AUDIO: Screaming Dell Customer Can't Figure Out How To Shutdown Laptop (Hint: Hold Down The Power Button…)

Recording of a raging Dell customer trying to get tech support to help him turn off his computer. The customer comes off as a huge jerk, but it sounds like he’s been bouncing around Dell automated system phone-line hell for quite some time.

We can understand his rage. We’d be angry too if we were born so stupid we couldn’t figure out how to press and hold the power button.

Watch your speaker levels, potentially NSFW. — BEN POPKEN

(Thanks to Capstinence!)


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  1. Scazza says:

    Or let the power run out, or take out the battery, how fucking dumb are these people?

  2. iMike says:

    This is at least six months old. Still pretty fjarking funny.

  3. rickspeaks says:

    Yikes — sounds like he needed

  4. DonLaFontaine says:

    I was bounced around for a couple of days on Dell customer support. After a series of endless waits, coupled with mis-transferred calls (with the call ultimately being dropped), I was about to lose it. I will never buy another Dell again.

  5. Hugh Jass says:

    Ah, this reminds me of my many phone calls with the HughesNet tech support. I wasn’t screaming and cursing, but Hughes was about as helpful as Dell was in this call.

  6. The Bigger Unit says:

    Truly awesome.

  7. The Bigger Unit says:

    I wish that particular call was outsourced to India. Then it would have been truly outstanding.

  8. brooklynbs says:

    He should have looked to the Interweb for help, lol.

  9. quagmire0 says:

    This story hits home. I usually only get someone this p.o.’d every once in a while, but it aggravates me just to hear this. If these people used half the amount of energy it takes to get all pissy on the phone, they could use that energy to either figure out to hold the button down, or do a quick search on the interweb. Ah, but if they can’t figure out how to turn it off, then I guess they are just FUBAR’d.

  10. OnceWasCool says:

    And people still be Dell because of why????

  11. Katharine says:

    I hate Dell customer service as much as anyone (will never buy another because of CS) but he has some rage issues.

  12. OnceWasCool says:

    Sorry, went retarded for a moment…

    Should have read..

    And people still buy Dell because of why???

    /retard mode off

  13. TPIRman says:

    Wow, that was awesome. I’m on the caller’s side. Yeah, he’s not the sharpest pencil in the box, but holding down the power button (rather than pushing it) isn’t 100% intuitive.

    What’s great about the call is that it really shows the lunacy of script-based tech support. The guy has the simplest question in the world and yet every time he asks, he’s met with “Can I have your email address?” etc. I love when he begs the Dell drone to please just act like a human being.

  14. zaky says:

    I can’t seem to access the audio clip—just looks like a blank white box. Is there a direct link somewhere?

  15. Buran says:

    @Johnny: Yeah. It’d take less time to say “Press and hold the power button” than to repeat the same totally-unrelated idiotic question…

  16. Scuba Steve says:


    The problem is that we get chewed out beyond all reason if we don’t get the pointless crap.

    Here’s why: Say you call up and have a problem with your device. We need to get your name, address, whatever, so we can store it in a database so that when you call back we have a record of the problem and what we did to fix it.

    It prevents us from insulting customers and giving out bad advice by keeping us honest, and it makes the call take 10 times as long as normal.

    You think a Tech wants to keep you on longer than he has to? If I could have gotten off the phone as soon as possible, I would have. Those bathroom breaks weren’t going to take themselves.

    Now there are some cases where I would just give out information without opening a file. But I would still get yelled out for not having enough files, or having garbage files (which bogs down the database) for phone calls that amount to just “How do I plug this thing in?”

    In essence, it’s a lose-lose situation that doesn’t have an easy solution.

    I know because I dealt with tons of return calls where I got chewed out (by the customer) when there was no information about the customer, and they got told to just reset the circuit breaker, and it didn’t work, and they had to wait another 60 minutes on hold to get through to a rep.

  17. I’m not saying it’s ok to swear and yell at the CSR but I gotta side with the caller. Just answer the question, man!

  18. 3drage says:

    This is really a case of you get the same cooperation that you give. Crappy customer service or not, the guy is just doing his job as he is instructed to do. No sense in getting totally irate off the bad regardless of how long you had to wait in the automated system. There is no excuse for his rude behavior, and I wouldn’t blame the CS Tech for going by the book on this one. Manners and patience go a long way in solving problems.

  19. tmweber says:

    If the guy would just shut up and let him get through the formalities, he could get his answer. They need to keep records of service requests even if it is something as mind numbingly stupid as how to turn off the computer. I understand he was probably on hold forever, but once you get a person on the line, yelling is only going to make things take even longer.

  20. jurgis says:

    As annoying as it is to get bounced around at home, it’s a good deal worse when you (as a company/developer) are paying a company for premium support (read thousands of dollars a year). I’ve had run ins with big companies where we were paying a premium for “high level support” and got shafted.


