Friday, November 23, 2007

Dell ranked 25th out of 36 in Canadian Customer Service

Way to go Dell, despite the best efforts of Michael Dell and all the propoganda pouring out of Round Rock touting the supposed "turn around", Dell managed to place a lowly 25th (out of 36 companies reviewed) in a recent survey of customer service in Canada.

So much for all the bullshit coming from Lionel Menchacha and Richard@dell and the propoganda machine known as Direct2Dell.

The survey, titled "How may I help you?" was conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and here is a summary of the survey as quoted from the CBC website.


Working with the CBC Research Department, we developed a unique set of standards that evaluate everything from the interactive voice response system that answers most calls these days, to the time you're left waiting on hold. We also measured the effectiveness of the operator - how well they understood the caller, how well the caller could understand the operator, and their demeanour.

We called each company three times: once during a weekday, once at night and once on the weekend. Our call researchers kept detailed notes of each call and then scored the company's performance out of 100. You can see how each company performed by clicking their name in the chart below.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Think Dell is Back on Track?

Don't let the successes on the business side of Dell con you into thinking that things are better at Dell for the average guy... this exchange today on the Miami Herald website is clear evidence that without friends in high places, your chances of getting A) A machine that works, and B) Customer service that works, are Buckley's as my Australian friends would say... and imagine if they didn't have the extended warranty with "next day service".


A formula to mess up computer: two video cards
Posted on Sat, Nov. 17, 2007

• Q: About two years ago, we bought a top-of-the-line Dell computer for our small business. We also purchased a three-year extended warranty; it's supposed to give us next- day service if there's a problem.

Everything was fine until Oct. 10 when the computer crashed.

We called Dell. After going through extensive troubleshooting, it decided to order a new power supply and motherboard. A few days later, a tech arrived to install them; it still didn't work.

Dell sent out a tech and parts twice more. Once, we got the computer running, but it crashed again the next day.

Dell sent us a refurbished replacement. After five days, it wouldn't power up. Dell said it would send us our third motherboard and power supply. The tech still couldn't get it to turn on.

Spending so much time on this isn't exactly helping our business. Perhaps Action Line can persuade Dell to fix it once and for all?

Jane Firebaugh,


• A: We can. It's working now; this time, we hope it's a permanent fix.

We forwarded your e-mail to Dell, which responded promptly. Another tech was dispatched, and, for a while, he couldn't get it to work, either. Then, he had an idea: Maybe the problem was caused by having two video cards. He took one out, and the computer worked. He tried with the other one; the computer still worked. It seemed that having two working cards installed was at the root of the trouble.

Dell followed up and gave you a better number to call if it happens again. We all hope you won't need it.


So... to sum up, DEll sold a flawed design to a customer and then proceeded to offer "refurbished motherboards" among other repair solutions to them on an ad nauseum basis... seems awfully familiar!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Dude, Dell has a Headache too!

Well, just like in real life, the folks living in the rarified heights of Round Rock have found out that your past deeds have a way of catching up to you.

Yet another lawsuit is in the making, this time in New Mexico and Dell is once again being called to the dock for it's shoddy (illegal??) business practices! Can anyone say "Weasels".

GREAT NEWS, and I can't wait to hear the spin Lionel Menchacha puts on this one for his damage control department otherwise known as Direct2Dell... maybe it should be called "direct2dock" in honor of their many appearances in courts around the country.


AG King wants NM lawyer to launch class action v. Dell
by Rob Luke

SANTA FE -- New Mexico Attorney General Gary King is supporting a lawsuit brought against an online computer retailer by an Albuquerque lawyer claiming unfair trading practices.

Customer Robert Fiser brought a class action suit against Dell Computer Corp. in 2004 for anti-consumer violations over disputes about data-storage capacity on a computer he purchased. The Court of Appeals dismissed, saying he was bound by arbitration agreements, and he appealed to the NM Supreme Court.

King filed an amicus curiae brief last Thursday with the NM Supreme Court supporting Fiser's appeal. "Merchants cannot, in a contract of adhesion, unilaterally set terms that will allow them to skim a few dollars from a large number of consumers with impunity," the brief concluded.

In an accompanying release, King said the Appeals Court wrongly applied Texas law, not New Mexico law, when dismissing Fiser's original appeal. The appellate court ruled that Fiser was bound to arbitrate his dispute with Dell because of a provision on the shipped computer's packaging slip.

"We want to make sure that consumers are clearly and fairly informed about what policies and terms they agree to when they order a product over the internet," King's release stated. "In this case, disclosure to the consumer is an important issue."


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dude, I Already Have a Headache

George Gombossy of Consumer Watchdog posted a great article today on titled "Dude, You Might Be Getting A Headache With That Dell" and it is worth passing on, and my only comment is "Dude, I already have a headache"....

Dell has become one of the most well-known computer companies in the country. Unfortunately it's also establishing a reputation as the most troublesome among the top brands.

Purchasers of Dell computers from Connecticut and throughout the country are increasingly complaining about misleading advertising, equipment failures and, most serious of all, unreliable customer and technical services.

Rescuecom, a national computer repair franchise, analyzed its tens of thousands of records and reported this week that among the five top brands, Dell computers had the greatest likelihood of needing service.

The survey, based on each brand's market share, showed that Apple computers - by a huge margin - were the least prone to problems.

Computers by Lenovo and IBM came in second, followed by HP, Gateway and then Dell. Last year, the first time Rescuecom provided its analysis, Dell was in fourth place with Gateway in fifth.

"Results of the report - based on 46,000 service calls to RESCUECOM - provide computer users with unique insight about the likelihood that they will require support beyond what is provided by the PC maker's warranty," the company said.

Complaints that I have received this year back up the report's findings on Dell. Of the six complaints I have received about computer reliability and marketing issues, all involved Dell computers.

But all these complaints, said Rescuecom owner David Milman, don't mean that consumers and businesses should stop buying Dell products.

Milman said Dells are still relatively cheap and well built compared to lesser-known brands. He said customers just need to know that advertised prices, financing, warranties, at-home repairs and technical help will probably not live up to Dell's promises.

For their part, Dell officials concede there have been problems as the company continues to grow, but they insist customer service is important.

