How Does Dell Stay in Business?

Dell FactoryFirst, I have to admit to a moment of weakness. After about a month of playing XBox 360 and lovin’ it, I thought it might be cool to connect a Microsoft Media Centre PC onto my network and see how the two machines play with each other. From reading about it, it sounds like Microsoft has done an awesome job with this set-up.

So I hit Dell’s web site and actually (sort of) liked a machine, the Dimension 5150C. It’s a nice looking little box with a good set of technology under its hood. So I placed an order online.

Nothing happened for several days, then suddenly a man with a thick Indian accent left an unintelligible message on my voice mail. I ignored it, thinking it a prank call. Then I got an email from someone at Dell asking me to clarify some matters with my order. I called him up, and that’s when I learned that the Indian prankster was actually my Dell sales rep.

The telephone connection to this call centre in India was worse than the worst Skype connection I’ve ever had. It broke up, it went dead when there was no conversation occurring (which made me think the connection had been lost), and just sounded awful. My sales rep, Daniel’s, thick accent didn’t help, especially considering the guy talked a mile a minute.

I couldn’t communicate well enough to clarify the matter over the phone, so I said I’d send him an email. Actually, I was pretty irritated by how cheap Dell was with their phone connection technology and sales staff. (How much does an Indian call centre sales rep make? $1.25 an hour? I can appreciate the bottom line, but to offer such crummy service?)

It was about this time that Apple announced the new Intel Macs and I made a decision to purchase a new Mac and boost my productivity. It didn’t make sense to buy a PC too, plus the communications hassles with Daniel were getting on my nerves. (And I started reading more about Windows boxes and viruses, which freaked me out.)

I called Apple’s order centre. I was almost immediately connected with a guy with an American accent (only marginally better than Indian, but at least intelligible) named Rich (such an American name; in Canada “Richard” would become “Rick”). He was smooth, friendly, played XBox 360, and the phone connection was awesome. I never once had to ask him to repeat himself.

I decided to cancel the Dell order on principle alone. Why should I suffer through a rotten telephone connection talking to an ill-trained sales rep that Dell uses to screw a portion of the North American workforce? I called up Daniel and told him I was buying a Mac. Despite the crappy phone connection, I could hear the disappointment in his voice.

A few days later a box arrived from Dell. It contained a pile of computer accessory junk. I couldn’t figure it out — was this a parting gift? A bribe?

It turned out to be a mistake. I called up Dell, slogged my way through their labyrinthine telephone menu system (twice being required to call a different number to get through to a different call centre) and ended up talking to a bored American customer service rep.

At first she wanted me to haul this box I never wanted/needed/asked for down to Canada Post and ship it back to them at my own expense. I laughed and said something rude and then she agreed to mail me a Purolator shipping label. Totally crazy.

I read on the BBC today that Dell plans to expand their operations in India. Based on my massively time-wasting and annoying experience with one of their offshore call centres, I’d say that’s nuts. Personally, I’ll never consider Dell for any sort of purchase ever again. My logic: if they’re so chintzy with their sales force and telephone network, how can their product be of any reasonable quality?

One thought on “How Does Dell Stay in Business?

  1. I’ve just been trying to buy a Dell laptop by Web. Their site is so slow and clunky that I’ve given up. For a company which lives or dies by Web sales, this is alarming . . .

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