    1) Oracle failed to meet Sun spec relating to J2EE (a bad thing, basically false advertising… but it was a few years ago). Solution: upgrade. That’s fine for some things, but when you are talking about regression testing and potential changes to thousands of lines of code partially written to get around their short comings it is insulting, not to mention it costs more money.

    2) Called Microsoft’s MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) support with a “critical” issue (a low level legacy interop thing, that didn’t work as advertised… surprise). They tell our guy to be in the office for a conference call very early… like before 6 am the next day. Our guy waits all day and MS never even emails us back. That account included something like 2 major supports a year, nice to know that we wasted it. Lucky for us, the project was canceled a few weeks later. To this day (years later), they never got back to us and the ticket was closed.

    On the other hand, medium sized vendors tend to knock themselves out to fix your issues. Those two are the worst, their problems are always “your fault”.

  21. I’ve been waiting 2 months for an “Express” upgrade from Dell. They’ve lied to me (twice), told me it was already delivered (it wasn’t marked “shipped” on their website until just this past Friday), and nearly charged me twice for shipping. Dude, I’m never getting another Dell.

  22. Peeved Guy says:

    I really have to give the CSR credit for staying on the line as long as he did. During my phone support days, we were told that as soon as the customer started swearing we were to ge a manager on the phone ASAP.

    The irony here is that he keeps asking the CSR if he knoews what a human is and how he wants to be treated like a human, etc., and yet the customer treats the CSR like shit. I can appreciate how frustrating this scenario can be for people, but thats no reason to act like this.

    The next time you get less than exemplary service from a CSR on the phone, just think that they may have just talked to this jackass.

    This customer is a tool.

  23. Mike_ says:

    All the technician needs is the “Express Service Code”, which should be enough to determine the model and serial number of the computer, decide whether it is eligible for free tech support, and allow the technician to record his notes about the call. For something as simple as “hold down the power button”, there’s no need to ask for the guy’s life story. Just help him out.

    I can totally understand the caller’s frustration. It’s bad enough being forced to provide all sorts of information to an obnoxious auto-attendant. Sitting on hold waiting for a human doesn’t help. When he finally gets through to a person, that person acts more like a computer than a helpful technician. If he’s already upset about having to spend an hour fighting Dell for a simple answer to a simple question, how do you think he’s going to feel when the tech sounds more interested in populating a database than solving his problem?

    Seriously. Here’s how the call should have gone …

    (The auto-attendant prompted for his Express Service Code, so the account record is automatically displayed on the technician’s screen when the call is connected.)

    Tech: “Hello. How may I assist you?”
    Customer: “My laptop has been stuck at ‘Shutting down’ for 8 hours.”
    T: “Okay, I see you have model X. Is that correct?”
    C: “Yep.”
    T: “Okay, let’s try holding down the power button for 10 seconds.”
    C: <pause> “That did it. Thank you.”
    T: “Glad to hear it. May I ask for some information that will help us better assist you should you call again?”
    C: “I’m in a bit of a hurry, actually. Thanks anyway.”
    T: “Okay, no problem. Have a nice day.”

    … why is this so difficult?

    I’m on the caller’s side on this one. Also, I object to the recorded call being released (clearly not by the caller). Your call is supposed to be recorded for quality and training purposes. Not for revenge and humiliation purposes.

  24. kgazette says:

    I’m with tech support on this one. New computers come with manuals, and the manual almost certainly says you have to hold down the power button. Also, the caller was an asshole – I’d almost be inclined to keep asking him pointless questions until he hung up!

  25. The Bigger Unit says:

    @oncewascool: “/retard mode off”

    You are classy.

  26. genericuser1 says:

    I disagree with the prevailing opinion here. I do not think there is one commenter here whose patience could not be tried.
    1. It is not obvious to a naive user that the on button, if held down long enough, powers down the device. I have no computer that works that way. If you think a user is “dumb” because he does not know this, you need to reconsider.
    2. The conduct of Dell is inexcusable. Why not tell him how to turn it off? Why the phone number, email, name, etc?
    3. If you work at Dell support, it is your choice to do so. If you agree to follow their policies, you must expect conversations like this, because you have agreed to be unreasonable.
    4. How/why was this audio released? The “customers”‘s conduct is shameful. Guess what, he’s probably ashamed! Why is this posted? It is not amusing. It does not educate, or inform. If you posted it, well then, shame on you!

  27. j.b. says:

    Useless IVR does not even come close to justifying this kind of sustained outburst, and I really don’t understand how anyone can choose to overlook the failure of the customer to be responsible for his own conduct. I’m involved with a tech support call center, and this kind of behavior would result in two chances to calm down, and then a request to call back when he’s ready to work on the issue. Clearly, the agent wasn’t as helpful as he could be, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the weight on the customer’s end for this inappropriate, bullshit behavior. My VP would back me 100% if I terminated a call from someone acting like this.

  28. kimsama says:

    @Mike_: It could be that he ignored the auto-attendant and didn’t give it his info (which would mean none of his information is in the system, and it also might have led to the long wait time). I have been in that situation before, through stubbornness or laziness.

