Dell Hard Sells Soft Product

At The Consumerist, we’re always happy to bring a shaft of sunshine into our reader’s lives. After reading about the Dell discount offers we posted about, WebKatz went ahead and got news PCs, including the fancy schmancy XPS desktop.

His letter reveals what happens when you have a “Customer Relations Rep” call whose motive is more insidious and ulterior then calling to see how everything’s going.

Upselling only works if the customer is in fact satisfied with the product to begin with.

“Your whatzit doesn’t work.”
“Well, have you considered getting two whatzits?”

    “Thanks to the Consumerist pointing out Dell’s discount offers, my wife and I got mew PCs from them about 3 weeks ago. My XPS desktop has an issue where the CD player won’t read my Photoshop CS2 install disk.

    All of my other machines (3 at home and 1 at work) read it just fine. So I called Dell and they informed me that it was obviously my fault and that I should get a new install disk from Adobe. Alrighty then. I made a bit of a stink and told them that this wasn’t acceptable. They were very sorry to hear that and again informed me that it was obviously my fault and that I should get a new install disk from Adobe. Okay, I gave up.

    Two days later a Dell Customer Relations Rep calls me up and asks how I like my new machine. Of course I gave her the whole story about the CD drive and my disappointment with how Dell handled it.

    “Oh, that’s too bad.”

    “So, what can you do about it?”

    “Well, have you reviewed your warranty information?

    “No, it’s a new machine.”

    “Well it looks like you only purchased the 1-year on-site warranty.”

    “Yes, what does that have to do with my CD?”

    “Have you considered buying an extended warranty.”


    “So what are you going to do for support after your current warranty runs out?”

    “Hmmmm… nothing.”


    “No, because 1) I’m having a warranty issue now and you people won’t fix it so why would I want to purchase more of the same fine service from you? 2) If anything is going to go wrong, it’s going to do it in the first 90 days. You know if. I know it. That’s why you sell extended warranties – because you’ll probably never have to do any repair work they’re pure profit.”

    “Okay, fine. Goodbye.”

This happened to us, too after we bought a Dell XPS laptop. A few days later a rep called to “check in” and we soon found ourselves answering questions about how many servers we would like to buy. Bad Dell, bad. Trust erosion.


Edit Your Comment

  1. ExVee says:

    I assume one of the three at home he mentions is the other XPS meant for his wife. In which case I’d say to keep on Dell about it, making sure to specify that the other (presumably) identical machine purchased at exactly the same time reads the CD just fine. He’d also have to examine the warranty documentation, but there may be solid ground for at least threatening a legal move if they won’t even offer to send someone or send someone out at your request to look into this. They definitiely wouldn’t be keeping up their end of the warranty agreement if they won’t provide the required on-site service. I’m sure one of the commentors here better versed in law can provide more specifics to work with, but either way it’s time to invoke the warranty so your basis for followup action is established. And as I’ve suggested in the past, getting a phone line recorder and keeping an audio record of this wouldn’t be a bad idea as long as you remember to inform whoever you get that the conversation is being recorded. If Dell records it and says so while you’re waiting for a human being, you probably don’t even have to inform anyone about you doing it too!

  2. OkiMike says:

    You should have gone with the Mac.

  3. SeekBalance says:

    A Mac? That’s really insightful. I’ll bet they never break, and I’m sure Apple’s customer service is so great it glows in the dark.

  4. FredTheCat says:

    The thing I find most ironic about Macs is that everybody raves about how good the customer service is. Why are so many people in a position to KNOW how good the customer service is?

  5. Fuzzyman says:

    As much as it stinks there are times like this where you have to suck it up and follow their troubleshooting process so you can get to the real issue. You get the replacement CD that you know won’t make a difference so you can rule it out, call them back, and say, “Okay, what next?”

    Either that or try to push to get to a level 2 tech who actually knows something and isn’t reading from a script.

  6. pete says:

    mmmm –
    Did the XPS come with any games?
    This might sound silly, but check for the presence of Starforce drivers.
    They can wreak havoc with optical drives.
    More info on Starforce here-

  7. Davidamundi says:

    I want to thank you for posting my complaint about Dell’s customer
    service. Funny thing is, minutes after you posted my tip, Dell sent me
    a Direct Deal email. I sent it back to them with a note about my issue
    and a link to your post. I told them that it’s much easier to keep a
    current customer than acquire a new customer and if they wanted to
    keep me they needed to reply to this problem. Doubt that I’ll ever see
    anything come of it, but it never hurts to try.

    Thanks too to the folks who’ve offered suggestion on how to
    resolve my problem. I’m going to look
    into the Starforce drivers to see if that fixes things, in the mean
    time I worked around the issue by installing CS2 to a removable hard
    drive and running it from there. As for the whole Mac thing, I looked
    into it but am not yet convinced that the new Mactels are the way to
    go even with Boot Camp, and a Mactel version of Photoshop is at least a year off.
    That said, this will probably be my last Windows (or Windows only) PC.
    By the time I’m ready for a new machine again I’m betting there’ll be
    common OS/multiple OS systems that’ll run whatever you put into them.

  8. I was thinking Starforce too, Pete. Good call. Also, I suggest swapping out the drives from one PC to the XPS to see if it is the drive or the HDD or a software issue. My company bought 5 dells a few months back and the HDD failed on one within a week, the monitor on another died after 3 months, and a third laptop has a busted keyboard twice so far. Needless to say, we are done with Dell.

  9. slipnby says:

    Six weeks after my XPS purchase, my XPS stopped booting. No Windows disc was provided for a reinstall attempt. Dells’ service tech was not helpful, and I was advised this event was not covered under the warrenty! The system could be revived by a certain secret key combination if I paid Dell $100. They could also send me an install disc for $129. I chose the lesser of two evil offers, and still do not know what the warrenty is for. This is my third and last Dell.

  10. One of the standard rules for using a Dell is that if something appears to not be compatible with your computer, that’s because it’s not compatible with your computer, because your computer is a Dell.

    I like Dell laptops, purely because of the value for money they offer. But you just shouldn’t expect stuff like USB devices to work with them. Most USB devices will, of course, but you should factor the price of a PCMCIA USB adapter into the equation when you’re considering buying the thing.

    Compatibility with everything else is pretty decent with Dell laptops right now, I think; I haven’t used FireWire with them enough to know either way, but all of the basic stuff like optical drives and network adapters seems A-OK, under Windows at least.

    But you should Just Say No to Dell desktops. If you can just barely afford the reduced price on some Dell desktop box, and that price really does seem to be an excellent bargain, you are very probably about to embark upon an unpleasant journey. Get a beige-box clone instead, even if it costs more.

  11. OkiMike says:

    “…But you just shouldn’t expect stuff like USB devices to work with [a Dell].”

    I couldn’t have said it better