Dell Growing Deaf To EECBs

Seth wrote in to describe the response he got from Dell recently, and compared it to the response he got four years ago. That was a more innocent time, before rags like BusinessWeek blew the lid on our EECB strategy by printing it in old media that execs would read.



I think readers on Consumerist might find this interesting… with all the emails being sent to executives these days, are they becoming deaf to it? It appears at Dell that might be the case.

A comparison:

Four years ago, I wrote to Kevin Rollins, the then CEO of Dell, about a prolonged problem with a monitor. I received a very quick and friendly reply from Mr. Rollins, which was copied to two other executives. One being Ro Parra and the other I can’t recall. The issue was SOLVED, sincere apologies were made, and I was thanked for letting them know about the problems.

Three weeks ago, I wrote a top-level executive at Dell about a problem with the same product. I received no reply from the executive, but got handed off to something called the customer resolutions center. The representative was curt, unhelpful and misinformed about technology and just about everything else. She even gave me the infamous “I have no supervisor” reply when I asked for hers. When I did speak to her supervisor, he was very professional, but since then has never returned one of my calls.

Apparently, at Dell writing to executives no longer has quite the punch.

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t think executives are required to write back to every customer that emails them. But the message I got from Dell four years ago was crystal clear: customers first. The message I got three weeks ago was… don’t write us, we’ll write you?

I think I’ll stick with companies that welcome hearing directly from customers.

Seth

Comments

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  1. Skellbasher says:

    There seems to be a trend of folks that launch the EECB first before proceeding through the normal channels.

    Not saying that Seth is one of them, but I’m guessing that execs may be less than receptive to being the first contact on problems.

  2. DrGirlfriend says:

    I guess it was bound to happen eventually – the more well-known a tactic is, the more it is used, and therefore its effect is lessened.

  3. Copper says:

    @Skellbasher: Well of course. Why frustrate yourself with the idiotic customer service reps who can barely speak English (not necessarily because they’re foreign…could be because they’re just stupid Americans) when you can go right to the top?

    (sarcasm…)

  4. workingonyourinvoice says:

    ATT has the same type of problem. They’re executive support department is about as mentally handicapped as their regular support department. They’re surly, cut you off, and are generally unpleasant to deal with in every way. They also make promises to call you back and never do. I even had one tell me that she was in the process of shipping me a brand new wireless dsl modem, and two weeks later it had never been shipped. I still can’t believe I pay them for the shit they call “service”.

  5. johnva says:

    @Skellbasher:
    I agree, to a point.

    Of course, if the executives at a company are getting harassed by a lot of people, maybe their proper course should be to actually do something to fix their shoddy “normal” customer service. Instead of viewing customers as a nuisance, they should view that as a prime opportunity to understand how things are breaking down in their company and FIX IT. That’s what they get paid the big bucks for, right?

  6. PeteyNice says:

    To steal a line from Fark, Dell Sucks Trifecta Now In Play.

  7. workingonyourinvoice says:

    @johnva: that’s just crazy talk. And shame on your for suggesting it at all.

  8. evslin says:

    @johnva: I thought they got paid the big bucks to be the fall guy when the shareholders get pissed off. Oh, and to play golf too.

  9. shan6 says:

    How I long for better days. Days when companies were afraid to lose your business.

  10. consumerd says:

    @workingonyourinvoice:

    ATT has the same type of problem. They’re executive support department is about as mentally handicapped as their regular support department. They’re surly, cut you off, and are generally unpleasant to deal with in every way. They also make promises to call you back and never do. I even had one tell me that she was in the process of shipping me a brand new wireless dsl modem, and two weeks later it had never been shipped. I still can’t believe I pay them for the shit they call “service”.

    Might post over here and talk to these people. They seem to solve problems for DSL customers quite often. I didn’t even have to call these people or waste any time on the phone with my questions. If you can do simple s**t and follow directions these guys and gals are 100% (least in my eyes) better than calling them. I can waste 15min of my day to get answers I could rely on, or waste 2 hours on the phone with an answer I am not even sure of. I won’t ever waste my time and call them ever again.

    [www.dslreports.com]

    1.) Register there first- it’s free!
    2.) Hit the “new topic” button from the link above (top right hand side)
    3.) Follow the directions and post away.