    Seriously, though, the caller needs to grow up. It sucks to be on hold, but you don’t lash out at someone who is trying to help you. (I do think, however, that it’s ok to lash out once the CSR has been a jerk or has compounded your problem).

    Nevertheless, the CSR should have realized that this caller was upset and should have attempted to calm him down, even if it meant skipping his usual queries. I suspect the CSR was passive-aggressively attacking the caller back for being rude by making the caller jump through all those hoops and being rude himself.

    Boo to both of them. What a great example of both a bad customer and a bad CSR. And a good example of how people can really be jerks to each other.

  29. homerjay says:


  30. spanky says:

    The customer is way, way out of line. There is almost never an excuse to talk to anyone like that, period.

    That said, I agree with Mike_. In sticking with the script like that, asking him redundant and probably unnecessary questions, and not even acknowledging the customer’s very obvious frustration, the CSR is really just goading him. When someone is THAT pissed off, the worst thing you can do is respond to them slowly and calmly, as though you don’t even notice. (In fact, I’ve done this intentionally a few times, and ended up stopping once because I seriously thought the guy was going to have some kind of cardiac event or something.)

    They seem to have one of those all-too common ‘tech support by attrition’ policies, obviously designed to get some percentage of customers to give up in frustration.

    And it must suck but hard to be the front line for a company with a policy like that. But if the company you work for puts customers in some hour-long phone jail, and your corporate policies require you to get all kinds of irrelevant and redundant information from them before you can answer even the simplest question, it’s kind of inevitable that some people are going to fly off the handle.

  31. fearuncertaintydoubt says:

    It’s easy to look down on this guy for not knowing how to shut off the computer. But to someone who isn’t tech-savvy, holding a power button down for an extended period of time is not an intuitive thing.

    It’s a valid question — “why do you need all this information?” It was obvious from the start what was going on. The guy was unfamiliar about how a laptop worked, was frustrated trying to get it to work, and had been jerked around with the automated system trying to get a very simple question answered.

    I would be just as angry as him. The only difference is that I wouldn’t be swearing and yelling. But you’re damn sure I would be taking the rep to task for wasting my time on this. Does he really need to verify that the PC is eligible for support in order to tell a freaked-out novice how to simply power off the laptop? Anyone who reads this blog and shakes their head at the horrible customer service others get should understand this is exactly the kind of system that prevents good service from taking place. Would Dell really deny this information to the guy if he wasn’t eligible for support?

    I think most of the people who are coming down on the caller are doing so because he sounded like some dumb redneck who is easy to feel superior to. When you have a medical problem, or a car issue, or a plumbing problem, or any other problem in an area in which you have very little knowledge, you feel helpless, frustrated, and vulnerable. This guy is worried his mom’s laptop is defective and will lose the thousand bucks or more that it cost.

    And in the end, the CSR was screwing with the guy. He was trying to drag out the process just to make him more angry. Nice. If he had actually cared, a little bedside manner would have worked wonders here to calm this guy down and still fulfill the system requirements.

    CSR: “Sir, I realize you are frustrated. Don’t worry! I assure you we’ll get your laptop turned off. I’ll stay on the line until we figure out what’s going on. OK?”

    Mad guy: “OK”

    CSR: “You probably already gave this information at least once, so I’m sorry to be asking you again, but I really need to log your info in our system so we have a record of everything. Unfortunately our system doesn’t pass it along when we get your call. Do you mind if we go through it now so I can enter your name, phone, etc. in? I promise that we’ll fix your problem as soon as we’re done with this.”

    Mad guy: “OK”

  32. junkmail says:

    Ummm… doesn’t every computer ever made force a shutoff when you hold down the power button for 5-10 seconds? How hard is that?

    Besides, regardless of the situation, there is never an excuse for that kind of behavior. Ever. The CSR isn’t the one who created the guy’s problem, and if you’ve got a brain in your head you know the frontline grunts never have much say in how the call flows. There are rules and scripts handed down from on high that HAVE to be followed.

    Yes, the CSR could have made a judgement call, but after being berated and yelled at I’m sure I wouldn’t be feeling overly helpful either.

  33. emax4 says:

    I take the CSR’s side on this. Okay the customer has a valid point and wants a simple answer (being a simpleton himself). Understand that CSRs have to play by the book, because if anyone has physical access to someone else’s computer, the caller could claim to be a friend or relative when in fact it might be someone who stole the desktop or laptop. This is along the lines of identity theft, keep in mind. With that said, if the caller wants to know how to unblock a password or install or remove software, would you think the CSR would do more harm than good if he hadn’t played by the book and not asked for the account information and computer information?

    I understand the caller was upset and that he shouldn’t have had to go through all that verification and such just to learn how to do a simple function (which I believe would involve not only unplugging the laptop but removing the battery (or batteries) instead). But that’s the problem with America, which is that we take our own lives for granted and don’t put ourselves in the other person’s place.

