Microsoft Tells You To Call Dell For Windows Customer Service, Hangs Up

Recently we posted a Dell tech support chat in which the Dell rep cut the call short by blaming windows for a (probable) hardware issue, claiming a Windows Vista Upgrade was “third party software.” Oddly, it seems that Microsoft likes to pull the same trick on Dell owners.

Every time reader Jered updates his Windows Media Center PC bad things happen. Codecs are deleted. The DVD player menu doesn’t work. Finally, the sound stopped working completely. Since it was the Windows Update that seemed to be causing the problems, Jered called Microsoft. They tried to pawn him off on Dell, then reluctantly agreed to call him back in 24 hours before hanging up on him. From Jered’s blog:

When I asked my customer service rep at Microsoft – who just happened to be in Bangalore, I’m sure – if it was really truly right that Dell was responsible for customer service on Microsoft’s updates, she had no response. Finally, she said, ‘well, seeing as this is an update issue, I’ll give you a case number and get you free customer service.” Wow. Supporting your own update. How generous.

More inside.

I explained the issue, at which point she realized that she needed to transfer me to the Media Center technical support team. In what I can only describe as her not being able to figure out how to transfer me, she gave up and told me that I would have to wait for a “call back” which she said meant that I “have to wait at least 24 hours” to receive. At least? What, is there some Microsoft rule that one cannot solve customer’s problems in a timely manner. After all, if one were to start producing products with great customer service, the customers would come to expect excellence… and we don’t want that.

She gave me a case number, then asked, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” I responded, “yes.” I began to tell her my problem with the dvd-menu at which point she interrupted and said “lets just take care of this problem first,” by which I thought she meant, lets close this case, and open a new one for this other issue. Ha! There I go again, expecting Microsoft to stand behind their products. She closed the case, told me to wait for the callback, then asked again if she could help me with anything else. I said, “just the dvd problem.” She responded, “Thank you for calling Microsoft, have a nice day,” and hung up. Me? I’m still in awe of the blatant disregard.

My, that was rude. Anyone want to set odds on Microsoft calling back? —MEGHANN MARCO

Microsoft’s “Wow” Campaign “Wows” Me [JeredTEde]
(Photo: Maulleigh)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Shorteh says:

    My money is on the no callback / lost ticket response. “Sorry sir, there is nothing in our system about the issues you are having. Have you spoken to Dell about the problem? You have? Oh…………….. let me put you on hold for an unreasonably long period of time.” Thank-you for calling Microsoft!

  2. OnceWasCool says:

    Can’t someone create an OS that will run on a PC?

  3. thinkliberty says:

    That reminds me of the Microsoft Tech Support vs. Psychic Friends Network review from about 10 years ago.

    “In terms of technical expertise, we found that a Microsoft technician
    using Knowledge Base was about as helpful as a Psychic Friends reader
    using Tarot Cards. All in all, however, the Psychic Friends Net work
    proved to be a much friendlier organization than Microsoft Technical
    Support. While neither group was actually able to answer any of our
    technical questions, the Psychic Friends Network was much faster than
    Microsoft and much more courteous.”

  4. JohnMc says:

    First off, forget WindowsMPC and go with LinuxMPC. Google it and you will find it. Have your techie friends install it. From there everything else is by the remote. You get MythTV, X10 dimming capability, Asterisk for VoIP service support, roaming video support, etc, all for free. And it works.

    Second, folks you need to understand that there are two types of licenses — Retail and OEM. If you buy an off the shelf retail pack that is M$ problem to solve as they are the MFR of record. If you got your OS from Dell, HP, IBM, that’s an OEM license and M$ is NOT the MFR of record. As a consequence M$ is off the hook.

    How do you tell? Do you have a purchase receipt? If you don’t its OEM.

  5. royal72 says:

    “Can’t someone create an OS that will run on a PC?”

    yeah it’s called osx and the latest and greatest version, called leopard, will be available shortly.