    It’s just about idiot proof as you can get, and you talk to the real techs, not clowns!

  11. SuffolkHouse says:

    I’m glad I read this. My wife was about to buy a Dell. We are deciding between a Dell and a Mac.

  12. KyleOrton says:

    @evslin: If taking the fall means a big bonus and lifetime benefits when the company tanks, I’ll be an exec any day. Hell, I’ll take the blame for Comp USA, Sharper Image and the Iraq war and live like a king!

  13. @Copper: LOL, the last three places I’ve had to call for customer service have had the phone banks at HQ in Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota. All these lovely well-spoken uber-friendly midwesterners with upper-midwest accents so cute I just want to hug them through the phone! They all sound like the mom on That 70s Show.

    I’m starting to think all call centers should be moved to the upper midwest because they’re just so friendly and REALLY want you to have a nice day.

  14. CaliforniaCajun says:

    If he’s had to send two EECBs in the past four years to get things made right, why is he still buying their crap products from their crap company?

  15. CaliforniaCajun says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Buy the Mac. You can use your Mac OS, and your wife can still run Windows on it with no problem.

  16. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Then do so based on your research on the quality and value of the hardware as well as the quality of service and warranty. Not on a single gift card policy.

  17. Buran says:

    “The message I got three weeks ago was… don’t write us, we’ll write you?”

    I get this from prospective employers. They’re nice … until it comes time to cough up the second interview or an offer. Then, it’s “What? You called us? We never got that message. They’re not in right now, they’ll call you back when they can.” And they never do.

  18. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda: Nevermind. I thought we were in the Apple gift card post.

  19. ludwigk says:

    O RLY?? You mean you complained to some exec about a problem with a 4-year old display, and they didnt jump to attention? Give me a break. Eecb’s are way overused by consumers who want everything their way all the time , now now now wahh!!!

    Did you even consider that an executives time, which is used to make top level decisions is better spent not dealing with your monitor? Of course not. To you, “customer first” means “ME – at the expense of others!”

    When a csr says that they have no manager, it usually means one of two things:

    - your case does not warrant a managers attention.

    - the csr works without managerial oversight, and I can give away product whenever they deem it necessary, but they see no reason to appease you.

  20. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Thanks Chris for posting my story.

    Just to quickly clarify: I didn’t send what Consumerist calls an EECB. In both cases, I simply emailed one executive at Dell. When I referred to other people being copied, that was done by the CEO when he replied.

  21. stageright says:

    @Skellbasher: I see no reason not to launch an EECB, but you really SHOULD go through proper channels first. Going with an EECB right away is a good way to destroy them as a tool.

    Of course, the average American has so many entitlement issues, you have to sort of assume that the EECB will be gone by the end of the year…

  22. jonnyobrien says:

    Dell’s problem is they are Dell-focused rather than Customer-focused. They lose customers daily becausse they have a rigid system that involves paper sheets and check boxes in the face of actual ownership of a customer problem.

    I enjoy getting the email from a Dell rep with their managers email asking the customer to tell them how they are doing. When I’ve used this contact info, I got someone who was as clueless and as powerless as the first rep. When you reach higher, the higher-up passes the buck back to the low levels.

    Over a year I spend about 15k a week with Dell and get treated like crap each and every time. Can we buy anywhere else? Hell, no. Dell offered our pointy-haired boss a deal to buy only from them.

    Dell sucks. They must on some level know it, and wonder why their stock price keeps dropping and sales are off. If you’re counting on Best Buy and Staples to boost sales, you are in serious trouble.

  23. Michael Belisle says:

    @Seth_Went_to_the_Bank: Did you try regular customer service on the new problem, before emailing the CEO again?

    I learned my lesson in that department once: if your problem is marked “resolved”, then you go back to the beginning on a new one (unless you got explicit instructions otherwise). A recurrence of the same problem still counts as “new”.

    Hypothetically, the CEO has fixed the customer service problem in the meantime. In reality, customer service is probably still broken so you want to be able to say so.

  24. selectman says:

    @ludwigk: You sound suspiciously like an angry CSR yourself. One who has lost sight of what the S in CSR stands for and why cases like these are in fact worth your manager’s attention.

