Dell Next Business Day Warranty Isn’t: Round Two

I’m not sure if you had read my previous rant about the Dell tech support fiasco. If you haven’t, I suggest checking it out first for the much needed context. To make the long story short, Dell took two weeks to perform a minor “Next Business Day” repair, and even then somehow managed to fuck it up. Some part was mismatched and/or missing. I called them several times, but eventually gave up since the machine seemed to work fine.

Until one day the display went dark. I’m suspecting the issue was not related to the botched repair – it looked like a blown inverter, which is not uncommon for dell machines. But then again who knows. The machine was purchased in August of last year with a 3 year next business day warranty service. From my previous experience I already knew that the display was not going to get replaced the next business day but I called them anyway. Jumped went through the usual hoops giving the tech drone the service tag, company name, address, phone number, mothers’ maiden name, name of my first pet, shoe size, collar size, the size of my big toe – you know the usual stuff Dell asks to make sure you are the rightful owner of the machine. I mean, they have to make sure that no one who was given the computer as a gift or purchased it used while it was still on warranty is not going to get any tech support, right?

Finally we got to the point where the Dell support drone looks up my service tag in their system, apologizes that it is taking so long, explains that their system is slow, then tells me when is my warranty going to expire. Only this time he said:

“I’m very sorry, but our records indicate this computer is currently out of warranty. I can connect you to our Out of Warranty Service Department if you want to and they will be able to assist you.”

Just to make sure he is not lying to me, I went to Dell’s website and pulled up my warranty information. It said it is active until 2011. I also pulled up the original purchase confirmation from 2009 which clearly stated the duration of the warranty. I have him all this info but he still insisted the machine was not covered. Apparently all their internal systems had the machine listed as out of warranty, but the public facing systems said it was fine. Thoroughly confused he offered to transfer me to customer service to get it all straightened out.

After 15 minutes on hold, and one very confused conversation I realized that he sent me to Shipping and Handling department instead. They sent me to general customer service line, where I was told they don’t actually handle Warranty stuff, and they transferred me to some top level switchboard operator who “happily directed my call” to the main voice operated menu where I was able to select from exciting sounding options such as “place an order”, “order status” or “technical support”. I opted for that last one, and spent some quality time listening to the on-hold music and working on other stuff at the same time.

Round two of tech support went about as well as round one. The drone on the other line admitted that there was indeed a discrepancy between the systems, then put me on hold to consult his supervisor. Only this time there was no music – just quiet. Seeing how I had other stuff to do, I put my phone on speaker and continued working. After about half an hour (closer to 40 minutes actually) I almost forgot about the phone call, when I heard someone un-mute it on the other end. I said “hello” and the phone went silent again. So I waited another 15 minutes at which point the call got disconnected. My hypothesis: the technician wen on a lunch break hoping I will get pissed off and hang up. He came back, discovered I was still holding so he decided this is a good time to go and take a shit.

I called back, and went through the whole procedure once more. Note that I already wasted several hours on this, and explained my issue to at least 5 different people. After about 20 minutes of confusion my companion finally “cracked” the case:

“Ah! Your computer is no longer on warranty because you were issued a replacement machine because your old one could not be fixed. The only way to send the customer a replacement computer is to terminate his warranty. This is why the machine is not covered.”

Of course this made no sense because:

  1. I never agreed to such an exchange – I was offered this as an option, but declined as it would take weeks to process
  2. I never received a new machine
  3. Terminating customers warranty because you have failed to deliver on your end of the warranty contract and fix the issue makes absolutely no sense.

Of course #2 rendered #1 and #3 moot because I really did not have this new machine. He had me read the service tag, express service code and some assorted numbers of the back of the machine to prove I still had the old one. Of course that only proved I did not send the old machine back – and his record clearly stated a machine was sent out to me. I suggested to call the carrier to see what happened to the package – cause it definitely never arrived at my doorstep. Of course I was starting to get nervous. What if they sent it, and it got lost? What if they sent it to the old company address and someone at the old office jacked it?

Without even bothering to put me on hold he dialed FedEx number and conferenced me in. Smugly he asked the representative to what happened to his package. Turns out it was… Returned back to the server. He had the date, address, and signature on file. Whoops. Luckily for me this was a massive clusterfuck on their end. I asked him what happens now, and he went to talk to his supervisor.

