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March 03, 2006

Dell Hell

Dell once had a reputation for customer service. It doesn't anymore.

My laptop got all screwed up months ago. I had to reinstall the operating system and blank the disk, which, by the way, didn't work the first three times.


It kept telling me it could not replace the operating system with an older operating system-- which was absurd, because the OS I was installing was the same one that came with the computer. So what I had to do is create a tiny partition -- I mean, tiny, because that's all that was available, install the OS in that tiny partition, and make that tiny partition my default drive.

Which left approximately 4 KB of room for the computer to work with. I would open three internet windows and the computer would begin beeping, "System resources are critically low."

So, after bitching to Dell for about three hours over that, they finally decided my OS disk was corrupted, and that's why the computer wouldn't let me install the new OS properly. They sent me a new disk in a week.

After a lot of screwing around, I got that one to work.

One problem: I didn't have WordPerfect installed anymore, having blanked the drive. I've been suffering along with WordPad in the interim, not wanting to go through the hell of attempting to add new software to my dependable old Dell.

Which brings us to today. I decided to finally add WordPerfect, but had to enter a security code, which of course was never sent with my original package. (I looked; it just wasn't there.)

So I look on Corel's website, hoping they can send me the code, but they say: If you need a code for OEM software that came with a Dell product, you have to contact Dell for your code; we don't have those codes.

A shiver of nausea welled through my body.

First of all, the computer response you get demands you flip over your computer and enter in your computer's service code, a rather long number. I wouldn't mind this so much, but I have learned, by this point, it is an entirely futile step. Because the first thing your human contact will ask you for is the same fucking number you just entered ten minutes ago, before sitting on hold for that period.

If the computer doesn't record the number and pass it on to the guy who receives your call, what is the fucking point?

Anyway, that annoyance (which I now have come to expect) aside, I finally get through to a human being. Or supposedly a human being. He seemed more robotically stupid than the computer answering system.

The first guy -- let's call him "Jagdlesh," although he wanted to be called "Bob" -- keeps insisting that the code for the disk can be found on the disk.

"No it can't," I tell him. Corel says specifically it comes on a CARD, not the disk itself.

"There must be some numbers on the disk," he says.

Well of course there are, you fucking moron. You cannot buy a product in twenty-first century America without a whole raft of identification numbers on it. A fucking pack of Twizzler's has six bazilion numbers on it. They're just ordering numbers or serial numbers or inventory numbers, not security numbers to insure you haven't illegally pirated your pack of Twizzler's.

I explain this to him patiently.

He insists, "Try the numbers on the disk."

Let me try a new track, I decide. "There are little boxes for me to enter the numbers in. I can see, by eyesight alone, that those boxes do not correspond to the numbers on my disk. The computer wants a security code of eight digits, eight digits, four digits -- three different batches of numbers -- and the disk's number is something like five digits, three digits. Two different series, and they're not even the right lenght.

"Please sir will you enter the numbers?" Jagdlesh asks.

Very well. Let us take this futile step to make Jagdlesh happy, because, really, that's all I fucking want in life. Is to make Jagdlesh the happiest fucking Dell Technical Support Representative in New Dehli.

"Did the numbers work?" Jadglesh wants to know.

"Um, no, Jadglesh, they didn't." See, if you have a SECURITY CODE, it's got to be INDIVIDUAL to each disk. What is the point of having a security code printed right on millions of mass-produced CDs? What security does that add, exactly, if the same number is on all the disks?

"I see. I cannot help you. Customer Care is the proper department to answer this call. Can I transfer you?"

Now, if Customer Care is the right department, why I have I been speaking to Jagdlesh in technical support for fifteen minutes?

So, now I wait five minutes to be connected to Customer Care. Jagdlesh II, who wants to be called "Johnny Sharkfin, King of Surf Beach" or something, now asks me to enter the number on the disk into the program.

I already tried that, I tell him.

"Please enter the number, sir."

"No," I tell him. I already did.

Now Jagdlesh II/Johnny Sharkin tells me he is unable to help me and will have to transfer me... to technical support.

"Oh no you're not," I tell him, getting angrily. "They just sent me to you, telling me that they could not help me and you could. I will not be transferred over to a place that can't help me."

"Please, sir, I will now transfer you over to Technical Support, who can help you..."

"Are you listening to me? They transferred me to you. What is the point of transferring me to them?"

"They will be able to assist you. This is a technical question..."

"It's not technical! I just need a code!"

"If you wait one moment, I will transfer you."

"No, don't do that. I want to speak to a manager."

After arguing about this for two minutes, he agrees to put on a manager. After waiting on hold for five minutes, I speak to a manager.

Guess what? The manager wants me to enter in the code on the disk, too.

I patiently explain that a security code is not mass-printed on a CD, but individually sent along with each CD. Just the same as with the Windows operating system. You wouldn't tell me to just "enter the number" on the Windows XP disk, would you?

"Operating systems are different, sir," he tells me.

What about Microsoft Word?, I want to know. I know for a fact the security number comes on a different card.

"Well," he finally says, "In that case I cannot help you, because we do not keep track of the security codes for each disk we send out."

"Well then what do you propose?"

"The only thing I can propose is sending you a new disk, with its own security number."

"Good. Then let's do that."

"...except we cannot send that, as we do not any longer have WordPerfect CD's for the Dell Inspiron. The line is no longer supported."

I bought this fucker last year.

"So you're saying you sent me a crappy computer, and now I have to BUY software that was supposed to come with it?"

"Well," he says, "I could give you the general security key which will work with all WordPerfect software."

What?

He's had this general security key and only now he mentions it?

So he gives me the key. The software installs.

He had the key all along, and kept telling me to enter numbers he didn't work. Only when I became angry enough to jump in a plane and fly to Bangaladore and strangle him with a length of USB cable did he give it up.

I needed a twenty digit security number. Everyone had it from the beginning. It took fifteen seconds to tell it to me.

Total elapsed time of call: Thirty nine minutes, eleven seconds. I know, because it's right on my cell phone.

So, there you go.

That's Dell.

Don't buy from them. Build your own system or buy from a minor computer company that sells more cheaply. Do not for one second think you're spending more for Dell's "customer service," because you're not.

You are better off saving yourself the money on a small-vendor computer company and just paying someone to fix it everytime it breaks down.

Dell technical "support" does not attempt to assist you. They instead attempt to bullshit you and waste your time and frustrate you taking obvious, futile steps -- "Please sir, have you attempted turning your computer on and off? Have you checked to make sure all wires are securely plugged in?" -- until you simply give up, hang up on them, leave them alone, and take your computer to a technician at CompUSA or something.

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posted by Ace at 01:25 PM

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