Like most of you, in my far distant past I used to offer to build PC’s for friends and family, I had plenty of spare time and the know-how to help people who otherwise would have to spend stupid amounts of money to have someone else build a PC for them. This was before Dell came along and offered good value for money and an easy to use on-line ordering system and I pretty much exclusively answered “Dell” whenever anyone asked me which computer they should buy (or worse still, asked me to build one for them).
These days it’s just not worth the time and effort to build your own unless you:
1) know what you’re doing
2) are a tight ass
(I am both, so still build my own PC’s)
Imagine my shock when after years of recommending but never actually buying a Dell, I decided to follow my own advice and sample their wares. The old Asus laptop Kristie is using for the business is on it’s last legs and it was time to look around for a replacement and taking advantage of the extra tax deduction for small businesses was a little extra incentive to do it soon.
I did a small amount of research and based on good experience with the Dell Studio 15 which we won last year in a competition I ordered a Dell Studio 17, pretty much stock except for increasing the screen res to 1920×1200 and a custom pink casing, using a 15% off coupon and moneybackco (5% rebate from Dell) saved me another $200ish bringing the total to about $1200, comparing this to the specs (which aren’t important for this rant) on equal laptops from other manufacturers and this couldn’t be beaten.
So I pushed the order button and waited 8 business days and I cracked it open plugged it in and turned it on to be greeted with this:
Lovely I thought, a familiar sight to anyone who’s ever overclocked a video card (no, I didn’t) and my immediate thought was that the shitty on-board GPU was shot. I promptly then went on holidays for nine days and forgot all about the laptop and this problem. One other thing I noticed and didn’t think much of it was that it was missing a webcam and fingerprint scanner (which are supposed to be standard on the Studio laptops), I didn’t give it another thought until talking to a friend she informed me that her Studio 17 which she ordered a day after me (on my advice) had both these items.
When we got back I immediately called Dell to try and get the graphical problem sorted out, and enquire about what the hell happened to my webcam and fingerprint scanner.
To cut a long story not so long, I spent two hours on the phone to Dell on the first day going over standard troubleshooting which I had already performed myself (install new drivers, update BIOS, etc etc) but I tolerated it because I know Dell has to satisfy itself that there is an actual hardware issue, the end result of this was having me re-install Vista on a BRAND NEW FRESHLY INSTALLED laptop. Despite knowing it wouldn’t make a lick of difference I did this, and surprise, it didn’t make a lick of difference.
I was promised a call back from a level 2 tech to escalate the issue.
No call back, so I called again, spent another hour and a half with another level 1 script reader in Bangladesh…errr, I mean Melbourne, I also mentioned at that time the missing webcam and scanner and he assured me he would create a case for that issue as well and put me through to Customer Care to talk about that.
I was on hold for 10 minutes then lost the phone connection. I called back and was put on hold and transferred to four different people, each one more clueless than the last until finally I was told all the Customer Care people were busy and they would call me back.
I called again and got through to Tech Support, after going through all the same old shit again, with some new shit this time (he actually told me to install the “Studio 17 Wallpaper” as part of the diagnosis process, for an ultimate WTF moment) and an hour and a half more of my time he finally ordered a replacement motherboard to be installed. Presumably this would solve the problem, but wouldn’t help me much with the missing webcam and fingerprint scanner.
So I tried once again to talk to Customer Care and after being on hold for 20+ minute finally spoke to a human who wasn’t completely unhelpful or unsympathetic but said she had to get approval to waive the $200 fee associated with a returning a product (another WTF moment). I smelled a shitfight while I tried to explain that I ordered a laptop with a webcam and fingerprint scanner but didn’t get one, again, promised a call back later today, it’s currently 3:30 and I’m not holding my breath.
So a total of about six hours on the phone and still no solution to a simple problem.
I also twittered randomly while waiting on the phone, here’s a transcript because I know if you’ve read this far you love pain (in reverse date order, oldest last):
- 1hr 30mins and I may have a solution, maybe, but the promise that they will call me back today doesn’t inspire confidence #dell
- 1hr 15mins, finally get on to Customer Care and she can’t find the case the tech support guy says he created
- 52mins #dell
- @justinitsuj I think I know the script better then they do now.
- On hold for 10 minutes, he’s gone off to get a coffee and forgotten about me (I was going to say CURRY, but that’s racial profiling), right?
- @justinitsuj luckily I haven’t got anything of value on there, they already had me install Vista again, clean install, problem still there
- Install video drives again, install wallpaper (huh?!), re-flash BIOS, here we go…
- 30 minutes and counting and I’m about where I have been with every other tech support drone, no progress.
- Back on the phone with #Dell, one of this clowns diagnostic steps is to install the specific studio wallpaper, all I have to say is WTF
- "Our customer care representatives are all busy at the moment, I will have one call you back by the end of today" – yeah, right.
- Person number five just hung up on me, I hardly said anything apart from that innocent comment about her mother!
- Stop putting me through to tech support when my issue is NOT technical, sheesh. #dell
- Shoot me now.
- At least their on hold music doesn’t suck too much, if "doesn’t suck" means Kenny G, ugh.
- Gave up after being on hold to nowhere for 5 minutes, trying again, ho hum.
- not=now, still on hold with gawd knows who…I think I’ll just ask for a refund and save myself the next 3 hours on the phone
- Oh great, he put me through to someone else and they are not putting me through to someone else…the journey continues.
- I think I’ve been hung up on, we were
getting on so well too! Oh wait, there he is…..aaaand, I’m on hold again……
- (Zeus is not the -fake- name of the guy on the other end of the phone)
- On phone to Dell tech support, Zeus help me!
I had always recommended Dell on the basis of the apparent value for money and support. This experience hasn’t been terrible enough to make me stop telling people to buy Dell rather than offer to build them a PC, because I’d rather open that can of works again but I will be less enthusiastic in the future and will provide a caveat that Dell are great if you don’t have any issues or don’t mind talking to a phone operator with more training on how to speak with an American accent than on how to actually deal with a technical issue other than reading from a script.
This may seem like a long whinge over something insignificant but the bottom line is it took way too long to get the technical issue to a point where they would admit an obvious fault (and organise a repair) and I also did not get the item I ordered, the process to sort that out is looking to be just as long if not longer than the technical issue resolution.
We’ll see, will report results.