"The customer experience is Dell's No. 1 priority," said Jodi Zweifler of Dell's global communications, as she promised to look into the complaints from Connecticut residents I sent her. A future Watchdog column will update how the complaints from these customers were resolved:

Gus Vaughan of Cromwell said he bought his computer in May, and within a few days it developed severe problems, including locking up. He and his wife, Joanne, spent more than 12 hours on the phone working with technicians, trying to solve the problem. Those efforts ultimately included taking apart the computer.

When the telephone consultations didn't work, Dell sent a repairman to their home, who discovered the computer had serious hardware problems. After more phone calls, Dell decided to send the couple a new computer, which took almost two months to arrive.

Frances Wilson of Bristol paid full price for a computer by check three years ago. Nevertheless, Wilson, 88, started receiving bills from Dell. She wrote to the president of Dell, as well as to several other officials at the company without getting any results.

She said she finally had to hire her accountant to write several more letters to Dell before it stopped demanding that she pay $300, which she did not owe to the company.

Marion Bradley of North Branford, another senior, said she had a "Dell from Hell" right out of the box. Her son set up the computer for her, but several programs would not work. She called Dell in March and was told she had to hire an "expert" for $138 to help her.

Bradley, the retired head of the English department at North Branford High School, said the calls to those experts were worthless. Her daughter-in-law finally was able to fix the computer after spending several hours with it.

When she bought her computer she was told there would be no interest charges if she made all payments on time. She said she made timely payments but still got billed for interest, which she is disputing.

Gregory Burr of Westbrook tried to be a nice guy when he bought his Dell last year. He wanted to pay by credit card, but the Dell salesman asked that Burr instead sign up for a Dell loan so the company would not have to pay the credit card company a fee. Burr agreed.

That act of kindness turned into a nightmare as Burr's name got mixed up with another customer's account and he spent months trying to clear his credit.

These types of problems resulted in a lawsuit by the New York attorney general's office against Dell and Dell Financial Services, which is jointly owned by Dell and consumer financing company CIT.

The suit accuses Dell of luring customers with zero percent financing and then charging them high rates. It also accuses the company and Dell Financial Services of fraud, false advertising and deceptive business practices.

"While even one dissatisfied customer is too many, the allegations in the AG's filing are based upon a small fraction of Dell's consumer transactions in New York," Dell said in response to the suit.

Well actually, there were 700 complaints in New York and, as we're learning, several in Connecticut.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."

No, that isn't me whining about Dell...

That is Micheal Dell talking about Apple way back in 1997. Read on courtesy of Rob Mead at


In 1997 Michael Dell, CEO of Dell, told IT executives what he would do to Apple to save the company from financial ruin. "What would I do?" he said. "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."

Ten years on and that quote is coming back to haunt Michael Dell.

Apple has gone from strength to strength and now has a range of world-beating products from the iPod to the iPhone and the iMac.

Apple shares are now at their highest ever level at $167.91 (£82.32), with analysts predicting Apple's strongest quarter ever.

Dell, meanwhile, is in the doldrums. It's been squeezed by a growing number of strong, low-cost competitors and has been tainted with poor customer service rankings and a range of unremarkable products.

Its shares currently stand at $27.95 (£13.70) apiece.

Maybe it's time that Michael Dell gave his shareholders their money back.


And here is a link to a parent article that also has some very telling and entertaining comments from readers...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Incompetent or just Crooked?

Well, in case you are thinking that Micheal Dell is bringing dell customer service up to at least an acceptable standard... think again!

Despite the hundreds of millions spent by Dell to turn around customer service they are , if anything, going backwards... have a read of this story on

Nobody at Dell can help Kevin return two broken hard drives. Kevin's Seagate 320GB FreeAgent drive refuses to power on, and his 160GB Western Digital won't boot. Kevin sent Dell a note after wrangling with eleven CSRs over five hours:

I called tonight due to 2 harddrives I purchased 26 days ago. Both drives have completely failed. One is knocking and the other won't power on at all. I called Dell and have been transferred to 11 people and 3 different calls:

1st Call - 48 Minutes (Disconnected during transfer)
2nd Call - 91 Minutes (Disconnected trying to transfer me)
3rd Call: 138 Minutes - Disconnected during transfer.

I am fed up and it is absolutely ridiculous. They have no idea what department to send me to. So far I have talked to:
"Customer Care"
"Dell Care"
"Business Sales"
"Hardware support"
"Desktop Support"
"Technical Support"

I have 4 different case numbers they have assigned me and still nothing to show for it. They can't even tell me who I need to talk to or what I need to do to get the parts replaced. I have spent close to $240.00 and wasted hours of my time away from my family trying to repair this issue.

The original hard drive I ordered is an external drive that I was able to connect and move all of my data to... Then it just wouldn't power on. Tried multiple power outlets, will not power up. I have lost all of my data there.

Then I purchased an internal drive, I have had it less than a month and it is knocking and won't boot. I am very dissatisfied and the award winning customer care has to be the farthest from the truth.

Case #: 1734xxx82
Order Numbers:
718xxx24 - 160GB
710xxx785 - 320GB

The note didn't get Dell's attention, but a complaint to the Better Business Bureau did. A Dell representative called Kevin to arrange the returns:

BUT!!!! 30 minutes into the call as she is taking my address info and giving her apologetic speech...Oh wait! I'm sorry Mr. Hatfield but we can't replace these. Have a nice day.

Hopefully one of Dell's damage control ninjas can explain exactly which Dell department, if any, is responsible for handling busted hard drives.

So all I can say is way to go Dell! You make my job of trashing your company so much easier.. and you are so deserving of it that it is a pleasure!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Dell Hell - By the Numbers 7

Well, lets get September rolling with a look at the numbers...

7 - Number of times Dell contacted us this summer

0 - Number of new solutions offered by Dell to our problems

20 - Percentage drop in sales of notebooks this year at Dell

3-1 - Amount HP is outselling Dell in notebook computers

1058 - Number of comments (mostly negative) on direct2dell re: delays on shipping. A record even for the sorry state of Dell...

