Dell - Abysmal Customer Service, or is it me?

  deegee17 19:29 15 Jan 2004

In November my wife was given the opportunity to enrol in a scheme at work whereby she could get a Dell computer, basically on a three year lease at a reduced price with tax incentives etc and included on site maintenance for the duration. I think this is part of a government initiative to get computers into the home.

We decided to take up the offer and ordered a Dimension 8300 for our kids Christmas. We were given a delivery date in Mid December by Dell and I waited for the delivery - and waited – and waited. The machine was eventually delivered two days late.

As it was for the kids’ Christmas I set up the machine to make sure it was all working. A black band appeared at the right hand side of the monitor (17 inch flat screen), flickered and then disappeared. At the time I put this down to an installation glitch.

The machine was packed up and put away for Christmas. The kids were delighted with it, and things went well until 31st December when the black band re-appeared on the monitor – and stayed. I tried calling Dell on 1st January but they were closed for the New Year. I emailed them with details of the problem and received and automated reply which didn’t really address the issue. As per their instructions I tried to reply to the address given in their email – but the address was invalid!!!

We managed to make contact by telephone on 2nd January – speaking to somebody at their call centre – who after consultation told us that they would send a replacement monitor. We were promised this would be within 7 working days, and that the courier would uplift the defective monitor at the same time.

Having heard nothing we called Dell by customer services that the new monitor had an estimated delivery date of 15th January, but that we should call the order tracking number to confirm this, which we did. Order Tracking told us that our new monitor was still in production and he couldn’t give a delivery date – but “possibly next week”. Unhappy at this – and the broken promise given on 2nd January – we asked to speak to a supervisor to complain. We were told that this wasn’t possible and we should complain in writing, so we completed the Customer Assistance form on the Dell website and submitted it, in the hope that we would be given a delivery date, and maybe even an explanation as to why the promise of delivery within 7 working days had not been kept. We received electronic confirmation that the form had been received. The confirmation included the following “Our promise is that we will reply to you within four hours of your e-mail”. Having received this about 13:15 on the 14th we were hopeful that we would hear from them yesterday, but still hadn’t had a reply by 12:30 today (15th January). I filled out another electronic complaint (this time about the broken promise of a response) and sent it to them, receiving the same reply. Would you be surprised to learn that have heard nothing since?

From other postings it seems Dell have a real problem with their customer service, and, to put it charitably, are unresponsive at best. Is it cynical of me to think that they hide behind their electronic complaint system? I accept that the folk who answer the phone are helpless in these matters – they have always been polite, but Dell’s system for dealing with problems appears to be so bad as to be worthless.

Anyway, I’m looking for suggestions as to what my rights are and what my next course of action should be. I have been supplied with a monitor who worked for only 6 days.
Am I entitled to reject the whole system as unfit for the purpose for which it was sold? Has anybody managed to find a route to Dell where they are obliged to provide answers and take action rather than ignore complaints? Or am I being unreasonable in my expectation that they should be keen to rectify this matter?

  jaydeeace 19:48 15 Jan 2004

well, if I was in Dell's position, I'd be pretty keen to sort this out! You bought the whole lot as a single package, so I think you'd be well within your rights to send the lot back. However, persistence might be the best approach; it sounds like you've got a good deal - see if you can milk it a bit and go for the customer loyalty angle.

All this IMHO ;o)

  Forum Editor 21:08 15 Jan 2004

(for that's what it is) as unfit for its purpose, and insist that you receive a full refund. may well find that you can still salvage the situation without the inconvenience of waiting for your money/trying to find another suitable deal etc.

Tell Dell (in writing) that they have an obligation under the sale of goods act to provide you with a working system, and that you can reject the system if they don't do that. Say that you are contemplating doing just that, but you will accept a brand new monitor if they can get it to you within 7 days.

It might kick-start someone/something into life, but don't bank on it. We hear similar stories about the shortcomings of Dell's customer services department quite often, and most of them have a common thread. Dell seem to have a problem speaking to their customers, and when they do actually talk they make promises that aren't kept - it's a major communications black hole. Why on earth the company doesn't sit up and take notice I wouldn't know.

