Dell – Your Customer Support Has Failed Me Big Time

As I mentioned last week, I had to send my Dell Latitude XT in for repair due to a faulty N-Trig digitizer driver install. A series of  installs had messed up the firmware on the digitizer so badly that the system no longer recognized it. Fortunately, the XT is still under warranty, so all I had to do was call Dell and have them replace the digitizer. That took several phone calls, running diagnostics over the phone, etc. I had one support rep tell me that my Latitude XT was not a real PC. I had another rep tell me that the diagnostics was taking too long to run, so I needed to call them back when it was finished.

I was finally able to get a decent support rep who expedited my issue. Dell sent a box over the next day and I promptly shipped the Latitude XT off to them. A week later, I received the Latitude XT and imagine my disappointment to find that they did NOT fix the system at all. The digitizer still did not work, and from what I could tell, they didn’t touch anything on my Latitude XT. Frustrated, I called Dell again. They arranged a second pickup. The box came the next day, and I promptly shipped the system back to them. Another week later, my Latitude XT finally came back to me repaired. That’s two weeks with no PC, 3 to 4 hours on the phone, dealing with something that should have only taken 1 phone call and 1 shipment.

This morning I was doing some digging around Windows 7 RC and noticed that the system properties on the XT was reporting only 1 GB of RAM. I knew I had sent the Latitude XT in to the repair facility with 3 GB. So, just to make sure Windows 7 wasn’t flaking out on me, I popped the memory panel open off the back of the XT and sure enough the DIMM B slot was missing my 2 GB DIMM. Beyond frustrated, I called Dell yet again to find out what happened to my missing memory. I just finished spending 30 minutes on the phone with their repair facility going over this issue. They told me that they will try to locate my missing RAM, and if they can’t find it, that they would ship me a replacement 2 GB next day.

Dell, your technical support and repair facility has been an utter failure for me and has left me being one very disappointed Dell customer. This latest mishap, coupled with my overall experience with the Latitude XT, has me looking at anything but Dell when it comes to buying new systems for myself and my small business clients.

27 Comments

  1. Genghis Khent

    05/04/2009 at 9:55 am

    Yikes! That’s “support” only in a 1984, Orwellian sense.

    Out of curiosity, which support level did you buy when you purchased the XT? The answer would not excuse Dell’s horrendous performance. I’m just curious if Dell’s support is this bad even with their “Pro” (formerly “Gold”) support, as that’s what I get when I buy Dells where I’m network admin. Thanks. Jeff

    Reply

  2. Rob Bushway

    05/04/2009 at 9:58 am

    I didn’t get Gold support. Just whatever support came with a 3 year warranty, ship to depot.

    Reply

  3. DaveTN

    05/04/2009 at 10:10 am

    I used to recommend Dell to everyone but in the last couple years their support AND quality has been abysmal. Many of the laptops and PC’s that I repair are Dells and I’m asked to repair them because Dell could not. In fact, I have two Dell laptops on my workbench awaiting troubleshooting becasue the owners became so frustrated with Dell support and gave up on them.
    In contrast, HP has improved their support quite a bit and has taken over as my “recommended” system. Not to say they are perfect…Just significantly better than Dell.
    David

    Reply

  4. elmstrom

    05/04/2009 at 10:15 am

    I have an Dell XT with Pro/gold support, and the support is the best i ever had. Really.. i had problems 2 times, and i called and told what was wrong and that said that they had to replace motherboard, and so they did with no argument and within 24 hours at my own desk. (first time i had the panel over the keyboard break alittle lose, and also had it fixed at home with in 24 hours).

    Reply

  5. blash

    05/04/2009 at 10:44 am

    All I can say is I spilled milk on the screen of my Lenovo X200T and it still works. Dunno why I’d ever buy anything else.

    Reply

  6. Cem Karadeniz

    05/04/2009 at 11:03 am

    Lenovo support and shipping is the worst. I had to wait 26 days for my package (X61). Then I called them to cancel the order after I made sure that it’s not yet shipped. They apologized and said that they cancelled. One week after I received the package and saw that my credit card was charged. Never Lenovo again. Dell is better.

    Reply

  7. Clayton

    05/04/2009 at 11:59 am

    People complain back and forth over which is better. Dell is better this and Lenovo is better that.

    Personal experience–with all the encounters I’ve had with Lenovo getting support and having things shipped, it’s been good. Great, even. Dell? Blech. I’ll never go near one of those cheapy things again.

    In the end, I think every company’s tech support is similar. You get good cases, you get bad cases. So buy the product that lasts longer and is more durable. I leave that up to the reader to decide which is which. :)

    Reply

  8. Erich

    05/04/2009 at 12:10 pm

    About service.
    I accidentally posted this on the wrong place. Other post.

    Some time ago I bought a Fujitsu Lifebook T4215.
    It has a bay for either CD/DVD or extra battery.
    It arrived with a broken connector on the mother board.
    Via email I received an RMA number. They said they would email me when the item was received at their report depot.