5 - responses by Dell to the 1058 comments

0 - responses by Dell to the 1058 that might be useful

887,000 - Number of notebooks Dell sold in the quarter (-20%)

1,100,000 - Number of notebooks Apple sold in the quarter (+42%)

2,400,000 - Number of notebooks HP sold in the quarter

?? - If I put a number here I'd just be guessing at how many days delay there is for Dell's new colored laptops but have a read of the direct2dell blog and see what you come up with... many are waiting over two months at the moment by my understanding.

Not only do they sell Edsels they also borrow from Henry Ford too... "you can have any color you want, as long as its black"!

No wonder Mac sales are up 42%, Customer Service, despite $150 Million spent this year on revamping, is still in the toilet and then to make matters worse they start targeting students with offers for colored laptops they know they can't reasonably supply.

Apple, Lenovo, HP et al are picking off Dell's market share as a result...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Apple shows the way, Dell lost in the woods.

A very interesting lesson in Customer Service and core values was highlighted yesterday by the announcement by Apple that they would be refunding customers who purchased iphones from Apple in the last two months.

The phones were originally priced at $200 above current prices and the thousands of customers who bought phones at the inflated price will now receive a $100 rebate on the phones purchased at the higher price.

Wait a minute... a company sells a product, then decides to lower prices and in order not to loose customers who previously bought products at the higher price, are VOLUNTEERING to rebate customers???????

Who would have thought.

Now, is there anything to be learned by all this? Well, Apple sold 42% more laptops this quarter than they did last year, so obviously something is being done right...

Dell on the other hand? Well, stay tuned tomorrow when we do our monthly review of the numbers...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Sounds of Silence or is it One Hand Clapping

Well, I thought I would hold off on my next blog until I heard back from the two Escalation team members from Dell who recently contacted me. Oddly, after contacting me, they never did reply back. So, instead I will share with you the email I sent to them and let you decide if a response was warranted. Ronak who is the recipient of the following letter is a member of the Escalation team at Dell... and for the record I did eventually hear from Robin Chacko's supervisor... he offered me a %10 discount on a refurbished motherboard!

EMAIL TO "Ronak" who has never been heard from since....

Hi Ronak: I have been in touch with your colleague on 08/16/07 about this issue and it seems more than one person from Dell has responded to our contacts. Here (below) is the email I sent to Robin Chacko...

I have yet to hear back from her on the email sent, so I am not sure if you were intending to take over from her? If so, I am available at this return email or by phone xxx xxx-xxxx

regards, duff sigurdson


Hello Robin: We are pleased but most puzzled to hear from Dell again. I trust you are up to speed on our file so I won't repeat it all here, except in summary FYI with my suggestions for a solution below that....

After speaking at length and over a period of months with as diverse a crowd as Lionel Menchaca at direct2dell, another on-line bigwig known as Richard@dell, the Better Business Bureau, and a number of senior staff at Dell Canada, we had reached the conclusion that Dell was not willing to do more to solve our problem other than to sell us a refurbished motherboard for our problematic 9100.

This was unsatisfactory to us as we feel that the problem is directly related to the design and manufacture of the model and a replacement mob (at $700 installed), was not a solution, i.e. replacing a known faulty part with another faulty part that has been "remanufactured" is not a workable fix!

The computer was approximately 2 1/2 years old when it failed and it was a top of the line Inspiron 9100. Hardly the typical life span one would expect from a flagship model from the world's (then) leading computer manufacturer.

Dell has taken old, loyal customers (my wife and I who have been with your company since the early days), and potential new customers (my daughter and her network of friends who follow this saga), and turned them in to a customer relations nightmare... (see

Our position is you have sold us an "EDSEL" and although we understand the tightrope you are walking what with all the class action suits surrounding the inspiron line, we believe Dell should replace the faulty computer with a model which you are confident will not die a premature death.

No need for a "mea culpa" or anything else... just a "hey, your computer sucked, we are sorry you got stuck in dell hell, and we DO want you all as future customers..."

I will mention here that many similar cases to ours have been resolved (usually by members of the Executive Escalation Team) by replacing faulty computers EVEN when out of warranty, You can read examples in the dell forums.

What we don't want is for Dell to tell us they are cutting off the topic and consider the case closed as unresolved (Richard@Dell online back in early June), AND THEN contact us again to follow up (Early July), fail to follow up THAT call (mid July), and then wind up here in another email to someone at your end (Mid August).

BTW, A tech called two nights ago (see my latest posts at direct2dell in the "Real People are here and they are Listening" section). I almost cried when he wanted to "review" my problem but I stayed polite, answered his questions and listened to his offer to sell me a refurbished motherboard. It all seemed a bit pointless and so it was.

In any case, I noted yesterday that despite the $150 million invested in customer service in the last while, Dells' ratings dropped this year to the same levels as during the Customer Service crisis at Dell in 2005. Somehow this doesn't surprise me.

When you compare the cost to dell of replacing our faulty 9100 with that money and those figures, and you add in the bonus that you would be "doing the right thing", it is a no brainer... Dell won't recognize that the computer is an "edsel" and that is fine by us, but Dell should recognize that the computer should have lasted longer than it did, that we are valued customers and that it is worth keeping us. Selling us a top of the line model at top of the line prices, and after it dies 2.5 years later saying "so sad, too bad" is not on the list of "Tips for Good Customer Relations".

I look forward to hearing your solutions to this issue, a fresh set of eyes and ears is often the way out of the woods.

regards, duff sigurdson

Saturday, August 25, 2007

News... not really, but dishonest, Yes

Two interesting things crossed my desk today, one was the Saturday edition of the fine Canadian newspaper the National Post. On page FW3 of the Financial Post Weekend section was a header article titled "Buy that shiny, new laptop, but avoid extended warranties, consumer groups caution".

The other was the Dell advertising flyer which came with one of the many papers I like to read on Saturdays.

The first of the two, the article on extended warranties, wasn't news to me, but is worth passing on to less savvy consumers! We don't need extended warranties regarding computers, we need lemon laws similar to those in place in the auto industry!

The second was the flyer out today in the Canadian papers and front and center on the first page is a pitch to students for Dell laptops with 8 color choices prominently displayed... this despite the fact that Dell admits on the company blog Direct2Dell that they are running so far behind on these painted accessories that they cannot predict when you might recieve an order placed today. Never mind "back to school" perhaps they will be ready to ship by "graduation"...

