Friday, May 16, 2008

And this is why they call it Dell Hell


April 7th - Top-of-the-line XPS Computer dies. Last words - "Hard drive failure." Fortunately for me, I have the Dell Super Duper You-Should-Never-Have-to-Worry-or-Suffer-Needlessly extended warranty plan. I feel confident in the personal guaranty I get from Dell.

April 8th - Called Dell support and say that the computer fails to boot. "I think it is hard drive failure, because the computer gasped with its dying breath, 'Hard drive failure.'"

Dell's response: "We think it is a Windows issue. Reinstall Windows and it will work fine."

It does not.

April 9th - Marathon SIX HOUR call with Dell support during which time we uninstall and reinstall Windows, erase and replace the BIOS, unpartition and repartition the hard drives (several times), and perform all manner of terrible remedies to the computer in hopes of reviving it.

None work.

Before we begin applying the electronic version of leeches to the XPS, the Dell support person asks, "We will have to erase the hard drive, is that ok?"

"No problem," say I. "I have all my information backed up on this external hard drive. As long as no one touches the external hard drive*, everything will be fine."

"I think it is the motherboard," says Dell support eventually. "We will send a technician out. You should receive a call from the technician within 48 hours."

The technician never calls.

*ominous foreshadowing

April 10th through April 17th - Wait for technician to call. Emailed Dell Support several times with issue number and nice little note asking about the technician call.

None of the emails responded to.

Used Dell Support Chat a couple of times from work and get runaround about how much they want to help, but unless I am sitting by the broken computer, pulling my hair our in frustration when they ask me to reinstall Windows one more time, there really isn't anything they can do.

April 18th - Talk to Dell support chat on my laptop while sitting in front of my broken computer. Dell says, "Oh, you are using the wrong Windows installation disc, the wrong Dell support disc, and the wrong Dell diagnostic disc. We will send you the right ones."

They send me the wrong ones.

Specifically, they send me the Dell diagnostic discs for their bottom-tier laptops instead of their top-tier XPS desktops so none of the drivers on the disc work. AND Dell sends a French-language Windows installer disc, apparently because they want to reward me by giving me the opportunity to learn a new language.

May 9th - Long, involved, multi-hour chat session with Dell support. Dell support person says that yes indeed , they sent the wrong discs and they can try to send the right discs again to me.

Logic dictates that if they just try enough times, eventually they might correctly address my problem once, right? Sadly, I am past the point of logic.

I express a level of frustration and contempt that gets me transferred to a supervisor. Dell supervisor tells me that I might have been right after all and that it probably isn't a software issue. They agree to send out a technician.

May 13th - Dell technician comes out to the house. Doesn't replace hard dives properly. Somehow, my 300GB hard drives gets magically replaced with a 150GB hard drive.

Also, the technician decides to plug in the external hard drive, the one I use as a backup into the computer and format it.

Apparently Dell technicians are NOT trained on the fact that FORMATTING A BACKUP DRIVE DESTROYS ALL OF THE BACKUP DATA ON IT.

May 16th - Dell support tells me that, yes, a Dell technician came into my house and effectively deleted about three years' worth of data. All the personal data. All the professional data. All of those iTunes files I paid for and backed up so that money wouldn't be wasted.

Everything. Now gone.

But somehow, thanks to the power of corporate magic Dell is not really responsible for this. They owe me nothing for my time and my grief and while they are very sorry for the fact I am effectively up the creek without a paddle, AND while they pretty much admit that they pointed me to this particular creek and then stole my paddle, I'm really on my own here.

So... um... that's my customer experience with Dell. I drop a large chunk of change and buy their top-tier computer and then pay extra for their top-tier customer and technical support and am rewarded by having my external back up hard drive erased.

Thank you Dell for taking all my money and then repeatedly kicking me in the virtual nutsack because it amuses you so. Thank you Dell for making me angry enough to blog about
what a craptacular waste of time and money your entire support network is.

But mostly Dell, thank you for giving me a story to share with each and every person I know who comes to me and asks what kind of computer they should buy. Because I plan on sharing this story with as many people as possible for years to come.


face said...

That's horrible(ly funny). I've had nothing but bad experiences with Dell and they have been dead to me for some time. God speed doing something about all that lost data. I suggest you just keep calling Dell until you break their spirits. Even if you don't succeed, knowing how annoying they find you can be comforting. Maybe conference call them with the Better Business Bureau and an Apple sales person. Effective? No, probably not. Fun? Hell yes.