Fast forward 20 minutes of me listening to on-hold music and he comes back with the following:

  1. The machine can’t be serviced at this time because the warranty information in their system is all wrong
  2. Someone has to fix it, but neither him nor his supervisor have access to that system so they will have to escalate it to Tier 2.
  3. No I can’t talk to Tier 2, Tier 2 does not have a phone number. They have an internal form that they thing sends them a message… probably…
  4. Furthermore Tier 2 clocks out around noon so they won’t get the message till the next day.
  5. Once they get the message they will probably call me to ask me stupid questions. That should happen within 2-3 days.

Translation: your case requires too much effort so I will make like I’m escalating it and then conveniently forget to send the message via that buggy ticket submission portal that craps out and loses submitted information 2 out of 3 times.

I called them back the next day, went through the meet and greet session, then spent about 20 minutes explaining my case because:

  1. This technician had very thick accent and major trouble constructing coherent sentences in English
  2. The only thing worse than his spoken English was his comprehension – he could not for the life of him understand what I was getting at
  3. He put me on his speaker phone which meant I had to hear every word I said with a 3 second delay which was infuriating – but he wouldn’t switch it off even when I asked

Eventually I gave up, hung up and called back again. This time I lucked out and got connected to The Only Resolute, Competent and Able Technician in all of India (TORCATI) and he was awesome. I wish I knew his name because he definitely deserves a raise or a promotion. Actually, scratch that – he just did the job he was supposed to. He only looks like a hero in comparison to the 5 or 6 asshats I talked to before I got to him. Anyway, TORCATI fixed everything. He got the warranty thing straitened out by himself. Well, not by himself really – it was a team effort actually. He got his supervisor to call the next person in the chain who found out contact numbers to the people who handle warranty issues, called the right people and they all sat down to try to figure out the extent of this massive fuck-up. Then he was nice enough to explain it to me:

  1. Back in march I made about 20 phone calls during which I was getting progressively disgruntled and angry about my Next Business day warranty
  2. At some point, someone at Dell decided to just cut their losses and send me a new damn machine
  3. The new laptop was boxed, tagged and sent out
  4. Naturally, my 3 year warranty was transferred to the new box (which had a different service tag) which is why the system did not show up in their internal system
  5. The public facing warranty app however pulled the information from a different place, and apparently it was never updated which is why I saw it as covered
  6. When the machine bounced back to the sender, no one bothered to investigate what happened. Chances are there is a mysterious box with a brand spanking new laptop still on some shelf in a Dell warehouse and no one there has any clue what to do with it.

Granted, unraveling this mess was nowhere near easy. TORCATI spent close to 3 hours working it out while I was on the phone with him. He would periodically check back with me and update me on the status of the whole operation. Eventually it got resolved and the display was replaced the next day. And it only took me 3 days and a dozen phone calls which is a bit of an improvement from the last time.

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5 Responses to Dell Next Business Day Warranty Isn’t: Round Two

  1. Andrew Zimmerman UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    TORCATI lols!
    Good stuff dude. Well done!

    Persistence is the key with bad customer service. I generally ask them if I need to speak to someone else and do. Suffering their laziness is intolerable!

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  2. dawn SWITZERLAND Google Chrome Linux says:

    Obligatory reference to xkcd:

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  3. Aaron UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Always use the chat not their phone line. I always write up a quick three sentence description of what the problem is, what I’ve done to prove what the problem is what I say it is, and what I want from them.

    I’ve never had it take more than an hour and since it is chat, it doesn’t cost money or annoying time. Even when they are being really slow, I walk away and come back after making a sandwich to find their reply.

    If you know about computers, make it clear to them in the first 10 seconds and they will treat you very different, and they will go out of their way to throw in little extras.

    If you even make them think you are computer illiterate and don’t know /exactly/ what is going on or have the audacity to call them, you’ll get the run around.

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  4. Check The Email Address UNITED STATES Google Chrome Ubuntu Linux says:

    I remember when I used to be Alpha and Omega of T-Mobile Telesales (and Web & Telesales Support, which is post-sale support). We honestly had no one we could escalate the call to… and people would be like “So… theres no one higher than you?” and I always wanted to reply “There is, but you can’t talk to them”, what I would say is “I am the highest person on the floor who has the training and skills to work with customers, the people above me spend their days looking at charts and graphs — I get reviewed by a quality assurance team” Which is mildly true, we did have a boss who would take phone calls if he absolutely had to, or to demonstrate the best way of dealing with a customer… but really we would just get 2 calls that were reviewed a week, and we were scored, and if we scored high we would get a bonus, if we scored low we would get fired :D

    However, most of the time I was the TORCATI, though sometimes if someone was a dick, I would tell them that I put in their request, hang up… and then not bother with it… one time a guy was really really upset at the company (but was making fun of me for studdering and stuff, which is why I did what I did next)…

    I said “You sir are acting out of line, I can disconnect the call — Or I will transfer you to customer service if you really want to cancel your service, however, you activated your service 35 days ago, that means that you will be charged the full 200 dollar early termination fee.” he said something like “send me to cancel my line dick wad”, so I sent him to customer service, and posted his phone number on /b/

    Maybe not my most professional thing that I have ever done in my life, but this guy really hurt my feelings, and normally I am really cool about things like that, and I can take anything… but this guy was a dick.