  6. lowllight says:

    i worked at M$ for a couple of years in the windows division. while there are some tech support people at M$, honestly they don’t care about you, you are a single person, therefore you are meaningless. if your company has less then several thousand people working there, they really don’t care. unfortunatly with updates you are caught in a rather odd situation, dell should be your support contact though.

    honestly the best tech support you will ever find is google, search for you issue, you’ll actually have a larger database at your finger-tips than your average CSR will. after google, talk to your geek friend(s). after they fix your problem, send them a nice amazon gift cert (or any other online shop you like) to let them know you appreciate their help and understand that to pay someone to fix the issue would be VERY expensive.

    BTW in the years that i worked in windows div (on XP SP2, 2003 SP1, Vista, and Longhorn server) i saw 1, and only 1 CSR ever come out and meet with us and/or communicate with us on the product team. he was level 3 support as well. in other words, you, as an individual will never get to his level to get your issue addresed.

    sad but true….

    one of the resaons i left, got tired of the way we treated customers, the only people M$ treats worse than customers is their employees.

  7. blindInTexas says:


    there is one.. it’s called Linux. it’s free so Caveat you get what you pay for.

  8. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    JohnMc is correct. The guy should’ve called Dell. He bought the computer from Dell, and OEM versions of Windows are supposed to be supported through the vendor, not Microsoft. If he had bought a retail version of Vista or Media Center or whatever, then he should be calling Microsoft for support.

    This story should be tagged with PEBKAC.

  9. stupidcomputernickname says:

    There are lots of people who read this site who work at Microsoft. If you post your case number (something like SRX…. or SRZ…), I bet you will get a callback

  10. MarvinMar says:

    I also worked for Microsoft.
    I did Windows 2000 support for 3+ years, starting with launch.

    I worked at the Tucson Call center for Keane, which was later bought by Convergys (Big differance there, Keane was way better to the employees)

    To the Customer, we were Microsoft. And we had direct contact with Microsoft anytime we needed.

    We cared for EVERY customer. We were not alowed to Format and reinstall because that does not tel you what was wrong and how to fix it.

    When you called me, I owned your case till it was resolved. I called you back if the issue was not resolved on the first call. You worked with me untill you were happy with the solution.

    I was also on the callback team that called customers back because they were not happy with the support agent, or thought a change of agents wound speed things up. Again, once I called you , I resolved your case.

    I could sit with 1 customer all day for days if I needed. We had no x customers per day kind of metrics. We did have to be on the incoming phone lines for x minutes a day.
    Also, If I was off at 9pm, but my call was not resolved, I could not leave. I would stay till the call was resolved, and just come in that much later the next day.

    It was really all about Customer Service.

    Most of the callers were either calling in for Free instalation support, free virus removal support, using one of their 3 free support issues that came with a retail W2K Pro, or paying $249 for the issue.

    If you get your windows from Dell, HP, Compaq, etc… They are responsible for supporting it. That is what they agreed to in order to offer it on their computers.If it was truley a Microsft Issue that only we could resolve, they have ways of transfering you over.

    Now that everything in India, I doubt the support is as good.

  11. ttrevorr says:

    If the computer was bought with the operating system already installed it is considered OEM software and the support of that operating system typically is the responsibility of the computer manufacturer. If the customer installed their own operating system they bought from an outside source and it was not originally installed on the computer it is considered 3rd party software and is not supported by the manufacturer but instead supported by the publisher of the software.

    Ex. If you buy a Dell computer with windows XP then Dell would support the hardware of that computer and the support of XP. If you install Vista on that computer it is considered a 3rd party software and Dell can no longer support the OS. It becomes the responsibility of Microsoft.

  12. HarrisonHopkins says:

    @Royal72: OSX won’t run on a PC. It only runs on Macs. Linux is a much better answer than OSX.

  13. pdxguy says:

    @HarrisonHopkins: Define “PC”. I believe it used to mean “Personal Computer”. Under that definition, OSX does indeed run on it. It runs not only on PowerPC chip Apple hardware but also on Intel chip Apple hardware. With software such as Parallels or Bootcamp, you can even run Windows on the *same* machine. Golly gee!