  25. Michael Belisle says:

    @Michael Belisle: When I said “emailing the CEO again” I meant “emailing a top-level executive”. It’s also quite possible the CEO had a better attitude than the “top-level executive”.

  26. Coder4Life says:

    is this guy bitching about the same monitor that is now 3 years old and wants a replacement or what?

    b/ I would of done the same thing. serioulsy it’s 3 years old.

    That’s like buying a 2008 lexus and in 2018 going and being like uh my car has a problem fix it..

  27. csdiego says:

    Makes me glad I talked my parents out of buying a Dell system recently.

  28. Coder4Life says:

    @SuffolkHouse: You are basing your decision off of some guy that is complaining about a 3 or 4 year old monitor are you kidding.

    On top of that you would be deciding between a PC or MAC. Not DELL or MAC.

    that’s like saying I was trying to decide over a Honda Accord or a SUV. No it would be trying to decide over a sedan or suv.

    Some of these articles should not be published seriously.

  29. MelL says:

    @jonnyobrien: I like to think Dell’s success as a company is it’s weakness in that they’ve gathered such a large amount of customers, they’ve lost the ability to be able to deal with them as humans as opposed to mere numbers.

  30. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    I tried to keep the story focused on the response I received, but I’ll fill in some questions:

    The initial contact to Kevin Rollins came after Dell replaced the monitor twice and both were defective. One didn’t even turn on. Also, Dell kept wanting to send refurbished replacements and at that point I found that unacceptable.

    The recent contact came because, frankly, I think the display (the 1800FP) is a lemon. Apparently, so do a lot of other people. There is a well-known problem with the internal power supply failing. I wanted to know what, if anything, Dell would do after I had so many previous issues with the monitor. In response to Coder4Life, if you were driving a 2005 Lexus and found out many people were having the same problems as you in 2008, I don’t believe you’d say “oh well the car is old.” I think you’d say “this stinks.” And I think you’d want to know if Lexus knew about the problems.

    I don’t want to get off on a tangent – what started as a customer feeling burned became a different issue. Even if I disagree with a customer, that doesn’t mean I am curt, unhelpful or do not return a customer’s calls. That’s all there is to it.

  31. Michael Belisle says:

    @Coder4Life: First and last points are good. But “Dell versus Mac” is valid comparison:

    A Dell is not a Mac, so “Honda Accord or a SUV” breaks down. Your second analogy sucks because Mac implies Apple. Is there just one manufacturer of either sedans or SUVs? I didn’t think so.

    Furthermore, a Mac is a PC (Personal Computer). So, in fact, your discounted your own comparison.

    It’s Mac, not MAC. Mac is short for “Macintosh” not an abbreviation.

  32. Michael Belisle says:

    @Seth_Went_to_the_Bank: Last question: Was it under warranty then and is it under warranty now? I’m just guessing here:

    The 1800FP seemed to have a standard 3-year warranty and might have come out in 2002. So it was definitely under warranty in 2004. But it’s now 4 years later. Even a full 3-year warranty from the date of the last replacement would be expired. So what’s your case?

    I’m not surprised that the executive blew you off. It’s out of their hands.

  33. lhong says:

    Good to see the OP answering questions here.

    Seth, from a previous response, it sounds like you emailed this executive as a first option. Is this correct? Also, is *your* monitor dead, or are you basing your complaint on other people’s experiences?

  34. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Skellbasher: When normal channels get a reputation for not working, or when you have personal experience with them not working, why SHOULD you bother to try them first?

    Customers do not work for Dell, and are not obligated to follow its chain of command.

    If Dell wants to start funnelling EECBs back into the regular customer service queue, fine. But if they do that without fixing what got customers fed up with it in the first place, well, they should take a long hard look at Gateway.

  35. snowpuff says:

    You guys seem kind of hung up on when he bought it. But there was just a story on Consumerist about a guy with 3 year old lighting equipment far out of warranty. The company replaced all $900 of it. And they copped to some of the equipment having reported problems. And that was before the story was on Consumerist. The executive can do whatever he chooses to do about the complaint. Maybe they owe him nothing more than thank you for your letter but blowing off a customer is not on my list of companies I do biz with.