    For those of you that take the customer’s side, let me call you and act like that customer and see how well you act under pressure.

  34. emax4 says:

    Exactly, junkmail. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Act like a whining baby and you get nothing. You don’t reward a dog with a biscuit when he poops on your floor or eats up your shoe.

  35. Iron_Dragon says:

    Google or Manual = Win? I mean honestly… I’m sure something this simple is written down somewhere.

    Regardless the customer went a little too far when he starting yelling at the CSR. The guy was just doing his job. Maybe it’s a requirement for him to fill out a form for each call. I mean even if it’s not do you really want to start a call for help with “Your automated system sucks and I think you suck!”.

  36. KivaWolf says:

    I agree with emax4. Seriously people, you gotta think of the other person on the other line sometimes. I mean just listen to the CSR who is just simply trying to follow procedure. Yes I do agree about the automated system but really it is just nonsense to take it out on the guy on the other end. The call could’ve ended sooner if the customer would’ve just answered what the CSR needed. Noticed that he continued to yell out when the CSR wanted his last name, now HOW on earth would the CSR would’ve known that? I mean it could’ve been a neighbor or a cousin or someone else. Plain simple. Can anyone say, “Anger Management”?

  37. Theseus says:

    If there was any justice in the world, this jerk’s laptop would’ve had one of those “special” sony batteries in it and blown his hand off while he was spending hours trying to figure out how to turn it off and cursing this poor CSR out…

  38. Peeved Guy says:

    The thought occurred to me that I wonder how this guys mom would feel about him talking to another person like that; and it dawned on me that this was all over his mom’s computer. Made me chuckle

  39. KifoFox says:

    This is the reason I could never do customer service. I just wouldn’t be able to stay so nice when someone is being as rude to me as that man was. That said, customer service reps can really piss me off. I understand that they are doing what they were trained to do, but seriously, act like a human. I called Washington Mutual the other day to get my credit cards activated. I had two cards, but they told me I had to call-in a second time for the other card. So, I did that. Then, when the rep went into his whole spiel about “credit card protection plans.” I told him, “I’m sorry, I’m not interested right now.”

    He kept going….

    I said, “As I said earlier, I already heard this when I activated my other Wamu card (ugh, I hate the term WAMU!) about 20 minutes ago.” But, the guy just said, “uh huh…” and kept on going.

    I had to keep repeating, “I’m not interested,” until I got fed up and said, “I’m not interested in anything else you have to offer; I just want my card activated. Please activate my card or transfer me to someone who can.”

  40. Addison says:

    I’m impressed that he doesn’t like the automated telephone system, since my partner was the director of the team that patented it at TI.

  41. Don Roberto says:

    What really ticks me off is when I know more than the CSR, and he or she asks me to go through a silly troubleshooting script. If I really didnt know what I was doing, like this jerk customer with dell, then I have no right to get angry.

  42. royal72 says:

    lmao!!!!!!!! that’s fantastic. fucking dell.

  43. Buran says:

    @Scuba Steve: @Scuba Steve: “so we can store it in a database so that when you call back we have a record of the problem”

    … it’s not a problem. It’s a “how do I”. That is not something that needs to be tracked in some stupid database.

  44. unwritten07 says:

    picture this guy standing in his bathroom face to face with a 200+ pound plumber:

    “The fucking thing will not flush!”

    “I’ve been pushing it for the last 3 fucking hours it won’t fucking do nothing!”

    “How do I get it to flush, will you fucking tell me?”

    “Your automated crap sucks, and I think you suck, you fucking goddam asshole!”

    WAKES UP IN AN AMBULANCE half way to the hospital:

    “What the hell the fuck’s going on?”

    “This fucking neck brace is too fucking tight!”

    “Fucking goddam people…

  45. Trick says:

    The guy is not only a total idiot, he is a total jerk. How can someone this stupid even manage to turn a computer *ON* in the first place?

    I don’t care how bad Dell is, it is nothing compared to this loser.

  46. Trick says:


    picture this guy standing in his bathroom face to face with a 200+ pound plumber:

    Good point. Some people are the toughest people around when hiding behind a telephone or computer.

    Yeah there might be one or two people who can back their tough talk but not some tool like the one who called Dell.

  47. nequam says:


    “And in the end, the CSR was screwing with the guy.”

    It certainly sounds like that. And who was the source of this recording? The CSR?

    Still, it’s kinda funny to hear the caller deflate at the end when the advice works. I’m sure he was getting ready to go off… again.

  48. Hoss says:

    I wouldn’t call the abusive caller stupid for not knowing how to turn off the laptop — I mean a low-life like himself probably doesn’t need a laptop to live off his mother. But that’s as far as I would defend him. The CSR needs various information to ensure that people aren’t abusing the service agreement (like having only one service agreement and four people using it to ask questions). This CSR deserves a metal of CSR honor.

    Whatever level of prosac the CSR is on should be forced fed to the abusive caller. What an arse.

