Ahh, Dell, Dell, Dell

2006.May.18 Thursday · 6 comments

in Life

Buenos Aires – In the completely non-food/wine related world, I’ve recently been dealing with the fun of Dell computer service overseas. It’s been a frustrating and time consuming process, and has basically resulted with no one being satisfied. Here are the two posts I made to the Dell Community Forums:

I recently renewed my warranties for both my XPS laptop and desktop. I told the warranty person that I was spending the next year or so overseas and wanted to make sure that I had international support. She assured me that it was included in the warranty package I’d purchased.

Sure enough a few weeks later, the motherboard on the desktop died. I spent a couple of hours “diagnosing” this using the online chat feature via my laptop. At the end, having determined I needed a new motherboard, the tech informed me that there was no such thing as Dell International support, that a new motherboard could only be sent to my registered home address, and that the return slip would only be issued with domestic ground service. I arranged to have someone then fedex the motherboard to me in Argentina where I currently am (and where Dell does have offices), at a cost of $200. But, true to his word, the return slip is domestic ground service only.

A call to the warranty department yielded “we just sell the packages, it’s not our responsibility to police the tech department”. E-mails to customer service have gone unanswered for over two weeks. Same with getting any kind of customer service response via phone – “I’ll get back to you” apparently means, “please hang up and don’t bother us again.”

Needless to say, it looks like all “international support” means is that Dell will accept an online chat or phone call, not provide anything further. Nor would I say that I’m happy with Dell service at this point.

Followed up about a week later by:

First, obviously no one from Dell responded to this, but that’s not a surprise given my recent experiences. I started dealing with Dell not only because of quality products, but because of quality service. I’ve watched over the last few years as rapid growth and outsourcing have lowered the quality of the latter to the point where it’s a waste of time to even try to interact with Dell representatives. A true shame, because the product quality is as good or better than it ever was.

I finally got through to a person in the warranty department who did not just hang up or tell me someone would call me back. I spent 25 minutes on the phone with her, but got nowhere, essentially reaching the point where she understood what I wanted (either a refund on the costs of the repair and some sort of resolution to providing international service, or, a refund on the extended warranty since it was a waste of time). However, she informed me that she couldn’t do it. On to her supervisor.

The supervisor spent about fifteen minutes on the phone with me, and we only got as far as I could get the refund on the warranty, that I should register my international address with them (why?), although there is indeed no international support for Argentina (her claim that there is no Dell office in Argentina is nonsense, I know where it is, and it’s not far from my home), but that customer service would have to issue the refund. She transfered me…

Customer service informed me that all of the above was nonsense, that there is indeed international service in Argentina, though, they (customer service) have no power over the technical support department, and if tech support wants to claim there’s no service here, there’s nothing to be done. She informed me that she couldn’t issue the refund either, I had to go back to the warranty department. She did, however, put me through to the international shipping department to arrange a pickup of the old part.

They, however, refused to do so, once again claiming that Argentina is an uncovered part of the world and that not only is there no Dell office here, but that the international carriers that Dell uses don’t exist here (umm, that’d be DHL and/or Fedex, both of which do exist here). He then hung up on me.

I didn’t bother to call the warranty department back. I called American Express, told them I was disputing the charge, and not to accept any further charges from Dell on my account.

Needless to say, Dell has lost me as a customer.

Who knows? Maybe someone from Dell USA or Dell Argentina reads this blog and will respond. Somehow I doubt it.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

asadoarg May 19, 2006 at 11:43

Dell heh

I gave up on them 4 years ago when my laptop overheated. Tech support was a nightmare. I kept telling them the thing got super hot and locked up. Then one day it wouldn’t start at all. Their support people kept telling me to boot up and go through the setup options. Yes I removed the battery and yes I used the AC adapter, it won’t start. I was at the point of screaming LOOK I WON’T START IT! I was here in Argentina at the time and told them I would pay to ship it back to them and all they had to do was ship it back to my registered address in the States. They said no you have to take it to an authorized dealer. At that point I gave up.

I think with Dell you just have to take advantage of their low prices and coupons then if it breaks you just buy a new one and say screw the tech support process.

I’ll dig through my bookmarks, I remember coming across a computer repair shop that “claimed” to be an authorized Dell technican along with a few other brands. That was a while back though so not sure if they are still around. I think they were on Rivadavia.

dan May 19, 2006 at 11:53

Good thing to have for the future I guess. At this point it’s fixed, it just cost me more than I planned!

dan July 4, 2006 at 11:55

More from June 21st, when the following exchange with Dell ensued, my last comment on the original posting evidently just happening to be the fact (actually, I gather that Dell’s Consumer Advocacy Department trolls the net for complaint postings – part of a new push to provide better service):

My name is John, and I am a customer advocate at Dell headquarters in Round Rock, Texas. I noticed your blog, and would like to assist you in any way that I can. I understand from reading your blog that the computer system is fixed, but it is apparent to me that not all of the problems have been properly addressed.

I look forward to hearing from you and to assisting you in any way that I can.