  36. trujunglist says:

    Since EECBs are being handed off to regular CSRs, that just means we have to invent a new EECB. I propose the term UEECB, where the U = Ultra. Ultra is really about as extreme as it gets.. I learned that from playing Killer Instinct.

  37. jonnyobrien says:

    @MelL

    Dells success is based on people like my bozos, I mean bosses agreeing to buy exclusively from Dull.

    It boggles the mind that I can speak to the same rep every week and spend 15k at a whack and still I have to repeat who I am to him and my customer number. I have reps I talk to annually and still can remember who I am and where I work. Though usually I start the conversation, ‘Hi Bob, this is John from XYZ Corp.’ That doesn’t even get a response from my Dell sales team who I speak to on a weekly basis.

    Dell sales sucks. Dell service sucks. And the Dell outsourced employees who are in bangalore suck the worst. If I can talk to Mohinder in Austin, why do I have to talk to Billy-Bob in India?

    I suppose I should just moo and accept my place as cattle.

  38. Michael Belisle says:

    @snowpuff: Right. Not doing business with Dell is the correct action in this case. Dell is not an “above and beyond” company.

    @TechnoDestructo: You should try them first because that’s step #1 (and #2) of how to launch an EECB. Excessive EECBs that could have been handled had the person gone to regular customer service first facilitate adaptation: It makes it harder for people who have serious problems to get an executive on the line.

  39. drjayphd says:

    @trujunglist: So when the executive in question dumps you off, do they get to say “C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!”? I think they should, but that’s probably just me.

  40. jamar0303 says:

    This is why I buy Panasonic.

  41. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Skellbasher: i agree with you there. the execs have a lot to do and one should trust the csr to handle their issue first. if that doesn’t resolve the issue, climb the ladder. the execs would want to deal with you if for whatever reason, the issue cannot get resolved by the lower chains of command.

    immediately going to the execs will get you dismissed.

  42. 995ov says:

    This is why Dell never cross my mind why buying new PC and I make sure that all I know do the same

  43. DOughhh says:

    I’ve owned three Dell LCD monitors and not once have I had an issue. Maybe I am considered extremely lucky? I’ve purchased the 19″ 1907fp, 20″ 2007fp, and 24″ widescreen 2408wfp. If my 19″ went out, which i purchased over three years ago, I wouldn’t complain as it is passed its warranty coverage. Typically your warranty period doesn’t start over when you have it replaced, it continues from the original purchase date.

    The fact that you purchased this monitor over four years ago, had it warrantied two times, and now are trying to warranty it after the original warranty has expired is ridiculous. To me it seems you sent the email to try and see what you could get, if anything. Although you probably should have tried the proper channels first, at least to establish a case. You guessed going to the top first is worth a try. When it didn’t yield anything you got mad.
    psst.. your warranty expired

    From reading reviews and other posts, it’s obvious Dells’ customer service is slacking. At the same time, executives shouldn’t be bombarded with emails from customers with expired warranties.

    As for your response earlier:
    “In response to Coder4Life, if you were driving a 2005 Lexus and found out many people were having the same problems as you in 2008, I don’t believe you’d say “oh well the car is old.” I think you’d say “this stinks.” And I think you’d want to know if Lexus knew about the problems.”

    Difference here being the warranty on the Lexus is longer than 3 years and would cover a broken cigarette lighter.

  44. Geoff-at-Dell says:

    Seth,

    I sent an email to Chris yesterday in the hope that I could get in touch with you directly. You should have an email from him with my contact information. If not, I’m sure if you contact Chris he can pass it along again.

    I’d be happy to take a look into what’s happened and see if we can help get things resolved.

  45. consummate says:

    @Geoff-at-Dell: I’m gonna guess that you’re one of Dell’s “Customer Advocates”. While you’re here, how about explaining why Dell doesn’t respond to e-mail. I have sent two e-mails via the Unresolved Issues page and one to customer_advocate@dell.com . It’s been over 2 weeks and NO ONE HAS RESPONDED. This is why we resort to EECBs.

  46. John-at-Dell says:

    I am one of those “Customer Advocates”.

