only a note to call 1(800) 915-3355, select option 1, then extension 7243784. 

That’s a fun one.  When you dial that number you are instructed – if you have a seven-digit extension – to dial it.  I did.  My call was transferred; and then I got another message telling me to type “1” if I have a seven-digit extension.  I did.  Then I was prompted to type my extension.  I did.  Guess what happened next?  If you guessed that I was transferred back to the first message, you were right!  Try it yourself!  It’s an infinite loop.  I typed “1” then my extension four or five times before I finally typed ZERO repeatedly and got to the Dell switchboard.

I calmly and politely explained my situation to the switchboard operator (who – of course VERIFIED my identity by requesting my name, address, and telephone number after I gave her my order number).  She then  transferred me to “Savitha” in customer care.  But guess what?  Savitha could take the time to VERIFY my order number and demanded my name, address, and phone number, but couldn’t help me beyond that because Dell’s systems were at that time down for maintenance.  “All of Dell’s systems are down right now?” I inquired.  “Yes.”  She informed me.  There was no one at Dell who could help me for about an hour.  Total time on the phone so far:  18 minutes.

I didn’t believe Savitha, so I immediately called again.  Obviously some systems are up somewhere – she could VERIFY me; I could see my order details online.  Dell wasn’t down.  Maybe she was (though maybe not, frankly); but clearly DELL wasn’t down. 

So this time, I didn’t even try to type my seven-digit extension, I just pressed zero repeatedly until I got a message that my call was being transferred to Dell Customer Care.  I waited on hold for 22 minutes before hanging up.  On the bright side, at least no one requested my order number, name address, and telephone number, only to provide NO HELP.  That was refreshing.  Total time on the phone so far:  40 minutes.

I immediately called again.  This time, the zero trick worked, and I got to the switchboard.  I calmly explained my situation again [IDENTITY VERIFIED!], and was this time transferred (after a brief pause) to “Dell Parts and Service”. 

In Dell Parts and Service, I spoke at some length to Victor [IDENTITY VERIFIED!].  Victor was kind enough to take all of my information from me (including my e-mail address, which – surely, after my verification – he must’ve already had … and then offered to place a new order, billed to my Dell online account.  I indicated that no, in fact, I wanted this order to be paid for with my gift card.  He told me then that he could not help me, and I would need to speak with someone in Dell Customer Care.

Here’s my favorite part.  Before he connected me to Dell Customer Care, he asked me to take down the NUMBER for Dell Customer Care.  He was planning ahead for my being disconnected!  Now THAT’S customer service!  In case you ever need it (and I pray to sweet baby Jesus that you don’t), the Dell Customer Care direct number is 1-800-624-9897.

I was NOT disconnected.  I was successfully connected to Dell Customer Care.  I even heard their recorded message while I waited.  For about eight minutes.  THEN I was disconnected.  Total time on the phone so far:  59 minutes.

I called Customer Care directly, and after a brief pause (less than five minutes) I was connected to Lizy.  Lizy wouldn’t give me her name until after I had my IDENTITY VERIFIED, and she then proceeded to explain to me that she could not help me, since my order was paid for with a gift card.  She instructed me that she’d need to transfer me to gift card services.

I politely explained to Lizy that I had been on the phone with Dell for over an hour now, and she was the fifth person at Dell I’d spoken with in that time.  I asked her if she was SURE they’d be able to help me when I was transferred, and she – to her credit – paused, asked if she could put me on hold, and then talked to a supervisor.  After another three minutes, she came back on the line, told me that my credit card had been declined, and unless I had another form of payment she’d need to transfer me. 

I pointed out that – in fact – I used a gift card for the purchase (didn’t we cover this already?), which prompted her to tell me that I should press “2” when she transferred me.  I learned my lesson from Victor, and asked her if she could give me the number she was transferring me to, so I could call back in case I was disconnected.  She provided it to me.  For reference, the Dell Gift Card Services department’s phone number is 1-877-819-3355, option 2.

After a brief pause, I spoke to Jeff [IDENTITY VERIFIED!].  Once Jeff was sure I was really ME, he did his best to help me.  I asked him why my order was cancelled.  He didn’t know.  I asked him if there was a problem with my gift card.  He didn’t know.  I asked him if he could tell me anything about what happened.  He said no.  I asked him what I was supposed to do.  He informed me that he could place my order again.  I said OK.

Jeff spent some time working on this, then asked me if I was going to use the same gift card again.  I said yes.  He said OK, and again spent some time working.  After a brief pause, Jeff came back on the line and told me everything was all set.  “All set?” I asked?  “Yes,” he said.  “What does that mean?” I asked.

He told me he’d placed my order, and it would ship in three to five days.  I said, “I’m sorry if I don’t believe you, but can you give me any details?  An order number?  Any reason to believe you?”  He did.  He provided me with an order number, and provided me with his direct extension.  Total time on the phone with Dell today:  1 hour, 16 minutes.  Not bad … for Dell.

Sure enough, I looked online, and I have a NEW order placed today, schedule to ship in three to five days.  Think it’ll work?  I don’t.  But I have been wrong about so many aspects of my calls with Dell over the last few weeks that I am happy to be wrong about this, too.

I am hopeful that I’ll get my order soon.

In the mean time, though, I have to address Larry directly.  It takes some nerve to post a response like this defending what is so clearly inexcusable.  It takes even more nerve to claim that this has been passed on to “the appropriate group” so that “we can prevent it from happening again”.