    Monday morning I received email confirming arrival of the computer. WEDNESDAY, SAME WEEK AT 12:30 PM UPS DELIVERED THE REPAIRED TABLET PC !!!
    NOW, THAT’S SERVICE.

    Reply

  9. Lou

    05/04/2009 at 12:32 pm

    It isn’t a lot of money (on a high end laptop at least) to
    get the CompleteCare and the Next business day service from Dell.

    That may not save you that much time on the phone or chat to get them to send you the right part or to send out a tech but in this case your laptop never leaves you. Also, I’ve been traveling, had a problem with my laptop, called Dell and had the tech show up at the hotel the next day.

    Reply

  10. GoodThings2Life

    05/04/2009 at 1:37 pm

    I decided years ago that mail-in repair centers were a joke. I have since-then always opted for the “on-site” and “self-repair” warranty options, in spite of them being more expensive. This way, someone shows up that I can supervise if I’m not comfortable doing it myself.

    Reply

  11. mobileman

    05/04/2009 at 2:33 pm

    I just thought about switching from Lenovo to Dell about after your experiences I surely will stay with Lenovo.The Lenovo service as far as me concerned was very good.I was just interested in the XT and LED display.

    It would be interesting what experiences you had with Lenovo support?

    If that was better I would say go back to Lenovo.

    Reply

  12. Tuur

    05/04/2009 at 2:55 pm

    I have to agree with Elstrom: my XT had 2 times some problems: motherboard and later again networkcard. in both cases they changed the motherboard, networkcard and keyboard.

    When the problems kept going on I told them (more for a joke) that they could better deliver me a brand new XT. Couple of seconds silent on the other side and then the Dell man told me that would be the best solution.
    3 days later my brand new XT was delivered, together with media bay and extra battery and powercord. I just sended the old XT back to them and kept the original media bay, battery slice and powercord. So now I never run out of power :-)

    Hope this all works out for you anyway Rob!

    Reply

  13. AP

    05/04/2009 at 3:28 pm

    Like Tuur I had heat issues with my XPS (not XT) with several repairs so casually asked for a new XPS and was transferred to the supervisor. I thought I might have to argue with the supervisor but he just agreed and I got a new XPS delivered in 3 days with an extra battery. Also Dell let me swap the hard drive from my old laptop as I didn’t want to reinstall all programs. Rob, may be you should give it a try.

    Reply

  14. Rob Bushway

    05/04/2009 at 3:33 pm

    thanks everyone for your stories and experiences. Because of some customers and their experiences with Dell, I’m definitely aware of the repeat problem resolution – get a replacement system. I’ve had to enact that several times. In fact, this Latitude I’m on right now is a replacement unit from when I first got the system last year….

    Reply

  15. Charles

    05/04/2009 at 5:58 pm

    Losing your DIMM is beyond the pale. Doesn’t sound like they even needed to play with your RAM to address your XT’s issues. Makes me wonder what else they unnecessarily played around with. Oh and BTW, the word you should use in your headline and text is “failure”, not “fail”. I only mention it because I came upon your website a couple of weeks ago and never fail to read it every day. One of the most informative around (I guess because we have the same interests).

    Reply

  16. Rob Bushway

    05/04/2009 at 6:19 pm

    thanks for that correction, Charles. I appreciate the encouragement, too.

    I changed the title

    Reply

  17. harv

    05/04/2009 at 9:09 pm

    Rob,

    This is as disappointing as it is expected. I remember when Sierra had to wait 42 days for HP to find (yes, they lost her tablet) and repair her 2710p. I’ve always had the quality of Dell’s service thrown at me by IT admins as the reason they won’t entertain any other brand. But I’ve always had an experience similar to yours, bad.
    And yet, I’ve been continuously hearing that Fujitsu has always been the top perfromer when it comes to service, because they have been the supplier of choice to UPS and FEDEX for years and have had those accounts to fund/lubricate/exercise their service network.

    Reply

  18. Ben

    05/04/2009 at 10:56 pm

    i can’t believe they actually stole your RAM. it’s so bad it’s kinda funny. when i sent my x61t in for the pealing bezel issue, i was scared something like that would happen to me too. i thought about putting the original memory back in, but didn’t. fortunately, lenovo didn’t steal my ram. but they didn’t actually fix my bezel either, that i can see.

    Reply

  19. Mike

    05/05/2009 at 3:09 am

    Sorry to hear about your trouble Rob. I can tell you that I’ve been through MUCH MUCH worse through HP though. Everything from HP charging my credit card erroneously to having them blame me for their mistakes and never apologizing after they realized it. I must have spent at least 15 hours in total on the phone getting everything fixed, and I went through 3 different monitors before keeping a 4th one. It would take me a few pages to explain everything. My understanding is that Apple has the best customer support but even they aren’t immune to mistakes. Unfortunately, these tech companies are really cut throat in profits and customer support is one of the spots where corners get cut.