Offering something for sale that you know you can't really deliver on, is dishonest behavior where I come from, not sure how they would treat people like that in most of Texas, but I expect it wouldn't be politely.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Escalating Frustration

Wow, I should get an "abused customer of the month" award from Dell. Acting on behalf of my daughter, I have been a BUSY boy.

After Lionel sent of his query, the calls and emails from Dell are coming fast and furious of late!

Three from the escalation team alone in the past two days, two agents and one manager, so far they have offered to sell me a refurbished motherboard! But they have thrown the 10% discount on the table AGAIN. We already said thanks but no thanks to that one a few months ago... you can buy a NEW motherboard on ebay or from half a dozen companies for LESS than the refurbished unit from DELL.

And why would you replace a faulty part with another faulty part that has been "refurbished"? That is NOT a solution.

I suspect their legal woes, what with Class Action suits underway or pending on several Inspiron laptops, may frighten them away from acknowledging any fault in a model by replacing it out of warranty...although they have done so in some cases.

As it is Dell can hardly afford more bad publicity, Dell shares were down today 3% on news of supply woes at Dell. Coming on top of several other issues clouding the Dell situation, such as the paint fiasco of recent days, a massive battery recall and computers spontaneously combusting last year and most serious of all, the ongoing SEC investigation, things are tough in Texas.

I suspect each of the people from Dell that I have spoken to recently would privately agree that Dell should do something here to correct our problem, no one in their right mind would say it is okay for a top of the line, flagship model to expire after 2.5 years .

I also suspect any competent technician could have (and by reports some did) tell Dell that putting that chip in that board in a laptop was trouble in the first place. I took the trouble to read up on putting 3.2 Pentium 4 chips intended for desktops into notebooks. It was and is trouble and a bit of reading also shows it is not confined to my computer, a quick read of Dell forums, the direct2dell website and many other sites using keywords such as "Dell 9100 motherboard problem" or "9100 overheating" will make the point.

Stay tuned, I always ask them to respond to my last when I am contacted by them so I expect to hear from someone again in the next few days.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dell Hell - By the Numbers 6

I have been trolling the news in the last few days, knowing I should dig up some ammo and these numbers caught my eye...

-5.1% - Percentage Dell is down in Customer Service ratings this year. Similar figures were seen at the height of Dells Customer Service woes in 2005.

$150,000,000 - Dollars spent by Dell this year to turn around Customer Service

$150,000,000 - Money apparently wasted by Dell this year on Customer Service

48.5 million - Dollars owed to ex Dell CEO Rollins by Dell for Stock Options currently being held up by the late filings due at the SEC

7.9 million - Last month's similar, but separate agreement on dollars to be paid to Rollins for a similar reason

3 - Number of years Mr Rollins was at the helm at Dell

3 - Number of months between SEC filings for listed companies. (each quarter or every ninety days)

14 - Number of months since Dell last filed (June 2006)

%11.9 to %15.2 - Jump in share market for HP in Latin America

%8.5 to %6.8 - Decline in share market for Dell in Latin America

and last but no least, my personal favorite...

273,622 - Number of hits on Youtube for My PC is on Fire video

32,041 - Number of views on Youtube for My PC is on Fire video since June 14/07

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hold the Press - Dell Finally Calls!

Great excitement today, Dell calls and speaks with my daughter. She asks them to call me in her stead.

Early this evening PST, I get a call from a Technical Support guy in India, he starts by saying that he has spoken to my daughter and is now phoning me in accordance with that conversation and then his next question is "what can I do for you?" and I replied "I don't know, you called me".

That threw him...

So then he reviews the file with me for a half hour or so, offers to sell me a refurbished hard drive and then to his credit, listens to my side of things.

Well, now he is out of his depth and he says he wants to speak with his manager and would I hold the line? He came back on pretty quick with a solution that still has me laughing... "I will put a note on your file that Dell will not contact you unless they have a solution to the problem".

Can it get any sillier? Stay Tuned....

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lionel Must Hate Me

So, I am back in the Northern Hemisphere! I cut short the season in NZ... not much snow and not much prospect of it either... and just when I was starting to get on a roll with the Kiwis' in regards putting out the word on CS issues at Dell and the problems with computers from the Inspiron Line. There are only 4 million people in NZ so I figured 500 this year would be a good start, but more likely it was only a couple of hundred. I plan to go back next season...

Anyway, poor old Lionel over at Direct2Dell, I had been posting there prior to starting this blog in the hope that the powers that be in the Great State of Texas would be straight shooters, they weren't... And Lionel, due to his job as the go to guy (or whipping post as may be on occasion) at Direct2dell, was getting frustrated towards the end cause I am pig headed, yet articulate and tactful, for the most part.

So my last two posts to Direct2Dell in the previous week have finally gotten a response from Lionel and he too is puzzled by the contact, believing as we did, that the issue was dead between Dell and three customers. I count my daughter and wife in this, as two of three customers BTW , just so we know how the math is working. (Come to think of it, my wife works for a huge multinational as a technical writer and presenter of teaching materials to the workforce, I wonder how many of her colleagues she has spoken to about our problems with Dell? I'll have to ask her one day and add them to the tally of people we are potentially turning away from purchasing Dell products. SCORE!)

Lionel has said he will look into it and hopefully we may move on from all this! I can always find something else to blog about now that I have the basics of blogging down... but tell the truth, I don't think they will do anything other than re-agree to disagree.

It's good to be home!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Real People are Listening? Tommy, the Pinball Wizard Hired by Dell

Well, despite Dell's claim on the direct2dell blog that "Real People are Here and they are Listening" they don't mention they hired the Pinball Wizard himself... although he is Deaf, Dumb and Blind he does play mean pinball.

Sadly, he is unable to respond to even the simplest requests for information. Which seems to suit Dell just fine.

Dell contacted us on July 9th, they wanted to do a follow up because our complaint is listed as "unresolved". The technician wanted to arrange a time to call and see if he could find a solution. Wait a minute, didn't we already do this with technicians months ago? We already know what the problem is, they sold us an Edsel.

The dead motherboard will not be resurrected by a phone call, the refurbished motherboard they offered us for $700 is not a cure either... we know all this already. So why call in the first place you might ask?

Well, there is more! After struggling to find an appropriate time to call, the technician says he will "call back" and we haven't heard from his since!

