Thursday, August 03, 2006

A question for Dell

I didn't want to write this blog. I am not looking to slam anyone, I just don't know where to turn at this point.

I own 3 Dells. I have purchased probably 10-15 machines for my former company when I worked as an IT professional, but I will not buy a single Dell machine ever again.

I purchased a Dell Inspiron E510 several months ago, it was a nice, mid-level machine with a dual-core processor, 2 gigs of ram and a 250 gig hard drive.

I bought it with dual optical drives: a dvd+-rw and a dvd rom. The main reason I bought it was to edit videos I shot and then burn them to dvd. Along with this, came the hope I would be able to view these dvds, as well as the dvds my friends in the filmmaking community had made.

From the beginning, both drives were unable to read most burned dvds. The sound was there and the video would show for a second before becoming scrambled. As if my issue was one of copyright protection or incorrect region.

The dvds themselves were fine: they play in every single other computer I've tested, as well as several set-top dvd players I tried. I can even copy them using my machine and they will play fine. Just not in my computer. The one that just burned them.

This sounds like a problem, doesn't it? I understand that there are going to be compatibility issues with different drives, write speeds, media, etc. but in my prior experience, this was a "once in a while" problem. Not a "nearly every single time" problem.

This was Dell's answer to me when I sought help from technical support. Actually, their first answer was "this is a software issue, do you agree to pay 45 dollars for us to resolve this?" or something like that.

I spent a good three hours on the phone and with online tech support. Repeatedly, I was told that this was a non-issue even though I was unable to use the computer for one of the main reasons I bought it in the first place.

So I let it go. Even though I had spent over a thousand dollars on a piece of machinery that I thought was defecting, Dell beat me down with their tactic of "deny, deny, deny". I was tired of it.

Fast forward a few months and I have a job to do. One that is severely hindered by my machine's inability to complete this task.

I take another shot at it.

This time, Dell seems more willing to admit their is a problem and they seem pretty sure they know how to fix it.

If you've deal with Dell online chat support, you probably know you are dealing with people overseas who are not knowledgable about the products they are trying to service and are working off of scripts. No matter how mad you get, the reply is "I understand your problem sir, I am working very hard to fix it".

I only resorted to this chat method because trying to deal with them over the phone is even more exhausting. The problem with it is this: if you use the computer which has the problem to discuss with them what's going on, you will inevitably get to a point where their "fixes" will require you to re-boot, terminating the chat session and ultimately leading to you having to start all over.

So after giving me several non-fixes: removing the drivers for the dvd drives and the video card. I am now left with a computer that is even more non-functioning than it was before because now the dvd rw drive won't even recognize when it has blank media in it.

This was a six hour process of them telling me solutions that I knew as an IT professional were not going to work.

I explained that if I'm getting the same problem in both drives, it can't possibly be a broken laser in one of them. But I humored them, I played along. I begged to speak to supervisors, I begged them to call me. I begged them to send a technician.

Am I wrong? Is this really not an issue? Should I just deal with the fact that I bought a brand new computer so that I could burn dvds and watch them and now I am unable to do that?

This is craziness to me. I don't understand why I had to deal with a company on 8 different occasions on one single day and have not gotten a phone call from someone making sure my issue was resolved.

I really have no idea where to turn now.

What the hell happened to Dell? I remember a time (not that long ago) when you would talk to a real person, they would recognize something was wrong and either send you a brand new part or a technician. Usually the next day. I understand they need to save money to keep costs down, but I would be willing to pay a premium for that which I had come to expect as a baseline level of service.

I am mystified. Is this just how the industry is now? Are there any companies that are not like this anymore? I don't get it. I really don't get it. Given everything I've said, I can't understand how they would think it's acceptable for someone to be online with their technicians for six hours, not come to a resolution, express extreme dissatisfaction at every corner and somehow think this is an OK way to do business.

Am I out of line here? I am already dreading having to call them back.


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