Thank you,

Dell Customer Advocate

My response:


I appreciate your contacting me. As you noted, my computer is indeed fixed, though at quite an expense to me. Very simply, I had specifically inquired about coverage on both my laptop and desktop computers while travelling in Argentina. I was assured it was no problem that international service was available on both via Dell Argentina. When it came down to it, however, not only was service not provided (and I was informed that there is no Dell Argentina, which isn’t true) and that there is no such thing as international service support. I was able to convince the technical support person to send the replacement part to a friend in New York, who then fedexed it to me at a cost of $200, plus because it wasn’t coming direct from you I ended up having to pay customs duty on it of another $50.

Simply, I’ve since cancelled my extended service contract with Dell, which I had just renewed for the laptop (the desktop contract which applied to this case wasn’t expired), and given the experience, I have no plans to deal with Dell in the future. The quality of the product is there, but the quality of the service over the last few years since you moved to totally outsourced support has taken Dell from one of, if not the best in the business, to amongst the worst (this isn’t my first problem dealing with your tech or customer support departments over the last couple of years). I’m not against outsourcing in principle, but my opinion is that not only is it often difficult to communicate with your reps, who often don’t understand fairly simple English if it isn’t in their script, but that they often simply don’t have any idea what to do – they follow those scripts, and anything that deviates leaves them completely perplexed.


I do want to assure you that changes are taking place here at Dell, and feedback such as yours is very valuable to our effort.

In order to address the problem directly, I would ask that you provide me with the service tag of the desktop in question so that I can assist you further. I realize that the system is fixed at this time, but that does not mean that the problem is fixed. It would appear that you have received very conflicting information regarding the service contract that you purchased from us, and this is something that is unacceptable to me. I want to address that issue as completely as I possibly can, with your permission.

I look forward to you correspondence.

Dell Customer Advocate

My next response:


The service tag on the desktop is —-, a Dimension XPS. I have, by the way, been informed at the time I called your warranty department, after the fact, that international service only covers XPS laptops, but I quite clearly had asked about both the XPS desktop and laptop before bringing the desktop to my office here. So it may be, in the end, I should note, that your tech support person was correct, and that the fault lay in the warranty department’s information. Oh, and I’d also note, that in order to return the old motherboard, which I was told if I didn’t, I’d be charged $450, I had to get it back to the U.S., since Dell would only provide a domestic return tag. Thankfully a friend was willing to carry it back in his luggage, and he dropped it off at a DHL office, so it at least didn’t cost more money, just headache.

In the end, if it turns out that Dell simply won’t warranty its computers for service by its own authorized technicians overseas, I’d still stand by my decision not to continue warranty service – no reason to pay for something that’s not of use.


I would be willing to provide you a $250 credit to cover the expense you incurred as the result of the confusing information you were given. I realize that this doesn’t give you coverage on your XPS desktop, but it will at least ensure that you were not forced to incur a financial loss as the result of this incident.

I have verified that XPS portables are covered internationally depending upon the country (Argentina falls within this matrix), but that you are correct that desktops do not have this type of coverage.

As for your existing contract, I can also arrange for the contract to be cancelled and for you to receive the amount of the original purchase price. You obviously never benefited from this service contract, and canceling it seems to be an appropriate course of action given the facts of the situation.

Please let me know if you feel that this all sounds reasonable.

Thank you,

Dell Customer Advocate

My response:


I appreciate it, the $250 certainly makes up for what I spent. I’ll leave the decision on any credit/cancelation on the extended warranty itself up to you. Although it was obviously a hassle on my part, I did get the part needed, and it itself didn’t cost me anything, just the shipping and time. Possibly just a credit for the remaining time period left on it which I think is less than a year at this point?

Thanks for looking into this and being willing to work something out.


I haven’t heard anything from John for the last two weeks, I’ve sent two followup e-mails with no response. I haven’t received a credit. So, John, if you’re still out there reading my blog… I’ll add in Dell’s Consumer Advocacy program to my list of ineffective departments.

dan July 11, 2006 at 21:46

On July 6th, after my above comment, I recieved this:


I was actually waiting on a response from you, and then we had an email routing problem. I just received this mail. Since it would appear that you are wanting to cancel the remainder of the contract, I will go ahead and process all of this. You should see the benefits in your Dell account very soon. I will have to process the two credits separately, so it may take a few days.

I apologize for the lag in communication. Please let me know if there is anything further I can do.

Dell Customer Advocate

And, last night I received the credit for my shipping costs on my credit card, so it looks like we’re moving in the right direction! Power of the internet and all that…

dan July 19, 2006 at 23:21

Ah, the second credit arrived in my account today. Wonder if any of this would have ever been resolved if I didn’t have a reasonably well read blog…? My note to John, the Consumer Advocate:

Just a thank you for catching this, putting some attention on it, and resolving it. The second of the two credits was issued today, so I feel like this can be put behind me. I do have to wonder if, without you happening across my blog and being willing to step in, would anything ever have gotten resolved with your customer service department? That’s the thing that ought to concern Dell – it’s a positive thing to have a team of folk out there trying to repair customer relations – it’d be a whole lot better to have your frontline service people not trashing those relationships in the first place.

dan July 21, 2006 at 13:41

And the, I believe, final response:


I am glad that the ordeal is over for you. We are working to prevent things like that from happening in the future, as well as reaching out to those who have had similar experiences. I agree with your final sentiment, and actually, so do our executives: You should read this recent post to the Dell blog talking about this very issue.

Let me know if you need anything else.

Dell Customer Advocate

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