    Of course the call after that was my one being reviewed, where I was clearly short with the customer (which they didn’t deserve… I was just annoyed).

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  5. I had this same type of issue with Gateway support for the laptop I am on now.

    They sent me the laptop, and ever since I first got it it had an over heating issue, but it never really was too much of a problem, and I figured it was because I always used the laptop on a bed, so the fans wouldn’t circulate the air.

    Sometimes though the machine would over heat to the point it would shut itself off, and I would even have it propped up on stuff. So there was issue number one. Then the power flow started having issues, and so it would say “charging” then “Battery Discharging” over and over; and if I had my speakers on it would make that annoying beep. At first, it was just once every great while.. then it started discharging more than charging… and I could never watch movies or listen to music.

    This starts up right as I am starting my first term at my University (online courses). So I “call India” and tell them that I need to get this fixed and they say that if I send it in they will fix it. I said sure, and sent it in to them. They said it would take about 2 weeks, and it did, which was fine, oh and you have to cover the shipping costs over, and they will pay for the return. Well it is YOUR fault, but I want this done, so just do it.

    So I get it back… I look on what they did: They upgraded the bios, and replaced some keys on my keyboard (which were missing… but I also just bought a replacement pack to replace them myself, but sent it in hoping they would replace them WHILE fixing my issue)…. I called up and said that not only did they not fix the problem, the list of things they sent that they did to my computer doesn’t even show that they did anything to help the problem.

    Luckily when you do a repair order with Gateway, they will attach a phone number to their office in the United States, so she was able to explain to me that apparently when I had mentioned my keys missing (which I said in passing, it was hardly the focus of our conversation), they marked the repair for cosmetic fixes.

    I said “fine, let me send it back, and you guys fix it– but I want you to note exactly what the issue is, and the troubleshooting steps that I have taken to fix the computer myself” They paid the shipping (though I realized, after taking the laptop into UPS that with a discount that I have through my moms employer I got next day air for like 8 bucks… so I did that)…

    I get my computer back, they had replaced the hard drive (I had already bought a terabyte hard drive and backed everything up in preparation for that possibility), they had replaced the monitor, and almost every other componat BUT the motherboard or the power supply unit (which is attached to the motherboard)…
    Guess what? It didn’t work.

    SOOOOO I call back again, and say “Hey its been 4.5 weeks that this has been going on, I am failing my classes because I can’t attend, and my computer is still broken!”

    They asked me to send it back again, but I wanted a new device, and demanded that. They said they wouldn’t be able to help me, and that the procedure is “ship it out three times, and if you can’t fix it after the third time, then they will replace it” and she assured me that they would fix it the next time, and she would be “pulling strings” to have it replaced if they couldn’t, because technically the 2nd time was for a new issue which should have started the three shipment process over again (Austin Powers anyone?)

    That wasn’t going to work for me, so I told her I wanted to talk to “Executive Customer Care” this is a term that you should remember because its practically the same thing as saying “Shibboleet”, most companies “Executive Customer Care” only has an address to write to… but they typically get their mail in 3-5 days anyway, so if you want to be patient they will get back to you… and always do great at fixing your problem.

    Gateway HAS a phone number for executive customer care, and after explaining my issue to this guy, he set me up with an order for a new laptop (a $1,100 laptop, mine only cost $460 — but my model wasn’t made anymore :D :D )… however, I either had to pay for the laptop first, and then send my old one back and then they would credit me for it… or I would have to send my old one back first and then they would send me out the new one.

    I agreed to send mine back first, and they sent me this laptop which is pretty awesome.

    Chad (I think that was his name) from Executive Customer Care, also gave me his personal office number, so I was able to call him and he would answer his phone. So I called him to check up on the order and he was able to give me tracking details (they sent me a tracking number, but I was a douchebag and wanted to hear it from them)… and then after having my laptop for a week he gave me a call back and ensured that I was fully satisfied with it, and if there was anything else he could help me with.

    :( I lost Chad’s phone number, and the phone number to the place in America… and neither of them were posted on the net.

    However, I will buy from Gateway again if I need a laptop, because while they were total idiots in the beginning… their executive customer care made up for it.

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