Why Dell Sucks, From A Business Perspective

Christopher Lawton over at The Post Gazette (via the Wall Street Journal) has an excellent article up about why Dell is just flailing as a company now, after being the darling of the 90’s.

The article mostly talks about how Dell has become completely out-of-touch with the needs of consumers. The majority of their focus is trying to woo the corporate world, but during that time, they ignored the emerging home laptop market, which primarily succeeds in retail, not as an online business.

But no such article would be complete without a mention of Dell’s India-based CSR operations.

    “As the tech downturn ended around 2003, Dell continued cutting costs and focused on being efficient. Around that time, Dell executives decided to hire temporary workers to man their five U.S. call centers, rather than recruit more-expensive full-time staff. By 2005, 75% of Dell’s call-center staff — those who take calls from customers wanting to buy a PC — were temporary workers. Three years earlier, the majority of those staffers were full-time employees.

    The move backfired. By late 2005, Dell noticed its U.S. consumer sales were flattening. Ro Parra, a Dell senior vice president who was asked to look into the problem, pinpointed call-center problems as one cause. He discovered that the temporary call-center workers who wanted full-time jobs weren’t being promoted. Turnover in the centers had soared to 300% a year from 30% in 2002.”

300% turnover of call center employees a year. No wonder you can’t get anyone on the line who knows what they are doing.

Consumer demand, laptop growth leave Dell behind [Post Gazette]


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  1. JohnP at Dell says:

    Here’s what Dell has to say in response to the Journal:


  2. cosbie says:

    Dell’s problems grow out of simple mindset that has evolved over the years: pump it and dump it. Each sale is viewed as a completed transaction not as the beginning of a relationship. Geewizgizmodos and new ‘products’ will do zilch if you treat customers the way car salesmen treat buyers.

    I have bought a dozen Dell systems over the last 3-4 years, the latest being February 2007. I will no longer buy Dell even if it is cheaper and here’s why:

    1. I order a Dell Dimension 9200 on January 31, 2007. It arrives on February 2. I turn it on and immediately get a EULA that won’t let me bypass it. It turns out this is for Google’s Desktop Software and Dell is being paid $1 bn to force it down user throats.

    Once past said, EULA, Windows Defender keeps barraging me with dire warnings–no virus protection etc. Now, it turns out Norton is pre-installed with a 30 day trial. So I click it and it tells me the trial period has expired (and it’s only day 2). So I decide OK, I’ll uninstall it–until it tells me the component cannot be found. So I download Norton to try and do a clean install so I can uninstall the damn thing–and it tells me there is an existing installation which I must first remove. So I email Symantec–they tell me it’s an OEM and Dell is responsible for support.

    So I call Dell and I get connected to Ravi in India. Ravi takes 10 minutes and tells me this is a software issue and they don’t do software and he hands off to a guy named Marc in Manila.

    Marc also tells me that Dell Tech support does not do software for that I have to call Dell Connect or something. Luckily (or otherwise) I know that is a per incident service ($100/incident). At this point, I lose my cool: first I tell Marc: that my soon to follow diatribe is not personal, and it is only intended to be recorded for training, quality assurance and legal purposes. Marc says what’s “legal?”. I tell him it is something that the Consumer Affairs dept in CT will subpoena and relay to the attorney general’s office after he hears the rumbling on the web.

    Whereupon the newly motivated Marc agrees to take a shot, uses remote assistance, tries his level best for 2 hours and then suggests I call Microsoft because he’s giving up. I give up too and I take the Vista DVD and do a clean install. All told, the process takes me three days to get to the WOW.

    2. Today, April 2, 2007 I discover my keyboard is not working ($20). I go to my Dell account get the order number and customer number and call ‘Tech Support’ total time spent 35 minutes (Sri cannot bring up any data on his system) after which Sri tellls me I’m in the wrong Center and that I should call 800-624-9897 and ‘punch in’ my Express service code. I never get the chance -Robot woman routes me to Jai and I find it is the Expired Warranty Service and I get warnings to get my credit card ready. Jai nevertheless, volunteers to ‘punch in’ my ‘Express Service’ code and finds I have a 1 -year on site warranty until February 2. 2008. So I ask him to send me a new keyboard. Jai says: “We would except you are in the wrong department”.

    All this for a $20 keyboard on top of a botched system install.

    There was a time when you got replacements simply by giving your credit card number and shipping the defective items back. Today, Dell has a ship it and forget it approach to customers. It’s not going to work Michael. The answer is not in cutting costs–it is in upgrading services that you actually deliver not just pile on extended warranties you are loath to stand behind.

    Think Lexus not Chrysler.