  49. 0x12is18 says:

    Seriously, Dell markets their products to average consumers who don’t know what a firewall is, and they expect them to know how to actually shit down a computer?

    I can understand the guy’s anger. Honestly, who cares if it’s even a Dell computer? Just tell the guy how to turn off the computer and everyone is happy.

  50. ray210 says:

    Awesome. Seriously.

  51. Joafu says:

    Most times the problem is getting a Dell to do anything when it’s actually on… BAHZING!

  52. royal72 says:

    that’s the third time i’ve listened to it now and it keeps getting funnier every time.

  53. dietsamscola says:

    I’ve worked in a call center before and I probably would have asked the pointless questions to if I were the rep. Whenever someone spoke to me like that I would either hang up on them or go out of my way to make them as mad as possible so they would hang up themselves.

    You don’t have to be rude, just antagonizing. It’s obvious the questions were pissing him off so I’d have just kept asking them until he blew up. There’s no excuse for acting that way, no matter how long he’d been on hold. It’s a computer that won’t turn off. It’s not the end of the world.

    If someone was nice to me I’d be as nice as possible back, but if not screw ’em. You can talk about the ethics of customer service all you want, but that doesn’t mean being a verbal punching bag. Let him call back when he’s sobered up/calmed down.

  54. Mr. Gunn says:

    Mike_: The dumb thing is that every time I get prompted to enter some number via the keypad, that exact number is the first thing the CSR asks. Why do they even bother?

  55. Blowfish says:

    Dell technician while appearing assholish is following customer service procedures. This guy has obvious issues besides being stupid. If I’d had to guess, I would say he is bi-polar. Its probably not the first time this guy had a phone conversation like this. I bet utility, banking, phone service, 911, etc… all have similar calls of him on file. My wife has the disorder and I witness such an outburst at least once a week. The technician probably could have cut the identity interrogation short but why should he. At some point, it became a game for Dell dude. He knew that he could remain calm while the caller lost his mind. Tech support live for calls like this.

  56. Peeved Guy says:


    “Seriously, Dell markets their products to average consumers who don’t know what a firewall is, and they expect them to know how to actually shit down a computer?”

    Holy Hemorrhoid, Batman!

  57. emax4 says:

    Buran, it DOES matter that the CSR records the call. 99% of the time the customer doesn’t get the same CSR if they call back. So if the customer calls back at a later time dealing with a similar or same problem the other CSR will note it. If there’s a pattern of the same thing happening time and time again, the CSRs will pick up on this. Otherwise if it wasn’t noted, the CSRs wouldn’t detect a pattern and each new CSR will believe that the occuring problem is just happening for the first time.

    Believe me, I understand why you think it shouldn’t be noted, but there are reasons why they must record the information. If I were the customer and didn’t know about computers I’d feel the same way as you do and feel that having to supply all that info is unneccessary.

    If the problem occurs x number of times and it’s basically time to replace the laptop, yet there’s no record of repeated calls, the manufacturer is going to tell the customer that there’s no record of recurring problems and that they can’t fix the computer or issue the customer a new one.

  58. Camon says:

    … If I was that tech I’d of hung up about the point where he calls him an asshole.

    All opnions aside, the tech HAS to ask for that info. Of course he knows its an easy fix but part of his job requirement is to gather that information. Not getting that could affect his performance on the job. Working in tech support I would rather meet all my performance marks than make this guys life easier.

    As for the customer, he has absolutely no right to harass the technician like that.

  59. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    How could he have looked to Google or anything else online if the computer was stuck at “Windows Is Shutting Down”?

    And I don’t care how mean, angry, screaming or swearing the caller was, the CSR was a total asshole for fucking with a guy who doesn’t know shit from Shinola about computers.

    And I can’t tell you how many people that have used Windows for years don’t know that holding down the power button for up to 10 seconds will finally shut the thing off!

  60. Camon says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik:

    You obviously didn’t read anything that was posted above.

    That CSR was not fucking with him or taunting him, he was doing his job.

  61. frankadelic says:

    As a former CSR I would have given him a warning after the “…and you suck” and would have hung up on him after the next instance of abusive language. But my company is pretty good about making sure it’s employees don’t take abuse like that. Remember folks, CSRs are just trying to make a living like you are. We get in trouble when we don’t follow company protocol (like asking for the service tag number) and we don’t like getting cursed at by moronic dickslaps who can’t control their tempers.

  62. DanYHKim says:

    I am unfortunately reminded of calls I have fielded from people in my own place of work, where I am an unofficial tech resource.

    The caller started out abusive, and quickly escalated to the point where I stopped the playback. I can imagine that the caller may be frustrated, but they were treating the tech support guy with extreme disrespect from the start.

    I have had to make calls to Dell and other company’s tech support, and have had service that ranged from great to poor, but I can still see the tech rep as a human being who is trying to make a living. I don’t treat them any worse that I hope to be treated myself. Lately, I have opted to use Dell’s text-based live support, and have had only great service. Perhaps I express myself better in writing. I know that I convey information more clearly when I write.

