Enterprise Initiatives

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I just had a very frustrating experience with the support folks at Dell. Last year I bought three Dell Inspiron 1721 laptops for my wife and two kids. The performance of these laptops were so poor that I switched two of them to Linux. Today I received a notification that my warranty was expiring in five days. It reminded me how badly I was ripped off having to spend about $250 of the $1000 laptop price on Vista which is not capable of performing at acceptable levels on the hardware that Dell sold me. So I decided to call Dell support to see if I could downgrade to XP or get some discounted pricing on memory (a long shot). After over two hours of being passed around like a hot potato from support person to support person, getting disconnected twice, and in the end getting told that they could not help me, I felt obligated to write Michael Dell a letter. I do not expect him to ever read it or anybody at Dell to act on it, but I do feel obligated to rant about it publicly. This is how loyal customers get treated! So here is my email I sent to Michael Dell titled "An angry customer":


I have been a loyal Dell customer for over 10 years and have purchased at least 10 PCs and laptops in that time. I have also recommended Dell to my friends and family for years. Today, that loyalty is gone. Last September, I purchased 3 Inspiron 1721 laptops for my wife and two kids. They all had older model Dell's that were hand me downs each time I treated myself to the newest model. I ordered them online and purchased the low end priced model which fit my budget (about $1K each). I wanted to get Ubuntu but the only OS available for these models was Vista. I didn't think that Vista would run well without a ton of memory, but I figured that if Dell only offers Vista on these laptops, then Vista must have acceptable performance on them.

Within a month, due to delays in parts and shipping, I finally received all three laptops. The performance of these laptops are totally unacceptable. My wife and daughter refused to use these machines and went back to their old Dell's running XP. I became so frustrated with these machines that I wiped them out and put Ubuntu on two of them. They run fine now but I can't run some of the software that my kids use. I eventually bought my wife a Mac and she is a happy camper. My son still has Vista because he plays a game that requires a Microsoft OS. Using his computer is such a painful and time consuming experience.

Yesterday I received a letter from Dell asking me to renew my warranty which is set to expire in 5 days. I thought to myself, "Since I am still under warranty, Dell should still be held accountable for selling me laptops that do not have acceptable performance for the base configuration that I selected online". In other words, Dell is selling laptops to consumers that have unacceptable performance and provide no alternatives for better performing operating systems. I did not have a choice to choose anything other then Vista. So I called support hoping that the company would assist a long time loyal customer by allowing me to exchange my Vista license for XP licenses (downgrade to XP) or give me some discount pricing on memory. Had I known that Dell did not have a $1K laptop that had acceptable performance, I would not have bought any, not to mention three of them.

To make a long story short. I spent over 2 hours on the phone getting transferred from one person to the next. Each time I had to reiterate all of the order information, personal information, and my issue. Each time I asked for a manager and was not granted my wish. At two different times I had a support person agree to send me XP licenses at no cost. Both times they transferred me to technical support (don't ask me why) were I was put on hold and eventually received a busy signal. Then I had to call in again and start the entire process over again. Eventually I was able to talk to manager. Once again I had to go through the entire information gathering exercise and the explain my case. Don't you guys use computers? If I have purchased computers from Dell on your web site for 10 years, don't you already have all of my info including my hardware specs? I am able to see all of this info from my side. Oh, you don't do software!

Anyways, this guy (employee # 110337 with a fake US name called "Dave") basically told me that he can't help me and I have to buy the XP licenses or buy more memory. He says that I should have dealt with this issue when I first bought the laptops, not now. My point is that it is still under warranty so it shouldn't matter. Regardless, it is beyond belief to me that your company would sell computers that do not have enough memory to run Vista at an acceptable performance level and then turn your back on a loyal customer who is stuck with three laptops that nobody wants to use. Nobody who buys a brand new laptop should have to wait over 10 minutes to boot it up. And nobody should have to spend over two hours going through your inefficient customer service processes. I would really appreciate it if your company would allow me to downgrade to XP at no cost. But I have such low expectations from Dell now that I am moving on. I am now a new avid Mac fan!


Mike Kavis

P.S. This sounds like a great topic to blog about!


  1. Lee Graham  

    Congrats on now being a new avid Mac fan! The Mac realm is definitely less stressful! Since I've gone 100% Mac & Linux I haven't had to reformat, worry about Vista compatabity, or listen to Dell's stupid tech support people read from a damn script and have me repeat steps I've done three times already.

    Mac is great for developer like me, or even just an average computer user. My GF will be swapping over shortly!

    Cheers to all of the Mac & Linux users out there!

  2. Mike Kavis  

    Here is an update. This article showed up on Digg and I received a lot of comments on Twitter and other social networking tools that I use. Dell called and gave me 2GB free for each of the three laptops. In the world of social software, the customer is king!!!

  3. Michael Cruse  

    That is great to hear!
    I have used Dell for my clients and corporate network for years and have had good experiences with them.

    My original comment was to inform you that I was sending your blog post to my Dell account manager and his manager. Well, since Dell stepped up to the plate, I will not send it along.

    Congrats on getting it resolved.

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