Way to go Dell!

Well, how does the Pinball Wizard fit in to all this? I posted to dell's website direct2dell and asked Lionel what was going on? Haven't heard from him either so I can only assume he has been fired and replaced by "Tommy".

Perhaps the slogan should be "Real people are here, and we are listening, but we are deaf, dumb and blind and what's more, we don't give a shit!"

How can people screw up so badly? Customer Service is in it's infancy at Dell but this is ridiculous...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dell Hell - By the Numbers 5

Well, you can buy the numbers too and can tell you what it will cost you! Thanks to my friends here at KiwiHost I got to hear about Tarp and the great work they do in the USA to show us the problems and solutions to customer service in a way we can understand. Good old numbers....

I have been waiting for a way to quantify what I am doing and now with the data from Tarp it has only gotten worse! Or better I suppose, from my point of view. All this adds up to....? Damned if I know, I am more confused than ever, but I am more certain than ever that my efforts are not misguided nor in vain.

5 to 6 - Number of times greater the cost to win a new customer than to keep an old one.

1 in 26 - Number of Kiwis that complain.

1 in 12 - Number of Americans who complain.

8 to 22 - Number of People an unhappy customer tells.

8 - Number of People a "happy" customer will tell about a big ticket purchase experience.

16 - Number of people an "unhappy" customer will tell about a big ticket purchase experience.

19 - Percent of customers with unresolved complaints who will no longer purchase products from that company.

9 - Percent of customers who are lost to a company, who do not even complain about the faulty product.

1 to 5 - Percent who complain to management or HQ in regards a faulty product.

8 - Percent more loyal after a customer complaint is resolved than if there had been no problem at all!

So what does this all tell me? Well, a few things stick out. According to these numbers had Dell fixed my daughters computer I would have been even more loyal to Dell than I was before (True, and I have been a customer going back to the early days!). Another thing is that Dell is only hearing 5% of the problem on the direct2dell site or on the community forums. The true numbers must be staggering!

Another thing is I am way out front on the unhappy customer tells 16 issue... I am way over 100 now, hell, two people have read this blog!

Sweet As.... as they say here in NZ... though they never do say sweet as what...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dellhell DownUnder

Well, in case those living at the rarified heights of Round Rock, TX are chuckling to themselves, thinking this blog was a flash in the pan, I wanted to assure them and you, dear reader, that I have not disappeared, nor have I tired of my assault on Dellhell.

In fact, I am on a working holiday in New Zealand, and while downunder, I am doing my utmost to convince my Kiwi brethern to buy anything but Dell when they consider a purchase of computers or peripherals.

Now, with a population of some 3 million people and 40 million sheep, it isn't much of a market to worry about in the grand scheme of things, but it isn't about NZ per se, just like Dell, I am focused on overall numbers.

Dell ripped me (my daughter) off for $2600 and I am out for blood, every lost customer counts, Canadian, Kiwi, Aussie, makes no difference to me! Do you hear me in Texas? I am not going away, your problem with me gets worse by the day... not better and all because you place a buck before a customer, Assholes! It is easy to see why America is going down the tubes... Ford, Chrysler, Dell, just to name a few, with Corporate leaders like you guys who needs Dick Cheney or Bill Clinton to shoot friends or screw things?

I recently spoke at a customer service course for Ski Field employees (KiwiHost) and guess who I used as the posterchild for bad customer relations? No prize for guessing it was Dell.

My audience was a bunch of Kiwi's (the people, not the bird) and a small group of international ski pro's. I spoke of the appalling track record at Dell in regards customer service and thier refusal to deal with the results. Forget the lip service of Direct2Dell or Ideastorm, these are only relevant to the geeks and bloggers, Joe Kiwi is not impressed by this stuff anymore than Joe Average in America, all they want is a product that works from a company they can trust. They may have more sheep than cows in New Zealand but they know bullshit when they see it!

So, to sum up, I have not "gone away" I have only gone "downunder". I will be back, on the attack as and when I am able. Meanwhile be assured, I am spreading the word.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Feelings of Inadequacy

All I ever wanted from this blog was to kick Dell in the balls until I feel I have gotten my daughters money's worth. To know the whole story you will have to go back and read the blog from the beginning, but to sum up quickly, Dell sold my daughter an expensive paperweight, to wit a 9100 Insipiron notebook, and like MANY other notebooks in the Inspiron line, it died a premature death due to motherboard failure.

This computer is an Edsel and were it a car, legislation would force Dell to recall the lemon they have produced, even those out of warranty! But this is not the auto industry...

So, being a father, when someone rips off your daughter what do you do?

Me, I just wanted my pound of flesh. But Dell being in Texas, I want some punitive damages too.

Now a more reasonable man might wait for the inevitable class action, but I am not holding my breath here in Canada.

So, why do I currently have feelings of inadequacy? Well, despite all the effort to blog each day, seeking out the latest news on Dell (who btw are very helpful in providing fuel for the fire), finding fun links and generally thinking things through, I remain a voice in the wilderness, although I seem to be getting a lock on the dellhell links at technorati.

And along comes Tracy Holland, well educated, great job, lots of money, and she writes a couple of emails and gets more bad publicity for Dell than I can generate in a year!

I hate you Tracy!

Dell Hell - By the Numbers 4

125,197 - Number of Views on June 16, 2007 of "22 Confessions Of A Former Dell Sales Manager" at (after they publish threatening emails by Dell attorneys. Way to go Tracy Holland!)

191,422 - Number of Views on June 17, 2007 of "22 Confessions Of A Former Dell Sales Manager" at

99,702 - Number of Views of the emails from Dell Attorneys to Consumerist.Com on June 16, 2007 ONE DAY after being published on

115,751 - Number of Views of the emails from Dell Attorneys to, 24 hours later.

880,001 - Likely revision to layoffs from previously announced figures of 880,000.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Dell attempts to Censor Consumer Site

Well, this is hilarious and a bit disturbing, so I am reposting it here, least Dell's threats cause someone to remove the post, which so offends the hierarchy at Round Rock.

All the following are found (or maybe not if dell has their way) at

The first exchange is between and Dell, following that is the offending article.

