Friday, April 15, 2005

Dell Technical Support

You can read my post about purchasing an extended warranty for my Dell Inspirion 5150 laptop, but I wanted to tell you about my experience with Dell technical support. Overall I'm very satisfied with the work they did, but it took a bit of work on my part to get them here.

It all started when I purchased this laptop a little over a year ago. I purchased a three year, at home, extended warranty. By buying the three year warranty, Dell threw in the fourth year "free". I was told if I called one day, the next business day someone would be at my house fixing the computer.

My problems started about a week before I called, but I called Dell technical support last Wednesday. I believe I was on hold for about 10 minutes before I could talk to a real person...and here is where the adventure began. I consider myself a NON-prejudice person (does anybody consider themselves prejudice?), but it does frustrate me when the person offering me assistance has such a think accent that I have a hard time understanding them. I hate to have to ask them to repeat what they said over and over again.

Dealing with technical support on this issue over three days time, it became apparent that Dell (literally) sends it's technical support calls to India (Bangalor, India to be exact)! When I used tech chat, I was told I was speaking to Raghavendra, but I could call him "James". But I'm getting ahead of myself.

On Wednesday, I tried calling technical support but got tired of being on hold for so long. The Dell website recommends using tech chat, so I got in line for that. Sure enough, I got somebody online before a technician answered the phone (my laptop was working at this time). Only problem with online chat tech support when you are chatting with the problem computer...if you have to reboot, you lose tech support. So I had to end up calling back on the phone. An hour later, as my computer went down never to come back on, it was decided my motherboard, processor and heat sync fan would be replaced under warranty. I was told I would receive a call within 48 hours to schedule a time for a tech to come to my home and fix the computer. At this point, I questioned 48 hours since I was told, when I purchased the warranty, that I should have service the next business day. At this point, I was assured I would have my next day service.

Thursday. Heard nothing from Dell all day. Called around 3pm and told them I had heard nothing. They told me I had a "dispatch number" and could expect a call soon.

Friday morning. Realizing that I would be without my computer all weekend if I did not get a tech to my house that day, I called Dell again. While I was on hold, the recording again suggested online tech support chat. I used my wife's laptop and went online while I was on hold. I finally came to realize if it was possible to use chat, this was a better alternative. For one thing, it was quicker. Secondly, the tech support people in India talk with a VERY thick accent, but you just don't hear it reading their response on the screen. Anyway, I was given a number of the company that was supposed to dispatch someone to my location and I called them. Guess what? They had no record of my dispatch number, and even checking by area code, they were not able to find anything.

Another call (make that "online chat") to Dell. This time, I chatted with "Charles" in India. He was able to help me after making a few calls from his end. They ended up giving my case to a different company. I told "Charles" I wanted to use my cell phone number as the contact number (so the company could schedule a time to fix my computer) and was told he had already given them the phone number they had on file for me (which happened to be my work number). I asked him to change the contact phone number since I was not going to work that day (Friday is my day off). He told me I would have to do that myself and gave me the phone number to call.

So I then called Qualxserv to ask them to change my contact number. After being on hold for 10 minutes, they picked up the phone and I explained why I was calling. I was then told I would need to talk to a Dell representative instead and was transferred BACK to Dell.

By this time, I knew that chat was faster, so I opened yet another chat window with Dell. When I got somebody, I hung up the phone (still on hold). After another 10 minute chat, I was told the contact number was changed. Actually, it was not. Fortunately, Pastor figured out what the call was about when Qualxserv called the church to reach me, and he gave them my phone number. They called, showed up Friday and replaced the motherboard, processor and heat sync fan in 30 minutes.

I am pleased with the end result...Dell did fix my laptop under warranty and my warranty more than paid for itself. I was a bit put out having to spend two additional hours on the phone or online chatting just go get the technician out, but the most frustrating thing to me was shipping my call to India. I honestly don't think I am prejudice against Indians, but since I bought my laptop in the US, I'd rather talk to somebody who has learned English as their primary language and who I can understand without having to ask them to repeat something three times. Dell did right by me, but I sure wish they wouldn't outsource to India.


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