Larry’s post is nothing more than an ignorant attempt to “save face” in a situation he knows nothing about.  The fill-in-the-blanks e-mail was the FUNNIEST part of the six hour exchange with Dell, but not the most egregious – or the most serious.  In the header of the message, we talk about “six hours” and “major battles” with Dell, but this is “business as usual” at Dell, so Larry doesn’t even acknowledge it.  He latched instead onto what is clearly a system glitch. 

Duh, Larry.  Of course the e-mail wasn’t supposed to go out that way.  And of course it was a weird glitch thing.  But your apology for it and your promise to fix it are symptomatic of what’s REALLY wrong at Dell.  You can’t fix this.  Or ANY problem at Dell. 

Your organization is neither interested in providing customer service nor interested in helping its customers.  And that’s obvious.  You need only call Dell to realize that.  I don’t know if you figure your customers have no choice once they’ve made the purchase or you’re just too big to be able to manage your customer base, but there is NO DOUBT that Dell has serious, systemic customer services issues, and is either unwilling to fix this or unconcerned with these issues.

And I am SO SICK of you and EVERYONE at Dell telling me how sorry they are for my challenges when this is so obviously business at usual at Dell.  I didn’t have a single experience with Dell in my 7.5 hours on the phone where I didn’t experience horrible service (and half-hearted apologies). 


I tell you the same thing I tell my children.  Being sorry is easy.  The hard part is living your life so you don’t have so many things to be sorry for.   Dell’s shown no evidence that they have any interest in the hard part … which makes the “being sorry” part seem cheap, at least; or at worst, downright insulting.

I don’t want your apologies!
And if your organization cared about its customers, you wouldn’t need to apologize.

Posted on Sunday, February 24, 2008 3:48 AM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Response to Dell Customer Advocate..

# re: Response to Dell Customer Advocate..
Requesting Gravatar...
You are correct that I was ignorant of the details of what you went through. Since the original post only stated that you had had problems, but "finally have the 150 dollars Dell gave us for being a 'Dell Valued Customer' and a box for a broken laptop" I had no way to know what problems you were having. In the first paragraph of my previous post I offered to help if the problems had not been resolved. I offered an explanation for the email glitch simply because it was the one part where specific information had been provided.

I am in a position where I can fix things. The primary purpose of my team is to find problems people are posting about on the internet, contacting the person having the problem, and doing what is necessary to ensure things are properly taken care of. However, I have to know what the problem is before I can do anything.

You claim that Dell has no interest in the “hard part” of acting in such a way that we don’t have to be sorry. My initial post was an attempt to find out specifically what happened so that we can learn from it, make changes and prevent something similar from happening in the future. I would say that the hard part is not living so that you don’t have to be sorry, but learning how to live that way. That, unfortunately, is something that is often accomplished by making mistakes and learning from them. You are correct that just saying you’re sorry is not enough – but it should be the first step, I think you would agree, when dealing with a situation where your actions have harmed another.

My offer to look into this further and help make things right still stands. If you would like me to do so, please email me at (with "ATTN: Larry (gift card)" in the subject). If you can provide me with either a case number or one of the order numbers it will help me ensure I am looking at the correct information.

Dell Customer Advocate
Left by Larry@Dell on Feb 25, 2008 7:39 AM

# re: Response to Dell Customer Advocate..
Requesting Gravatar...
Thanks, Larry, for your well thought-out post. Hopefully I have provided you sufficient information to help prevent similar problems in the future, but if not, please let me know what else I can do.

I don't need your help getting a box for our warranty repair, nor do I need your help getting my gift card to work; I need your help finding a way to get customer service from Dell in something less than five transfers and two hours.

If your goal is as you say it is, I'd offer up to you the following specific items:

1. Every time I have called Dell in the last month, I have been transferred at least twice. Why is this? Surely there is a way to better route your customer's calls.

2. Every time I have called Dell in the last month, I have been disconnected at least once. It you transferred me less, this would happen less, but surely this, too, can be prevented.

3. Every time I talk to ANYONE at Dell, they ask for my customer number (or other identifying number) and ask additionally for a minimum of one and a maximum of three pieces of other identifying data. If you solved 1 and 2 above this would be less a problem, but is repeated verification before you even know what the nature of the problem is and/or whether or not you can help only furthers your customer's frustration.

I'm not expert, but I'd be willing to bet that just taking care of the three issues above would have trimmed an average 2-hour call into a more manageable 15-minute exchange, and take a highly frustrated customer and turn him or her into a -- dare I say? -- happy one.
Left by Andrew Powell on Feb 25, 2008 8:54 AM

# re: Response to Dell Customer Advocate..
Requesting Gravatar...
If you do run into any problems with getting that computer repaired or the new order using the gift card, I will be more than happy to work with you to get things resolved.

I know that Dell is putting a great deal of effort into improving things for customers that call in. Unfortunately, none of the solutions we are considering or working on right now can be implemented quickly without causing worse problems, at least in the short term. Your feedback and suggestions, however, will be included with those from other customers. That information is our best indicator about what we need to focus on in order to make things better for our customers. One of the things I have liked the most about the company since I started working here five years ago is that customer feedback does lead to changes in how Dell does business, and I have seen a number of things change for the better based on it.

Dell Customer Advocate
Left by larry@dell on Feb 28, 2008 5:03 AM

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