I am pleased to say I was among the first to report the original story on my blog!


from Tracy Holland
date Jun 14, 2007 4:39 PM
subject Posting by former Dell employee

Dear Ben,

Please remove the posting located at the following link:

It contains information that is confidential and proprietary to Dell.

While not all aspects of the entry are accurate, ostensibly an ex-employee posted Dell's confidential information in violation of his or her employment agreement and confidentiality obligations (which prohibit the disclosure of such information both during and after the period of employment).

We would appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please confirm that the posting has been removed by the end of the day tomorrow.

Thank you, and please give me a call if you would like to discuss further.

Tracy Holland

Tracy J. Holland
Dell Inc.

from Ben Popken to Tracy Holland
cc Gaby
date Jun 15, 2007
12:58 AM
subject Re: Posting by former Dell employee


I am forwarding your request to our legal counsel, who will communicate with you from here on.

- Ben


from Tracy Holland
cc Gaby
date Jun 15, 2007 1:50 AM
subject RE: Posting by former Dell employee

Thank you. Note, though, it has been almost nine hours since we made the request, yet the posting is still up, with the number of hits growing logarithmically.

Also note, we do not make these requests often (as I'm sure you know, there are thousands of blogs and other online postings that relate to Dell and its products), and we do not make them without good cause. Therefore, while we wait to discuss this request with counsel (despite the source and the clearly confidential and proprietary nature of the information), we ask that you act in good faith to minimize the potential damage caused by this disclosure, and take down the posting immediately. Dell will not regard any such immediate action as an agreement regarding the merits of the request, or as an admission of any liability on the part of or any related person or entity.

If after any necessary discussion between counsel we cannot agree that this was indeed the appropriate course of action, you can always re-post the item.

Thank you,

Tracy Holland


from Gaby
to Tracy Holland
cc Ben Popken
date Jun 15, 2007 7:33 AM
subject Re: Posting by former Dell employee

Dear Ms. Holland,

Despite some suggestions to the contrary among some of our fellow beings, most humans need to sleep. Some of us also receive hundreds of emails a day and have to deal with every one of them. I received this email at 12am last night. It is 7am now. That's a pretty good turnaround.

Nonetheless, that's immaterial to the matter in hand. I've reviewed the post, and it appears to me that it is valid, useful and apparently overwhelmingly accurate. It's not bitter, angry or destructive. It is quite simply good and useful information for consumers. And it appears that a Dell rep has already provided updates to various sections, which we have published, which, since they have only corrected certain parts of this report, implies that the uncorrected parts must be true. If that's not the case, please feel free to send us more clarifications and we will update the post further with your additional notes.

We came by this material entirely legally: we were provided it by a third party voluntarily, we did not use any improper means to solicit any Dell employee to breach any agreement he may have had with you. Therefore, we do not believe we are in breach of any law in reporting on this material and, as such, cannot comply with your demands.

In addition, as I am sure you must realise - and there is certainly a history of this with Dell already - consumers tend to react far better when a company responds collaboratively to criticism, than when they act heavy-handedly or dismissively. Removing this story would be far far more damaging to Dell, I assure you, than responding to it on the Dell blog or elsewhere, since in telling our readers that Dell shut down our reporting, we would unleash a chaos of fury and acres of criticism in the press. Forget any legal position you may want to take, meritorious or not, I am deadly serious when I say that I simply cannot recommend this as a course of action. I've seen it happen before and it is really not pretty and I have no doubt that you will regret it.

Of course, it is your decision whether you want to pursue this matter, but I advise you to talk to the team that had to deal with the falllout from the Jeff Jarvis affair before you decide to try and silence your critics. Work for the customer, not against them.

Best regards,


"22 Confessions Of A Former Dell Sales Manager"

A former Dell kiosk manager writes us to share helpful tips about doing business with Dell. He has no particular problems with Dell, he just wanted to share some helpful tips for consumers looking to get the best deal. He includes info on getting the best deal from the website, different kinds of promotions the Dell offers, insider details on how the kiosk sales reps are compensated, what coupons and deals they have to offer you to close the deal, the email format for Dell in case you're thinking of launching an EECB, where to take your Dell credit card complaints, which extended warranties to avoid, how to get a domestic tech support rep... and more. It's very comprehensive. Enjoy!

I am a former Spherion rep that later became a Dell Branded Rep (manager) of a Dell kiosk in the Philadelphia, PA region. To work at one is to work at all, and I worked at four different kiosks in the region. I worked from July 2005 until October 2006, but keep regular contact with some of the guys I trained and brought up. Other than the usual complaints, I have no problem with the company.

Things most people know already:

1. Small business is better than home and home office - Small business typically runs a few dollars more than the home office, but you stand a better chance of getting domestic tech support rather than non-native English speakers. As an added perk, small business promotions are occasionally better than home.

2. Play with the web site - There are many different pricing packages for the same product throughout the various sections, typically three or more per segment. If you're buying a Dell soon, configure a unit from a link off the main page, from the product listing on the drop down and from the "As Advertised-Newspaper" drop down. Configure the same system each way at the home, small business and the Direct (kiosk) site ( It is very likely you will end up with nine different prices.

3. Extended warranty for laptops - Do it for as long as you feasibly see using your laptop, and include accidental. Two years is typically the lifecycle from "new product" to "no longer produced/no more refurbs" though YMMV. Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop. The standard warranty will not cover any screen defects.

UPDATE: Current Dell rep says: If a system is no longer shipping a used/refurbished is always sent, though the refurb should be equal or better as far as hardware is concerned. As of this writing if a system is exchanged, via either Complete Care warranty or concession, and the system is still a currently shipping model a new system is to be sent.

4. Extended warranty for desktops - There is nothing in a low end desktop (non XPS) that is worth the price of the warranty should you have to replace it. Only pick it up if you have absolutely no clue what you're doing once the case is open.

5. Tech support phone - If you do go with the home/home office/direct route, tech support is outsourced (duh!). The tech support instant messenger typically provides a calmer, more understandable conversation due to the fact that accents are taken out of the equation. Think back to high school Spanish. It was always easier to translate the foreign language you were reading than if you heard it. Same concept applies here.

6. Tech support web site - If you're having a common problem, hit the product forums (however crippled they may be now). It is very likely your question/problem has been resolved before, and usually a domestic tech rep posted a solution there.

