Dell's Tech Support Will Stop At Nothing To Help Break Your Computer

Janna’s Dell laptop broke, but it was still under warranty. She tells Consumerist that she contacted their technical support by web chat, imagining that it would be simple and easy to get a computer under warranty repaired. Her journey through Dell’s tech support began with the chat rep encouraging her to grab a screwdriver and take her computer apart herself, and somehow got even more discouraging from there. When she finally got Dell to take the laptop in for repairs, Dell somehow helpfully cracked her LCD.

On December 7, 2009 I contacted Dell’s chat support, as my computer started giving the blue screen of death, randomly not booting up, and the CCFL’s were visible underneath the screen when looking at it from the side. My computer is still covered under warranty, so I figured it wouldn’t be much of a problem to get it repaired. Was I ever wrong…..

Chat support wasn’t any help, they basically asked me to ‘find a screwdriver’ and take my computer apart myself. I asked them about electrostatic discharge risks, and they asked me what I meant. The language barrier was extremely frustrating. Eventually, they ended up ‘accidentally disconnecting’ the chat once a so-called supervisor tried to assist me, then they called me later on….at a little past midnight my time.

Then I tried writing to Michael Dell’s so-called email address, which got me to some sort of escalation department, still obviously talking to someone in India. After another month or two, I was still waiting for the third-party technicians to call me. We had come to the conclusion that i likely needed a new hard drive, RAM, and bezel.

The technicians never actually contacted me, but they told Dell they had tried. The parts were then sent back to Dell and I had to start over again. In the meantime, I was still communicating with the guy in the India-based escalation department, who didn’t seem to have any way to communicate with the third-party technicians that were supposedly calling me.

One day, I got a call from someone who actually spoke English well, who asked if a technician could come to my workplace and fix my computer there, as my schedule didn’t seem to fit theirs, and to have service/someone from service call me past 5 pm required some extra-special service agreement I didn’t have. I explained to him, chuckling, that I worked for a rival computer company and that would be extremely awkward. He laughed also, and we agreed that they would send me a box, and I would send my computer in for repair.

Once I received the box, I filled out the paperwork, explaining the problems I was having and the parts I supposedly needed replaced, and sent it off to Dell. I received my computer fairly quickly from the repair center. The packaging in the box was very secure, so it is very likely that the damage done to my computer was done before it was even shipped to me, not while the machine was in transit.

I examined the paperwork- only the main logic board was replaced- and when I pressed the power button, the machine booted up to a “Windows did not shut down successfully” error screen, and my LCD was so badly cracked I could not read the majority of the screen.

I’m at my wit’s end with this company. Any advice, Consumerist (or Consumerist readers, if you publish this on the site)? All my calls and emails seem to get me nowhere. Mind you, it’s been a long time since December 7, and I still haven’t gotten anywhere with this repair.

It’s too late for this information to help Janna, but this is a good opportunity to remind everyone that when ordering from Dell, order from their Small Business site rather than their consumer site in order to get far superior technical support and customer service. Maybe a full-fledged Dell EECB is in order–Janna’s problem is an awful lot more serious than the $60 adapter in the EECB success story we posted this morning.