    I have never understood how anyone can pay over a thousand dollars on any equipment and never crack open the manual or even read the color-cartoon quick-start guide. If I purchase a label maker, I skim the manual to see how to insert the tape cartridge. I figure I should devote even more attention to an expensive and complex device like a modern PC! Yet I know that a farmer may borrow a quarter million dollars and buy a harvester, and not pay attention when being shown how to use and maintain it properly. They will then complain when the machine doesn’t deliver perfect results every time!

    The caller obviously did not read any of the user documentation for the hardware or OS. They were abusive to the support rep from word one. They were uncooperative when asked for basic information like the service tag number (although I will admit that it is not a good practice for Dell to ask for this information repeatedly). I would say that the caller was completely out of line.

  63. DanYHKim says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik:

    And I can’t tell you how many people that have used Windows for years don’t know that holding down the power button for up to 10 seconds will finally shut the thing off!

    This is like saying that it’s normal to own a vacuum cleaner for years, and never realize that you have to change the dust bag when it’s full.

    Truly, the only appropriate response to such ignorance is “RTFM”.

  64. Sashea says:

    My husband and I bought two Dell Latitude laptops 2 weeks ago. One of them needs to be returned so I had to reorder an entire new system. I did so but they won’t put it through because my husband’s business phone is a cell phone. I had the laptops delivered to my work, a LAW FIRM, but they still say because Dell Customer Svc cannot verify my husband’s work phone, it is listed as fraud. I asked what they wanted, the Federal ID number, the articles of incorporation, what? The CS rep said no, those documents can be forged or stolen. ???!!! I’m returning both laptops, totaling over $4000, and they can forget our business. Never mind they already delivered TWO laptops to me here last week! Duh…

  65. @DanYHKim: Your vacuum analogy doesn’t work. You HAVE to empty the vacuum at some point or it stops being effective. You can shut down your computer by selecting “Shut Down” from the Start menu. Emptying the bag is necessary but shutting down using the button is not.

    A lot of people here seem to be assuming that:

    1) Everyone, even people who’ve never used a computer before, should know to hold the button down. Never mind that it is the only thing with buttons that requires you to hold it down instead of just pressing it.

    2) Everyone knows that CSRs work from scripts. Umm…no.

    3) He had the manual. Why should he have the manual for something he doesn’t own. It’s his mother’s computer; maybe she lost it.

    Again, not saying that screaming and swearing is ok. But from the caller’s point of view the CSR was being intentionally slow, irritating, and unhelpful by asking irrelevant questions, giving a lame answer as to why he needed the information, and ignoring his frustration (to the point of remaining silent during the pauses in the screaming).

  66. fearuncertaintydoubt says:

    Rectilinear Propagation: I liked your breakdown of assumptions

    To commenters who are saying, “the customer is a jerk, so the CSR is justified in not helping him”, or “the guy should have read the manual”, YOU are why customer service is so bad in general! You demand that customers come to you on your terms, and jump through whatever hoops you decide are necessary for you.

    So what if he could have read the manual? That’s the difference between good and bad customer service. Good customer service is helping the customer any way you can. You don’t use someone’s mistakes against them. Only when someone is interfering with their own ability to receive your help do you give up. In this case, the guy was abusive, but not in a way that stopped the CSR from answering the question immediately if he chose to. He was not raving so badly that he couldn’t be understood or refused to listen to what was being said. He wasn’t making violent threats.

    Good customer service sees an opportunity here. Apologize for the frustration he’s experienced. Give him what he’s asking for without hesitation (to everyone who says the guy was stupid because it was such a simple question, then it was an equally simple answer and it was witheld as long as possible). Tell him you understand he may need to know some other things, and ask him if he has any more questions. Turn the guy from a raging jerk into someone who comes out feeling pretty good about the situation.

    It doesn’t always work. You don’t get 100% on these. No matter how much you help some people, they just want to be mad. But if you design your customer service procedures around the worst of your customers, you’ll guarantee more of them than you can handle — you’ll create them in droves.

    It’s easy to complain about bad service. It seems a lot of people here think that good service is only applicable under ideal conditions when they are delivering it, but should be universal when they are receiving it.

  67. stupid_teenager says:

    i have a dell xps laptop and every time i call i dont think ive ever waited more than 5 minutes or so and i give the guy the simple info he needs which takes all of a minute and i have always been happy with my tech support and when i call its always something complicated, once it turned out my hard drive needed to be replaced and i had one the next day for free under warantee ofcourse but it seems that xps customers get better treatment then the normal ones so i wont buy anything else other then the xps systems but i do agree that the normal dell tech support lines can take a while.

  68. Shorteh says:

    Wow considering you usually order Dell online, how the hell did this nimrod order a computer. Furthermore, why the hell does he even own a computer.

  69. emax4 says:

    fearuncertaintydoubt, listen to the audio playback again. The customer was the one who threw the first punch.