Gyuss Baaltar said...

Wow! That is hands down the worst support story I've ever heard about any company.

Oy! If I lost the two firewire drives I use for backup I would break down and cry.

Goo said...

MRT, you have my condolences.
Dell, you have my everlasting curses.

Maida said...


You've got to be FRAKKING kidding me.

I'm so sorry. I nearly wept when I read about the formatting of your external hard drive.

It's a travesty. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm not at all being sarcastic - because it is a big loss.

HUGS to you...

Courtney said...

Good grief, *I* could've done a better and cheaper job of fixing your computer. Agony. My next computer will definitely not be a Dell. My sympathies.

Gyuss Baaltar said...

Maybe this is a case for the Consumerist?

M. Robert Turnage said...

I am actually looking at taking this to the Consumerist. I am actually going to the Dell store here in Dallas to talk to a person and see what can happen, but am not expecting much. (I joke around that I am going to make this blog entry the home page on all of the in-store computers.)

Meanwhile, I'm posting this blog entry in many of the forums I go to (including the Dell forum).

Anonymous said...

Robb, the siblings and I were reading this - sad, but also bitingly funny and sarcastic. Daniel says to tell you he might be able to help pull things off the hard drive. Give him a call if you want to try - he's cheaper then Dell and might be more effective.

InvisibleMarketing said...

I am intrigued by Dell's slavish devotion to its processes throughout this ordeal.

I am also horrified by how ineffective their processes have been every step of the way.

This has cost them a truck roll, at least 10 hours of phone time, and at least one fulfilment mailout. And each step has unfolded like a Keystone Kops comedy of errors.

They have probably spent more than the purchase price of our warranty, failed to fix the problem, and alienated an all-Dell, 5-Dell, buys-top-of-the-line-Dells family.

They would have done better if they'd just told us straight up, "Hey, this is old equipment, we don't really support it very well anymore, let's just part friends," refunded the price of the extended warranty (or some amortized portion of it) and let us go figure it out for ourselves.

We would have come out better, too.

No more extended warranties!

InvisibleMarketing said...

TO Rebekah/siblings: THANKS! RT just bought some fancy software for mining the formatting HD. I hope the guy didn't do a low level format. We will see.

TO ALL: We really appreciate the kind word from you all.

RT has also been posting on the C|net forums:

Not all responses postede have been emotionally supportive. :) But the community troubleshooting has been both heartwarming (techies love a challenge and have generous with suggestions and help) and frustrating (would have been nice to start off clean with some of these suggestions).

Daniel: hopefully RT will get in touch wit' you.

brad_l said...

My name is Brad and I work at Dell headquarters in Round Rock, TX. Please contact me back at my email address below and I will help you in any way that I can.

Dell Customer Advocate

NoRegrets said...

I wonder if Brad is for real. So sorry about your loss. This is why they don't have video phones yet - they'd get a lot of middle fingers showing up...

Susan said...

MRT: I'm so very sorry. I'm proud of you, though, because about when I found out my everything was gone I would have blown up anything dell related close by. Our whole company has Dells which means their technician is here about once a week. We had a situation where my boss actually threatened to sue him for harassment on behalf of a female in our company.

SlickRik said...

Yo, what's the update? I posted suggestions on the (buzz out loud lounge) for you (username there: Slikkster).

The FREE PC File Inspector File Recovery software is your fastest way to get your data back. Please update your situation in that forum.

M. Robert Turnage said...

The update is twofold:

The data recovery is going along nicely. I am having the external hard drive examined and the people looking at it seem to think they can get it back. Part of me really wants to do the DIY thing with it, but I am a little unnerved and need a technician to hold my hand, look me in the eye, and tell me every thing is going to be all right.

The computer situation is as follows:

Brad at Dell (see above comment) researched the issue and offered to do an even exchange. I give them back my old computer and get a new one with the same specs. He also made it sound like they would pay the bill for the data recovery. The condition is that I don't call Dell tech support again for my computer, a compromise I find reasonable.

NoRegrets said...

Did you see this?

duffrey said...

Sorry to laugh, dude, but for those of us who have been in dellhell for what seems like forever, this is a VERY familiar story! Raise as much hell as you can on direct2dell and don't take any b.s. from Lionel Menchaca about how sorry they are and blah blah, the guy is a talking head of the worst sort.

I have been dealing with this sort of nightmare for awhile now and all you can do is kick them hard and keep kicking them hard until you have caused at least as much damage to them as they to you...