I'm sure that Dell has legions of happy customers, but anyone who knows about retailing knows that it's the unhappy customers who deserve your attention - they're the ones who spread the word in forums like this.

  deegee17 22:40 15 Jan 2004

I agree that the easy thing to do would be to wait for the new monitor, but how long should I wait?

My feeling is that we are being treated shoddily a month after receiving the system, and I shudder to think what might happen a couple of years down the line were we to keep the system and were anything else to go wrong. For peace of mind I am tempted to wash my hands of Dell - who's major problem seems to be their customer service rather than their the quality of their systems - and go elsewhere.

The machine is on a personal lease deal. How does this affect our statutory rights?

  Forum Editor 22:44 15 Jan 2004

and without having seen your lease document) the 'fit for its purpose' clause applies, although technically the machine belongs to the finance company which paid Dell for the machine. I suggest that you check the situation with the leasing company first.

  spuds 23:48 15 Jan 2004

This term can bring all sorts of hidden surprises.Check the terms and conditions of your agreement.As the FE as mentioned, the machine could technically belong to a leasing/finance company or I could suggest even Dell. Leasing is a form of tax concessions, and this can have a minefield of legal jargon in itself. You have stated that the agreement included a three year on-site maintenance arrangement. This agreement would have been 'set up' by the leasing company, and the onus would be on them, to sort out the problem. Do not send the machine back or stop any payments on a leasing agreement,until or before you have got the okay from the leasing company.

I won't go into details here, because it is a very long story. But I bought a vertually brand new Ford Cortina car many years for a penny, due to a leasing contract.

  deegee17 08:05 16 Jan 2004

Thanks - we'll check with the leasing company today to see if they can get the matter resolved.

  deegee17 14:24 16 Jan 2004

Having posted on the board, I had a couple of private e-mails with e-mail addresses of people at Dell who have been helpful in the past. For obvious reasons, they didn't want these addresses published in a Forum.

I e-mailed the named individuals this morning - basically a cut and paste of my original posting, and within an hour received an email reply from a lady at Dell apologising for any inconvenience and saying she would make enquiry into the matter.

At lunchtime I got a phone call from the Customer Service Centre (in India?) asking what the problem with my monitor was. We had already explained this on the 2nd January, and again today was told that the new monitor would be with me in "5-7 working days". I asked for a specific date and was told that the monitor would be here by 23.01.2004. I told the Dell Rep that should the monitor fail to arrive by then I would be rejecting the goods as defective.

Within five minutes I receved a second call from the same gentleman stating that the lead in time for a new monitor was now 10-15 working days and even then he could not guarantee that!

I told him this was not acceptable, and that our intention would be to reject the goods as defective whereupon he stated that in the terms of my agreement with Dell I had only seven days to reject the equipment. I quoted the Sale of Goods Act to him, stating that my statutory rights would take precedence over and terms and conditions imposed by Dell but this made no difference - perhaps because of the location of the call centre? He stated he would speak to a supervisor again and I await a further call.

My wife has also made enquiry at work and they are taking it up with the leasing company on our behalf.

Watch this space, I think this could run and run!

  bfoc 15:30 16 Jan 2004

That you write a note to the email address that worked, outlining what you have said above.

Make clear that you know your rights and that Dells terms cannot supercede the law!

Explain that given the huge problems that you have had it is clear that:

1. You have not had either the product or service you were entitled to and as Dell has proved unable, or unwilling, to rectify matters with a reasonable time frame you are left with no option but to reject the goods under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended.

2. You expect all ancilliary financial arrangements to be cancelled and a full refund to be made.

3. Dell will also be responsible for the collection of the rejected machine, by agreement, within a reasonable time frame.

Best of luck!

  spuds 19:00 16 Jan 2004

bfoc--I agree with your comments regarding a simple purchase via the Sales of Goods Act [amended]. But in the case of deegee17, the item was 'purchased' via a leasing agreement, which is a different matter. The item doe's not belong to deegee17, it belongs to the leasing company.A whole different ball game!.Please feel free to correct me if I have read the original posting wrong.

  Kilobyte 19:56 16 Jan 2004

Just of interest is that DELL in the U.S provides a 30 day 'total satisfaction' guarantee during which time a product can be returned for refund. They also have toll-free sales, customer care and technical support lines. So why do UK customers have to pay for calls at national rate and have an inferior return guarantee?

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