    Reply

  20. ChrisBatDell

    05/05/2009 at 7:41 am

    Rob:

    Sorry to hear of the problems you had with technical support. While we strive to provide the best support possible for our customers, sometimes issues slip through the cracks.

    Was the memory originally purchased with the system, or did you purchase it from a 3rd party?

    The reason I ask, is if a motherboard was replaced on the computer, they may have replaced and installed memory as shown from the original configuration.

    Having said that, support should have made note of the additional hardware added and replaced before shipping back.

    Let me know if you run into any other issues moving forward, I’ll be happy to assist as needed.

    Regards,

    Chris Byrd
    Dell Digital Life Evangelist

    Reply

  21. Rob Bushway

    05/05/2009 at 8:56 am

    thank you, Chris. The unit I sent in, I believe, was originally ordered with 3 gb of RAM. It’s been a while, so I’m not sure. Regardless, whether it was OEM install or third-party, the RAM should have been put back in. I’m not sure if they replaced the motherboard or not, but wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

    Thanks for following up and posting. It is good to know that we are not all talking in an echo chamber.

    Reply

  22. Dayanim

    05/05/2009 at 10:34 am

    Whats really gotten to me lately is my realisation that the XT (the Ntrig digitiser specifically) dont support pen pressure functionality in corel or adobe suites, GIMP and other software. This seems like a big hole in the “tightness” of this product. While it is to a major part an N-trig issue, Dell should have started dealing with this the first time they heard about it.

    I must say, immediately after buying the XT, I was very impressed with Dell. I really love the XT. It had its issues but overall it was a great experience. I assumed the issues would slowly be dealt with. Problem was they were’nt, the same issues kept cropping up and support was not fantastic, especially being the first tablet the company released.

    Ive had to reduce my recommendations of Dell because they have dropped off in customer service, of that theres no doubt.

    Reply

  23. XT_Guy

    05/05/2009 at 10:17 pm

    Heard rumors on the HP Touchsmart board that N-trig may be developing a wintab driver for their pen. As much as MSFT likes to push their standard USB HID, I guess Corel and Adobe are still stuck with their Win 95 Vintage Wintab drivers…

    Reply

  24. Nick

    05/06/2009 at 12:26 pm

    Sadly I feel that lately Lenovo support has been falling as well. I have sent my x61 Tablet in twice already for a screen issue and twice I have gotten it back with the exact same issue. One time it took me 2 weeks to get my laptop again. Frustrated I called again and I have to ship it off again….Its ridiculous that here I pay money for a service and do not receive what I have paid for. If my laptop comes back to me after a 3rd time of sending it in for the same repair, I am pretty sure I am going take action to get the money I have paid for said service back. They even disconnected my fingerprint reader and didnt reattach it!!

    Reply

  25. Sara Fauzia

    05/06/2009 at 2:16 pm

    Lenovo On-Site Warranty, with Accident Damage Protection (for four years) is absolutely THE best. I sent a message to Lenovo via an online form, and I was receiving a call back in less than ten minutes. Because a holiday was around the corner (I can’t remember which one, maybe it was Christmas), they couldn’t come right there and then, but the gentleman came soon enough. I had spilled some type of fruit juice on my screen that had created some completely non-removable stain (I’d already tried Shwamee, which I purchased on Gottabemobile’s recommendation), so my screen was replaced. He did a very neat and professional job. He accidentally (I can swear he double-checked everything, so I don’t blame him in the least) set the cover over the screen slightly incorrectly, so that the downwards navigational dial didn’t work. He came back in, I think a day or two later (very promptly after I called in), and fixed it. Lenovo hadn’t understood my complaint correctly though, because he came in thinking he had to replace the whole handrest, and had the parts on hand. He fixed the navigational dial, and everything has been peachy. Lenovo’s truly the best!

    Now I have no regrets over not buying an XT for my mother (now)–I had been tempted by its capacitative touch, but I love Lenovo’s attention to design–and it’s customer service :). I’m truly sorry… how much longer does your warranty last? I’d hate for anything worse to happen once it’s over!

    Reply

  26. Sara Fauzia

    05/06/2009 at 2:21 pm

    However, I should add, as much as I like Lenovo, I’m hesitant about purchasing any warranty that entails me sending a machine back to the company (including Lenovo). I’ve read too many scary stories of what happens–and yours is only the latest. And I can’t go without my computer for even a day, as I rely on it for school. Luckily, the on-site warranty was discounted the day I purchased my tablet. Would you say that you’re not comfortable with depot repairs at all, or only ones with Dell (thus far)?

    Reply

  27. Rob Bushway

    05/06/2009 at 2:25 pm

    On the whole I’d have to say that Depot repairs have not dealt me a good hand regardless of OEM. I much prefer on site repair, but even that can be a little questionable – they only fix the issue for what the part has been delivered for – they never go outside the box if the problem was originally misdiagnosed.

    Reply

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