7. Warranty Repairs - On all but the two lowest warranties (90 day and 1 year limited), warranty repairs will be done in the home. The repair techs are only required to replace the broken part. They are not required to do anything else. If they replace your hard drive, they are not required to reinstall your OS or drivers. Most will do it if you're nice, but don't expect it. If you're clueless, there are tutorials all over that tell you how to do it yourself.

UPDATE: Current Dell rep says: Also with desktop machines at home service is the only option. Notebooks on the other hand may have a return to depot or an at home service contract.

8. OS Backup Disk - For over a year now, Dell has required you to purchase your Backup/Reinstall Disk. Order this with your machine. Once your Dell is delivered, it is a pain to get the disk at all, much less at a sensible price. If you do not have this disk and your hard drive dies, at home warranty repair will not be able to get your PC running once the drive is swapped without selling you a new copy of your OS.

UPDATE: Current Dell rep says: Dell no longer requires the purchase of the backup disk. They are included with every computer that ships with a Windows OS. On the subject of hard drives, if your drive fails within the first year of purchase you should be sent an imaged drive that will contain everything except for your royalty applications (Office etc). If for some reason you lose the media, you can request the OS, Resource/Drivers disk, and the applications disk at no cost to you. (Even if you are no longer under warranty Dell will send you an OS disk) Note that the Resource/Drivers and Applications disk is only available for currently shipping systems. Should you need to reinstall you'll need to download the drivers from from another computer and copy them over. Last, within the first year of purchase, if you need to reinstall the OS and you can't access the recovery image, or if it was deleted for some reason, you can request an System Recovery CD that does pretty much the same thing. (Not available on notebooks due to the Media Direct partition.)

9. DPA/Dell Preferred - This is the Dell credit card, like a Sears, Macy's or Radio Shack credit card. Typically a high rate, low limit card. The lowest APR is still around 18-20%, and that comes with a $5,000 limit. The $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000 limits have rates in the mid to high 20s. The lowest limt, $1,500, has an APR of 29.99%. NEVER USE THIS UNLESS THERE IS A KILLER NO INTEREST PROMOTION.

a. Interesting Note: In the Back-To-School season of 2005, DFS (Dell Financial Service) was issuing cards to 18 year olds with a $7,000 limit and a 29.99% interest rate.

Stuff you may not know:

1. Promotion cycle dates - Thursday is the first day of new promotions. If you go to the web site at 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday night and again on 1 a.m. on Thursday morning, the promotions are different. The catalog promotions run from the start of the month to the end. Additionally, on holiday weekends (Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc.) there may be special sales/coupons for the three-day weekend.

2. Promotion styles - Typically, one week will be cash off while the next will be percentage off. If you liked cash off but the current promotion is percentage off, check the "As Advertised-Newspaper" section. These typically have a remnant of the prior week's promotion as well as better versions of the current week's promotions. Cash off helps for cheap systems, percentage off helps with high-end.

3. Dell Customer Care can price match within 24 hours from the time of order. Combining #1 and #2 from this section, if you are unsure of the value of the week's promotion but need to order something, order it Wednesday night. Check the promotions for the new week on Thursday. If its better, call and price match. If its not, sit back and feel smug for no reason

4. Dell corporate email - As of December 2006, everybody (save Michael Dell) working for Dell U.S. has the same form of email address: Michael Dell's does not follow this pattern and is changed immediately whenever the current one is discovered by lower-level employees or the public.

5. Dell's internal fiscal calendar is different from other corporations. As their fiscal year ends in January or February (I honestly don't remember), the best deals will typically be found in late January and all of February. Also, buying during the last week of any quarter typically means free or deeply-discounted 2nd day or overnight shipping, and the quickest order turnaround. There are no steep discounts for the holidays, though they will run a few weeks of consecutive percentage off promotions during the back to school season in August.

6. The DFS servers are notoriously flimsy. If you apply for DPA (why would you?) and it is unable to complete, it means the server is overloaded but your credit rating has already been pinged. Reapplying will not fix the issue but it will repeatedly ping your credit. The system is unable to verify cell phone numbers and will automatically reject based on the use of one.

Fun facts about the Kiosks:

1. Why should I shop at a kiosk? I can order from home. - A very valid point, but the majority of kiosk customers are morons who think computers are magic boxes that let you see pictures of cats in funny poses while someone steals your AOL password. There's a few reasons why an educated person aka Consumerist reader should hit the kiosk up:

a. Discounts - There are several ways the Dell Direct kiosks can attempt to match or beat an online deal.

i. Closing tools - Dollar off coupons that depend on how much you spend. Spend $600=$25 off; $1200=$50 off; $1,600=$75 off; $2,000=$100 off.

ii. Refuse to Lose - 10% coupons meant to allow a sales rep to seal a large deal. These can only be used when the computer price alone is $1,600 or more. It can not be used on accessories, TVs or multiple computers whose aggregate value is above $1,600. This must be requested from the Manager on Duty (MOD) through an email request, and will generally be credited before the computer is shipped.

iii. DPA coupon - Dell will already give you 2% off your order if, at the payment screen you click the link that offers 2% off when you pay with DPA. The kiosks have a 3% DPA closing tool that can be used also, giving a discount of slightly over 5%. This works for all DPA purchases including TV's, monitors and cameras.

iv. The closing tools are nothing but individual-use coupons entered at the shopping cart. They are invalid on the home and small business site. Reps are supposed to use them as a last-ditch effort, but as long as you're not buying a sub-$600 system, they should offer them without your having to ask.

b. Printer cartridges - No you can't buy them there...officially. They are non-inventoried items that many kiosks have a heady supply of due to inexplicably random deliveries from corporate. If you're in a pinch and need one that day, go (don't call), get a feel for the employees, and if you think they're cool with it, offer cash.

2. There are two levels of kiosk employees. There are those hired by Spherion, creatively known as "Spherion reps," and then there are Dell Branded Reps, or DBRs. DBRs are effectively the management of the individual kiosk, and are the only ones able to work uncompensated overtime. Deal with them if possible, because they are very likely to be there the next time if you have a question. They've also been there much longer than any other kiosk staff, so they likely have a much better skill set for finding bargains.

