How do I deal with Dell Inc. customer service hell?
July 8, 2009 11:41 AM   Subscribe

How can I get any service from Dell Inc. Help they seem to have lost my order and won't give me any answers etc.

I know Dell's customer service is so bad its legendary but is there any way to bypass the phone menu which doesn't seem to understand me?

They seem to have lost my order. it says it was shipped on 6/26/09 3-5 day Fed Ex but it has not arrived. I keep getting the run around and am spending hours on the phone just trying to find out what happened and if not have them replace the order. This is ridiculous.

I keep getting hung up on by surly indian customer service reps who seem to lie to me ( claim they have no employee id no etc.) and then tell me conflicting things.

Any advice would be appreciated.

As if you had to guess I will never ever buy a Dell again.
posted by Twinedog to Shopping (17 answers total)
Huh. I have never, ever had bad customer service from Dell, so I can't help you specifically. But I did just have to wade my way through Orbitz's "customer service" phone line. The stupid voice recognition software just doesn't work. I figured out eventually that if I just didn't say anything OR press any buttons, it would connect me to a person.

And since the laptop/desktop/whatever has already shipped, have you contacted FedEx?
posted by cooker girl at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2009

How to contact Dell's customer service directly:

If you get a customer service rep who's obviously from a different country. Tell them you would like to speak to an American Representative directly.

Insist you want to talk to someone who speaks english clearly. If you must, tell them you have a difficult time with accents.

If you have an order number, have it ready. If you have a tracking number, have that available as well.

It's possible your shipment got delayed. It's likely when they say it was shipped on the 26th.. that they only sent fedex the notice that they will be shipping something to you, it probably didn't get into circulation until monday, and if something happened on friday that prevented them from delivering it to you, you may still get it this week.
posted by royalsong at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2009

I have to believe you got a tracking number when you ordered it -- I always have when I've ordered Dells (which has been three separate times). What does the FedEx tracking system say happened to it? Was it supposedly delivered? Was there an exception?
posted by olinerd at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2009

You don't mention if you've tried following up with FedEx. Do you have a tracking number? If you do, I would start with calling FedEx or checking online. Yes, it should have arrived by now, but ground service can be annoying slow at times.
posted by cabingirl at 11:51 AM on July 8, 2009

When I dealt with Dell I was dealing with people In Texas. Absolutely evil, horrible, incompetent people in Texas, but still.

My typical approach to annoying menus is to mash the keypad until I get connected to an operator. You used to be able to just press "0," but some places have even taken that away now. or if it's a voice menu, I start speaking gibberish like Adam Sandler in "Billy Madison." ("calle-hoo-HOO!")

In the worst case, start a dispute with the credit card company you used to buy the machine. A co-worker of mine did this with Apple- he actually ended up with two laptops, when the lost one he had canceled the charge for finally showed up a month or so later.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:54 AM on July 8, 2009

Dell is a nightmare. I bought a computer from them in 2001 and it took several years off of my life. Note their top billing on the Consumerist blog here:

Somewhere in there, I believe there are a few posts about how to get in touch with someone who will actually help you (ie, a post that includes Michael Dell's corporate email address). I can't in good faith recommend the usual techniques -- avoiding key-tone menus, asking to speak to a supervisor -- because Dell's customer service goal seems to be to treat their customers as badly as possible. I've never dealt with a company who seemed this dedicated to making me wish I'd never bought anything from them in the first place.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 12:04 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes I have tracking numbers for the packages and I have followed up with Fed Ex. They said first a few days ago that the packages were likely lost because they showed up as picked up and in transit for 10 days with no additional details.

Then a call on Monday resulted in them telling me Dell hadn't shipped them yet.

So I am sure it hasn't shipped yet. What I don't appreciate is being sent an email that they had shipped and informed they should arrive on the 29th and then I can't get any update on the web ( the information hasn't changed.) Even though its now July 8th. The estimated ship date is still the same.

And the customer service will not email me, they insist that I call in every few business days and deal with their ridonculous phone menu. They won't give me the keystrokes to get straight through to a department.

I am going to dispute the charge and see what happens.
posted by Twinedog at 12:08 PM on July 8, 2009

Until very recently I worked for Dell for 9 years. A big chunk of that was in customer service.

If Dell says your package has shipped then it's probably shipped. It's rare that the website will say it's shipped when it actually hasn't. You need a tracking number for FedEx.

It's entirely possible that FedEx has lost your order. This happens all the time, with every carrier Dell uses (hey, they handle a lot of packages, if 0.005% get lost, that's still a lot of lost boxes). If it's been more than 5 business days (and it has), Dell will initiate a claim with the carrier and start the process of replacing your order. If you ordered a computer then they'll build you another computer to those same specifications and ship it again (this time it'll ship via next day service). If you ordered accessories then when they ship they'll ship via next day service as well. If the accessories are in stock in one of the warehouses this should happen in one business day or less. Computers generally take 1-3 days to ship if all the parts are in stock.

If you're not getting an answer here you need to escalate. Send an e-mail using the contact form. Ask to speak to a supervisor. Call back until you get a competent customer service agent. These types of issues take slightly longer than average to resolve, and therefore a lot of agents don't like to fully own the situation as it impacts their average call time.

