Dell Tech Support Really More Of An Upsell Trap

Congratulations, Dell customer! You might have won! Won what, you ask? The opportunity to hand more money over to Dell for an extended warranty that you don’t necessarily need! During three calls to Dell technical support, Laptop Magazine found that technical support representatives offered a hardware warranty for a software problem, a software warranty for a hardware issue, and told a caller that he had won a mysterious daily drawing for the opportunity to buy a four-year extended warranty from Dell for the low, low price of $317. That sounds like the most boring sweepstakes ever.

Our friends over at Laptop Mag normally like Dell’s support, which is good, because we only hear from people who are unhappy with it. It’s good to hear that someone is satisfied. Every year, they call different vendors about the the same computer issues, and rate the support received as part of the publication’s Tech Support Showdown. A worthy endeavor, from our point of view, but this year the inappropriate-warranty-hawking from Dell warranted its own article.

Naturally, when contacted by a non-undercover reporter, Dell insisted that all of these tactics were either “errors” on the part of the support reps, or evaded Laptop Magazine’s actual questions about what Dell reps are supposed to be doing.

Dell Support Caught Using Shady Sweepstakes to Hawk Warranties

Apple Has The Best Tech Support, Dell, HP, Acer Have The Worst


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  1. Coffee says:

    I purchased a Dell computer a couple months ago, my fourth or fifth one, and for the first time, there were a number of follow-up e-mails and phone calls inquiring about whether I would like this warranty or that warranty or this protection program. It wasn’t super irritating, but it was definitely noticeable.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I knew someone who worked at one of the big box electronic stores and he said the ONLY time he got a commission was when he sold an extended warranty because they were almost pure profit for the store.

      The harder a corporation pushes/pesters/annoys you to buy something, the worse off of a deal it is for you and the more of a moneymaker it is for them.

      • Coffee says:

        Totally agree. I don’t buy insurance…er…extended warranties on my electronics for the same reason. I treat them well, and by virtue of that fact, I’m the person who they will be making their profit margin on, all things being equal. Yes, someone will come along and tell me that when their television failed after two years, their warranty was very useful. I’ve had mine for four years, didn’t buy a warranty, and it’s never broken. I think I still come out ahead.

        • Blueskylaw says:

          I love it when I go to a store and a salesperson tries to sell me an extended warranty by claiming that the item I’m about to buy has known quality issues and will probably break on me. I then ask them why I should buy the item let alone the warranty, and why their store is selling shoddy merchandise with known manufacturing defects?

    • cactus jack says:

      When I called in for support (Sept. 2011) they were helpful but told me that while they normally recommend renewing a warranty (had a month left) on these calls, my maxed out XPS m1530 was too outdated and wasn’t worth buying more warranty. I found it kind of funny.

    • Dell-Lorna M says:

      Hi Coffee,
      My name is Lorna and I work for Dell. Please be assured, it is not our intent to cause you or any of our valued customers, any frustration. We would however, like to be certain that you have an opportunity to upgrade your service in the event you should ever need additional hardware protection. I always recommend our customers purchase the greatest amount of extended hardware warranty to protect their investment. Like all mechanical devices, computers are subject to hardware failure. Consequently, we offer warranty coverage and a choice of Service Plan Agreements that furnish our customers with a thorough range of coverage options at reasonable prices.

      Please see this link to update your email subscription preferences.

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    When will corporations realize that they CANNOT make record profits quarter after quarter and year after year? The fact that they come up with a blatant scam like this and when called out on their BULLSH*T blame it on “errors?”, shows how strong they fight against the inevitable.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      They are getting smarter. They have answers already prepared in advance for each of their tactics.

  3. Lyn Torden says:

    I used to just build my own computers. I don’t have the time for that anymore, so I buy them from and have never had an issue that wasn’t immediately fix.

    Companies like Dell are just scams using computer sales and support as a cover.

  4. ChuckECheese says:

    Del Taco tried to upsell me 4 times yesterday as I ordered my lunch. I spent more time listening to upsells and saying “no thank you” than I did placing my order.