  14. royal72 says:


    look for the hacks

  15. Flash604 says:

    In the linked article, I clicked on their link to the Health Department’s inspection report, and the restaurant actually passed with 10 points (28 or more is a fail). Remembering that I first heard of this story on Letterman’s show, I then searched for the Hello Deli, the deli outside the studio which is involved in the show at least weekly. They failed their inspection a couple of weeks ago with a score of 45.

  16. Flash604 says:

    Yikes, don’t know what just happened with the above comment… it was a comment I made in a different story being reposted. I think a GreaseMonkey script I added will need to be removed.

    My comment on this story is from my prospective as a case manager for a Dell competitor. Considering my position, I obviously have no reason to support Dell on this one, but to be honest I must come to their defense after seeing a number of posts supporting Microsoft send this customer to Dell. In fact, I should probably support Microsoft, as on the other side of my building we are Microsoft support; but I can’t.

    When we (as in the OEM I represent) sell a package of a computer we make plus an OS from Microsoft, we do agree to be the support for that OS. But all we agree to support is that OS in the form it is sold. If you add software from manufacturer XYZ and it causes issues, then you must contact manufacturer XYZ. Windows updates fall in that category also.

    Look at it from this point of view… how can we know what’s wrong with the update? If we were the support for updates, then Microsoft would need to come to us and say “We’re thinking of releasing these updates, do they meet with your approval since you are the support?” This does not happen, they release what they want, and they are therefore the support for it when it causes issues.

    This is not to say we try and pass the buck, we do try to help the customer as much as possible, but there is only so much we can do since we have no control over the updates. Right now, we are dealing with an issue where the updates that came out two days ago are causing issues on certain machines. Our engineers quickly assessed the situation, and going forward will be working directly with Microsoft engineers on it if necessary; but all we can provide for support for the customers right now is assisting them to remove the offending update. If, for a particular cusotmer, it cannot be removed and you do not want to wipe your computer and start over, then you would need to deal directly with Microsoft on alternative solutions as we had no notice of the update before Tuesday, we have no idea of the updates inner workings and therefore no idea why it is a problem, and we have no training on it.

  17. MarvinMar says:

    We would also give free support for Windows Update issues.

    Also, the updates from 2 days ago are causing nightmares for lots of people.

    I am helping a guy from another forum right now.
    Windows update ran at 3 am, and now his CD/DVD drives dont work on his Dell (Xp SP2)

    Any fixes you know about?
    We tried lots of things including removing the updates, and system restored back to the 2nd

    If you have any tips
    MarvinMar at gmail . com

  18. HarrisonHopkins says:

    @pdxguy: PC as in Personal Computer without any Apple hardware at all. PC as in the Mac Commercial.

    @royal72: Let me correct myself. Legally run OSX on non-Apple hardware without using a virtual PC.

  19. Plasmafire says:

    Microsoft has the absolute worst customer service. I love the fact they refuse to answer a single question if your product is “OEM”. Even though they designed it, they created it, they want you to go to the guys who made your computer to get it fixed… and when they can’t help you because Microsoft screwed up, your 100% screwed. I just absolutely loved it when installing Windows Media Player 10 destroyed my computer’s ability to play any form of music or video files, and Microsoft told me because I had an OEM version of Windows XP I had to go contact the people who made my computer… yea like that helped any. Thanks for nothing Microsoft.
    I’m going to avoid Windows Vista like the plague it is.

  20. Brilluminati says:


    I can see where you are coming from. But you’re missing the big picture.

    You buy a computer from Dell. This computer most likely has Dell branded proprietary software installed on it along with Microsoft Windows.

    You go to and download a program. Your computer starts having problems. You automatically blame Microsoft.

    What if the Dell branded software is causing the conflict? They built the computer, configured it, shipped it to you and made you pay for it.

  21. royal72 says:

    @HarrisonHopkins: good point on the legality of it. i guess for me i’m just used to using macs and haven’t had the problems my windows friends complain about… all the operating system arguments aside, mac hardware has always served me well, especially in the resale value. the resale value keeps my personal computers from becoming money pits, as about once a year i get a new or slightly used mac. what all that means is that i spend $100-$200 a year to keep my computer current, compared to spending lots and then upgrading after a few years when the value of your computer goes to hell.