If you want to get your money back and go somewhere else, just call them and tell them. There can sometimes be delays because the whole refund process kinda starts with a person in a receiving dock scanning in the order you return (and you're not returning anything in this situation), so if you get any pushback at all, call your credit card company and initiation a charge back.

You can also go online to the BBB and file a complaint. Dell actually takes these complaints very seriously, because they're intent on keeping a stellar record with the BBB, but the BBB gives Dell a fairly long time to resolve the issue, which might be longer than you really care for right now.

Bottom line: the order has not been delivered within 5 business days. It's considered lost (unless FedEx knows for a fact where it is and can get it to you faster than Dell can reship). Dell will start the rebuild/reship process immediately and worry about following up with FedEx later.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:18 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

You should probably go through this step by step.

Since you have tracking numbers that reference a package with FedEx, start with them and ask them about the tracking numbers. FedEx shouldn't have any tracking numbers without phyically picking something up from Dell. If the package showed up as picked up and in transit, and then mysteriously vanished something is not entirely kosher there.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 12:23 PM on July 8, 2009

they showed up as picked up and in transit for 10 days with no additional details.

Sounds to me like FedEx might have lost your packages. I'd do more follow-up with them. Like the ancient mariner said, there won't be tracking numbers unless the stuff has been picked up by FedEx. If you don't get satisfaction from them, talk to your credit card company and tell them exactly what's going on.
posted by cooker girl at 12:40 PM on July 8, 2009

I should have previewed. From your followup post it seems that Dell sent FedEx information (Ok FedEx, we're going to be shipping 3 boxes to Twinedog, one from Malaysia hitting a distribution center in Nashville and two from a distribution center in California) but hasn't yet given the packages to FedEx. While parts of an order can ship from different distribution centers, often times they don't ship out if everything isn't ready. Or sometimes they just give them the information but for some reason the box doesn't make it on the truck, a label gets torn off, etc. None of that really matters to you; what's important is that the damn thing was supposed to be there already and it's not.

They won't give me the keystrokes to get straight through to a department.

No shit? That's because such a thing doesn't exist. I'm fucking serious. Don't get me started.

Dial 1-800-624-9897 get you into the customer service phone tree.

say "none of those" when prompted to say "technical support, make a purchase, etc"

then say "questions about my order"

then say or enter your customer/order number

You'll then be routed to customer care. This is the department that should and can help you. You'll need to know your order and/or customer number so they can find your account and get you routed to the correct department.

If you get a customer service rep who's obviously from a different country. Tell them you would like to speak to an American Representative directly. BWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Eyes, watering. Sides, splitting. Good one!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:41 PM on July 8, 2009

Agreed: this sounds more like a FedEx problem than a Dell problem.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:08 PM on July 8, 2009

I forgot to mention: If you decide to keep the order and you've paid for shipping and handling (meaning you didn't order during a free shipping promotion), you have every right to request that it be refunded. Many agents will give this to you, and almost all "supervisors" will.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:24 PM on July 8, 2009

2nding Consumeristing this if you don't get any answers.
posted by ishotjr at 5:10 PM on July 8, 2009

I've always had good experiences with Dell. The last one I bought had a slight information-lag, their "where's my order" site kept saying "information sent to shipper" like yours, but no shipping information beyond that. I was in the middle of composing my "wa' happened?" email when the thing arrived.

(The biggest thing you have to do to get good service with Dell, however, is buy through the business side. Not the consumer side. Higher prices, but better service.)
posted by gjc at 7:12 PM on July 8, 2009

(short answer)
And the magic bullet for anything Dell related (if this winds up staying a Dell problem and not a FedEx problem) is to email

(longer answer)
I had ordered a laptop for my sister to take to college with the custom artwork on the back. Here's the order of events:

* Ordered laptop
* Received email laptop would be delayed approx. 2 weeks
* Received email laptop would be delayed approx. 4 additional weeks
* Sister changed mind about artwork pattern and wanted to change
* Called Dell 3 times trying to modify the order since I had their own words testifying that they hadn't built the machine
* Gave up and emailed In my email, I explained my past attempts to modify the order and the lack of success I had had. Most importantly, I made a business case for why they should either let me cancel the order or modify it. If they failed to do either one, I would simply return the laptop, making them pay double shipping, PLUS sell the machine for less on Dell Outlet. It simply would save them money to cancel the order or modify it.
* Got a call 2 days later (still from an offshore call center) from someone who had received a special dispensation allowing her to cancel my order later than she normally would have been able to.
posted by mysterious1der at 6:21 AM on July 9, 2009

Anyway we ended up disputing the charge on the credit card. Well I don't know that it specifically changed things, but the thing did arrive within a few days after doing that. We notified the credit card company that it did finally arrive.

So if anyone finds themself in this situation that is what I advise. I think once you do that they realize you are serious. I think in my situation they pushed it through to shut me up.

I did blog post on it and posted to twitter etc.

Also don't know if it helped at all.

But seriously am not buying a nother dell again.
Everytime I web order from them there is always some unforeseen delay etc. and then the customer service is completely unaccpeptable!
posted by Twinedog at 10:42 AM on August 10, 2009

« Older What are some cool things I should be doing with...   |   Everything looks like a nail! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.