Dell: Bad Customer Service

I recently bought a new Dell desktop computer, with two monitors. I did some research and found the computer I was going to buy, then made sure it had a graphics card which supported two screens.

Imagine my amazement (and by amazement, I mean frustration) when it arrived today with a graphics card which only has 1 DVI output (and 2 HDMI outputs). It came with a handy guide on how to set up your computer, saying that if you have two monitors you should use the DVI splitter cable which allows you two plug two monitors into 1 DVI output (splitter cable was not included).

Naturally, I opened up the case to inspect the graphics card and read the model number. With no obvious model number, I decided to call Dell and see what they thought about it.

Ensue over 90 minutes of phone calls. The first 30 minutes (to an 0844 number I might add) were spent shouting down the phone to people in a foreign country who kept telling me they couldn’t hear me. I put the phone on speaker and they were still quieter at my end than a normal call, despite the phone’s speaker being pressed against my ear. Hugely frustrated, I decided that there must be someone in the UK I could speak to, so I phoned their head office.

Luckily, I was put through to the most unpleasant woman Dell could find to answer their phones. She told me that I had to be transferred to their foreign call centre because no one in the UK could take the call. I told her they could not hear me and she told me to ask them to transfer me to another line. She then proceeded to cut me off mid-sentence and transfer me anyway. So, I called the head office again, and got the same woman who told me the same thing, but still didn’t seem to grasp the point that if they could not hear me, I couldn’t ask to be transferred to a better line.

She then cut me off again and transferred me to their corporate customer service department in Ireland, where I was told I would be transferred back to India. I decided to go with it and finally got through to a technical advisor who could hear me if I shouted with the phone on speakerphone (it is at this point that I might add that everyone I spoke to on each step needed my full name and order number, and I spoke to at least 10 different people).

I explained my problem. The ATI website clearly states that the HD 3650 has 2 DVI outputs, yet the card I received has only 1. I was told that I did receive the HD 3650 and that it only has one DVI output. 30 minutes later, it was confirmed that it has 2 DVI outputs and that I must have received the wrong card. The advisor then told me he would find out how to get it changed.

I was then transferred to someone who told me they could not hear me properly, which is when I suggested (loudly and clearly while on speakerphone) that Dell employ customer service advisers closer to their customers, and my advisor said “I’m sorry, could you repeat that, I can’t hear you properly”. He then told me that I had received the correct card, and that the HD 3650 has 1 DVI and 1 VGA output, so even if he sent me a new card, it would not have 2 DVI outputs. I clearly expressed that my card does not have 1 VGA output and he said that I should talk to sales if I want a card with 2 DVI outputs.

In the end, the advisor is requesting that a new HD 3650 is sent out to me and I will take the issue up with the sales department when it arrives if it does not have 2 DVI outputs (which is highly likely).

What does all this mean? Dell has seriously gone down in my expectations. I bought a Dell because I wanted reliable customer service for my business. Their customer service has been very poor on this occasion, not just because I have dealt with unpleasant people, but because their operational systems are inadequate to effectively handle customer support.

HD 3600 Series specifications.

Photo of ATI Radeon HD 3650.

9 thoughts on “Dell: Bad Customer Service

  1. Sorry to hear about your hassles with Dell. Unfortunately, I’m a great believer that you get what you pay for. When you buy a high quality kilt outfit from Macdonald Sporrans, you can speak to a native English speaker on a standard telephone line. On the other hand, when you buy a very cheap computer from Dell, you have no such luxury.

    One note of caution on this whole matter. In my experience, graphics cards and chipsets can be confusing. Typically, a manufacturer (ATI, nVidia, etc) will produce a graphics chipset. Then a number of different companies will mount that chipset onto a board in various configurations. This can lead to considerable confusion about the exact layout of the product you have purchased.

    For example, it’s possible to get order the chipset same model number in both a desktop and a laptop. They will typically have different configurations because the laptop has an in-built screen. But the chipset at the core of the display system is the same.

    You might find that while the card ATI / AMD will sell you has 2 DVI ports, Dell have their own card, using the same chipset, which has a different layout. Unfortunately it’s not a simple matter and may result in some confusion when you speak to the sales team.

