Dell Breaks Customer's New Laptop Remotely, Won't Send Him Replacement

Anthony has been a long-time Dell customer and has shared his positive experiences with friends and family, but that’s come to an end thanks to Dell’s abysmal customer service. It’s been one month since he first received his new Studio 15 Laptop, which worked correctly for 4 days. Since then, he’s been on the phone with Dell for a total of 14 hours, he’s watched a Dell CSR remotely break his laptop by interrupting the BIOS flash, he’s been locked out of the data on his hard drive, and there’s still no replacement laptop on the way to him. When he copied us on this email, he added, “All I wanted was the computer that I paid for long ago.”

I’d like to begin by saying that, in the past, I have made efforts to speak praise of Dell whenever possible. When a colleague, friend, or relative has asked me for computer purchasing advice, I loudly proclaim, “You can’t go wrong with a Dell!”

Dell CSR of the Year hard at work.
Dell CSR of the Year hard at work.
Unfortunately, I will no longer be able to make such recommendations with confidence. This is a result of the experience I have recently had following a Studio 15 Laptop purchase. I have been appalled and disheartened at the complete lack of competent customer service that I have received with a machine that arrived functioning improperly. As much as I have enjoyed the several Dell machines I have purchased over the years, I doubt that I will make any subsequent purchases from Dell. The following is a brief account of this troubling experience:

  • 03/12/2009: Order Dell Studio 1537
  • 03/20/2009: Unit delivered
  • 03/24/2009: Began noticing that the left side “ctrl” button was sticking and functioning erratically
  • 04/04/2009: “Ctrl” button still not function properly
  • 04/05/2009: Contact Dell Tech Support in an effort to correct the “ctrl” button issue
    • Although the problem was characteristic of a hardware issue, the tech support representative attacked it from the perspective of a software issue. He remotely accessed the machine and reinstalled keyboard drivers without any resolution. He then attempted to flash the computer’s BIOS remotely. After a delay in the attempted flash, he shut down the computer before the process had completed. Following this, the computer would not power up again. He instructed me to remove the bottom panel of the machine and swap the memory to no avail. The computer would not power up.
    • The representative informed me that this was an issue with the motherboard and that a new one would be sent to me. I stated that this was unacceptable and that I would need a replacement system. Additionally, as the representative had not advised me to back-up my 320 GB hard drive prior to his attempted flash, all of my personal and small business information was rendered inaccessible.
    • I was then told that I would be shipped a SATA – USB adaptor to retrieve the hard drive data.
    • I was told a replacement system would be expeditiously produced and shipped to me.
    • Total time on the phone: 5 hours
  • 04/06/2009: I contact Dell Customer support to check on my order status. I am told by two different representatives that no record of the replacement could be found. I am inadvertently hung up on several times. I am finally told that they believe a new unit has been ordered and that I should check back in 24-48 hours on the status. I am told that I will not be notified of status by email or through my Dell online account. Total time on the phone: 3 hours.
  • Dell CSR taking a break.
    Dell CSR taking a break.

  • 04/07/2009: I contact Dell Customer Support to check on my order status. This call is handled in almost identical fashion as was the previous day’s call. After being told by several representatives that no record of a replacement could be found, and having been hung-up on at least twice, I am told that an order seems to have been placed and I should check back in 24-48 hours. Total time on the phone: 2.5 hours.
  • 04/08/2009: I track down a number for “Dell Corporate” through an online blog. I contact this number and reach a US Switchboard Operator who checks my order and provides an order number: [redacted]. He tells me that I should receive the replacement unit on 04/16/2009. He also tells me that the SATA to USB adaptor has been ordered. Total time on the phone: 15 minutes.
  • 04/09/2009: I check my order number and see that it is in production with an estimated delivery date of 04/16/2009.
  • 04/15/2009: I check my order number and find that it is still “In Production” and that the Estimated Delivery Date information is now listed as “Unavailable”.
    • I contact Customer Service to find out more about my order.
    • I am hung up on inadvertently at least 4 times.
    • I contact the corporate number and they have no further information available on the replacement unit or the SATA – USB adaptor.
    • I am transferred to Customer Service and told that my unit may be back ordered, but that the information is unavailable.
    • Monument to past CSRs at Dell HQ.
      Monument to past CSRs at Dell HQ.

    • I am told that there is no record of the SATA – USB adaptor ever being ordered.
    • I am left without any definitive information on the replacement unit or the adaptor.
    • I am passed from Customer Care to Return to Tech Support on multiple occasion, all with no resolution.
    • Total time on the phone: 3 hours

At this point I am extremely frustrated and a bit angered. I originally ordered this machine more than a month ago. Today I am left without any computer at all. I have spent nearly 14 hours on the phone with Dell. I have no way of retrieving the data off of the hard drive from the computer that tech support destroyed. When I speak to representatives I am left with a feeling that my issue is unimportant. I would expect, in situations such as these, that a replacement is expedited. Also, I have often been told that, “Another department will have to speak with you about this; I have no record of it”. Why would all representatives not be able to see my information?

Anthony says he needs Dell to deal with the following:

  • replace the unit immediately (“by week’s end”);
  • send the promised adaptor so he can retrieve the data off his hard drive;
  • compensate him for the time and energy he’s wasted trying to work in good faith with Dell’s “inexcusably poor customer service.”

(Photos: Sister72, keystricken, WilsonB, Matti Mattila)

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