    • Coffee says:

      Wait…how does a Del Taco upsell work…I’m intrigued.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        DT: Hi. Welcome to Del Taco. How are you doing today?
        CEC: Fine. How are you?
        DT: Doing well, thank you sir. Would you like to try our Macho Burrito Combo today?CEC: No thanks, I’ll have a Delux taco, a Taco al Carbon —
        DT: — Would you like to have steak or chicken in your Delux taco for only 45 cents more?
        CEC: No thanks. Did you get that?
        DT: That will be a Delux taco and a Taco al Carbon. Steak or chicken?
        CEC: Chicken, please.
        DT: Would you like a drink with that?
        CEC: No thanks.
        DT: How about an order of churros or cheesecake bites?
        CEC: No thank you.
        DT: Your total is three eighty-three. Please drive to the window.

        • Coffee says:

          Jesus…that’s annoying as hell, and I can imagine it happening to me and not even noticing. Damn…now I want some Del Taco.

          • ChuckECheese says:

            You notice it after the 2nd or 3rd interruption, especially when it’s 110 outside and your window’s rolled down and you have the same conversation at least once a week for the past 4 years.

            • videoman says:

              I remember working for McDonald’s 23+ years ago, and upselling was a big deal then. However, instead of interrupting a customer while ordering I would ask a casual question after they were finished such as, “What would you like to drink with that?” or, “Would you like a dessert today?” I always remember the lessons of my father that I shouldn’t interrupt people when they’re talking.

  5. polishhillbilly says:

    I’ve noticed that the Dentist and Optometrist have been up-selling unneeded services.

  6. Diabolos needs more socks says:

    No one?

    Fine, I’ll say it…


  7. Twinkietamer says:

    It was somewhat similar when I did tech support for HP at a BPO company earlier this year. I never heard the daily sweepstakes gag, but sales was a HUGE aspect of our job even though customers thought they were just talking to tech support. We were expected to have an RPC (Revenue per call) of around $9. Obviously, that was meant to average out over calls, but we were expected to offer an extended warranty on EVERY in-warranty computer that didn’t have one, regardless of their issue. There was on guy who consistently sold about $9000/month. So many people resorted to (what I consider shady) sales tactics like misleading customers or even outright lying to them. There was one guy who would always say “Oh, Janet, that’ll be easy to remember, that’s my mom’s name!” to every single woman he talked to, just substituting their name for “his mom’s” name and he was LOVED by the supervisors for it because it was rare that he didn’t make some kind of sale to that person. I lasted about 2 months on the phones there because I refused to sell anything to someone unless they definitely needed or wanted it. One thing that still sticks out in my mind is that we were told once that the HP system that we used to process sales for warranties and OOW computer parts cost HP $100,000/hour in sales anytime the system went down. That’s not even the same system used for big ticket items like computers and printers. Just for warranties and OOW parts. I don’t know how true that figure is, but it was repeated by more than one trainer.

  8. dross says:

    I have to say, as a managed services IT professional supporting small business networks, the Dell (and HP) hardware warranties in the Pro Support tiers can be really nice to have. Sure they cost a couple hundred bucks, but they are good for the expected life of the machine (~3-5 years) and when your client’s motherboards/hard disks etc dies… they send a tech out to replace the part within 24 hours after running diagnostics steps over the phone.

    On the consumer side though? Yeah not so great.

  9. frodolives35 says:

    I have had really good luck with dell products 2 desk tops and 2 laptops. They never inundated me with emails or up sell’s. I am due for a new laptop in the next year and hope to have the same experience as in the past. I guess I’ll see as they have a proven positive track record with me. Also our entire network at work is Dell and any problems we have had have been handled very well by business support.

  10. luxosaucer13 says:

    Dell was pulling these shenanigans back when I left in 2007; it’s nice to see that some things don’t change (sarcasm intended).

    When I last worked for them, I worked in a retention queue in a tech support role. I saw many cases that went exactly this way:

    1. Customer would call hardware support.
    2. Hardware would deliberately misdiagnose the problem as a software issue and pan them off to fee-based software support so that they didn’t harm their dispatch metrics.
    3. Software would sell them a software “warranty,” troubleshoot the problem, and invariably find out that it’s hardware-related.
    4. Customer would want a refund on their software “warranty” purchase and software would transfer them to us.
    5. We’d process the refund and do the original troubleshooting and remediation that hardware support didn’t want to do in the first place.