    1. The CSR asked for some express service code.
    2. The customer started to wig out saying he already gave the number but the customer gives it again, louder.
    3. The CSR reads back what he thinks is the number but says that he didn’t clearly get it, and even noted earlier that the customer is breaking up on the phone.
    4. The customer says “close enough” then wigs out more. Goes so far as to tell the CSR that the CSR sucks when the CSR never did anything wrong to begin with.

    Read my earlier statement on the CSR having to have the correct info from the customer.

    You state “Only when someone is interfering with their own ability to receive your help do you give up.” The CSR was abused verbally and kept on going, yet you think the custoemr is not getting good customer service? You want “good customer” service? Then be a good customer. With your attitude towards CSRs and store clerks, it’s no wonder you get “Bad customer” service, not “Bad” customer service.

    If someone tells me I suck when I haven’t even done anything wrong, there’s no way I’m gonna kiss his or her scabby butt. The people who complain left and right don’t think that they’re talking to a human that has feelings as well. So you’re telling me it’s ok to verbally abuse a human being? hmph…

    I agree to design customer service procedures around the worst customers, but keep in mind that everyone (and every company) has limits. This is why those who frequently write bad checks and those who shoplift aren’t permitted to shop in certain places anymore. It takes a toll on the morale and well-being of the employee, and when management keeps giving away free stuff to attempt to satisfy the never-satisfied customer, the company loses money, and eventually has to let those unprofitable customers go.

    I bet you wouldn’t take the crap that CSR had to take from that customer if you were in his place.

  70. fearuncertaintydoubt says:

    emax4: I bet you wouldn’t take the crap that CSR had to take from that customer if you were in his place.

    You’re wrong. I’ve taken that kind of abuse before from people I am trying to help. I’ve learned that in most cases, you can actually defuse the situation if you try.

    So you’re telling me it’s ok to verbally abuse a human being?

    I never said that. You’re taking my point and distorting it into an extreme position just to make it look wrong. My point was the opposite. Given that it is wrong to abuse someone else, retaliating against the customer who does so is no mark of excellent customer service. Great organizations will try to overcome the problem, not escalate it. Just because you have the right to respond harshly to someone doesn’t mean it’s the best thing.

    This is why those who frequently write bad checks and those who shoplift aren’t permitted to shop in certain places anymore.

    This is a red herring. The situation has nothing to do with someone trying to take advantage of Dell for free stuff or anything like that.

    If someone tells me I suck when I haven’t even done anything wrong, there’s no way I’m gonna kiss his or her scabby butt. The people who complain left and right don’t think that they’re talking to a human that has feelings as well.

    Often, those who complain left and right are people who themselves feel as if they have been treated like they don’t have feelings. It’s the “an eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind” phenomenon. It’s not appeasement of terrorists to try to calm an irrational customer down. It’s just good for business.

  71. Le Grand Lapin says:

    1) There’s no question that the caller is a jerk.

    2) I also think that he’s justified in having some angst when he can’t do something as simple as turn the computer off.

    3) I do think there is a certain point when a CSR agent can just bypass some required questions and just say “press and hold the button”

    4) Anyone reading these comments is probably a member of the digerati and would never need this advice, but we are not the normal customer.

    5) If only Dell actually saved the customer call info before a call handoff, this guy would not have started out so angry.

  72. roothorick says:

    @genericuser1: I’m not sure what kind of obscure, exotic setup you have, but every ACPI compliant system I’ve come in contact with has that exact “hold power button for X seconds” failsafe to let you forcibly power off the system in the event that the OS can’t. It’s something I’ve come to expect from every computer made since 1999. Maybe I’m biased, being more knowledgable than most in the inner workings of a computer, but Iunno. It’s a pretty basic thing that you pretty much have to know with the current state of modern operating systems (IMO).

  73. coconino says:

    he lives with his mom….goddam it!

  74. puka_pai says:

    I just took a look at the manual for our Toshiba laptop since I have it right here. Much to my surprise there is nothing in there that says to hold down the power button to shut the machine down. It gives you a variety of options to shut the system down, depending on your OS and whether you want to shut down or turn off (hey, everybody knows whether they’re hooked to a domain server or not, right?) hibernate or standby, Most of them end “and then Windows will shut the computer off.” Nothing about what to do if it gets stuck at the shutting down screen.

    The only thing that’s related is that it says to press (not press and hold) the power button if you set it that way to put it into hibernate mode. IME, that does take a press-and-hold, even if it doesn’t say so. Oddly enough, it does say to hold the button to turn the unit ON. If I were trying to shut it down and I had read that, I probably wouldn’t want to hold because that would seem contradictory. I want to turn it OFF not ON. Sometimes RTFM doesn’t do any good because the information isn’t there to be found. I’d be willing to bet the Dell manual is similar.

    The guy was a jerk, no doubt about it. But he had a common problem that could be solved by a little work from the manufacturer. That kind of thing is common too, it’s just that us geeks don’t notice because we already have the information.