3. If you have a problem with DPA, the kiosk has a specific email contact for Dell Financial. Problems can be resolved much much faster.

4. The Dell Direct kiosk website is configured differently than the others. There are "bundles" (linked from the main page under the "start shopping" graphics) and there are "non-bundles". Bundles, so called guessed it...accessories and service are already bundled in, have a higher profit margin. They are also the most customizable system on the website. Non-bundles carry lower profit margins but may be limited. The salesman will always start from a bundle. Let them finish, then make them search the non-bundles for an equal system with a better price.

5. Kiosk reps are judged on the following:

a. Unit price: The average sale price of each reps transactions. $1,200 was the goal as of March, 2007 but $1,600 was preferred.

b. Bundle percentage: Dell varies on what percentage of all sales it wants to be from the "bundle" page depending on the month and who you're talking to. It is typically between 40% and 60%.

c. Service: Each PC/Notebook sale is expected to have a 3 year warranty attached. Typically, the number is between $160 and $200.

d. E&A: This is the percentage of the sale that was spent on accessories. Each transaction should have between 5% and 10%, or one printer and cable per PC or one bag, lock and travel mouse per Notebook.

e. DPA: Dell Preferred Account purchases. The expected percentage of DPA sales has climbed in the past years. It currently hovers between 40% and 60%, and they want a 1 to 1 customer to submitted application ratio.

6. Secret shoppers - The kiosks are secret shopped constantly, and they're playing of a 20-question scorecard. Don't be surprised if the salesman asks really base/borderline-insulting questions if you act interested. They think you're a secret shopper.

7. Communication - Complaints made about Dell to the kiosk reps go unheard. There is no place for the rep to turn around and report the complaint to. Communication between reps and even district management is limited, and reps are discouraged from calling the regional management. Store, district and regional management are all run from email and cell phones. It is not uncommon for the kiosks to receive three answers from three departments, with the end result being all three statements retracted without a solution in place.

End Quote

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sun Tzu meets Thomas Jefferson, meets Michael Dell

The quote below graces the welcome page of my personal website and it rings true when examined under many different circumstances... just as it has become fashionable for business schools and business leaders to use the work of the great Chinese scholar and military strategist Sun Tzu to illustrate common business principals, so it should become fashionable for business schools and business leaders to use the writing and examples of Thomas Jefferson to teach integrity.

History, by appraising them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future;
it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations;
it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men.

Thomas Jefferson

Dell Hell - By the Numbers 3

Yes, it's that time of the week again when we round up the numbers...

168 - Number of hits on Youtube for the Jeff Jarvis "Dell Hug" video

241,581 - Number of hits on Youtube for the "My PC is on Fire" video

22 - Number of confessions of a Dell Sales Manager.

3 - Number of weeks so far if you are waiting for your Dell to ship with Ubuntu/Linux.

2400 - approximate number of posts by Richardatdell on individual blogs in the past year.

0 - ways to contact Richardatdell.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dell Hell DownUnder

The problems at Dell are not confined to North America, and with a tiny market share, our friends down under would appear to have even less leverage than us poor fools here in North America when it comes to doing business at Dell. Consider the story of this poor fellow from Tasmania... sounds awfully familiar doesn't it?


Order from hell, courtesy of Dell

Opinion from's readers | June 12, 2007

IT IS no wonder Dell is losing customers. I have two Dells and ordered another in May (Jobs shake-up, June 5).

The ordering went round and round, but eventually went through, and then my problems started.

I got calls from India, at meal times in the evening. First they said that I didn't live where I live, and would I choose another address.

I said Dell had delivered two computers to my address already, and surely it kept customer records.

Then we had payment address problems.

I said: "Just cancel the order", which caused a reaction: the order was confirmed by email, delivery in a week was promised.

You can't contact anyone when an order doesn't arrive, only an answering machine. The website doesn't recognise Dell's own order number, and goes round and round. Eventually, I emailed and cancelled, and asked for my money back.

It is always strange that, when you pay, it takes a nanosecond, but when you want your money, it takes a minimum of a week.

So now I don't have a new Dell. I am travelling at the moment and I don't know if I've received my money back.
- Fred Cotter, Huonville, Tasmania

End Quote

Monday, June 11, 2007

For What it is Worth

The influential website Advertising Age ran an article today outlining the successes at Dell with recent initiatives to address well known concerns. Below is my response as submitted to the website comments section. It seems a bit "cheap" to get such pleasure out of seeing them published but not too cheap to share them again here!

I enjoy the mental excercise of trying to estimate what that paragraph will cost them... I have no idea what it is worth, but it must be more than their cost to replace my daughters computer, like they should have done in the first place!


As the article rightly points out, Dell have made inroads in the past year in dealing with declining marketshare. However, there are still some 13 models being considered for class action suits in the US and abroad and the owners of these models (all from the inspiron line) have not benefited from the renewed efforts under Michael Dell. On the contrary, they are stonewalled by Dell at every turn. It would appear Dell is more interested in litigation than ethics and it will be a costly lesson if the suits succede. Direct2Dell and Ideastorm are fine efforts, but catering to folks who want Ubuntu, while ignoring good customers who have purchased what is essentially an expensive paperweight, is not a good way to build a business.


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Former Dell Employee Speaks Out

At times it seems that the latest "news" about Dell is just rehashing old material. SEC investigations, customer service issues, poorly designed products, mis-management, allegations of fraud etc etc... this stuff has been going on for years now and it is often a struggle to come up with something more interesting than the usual woes. Well, the following was just too good to ignore... what makes it interesting is that it is a current response to an old problem, and it comes from a former Dell employee!

As an ex-Dell employee I feel sorry for anyone that owns a Dell computer. I often had friends or family ask if they should buy a Dell; I told them NO. Unless you get the "complete care package" it's just not worth it. Too many times there were known issues with the systems but we were not supposed to tell the customers anything, just smile and lie. That's not customer service if you ask me. However, a lot of the problems come from the customers too. Like being under the mistaken impression that sales knows more about your system than tech does. Sales knows how to pad their wallets, and that's it. In my career at Dell I tried to be as professional as possible but it only goes so far when you are accused of breaking a customer's system because they won't listen. All-in-all I would never buy a manufactured PC, and if I needed a laptop it would be an Apple.
End Quote