    My question to you would be thus. Does the Dell web site specify that the product you purchased will have two DVI ports on it? If not, my guess is that you will run into repeated problems with Dell. If this is the case, I’d suggest a couple of options:

    1) Simply buy a new card from another supplier (Scan / Amazon / etc). This will be more expensive, but given the time you will, and have already, spent on the phone to Dell, it may be the most cost effective option overall.

    2) Identify a graphics card that Dell stock which does state that it has 2 DVI ports. Then tell Dell sales you want to change your card for that one, and see how much they will charge, if they will take back your existing card, etc. By identifying the product you do want, you have a clear goal in mind, and so dealing with sales / customer service may be easier.

    One the other hand, if the Dell web site does state that the product you purchased will have 2 DVI ports, then push customer service hard to deliver you a product which meets the specifications you purchased. If they cannot do that, I would recommend sending back the entire order and choosing a different supplier.

    I dealt with Dell frequently until about 4 years ago. In my experience, their customer service was atrocious. After some time I connected with somebody senior in their customer service team and was able to liaise directly with that person, which made things much easier. But dealing with the first line support was a nightmare.

    I hope it all works out. Perhaps this experience can help you to improve your own business’s customer service.

  2. Thanks for the link…interestingly it’s a nofollow…will remove that now though.

    Interestingly I chose Dell, not because they are cheap, but because I thought I would be buying good service with my computer. I could have bought a much cheaper PC with similar spec and added my own graphics card, but figured it would be easier to go for Dell – how I was wrong!

    My invoice says that the card has 1 DVI and 1 VGA, I was told on the phone it has 2 DVIs. I am calling them now to find out where this is going to go.

  3. Thank you both for you illuminating account’s of Dell’s customer service skills. I am about to order two new gaming laptops with a budget of three thousand pounds each and had narrowed my choice to either the Dell xpsm1730 or Alienware M1 (who are also owned by Dell). Having read your comment’s though, and a number of similar stories from other customer’s, there is simply no way I am going to risk spending a considerable sum of money with a company that has such a poor track record of after sales service.
    Having read Callum’s account what was abundantly clear to me is that the issue is not the particular specifications of the graphics card involved but rather that you were a CUSTOMER of Dell’s and they should be provding you with a first class service. It always amazes me, particularly in these troubled ecoomic times, that any company is able to adopt such a blase attitude towards customer service. Unfortunately I have experienced similar touble with Virgin Media, who have repeatedly debited my account for four times the agreed sum every time the direct debit is due. As per Dell I also get transferred to an Indian Call Centre with virtually no ability to speak English and the end result is that I am changing my broadband supplier.
    I think that the moral of these stories is that big monolithic companies simply cannot/willl not place any value on individual cutomer’s, frequently to their long term detriment no doubt. As such I have research a smaller company called Kobalt computer’s who seem to prize customer service and whilst they are unable to compete on price I don’t mind spending a little extra rather than face the all to familiar nightmare of having to deal with incompetent and uncaring after sales service.

  4. Hey Phil – great to hear that there are quantifiable knock-on effects from this post! I recently emailed their customer complaints department (no reply yet) and pointed them to this thread so hopefully they will see your response.

  5. I have just spent 30mins trying to get DELL to honour the 3 year waranty that I bought with my £2,500 PC 28 months ago. They were adament that I had to pay additional charges to get it fixed. Absolutely no way would I buy from DELL again. I would rather pay someone else to fix PC than pay DELL I don’t need the hassle and I don’t have the time to waste. I would warn everybody that in my opinion I have been mis-sold a 3 year waranty Their business is obviously doing so well they can treat existing customers very poorly have no interest in repeat business and their business plan is obviously to find new mugs to keep their failing business going. I see Mr Dell is in China very recently I hope they take heed of Mr Putin and give him the bums rush and save themselves endless future trouble and heartache if the need to call on what is laughably termed CUSTOMER SERVICE.

  6. This is interesting because I have never had a customer service problem with dell. In fact they always helped me with my computer even when it was out of it’s warranty. I just wrote a couple articles on customer service that can be found here

  7. Service is not anything Dell offers thy need to find a way to give something in the way of IT.

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