  75. Nygdan says:

    The CSR really didn’t do anything wrong. They need to verify that the computer is one that they are supposed to be servicing, so they need that information. The guy is even saying that its not his computer but his mom’s. They ask for your phone numnber so they can call you back incase there is a disconnection (which they’ve probably never done in the history of the universe). The ranting lunatic customer merely had to answer a couple of questions to get tech support. True, it was a simple fix, but think about it. If someone is calling saying that windows won’t shut down and the computer won’t turn off, the rep has to figure that its a big problem, and thus go through the required verifications.

    It is frustrating though to have to go through an automated system, enter in your information, and then have a person request all that information again.

    How much time do companies really save with these stupid automated systems anyway?

  76. cpdexile says:

    Heh, the CSR didn’t do anything wrong, sure. But I’m definitely on the callers side here. I can’t imagine how many times he had to give that same exact information to 5 other CSR’s over such a small and insubstantial issue.

    Sure, he didn’t know you had to hold the power button down for 5 seconds but it’s not exactly intuitive. One who was unfamiliar with computers would expect the power button to turn off the computer.

    I’ve gotten just as irate over small issues when dealing with these types of automated customer service systems.

  77. SkaldGrimnir says:

    First, I’d like to say that I’ve done tech support for a number of years. I’ve even worked for Dell. I’ve been considered a top technician by most of my employers, I’ve been a team lead, a supervisor, and have done quality control for calls like this.

    Now, onto the situation.
    1. The customer was on the phone for an hour. Yes, that is bad. Yes, he is most likely frustrated. And yes, he should be given a little slack.

    I’ve seen customers get frustrated at Autocomplete, because they felt that the “Tech was using my computer without my permission.”

    2. At no time once the customer “lost it” was he being a good customer. Some companies provide a 1 strike rule, some a 3 strike rule, and some companies I have worked for say that the CSR has to take all the abuse dealt to him or her. Not many people enjoy being yelled at, and fewer still when they cannot do anything but take it. This is especially unkind to a CSR with low self esteem, no real social skill, and a lack of disarming techniques.

    Techs are known for being socially inadequate. People often make jokes about it. Heck, techs even make fun of it themselves.

    3. I know a lot of people say the CSR was being a bad rep, and antagonizing the customer, but there are a few other facts to take into consideration.

    Was the CSR new? Maybe the CSR did not know how to handle such an irate customer. When we do not fully know what to do, we often fall back on what we know. This is why you will often see CSRs sticking to a script much more with an irate customer than a happy one.

    There are also a lot of CSRs who are smart, but cannot handle any type of criticism well. It’s why they learned about computers in the first place. It’s often why they work in a place with no face to face interaction. And most often such CSRs will move on as soon as they have the skill and knowledge to do so; right into a job with less interaction.

    4. Scripts are used for a reason. One is to try and ensure consistent and accurate customer service. Another is to make sure all pertinent information is gained.

    I’ve worked for companies who HAVE fired employees for failing to stick with a script or obtaining all required information. Back in ’01, when I was doing contract work for dell, it occured twice. I’m not sure what their call centers are like now, but back then, you could lose a job for failing to correct the information.

    Yes, the CSR should have been nice and explained why he needed the information, and that if the customer would be paitient for a moment, then the situation could be resolved.

    Also, for those of you who say “Just skip the questions, and tell him how to shut it off,” if you will recall, he said there was also a battery issue at one point, and that the screen was in the same position for hours. I am unsure if he had the computer plugged in the entire time, but either of those statements could be an indicator of something more serious. And it would be a plus to have it recorded.

    5. The CSR handled the situation. Maybe not gracefully, maybe not well, but in the end, the users issue was resolved. The CSR did not hang up on him for abuse (When I worked there, Dell had a three strikes policy), and did answer the question. All in all, I would side with the CSR on this issue, but would work with him on resolution of calls with hostile customers.

  78. Phoenix87ta says:

    In regards to the comments that the tech should have just answered the question: I worked tech support for a ‘major’ computer company. Granted, I’d never buy anything from them, but they paid me :) Trust me, not filling out the customer databases has disastrous effects on your job. In our case, our commissions would get docked, our metrics would fall, we’d be out on bonuses, we’d get called into the manager’s office, and would get all the crappy schedules. All this is actually POLICY, not just a manager on a power trip. The system may suck, but the tech is asking these question out of his own self-interest. And the caller is, in fact, a douche. My mantra: “RTFM, RTFM, RTFM” (Read The Freakin’ Manual!!!)

  79. mainfr4me says:

    Wow. I’ve been in tech support for a while (internal and external) and yea, we need info like that a lot because we’re required to get it.

    Either way, no one deserves to get chewed out like that. I’ve had the run around from Dell, HP, IBM, Sprint, Verizon, etc. They’re people too just doing a job. Hopefully someone calls him at his office and rips him a new one like that.

    Just another example of people not RTFM and not being patient. Has nothing really to do with Dell’s tech support. The poor dude just got reamed because he was doing his job. I doubt he maintains the automated system.