[This document was sent on our company letterhead via UPS Red. This version has certain phone numbers and order numbers removed for privacy reasons. They are, of course, in the original. It is unedited otherwise.]
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Michael Dell and Michael George
Business Systems Division
One Dell Way
Round Rock, TX 78768
I want to tell you quite clearly why this Dell machine is our last. I have never been treated so poorly and so indifferently by a group of people. Your “customer care” department doesn’t care about anything much less their customers. The courtesy of a written reply is requested.
My company distributes construction supplies and hurricane related supplies, check our website to see how hurricane oriented we are. Before and after a storm we are at our very busiest because the products we sell enable people to protect their homes and businesses from the storms and to repair their homes and business after the storm. Without computers our business is brought almost to a halt, as everything needs to be done manually. Plus, orders that are e-mailed don’t arrive at all. We’re based in Florida where we get more than our fair share of hurricanes.
Thursday evening the 25th of August, Hurricane Katrina pounded us rather badly, with the eye wall of the storm passing directly over us. We tried to open Friday the 26th but due to lack of water, electricity, and passable roads we unable to and gave up. Saturday morning, we came in and emergency power was in place. Our Dell Dimension 4600 came up and running just fine but within five minutes there was a loud “pop” and it died. The timing could not have been worse. I am not unreasonable I do not fault Dell for an act of Mother Nature.
I immediately called tech support. The man I spoke to (an Indian) was very helpful and after 15 minutes was relatively confident the power supply was the problem. I explained how critical this machine was along with the data on it. I said I didn’t care what it cost, but I needed someone to fix it immediately. He said he couldn’t help with that but that the parts department could. I need to point out I deal with foreign call centers all the time, and unlike most Americans they don’t bother me if they’re well run.
Around 8:50am I was connected to the parts department. The parts department (another Indian) said they could send me the special, proprietary power supply. I said that with no other alternative, that would have to do, but I repeated five times that it must be sent UPS RED EARLY AM delivery: that means by 830am. I specifically asked him if he understood what I needed. I explained how important it was. He took my credit card information and said it would be done. The order number was XXXXX.
I spent all day Saturday calling every single computer store in town that was open, asking if they had a power supply for this unit. They all said, “No because Dell uses non-standard parts so you have to deal with them.” Why is such a common part proprietary?
Monday morning, at 9:04am I called parts and asked where my supply was. The nice lady (another Indian) informed me it was in Ohio and that it didn’t ship until Sunday. She suggested that perhaps I call DHL and see what they could do. She didn’t quite seem to get why I was upset, and she had this idea it was going to be delivered “later in the day” even though it was still in Ohio. She said I could speak to Technical Support who could help me. After 1 hour and 18 minutes on hold, I got someone who said he couldn’t do anything. I repeated again that it wasn’t the cost, and that I wasn’t asking for anything free, just for someone to come in and fix the computer. He said only Parts could authorize that. After more time on hold, I was finally connected with Parts who said only Tech Support could authorize that.
I asked for the phone number to your corporate office and was refused that information. I called my stockbroker and asked him to look it up. You’re a public company after all. I called your corporate offices and asked to speak to an officer of the company. I was transferred to “Escalation” where I got a “this mailbox is full please try later” message and got disconnected. I called back immediately and again asked for a human to speak to and was transferred before I even finish my sentence to another voice mailbox which, guess what, was also full.
By noon, I was pretty furious as you can imagine. I called again, and this time got a Customer Care agent in Ireland. She was very friendly but not much more helpful, though she at least pretended to be sympathetic. She transferred me back to Parts and promised to stay on the line, but she didn’t. As always, I was asked for a phone number “in case we get disconnected” but (of course) when I was, nobody called back. It’s nice to have a perfect record but not in this case.
I called your corporate office again and got your “Dell Switchboard” again, which I finally figured out is bogus because you can’t get anybody with authority or anyone who even cares. Finally, I get some lady who tried valiantly to help and stay on the line with me, but said “the hold time is too long” and she’d have to leave me to my own devices. She gives me a third case number (XXXXX, XXXXX, and XXXXX are my three case numbers for the same issue.)
I want to point out that every single person I spoke to was clearly explained to that this was your error and that I didn’t even care about the money, but I just wanted it fixed. Nobody wanted to authorize a technician to come out to our place of business and fix our machine.
I was, sometime around 1pm, after being on the phone with Dell for four hours, transferred to a Tech Support line in Panama. I got a technician named Enrique. You should put him in charge of your company. He listened to me, read the case information, and agreed I had been screwed over. He sat with me on the line for nearly 40 minutes waiting for somebody to come to the line and they blew him off too. He then took the initiative and scheduled a repair order for an on-site person in an effort to help me (062000311) and I wish to report that I was never called in order to make the appointment. Finally, around 3pm, I called the 800 number and they said they’d call me in a day or two to see what they could do. Nobody at your company has any sense of urgency. Do you not understand the severity of this situation?
Tuesday, I spent more time on the phone as my system was still down. Your dispatch department couldn’t dispatch anyone because they claimed I didn’t have the part. I told them it was in my hands having finally arrived just before lunchtime, but they argued that their computer reflected otherwise. I asked for a supervisor and spoke to Allison. She took my credit card number and promised someone would be here by 2pm. She never called back, and no technician showed up. I left messages for her that were not returned. I called late that evening to cancel the service call as I had made other arrangements. I was told they couldn’t cancel it and I had to call tech support. There is not a chance in hell of me doing that. At least I was nice enough to try to cancel it. If you charge my card, I will protest it.
Today is Wednesday and the damned thing is fixed via another vendor who has been promised all future hardware business for helping me with Dell hardware when Dell wouldn’t. Even your competitors can understand a critically important situation. They came to my aid and that speaks volumes about both them and you.
I had sent a draft of this via email before I added the latest travesties and received a call from someone in your Executive Support department. He was very nice and apologetic, but I wish to point out that really doesn’t help.
For the record, every single customer who called us and asked why we didn’t answer their emails and why their order wasn’t shipped was told about our Dell saga. I am making this entire letter available to any of our over 15,000 clients who ask, and when we write a letter of apology to all the affected customers, they will be told exactly what we think of Dell. Further, a copy is being posted on our website. If Dell cares to write a letter of apology to my customers, I will gladly send it out along with my apology and a copy this letter. (Please make sure you clearly indicate I have permission to do so)
I care that you caused my customers extreme difficulties when they could least afford it. We care about our customers, and you clearly don’t. Forget your words, actions speak loudly. We’ve been in business almost fifty years and I can assure you this type of behavior guarantees you won’t be. You should be ashamed. Your activities, while legal, are immoral. You shouldn’t hide from your customers, and you do as evidenced by my inability to get anyone in authority on the telephone.
In the meantime, I expect a full refund of shipping charges on the spare part. You probably should do better than that, but I won’t be holding my breath. I can tell you that you have earned the bad press your customer service has been receiving.
[ 10-11-05 Commentary Update: I have yet to hear from Dell. I have never heard back from anyone at Dell. Not one single person.
[ 8-29-07 Commentary Update: It’s been two years, and I have yet to hear from Dell. Read my new blog post about it.]
[ 5-30-08 Commentary Update: It’s been 2-1/2 years, and I have yet to hear from Dell. But now, there is a chance for you to FIGHT BACK if Dell has wronged you. There’s a chance for you to get restitution. In the news a few days ago, the State of New York found Dell guilty of FRAUD. I’ve been contacted (again) by an attorney who is willing to help you, but only personal cases to persons residing in the USA. See my new blog post about it, here.]