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:
- I never agreed to such an exchange – I was offered this as an option, but declined as it would take weeks to process
- I never received a new machine
- 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:
- The machine can’t be serviced at this time because the warranty information in their system is all wrong
- 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.
- 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…
- Furthermore Tier 2 clocks out around noon so they won’t get the message till the next day.
- 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:
- This technician had very thick accent and major trouble constructing coherent sentences in English
- 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
- 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:
- Back in march I made about 20 phone calls during which I was getting progressively disgruntled and angry about my Next Business day warranty
- At some point, someone at Dell decided to just cut their losses and send me a new damn machine
- The new laptop was boxed, tagged and sent out
- 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
- 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
- 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.