How Dell Computers Lost My Business

closeup photo of black and blue keyboard

The market for my dollars is pretty competitive. Everyone wants them, but I only have so many. Recently I thought for sure I’d be spending a big chunk of money with Dell Computers, to replace the laptop I had stolen during our recent break-in.

The police took the serial number of the computer, and the description, but we haven’t heard anything yet. I tried to log in remotely, but the computer had been powered down to off. I’ll get a notification if there is an attempt to log in, though I expect it’ll be wiped clean before then.

I decided to alert the manufacturer, as my computer was less than a year old and still under warranty, just in case they could do something for me. This was Dell Computers. I reached them through twitter, of all places, by their @DellCares handle.

At first, things seemed good. They took a lot of information, and told me to wait for the results. The person responding was clearly a person. They were prompt, used conversational language, and made me feel like something was being done on my behalf. They were great.

Something they did that was a little strange was insist I get the police report, and scan it, and send it to them. A photo of it was inadequate. Here in Vancouver, that police report costs $55. I mentioned this to them repeatedly. They told me I had been heard and to wait.

I also asked them to be put in touch with their PR division. We’re a artist collective. We make films. That laptop was our production hub. Without it, we’re scrambling. We lost content, and worse, lots of time. It was my thinking that Dell could help us out in some manner, and in return, we could make an ad for them about our experiences, and how they came to the rescue. A feel-good PR kind of thing.

I was told this request had been passed along, and to wait.

I asked several times and was always told to wait. The person on the other end seemed very knowledgeable and attentive, and the waiting seemed legit. Like something was going to happen.

As this time wore on, I started getting theses messages saying this:

We have raised a stolen flag on the service tag if anyone contacts Dell for the service, the warranty will be not valid and the team will get to know the system is a stolen system. If anyone reports any issue with the system and contacts Dell you will be notified.

Very much an automated message, and not at all in character with the person who had been so attentive and helpful.

And then suddenly that person was gone. I was dealing with someone else who was not prompt, and was not helpful, and was barely responsive at all. The grammar took a big nose dive also.

I asked for clarification on the repeated requests that I wait, and was told by a manager, S.K. Rabuni, that I was waiting for the above statement. Except that I’d received that statement twice, and been told to wait after each of those times. I was to get no useful clarification from S.K. Rabuni, only dismissal.

So why did Dell lose my business?

  1. Cold, callous corporate dismissals are a huge turn-off, Dell. You were helpful, and then you weren’t. You had me sold that you were living up to “Dell Cares” and then you pulled that rug out from under me. It’s way worse than being cold the whole time, because now I get to worry about why you were stringing me along.
  2. You wasted my time, Dell. This whole waiting business is unresolved. I’ve lost freelance business time, which is money. In order for me to purchase through your website, I would also have to take on shipping time, which, had you fastforwarded me through to your purchasing department, could have been over a week ago. No thanks.
  3. Your stolen computer policy is really pathetic, Dell. How does any of what you’re doing help me? You’re giving me an alert if someone tries to access the warranty? Is that what you think the criminal element tries to do with stolen computers? And why give me the alert? Am I supposed to triangulate their position, bust in with my posse, and take it back? What a load of crap.
  4. You made a bunch of weird, incomprehensible moves, Dell. I don’t want to buy a computer from a company that’s this confused with communications. It makes me worry about quality control, and the tone shift from customer service makes me worry there’s a toxic work environment somewhere.
  5. The end result is that Dell got a whole lot of my personal information. This is the scary one. I forwarded plenty of personal info to Dell to complete the stolen item report. There’s almost nothing being done for me, except that if my computer is returned before the warranty expires, I’ll probably have to fight to get it back. But Dell got info, and big companies like info, and I expect it’ll be used by their company in some manner. Super gross.

This really sucks, because I built that computer custom, and it was really sweet. I’d love to replace it exactly the way it was, except I do not have the budget, and like I say here, Dell has lost my business. And there are too many competitors out there for me to weigh the positives highly enough.

To be clear, I do not expect Dell to jump in and replace my laptop. Some possible avenues of help, however, are the following:

  • Putting me in touch with sales so I could get to replacing the machine
  • Waiving or discounting the expedited shipping fee for a machine purchased this way
  • Pro-rating the amount of warranty value lost and putting it towards a discount
  • Being clear from the get-go what the extent of their ability to help is.
  • Putting an agent in touch with me so that if I could not get the same machine again, I could get something close.
  • Granting my request to change the conversation venue away from twitter.
  • Giving me the indication you could handle a customer service issue of another kind, like a broken component. I’m not certain, based on my interaction, that you would be able to help in a standard warranty issue. Or willing.

Very sad, Dell. This is your loss, not mine. There are plenty of computer makers out there.

Buyers beware.

Thanks for reading.

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