I need to start this post with a disclaimer: I have occasionally done work for Dell, and am friends and have been friends with several of their staff. I have a very personal wish and hope that Dell succeeds as a company, and many of the best social media stories ever told were told about Dell, especially about my friends like Lionel Menchaca and Richard Binhammer (both since moved on). I am biased towards Dell.
Dell Hell Redux?
I asked a Microsoft employee OFF-RECORD which Windows tablet he liked at a recent event. I wanted to get something smallish, smaller than the Dell XPS11 and MUCH smaller than the Dell XPS18 that I own. I really wanted a Windows tablet because I really like the new OS a lot, and I thought that Dell, an American company led by a visionary founder, would be a great platform for this. My son thoroughly loves the Dell XPS 18, so I’ve had lots of positive experience.
So, I bought the Dell Venue Pro tablet, some time after Christmas, as a gift to myself. No one sent me one to evaluate (which I’m fortunate to see happen quite often). I just bought it.
I left it in my house because I hadn’t any trips in the near future. So, I used it a little bit, but you know, in a house with five or six computers and several phones laying around, it wasn’t the go-to device.
Until one day, I was getting ready to go on a trip. I turned it on to check that anything I needed offline was on the device, only, it wouldn’t start. Oh well, I’ll charge it, I thought.
No go. Dead. Won’t start. I went to Dell.com to troubleshoot.
So, That Didn’t Work
First, I had a hard time finding which part of the website I was supposed to go to. I also called several wrong numbers while clicking. I then found out that most of the troubleshooting had to do with devices that worked but just not well. Dead is dead. I couldn’t do much.
Then, I finally found someone on Twitter who gave me the “real” customer service number, because I kept getting the “if you want to pay us, we’ll fix your stupidity-induced problems” one by mistake.
28 minutes. Exactly 28.08. Lots of hold time. Why, I wonder. Isn’t dead, dead? 28 minutes to say, eventually, “beats me, can you mail it back?”
Yes. Yes I can.
Then, I mail the device back. No response. Nothing. So, I ask on Twitter whether that’s normal. Shouldn’t I hear, “I’ve got your baby” back from service? They say, “No, not really.” (All quotes are to emulate chit-chat, not direct quotes.
So, I get into it more.
It’s Something You Did
I’m still waiting on the official response, but the friendly DM from DellCares on Twitter says this (and this is a direct quote):
“They have determined that issue is not covered under warranty.You will be given further details once you contact number provided.Thanks,SS”
Well that’s interesting.
More Potential Disclaimers
Okay, here’s the thing. The device has been inside my house all this time. But I have two kids. If one spilled something on it or dropped it, they never came forward to tell me. This MIGHT be my fault. And I’ve said before in moments like this that I’m really willing to accept culpability if that’s so.
But It’s the WHOLE EXPERIENCE that Pisses Me Off
1.) Device stops working magically. My ipad never ever ever ever did that.
2.) Customer service website is a mess. Years after everyone and their brother has tried to help them with this.
3.) Customer service on the phone took 28 minutes? To tell me to ship it back?
4.) DEAD AIR upon receiving the device, thus making me worry they never even got it?
5.) DEAD AIR on an official reply, so I have to bother some person via Twitter?
I’m out three hundred bucks or so, which is the least interesting part of the story.
1.) I’m writing this on a Macbook Air. I have a huge iMac at home.
2.) I *also* have two Dell XPS products.
3.) I *COULD* be a very loud and influential voice telling folks that they have to stop giving it to Apple without even trying and appreciating other products.
Instead, what am I doing? Bitching. Loudly. About how badly I feel Dell treated me and how the whole experience made me feel.
What Do You Think I *REALLY* Want Here?
Some people will think a refund. Some people will think an apology. Some people will think I want some smart other company to offer me a comparable product.
None of those things are what I want. I wanted the Dell experience to work. I wanted it to be as great as the people I’ve met at Dell. I wanted the experience to be so transformational that a struggling company still seeking to earn its place back in the minds of the technorati of the world would be a great story to tell.
I wanted to RAVE about my experiences with Dell and brag about them.
Instead, I wasted about 900 words of your time and mine bitching that they screwed it up and pissed me off.
At Owner Magazine, I’m working hard to teach business owners of all kinds that business is about belonging, that growing your capabilities and connections means nurturing the network. This experience? This was the opposite all the way through.
Oh well. Guess I’ll save my couch money and buy another iPad mini. Worked fine. Never broke. Just had a dumb owner who lost it on a plane (Delta said kiss it goodbye, for the record.)