    Occasionally there was a little bit of an interlude between step 3 and 4, where the customer would get bounced back and forth between hardware and software support before they got to us, also both departments had sales metrics for additional “services” they were expected to sell during these diversions from getting to the root of the actual problem.

    Dell hardware warranty support also gets penalised for not selling enough add-ons or if they issue too many dispatches for hardware problems because some beancounters at Dell HQ has determined that fixing problems costs too much money.

    The department I was assigned to no longer exists, and hasn’t existed since late 2007, because they, too, were determined to be too much of a “cost” by Dell HQ, even though we saved them millions of dollars each year in equipment returns.

    Dell is the poster child for a truly dysfunctional organisation, which is why I stay as far away from them as possible.

  11. ConsumeristAlly says:

    I had the same experience with Dell back in 2009. Their on-site tech came and broke my laptop (and honest mistake, I’m sure): it had been functioning well before, but needed a minor part). After hours in Dell Hell on the phone, where they had me take apart a portion of the machine each time, they finally promised to ship me a new machine, took my info down, and that was that….or so I thought, until days later, when I called for an update and found out that the rep had lied–no machine was shipped, my issue hadn’t been resolved, and it had all been a lie. The situation did not improve from there.

    My Dell experience was the single worst consumer experience I ever had. I will never again buy a Dell. And the warranty’s not worth the money. I learned that the techs are paid based upon how *little* in actual-cost services they provide: in other words, they’re paid not to support you. And they’re rewarded for selling you junk you don’t need. Add to that the fact that the consumer line people can’t speak English. (The business line, which I have used, isn’t as bad: if they learn to speak English well enough, they get promoted to the business department.)

    Dell will continue screwing customers until they’re sued out of existence or shut down by authorities.

  12. Dell-Lorna M says:

    Hi, my name is Lorna and I work for Dell. We are committed to providing a best-in-class technical support experience for all of our valued customers.

    Our support teams have been reminded of our stringent customer policies and any failure to follow company policies and procedures will not be tolerated.

    Despite the negative review, Laptop does acknowledge our “tech support isn’t all bad. During our testing we found helpful answers through the company’s Interactive Support Agent, live chat and even Dell’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.”

    For anyone experiencing any concerns, please feel to reach out to our social media team. We are available on Twitter (@dellcares), Facebook (message the official Dell page) or on our Dell Community Forum You may also contact me @LornaAtDell. Thanks, Dell-LornaM

    • luxosaucer13 says:

      Then how about doing away with all the punative metrics, games and BS, and fix the customer’s problem the FIRST time they call, rather than trying to band-aid a fix to push the customer past their 21-day return period or 1 year warranty in order to save a few nickels here and there, and trying to wring more money out of a pissed-off customer by useless upsell attempts?

      Not trying to attack you personally here, so please pardon my rant, but, when it comes to Dell, I’ve got a chip on my shoulder the size of the Sears Tower. Knowing their dithering and incompetence from working there doesn’t help either.

      I’m a FORMER customer, too, and until they quit dodging their responsibilities, bring back the quality (at the level they had in the ’90s) and R&D (outsourced to Chinese vendors at the moment), hire American techs and CSRs for their consumer products, and bring back free lifetime tech support, I will remain a FORMER customer.

      • luxosaucer13 says:

        I might add that I get my desktop, workstation and server products for my company through CyberPower. They offer FREE lifetime tech support based in the US and a standard 3-year warranty. They even give you the option of not installing ANY operating system on your machine, in case you have a volume Windows license (and use the same software configuration across multiple machines) or would rather use an alternative OS.

  13. ronbo97 says:

    Uh, hate to be ‘that guy’ but…

    Memo to OP:

    You’re a Consumerist reader, right ? Consumerist has had, like, five million articles on how Best Buy has screwed over their customers. Why in the name of Dog would you still patronize a business like that ?

    If it was CRUCIAL that you have THAT camera lens, for whatever reason, then find a camera store (yes, they still exist) and buy it, even if it’s a two hour drive. Don’t rely on the unpredictability of the supply chain. Murphy’s Law will show up at the worst possible moment.

  14. mjs says:

    Dell-Lorna M
    I Think Dell should have a longer warranty on it’s products not a year but 3-years on all software and hard, the price of computers this should be standard.