    While I can’t really speak for the unresolved issues queue, I would be happy to explain why you didn’t receive a response to your unsolicited email to the customer advocate mailbox.

    Our mailbox is not, and never should be, considered as a contact point for general problems. Our team is proactive, and as a result, we needed a generic and anonymous email address to post on blogs and forums when we needed to provide a contact email for customers we are trying to reach out to. The reasoning? Putting an email address on a public post was sure to draw attention, both spammers and customers who would otherwise resort to EECBs. It was never the intended function of that box to be a first point of contact. When we receive emails which haven’t been solicited by one of our agents, we forward those emails to whichever group it really should be going to. In your case, you mail may have been forwarded to the unresolved issues mailbox as an unsolicited contact.

    That being said, I am now going to solicit your email to the customer advocate mailbox. Please send your correspondence to customer_advocate@dell.com and use “ATTN:John” as the subject line. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

    John
    Dell Customer Advocate

  47. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Geoff,

    I emailed you and left you a phone message. Did you get the messages?

    Seth

  48. Seth_Went_to_the_Bank says:

    Just had a conversation with the online community group at Dell.

    Very cool and helpful. Thanks, John and Geoff.

    Dell should put you guys in charge?

  49. consummate says:

    @John-at-Dell: Thanks for the explanation and offer of assistance. I e-mailed customer_advocate@dell.com only after exhausting all normal channels. You guys should probably put some kind of disclaimer with your e-mail address. I have seen it mentioned many times while searching for a way through the Dell support crucible, but never have I seen it mentioned that it is not for “unsolicited” e-mails. I hope that I won’t need to contact you.

    I was finally able to get service by other means, and I am working with someone at the Customer Resolution Center to straighten out an order that I placed over a month ago. What would your advice be to someone who is unable to get Dell service/support through normal channels?

  50. John-at-Dell says:

    Usually, the Unresolved Issues mailbox is a good alternative. If that isn’t viable for whatever reason, getting your issue escalated through phone support is a pain, but is workable in most circumstances.

    I am glad you were able to get assistance. If anything goes wrong, feel free to email me at our group inbox, just remember to put “ATTN:John” in the subject line.

  51. Painisbetter says:

    I can not complain about Dell at first, I had bought a PC from them and when it was shipped late and I call them the service person sent me a printer for free for my problem. Next thing I bought was a laptop and had just a little problem with communication I could not understand the person asked for someone who spoke english better, they hung up and took 4 more attempts to get supervisor on the phone, who could speak english on phone 4 hours. Warrenty problems lots more problems, like LOTS. Have trashed the last 3 Dells PC I had bought and learned to build my own PC’s. Big Universities and companies Dell is johnny on the spot, small customer not so. Wont buy Dell again.

  52. jb56013 says:

    Dell has become def listening to any way or form to contact them, I have order many systems from dell in the past few year I think I have ordered close to 20 of them this year alone, I resell systems that dell makes, well I use to I am now looking at Toshiba and hp. I called in to talk to tech support over this past weekend and I could hardly understand what the tech was saying, I already knew what was wrong with the system when I called. The first tech I spoke to was rude and was swearing at me. I got his rep ID number and asked to talk to a manager, after fighting with the rep to get a manager, I finally get to speak to one and he bluntly calls me a liar, I was shocked as I have never been treated that bad before by a company. I end the call with him and call back in hopes of getting a different person to which I did but to no avail my call is sent to another manager and my call is finally sent to someone else who calls me the next day. He was rude I told him about the calls for the previous day and he was like I don’t believe that happened to you and is rude. I tell the guy to call me back when you cannot be rude and can listen to what I am telling him. I have yet to receive a call be or an email from any one. I take that back I got a email on Sunday night from the same guy I talked to earlier saying that he has been trying to contact me and that if he don’t hear from me he is closing the file as resolved I email him back saying that it is not resolved and that it should not be closed I have yet to hear from anyone at dell meanwhile I have a broken laptop and no one to send me a replacement. DO YOUR SELF A FAVOR AND BUY FROM SOMEONE LOACAL OR ATLEASET CHECK OUT THE COMPANY FIRST. I did a BBB check and dell has had 11,500 complaint sent to them in the past few years. That is 900 percent more than wal-mart.