My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

Summary: Despite my dislike for all things outsourced, my first experience with DELL's call center in India was a largely positive one.So this week, during a particularly intense session of software testing, the 500GB hard drive on my DELL Precision 530 decided to kick the bucket.

SHARE:

Despite my dislike for all things outsourced, my first experience with DELL's call center in India was a largely positive one.

So this week, during a particularly intense session of software testing, the 500GB hard drive on my DELL Precision 530 decided to kick the bucket. Windows 7 RC and various flavors of Linux refused to install on it, none of the diagnostic utilities and recovery disks and tools I had at my disposal could resurrect it or even reformat it, and the unit started to make a nasty clicking noise. Conclusion: This is hard drive is not "resting", this hard drive is pining for the fjords, this is an ex-hard drive, et cetera.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

So naturally, I pulled the disk out, and replaced it with one of my many spares that I use for testing. Re-installed Windows 7, back in business. The drive that died was a Seagate ST3500620AS, a low end 7200RPM consumer SATA2 disk, with a replacement value of $45 to $60. Under normal circumstances, when you buy a retail-boxed disk drive, you call the manufacturer up, they look at the serial number, and if it's still within warranty period -- usually 3 to 5 years -- they send you a new one. Unfortunately, this particular drive was labeled "Manufactured for OEM Distribution" so calling up Seagate for a replacement was a non-starter.

I recalled since purchasing the PC from COSTCO's web site just under a year ago, that the machine had a 2-year warranty (COSTCO extends the regular PC manufacturer warranty an additional year, a detail I advise many of you to take note of)

I dreaded the idea of calling up DELL's technical support, knowing full well I would have to be transferred to some horrendous call center in Bangalore or Mumbai, and spend God-knows-how-many calls and hours on the phone navigating through a labyrinth of support technicians to get a simple part replaced. 3 or 4 hours of my time is worth a lot more than a $50 part, and I strongly considered walking away from the prospect of a long afternoon and leaving it at that.

However, I thought about the principle of the thing. The machine was under warranty, the part should be replaced by the manufacturer, and it's not often that I experience technical support like an average consumer, since I tend to support myself. Maybe it might help someone else to recount my experience or increase my appreciation for what the average Joe has to deal with. So I went to the Dell web site, clicked on "Support" and entered my tag number. The site provided me with a list of frequently asked issues, which I bypassed, and went directly to the "Contact us" link, which was a toll-free number. Lock and Load, baby.

After about 60 seconds going through the voice response system, I get transferred to anonymous person with Indian accent #1. He takes down my issue tracking number that the web site had given me, and tells me that I've called the Corporate support number, but he'd be happy to transfer me to the Consumer support line. That takes another two minutes.

Consumer Support picks up the line. Another Indian accent. The first thing this representative tries to do is sell me Dell premier technical support, which among other things would give me a more rapid response and the privilege of talking to Americans. As I only had one Dell PC, and it was a rather inexpensive one at that, I declined the offer. Besides, it was a slow afternoon and I was starting to find the Indian-accented English soothing.

For the last 5 years, I've worked at two large IT professional services firms, where many of our large engagements have incorporated Strategic Outsourcing. In English, this means that some component of our labor will include people from Asia, in order to remain competitive with services firms that do the same thing.

I have mixed feelings about this in that I don't like to see American jobs outsourced to developing countries, but at the same time I have come to respect and enjoy the company of my colleagues from the Subcontinent, especially the ones that have established long-term residence here. After all, when I travel for services engagements, they are usually the only people willing to go out for Indian or Pakistani food with me. There's just so much Panera and Pappadeaux/Pappasitos and office park cuisine a man can eat.

So I get transferred to the Consumer technical support representative. His name is Minesh, and he's got a very strong, but understandable Indian accent, at least understandable if you've had experience working with Indians. He takes my name down again, looks up the issue code, and then asks me about my problem, in which I explain to him that the hard drive appears to have died, that no operating system will install on or recognize it, and that the drive is making an awful noise.

I told him I already removed the drive, replaced it with a spare, and the PC is now functioning normally. I also mentioned to him that I worked for a large technology company and I know what I'm doing, Minesh sounded relieved at this, since it probably meant he'd get me off the phone pretty quickly and onto the next person in his queue. Still, we went through some elementary scripted tests by booting up the PC with the drive, attempting to get into the tools partition -- which fails -- and then I heard the dreaded words,

"Do you have your original Dell restore/diagnostics CD? I just need to verify some error codes."

I don't know if anyone has seen photos or videos of my office/personal datacenter/mad scientist lab, but the chances of finding the original media was bleak. I explained to Minesh that since purchasing the computer, we had a flood in the basement and I lost a lot of books and CDs and personal belongings. I was able to rescue the computers, but the Dell CD was probably long trashed. I told him that I'd be willing to download it from Dell's web site and burn it to a CD on another PC.

"We don't have it available, sir. Are you sure you aren't able to find it?"

"I think that it would require a divine act from Ganesha himself to find that CD, Minesh."

(laughter) "Let me talk to my supervisor. This may take a few minutes."

So I wait for about 15 minutes on hold. I'm starting to think I might be screwed. Minesh comes back.

"Mr. Jason, are you sure you are unable to find the original disc?"

"Positive."

"Okay... let me talk to my supervisor again".

I wait another five minutes. Minesh comes back. "Well, it sounds like the drive is dead, and I don't want to waste too much of your time, so I am going to close your case out and schedule a technician to come out and replace the unit."

"Technician? (dang, I'm impressed) Wow, uh, that's really nice of you, but you can just send the part, I'm probably just going to keep it in reserve."

"Yeah, it sounds like you know what you are doing. Would you be willing to talk to my supervisor for a few minutes about your customer experience?"

"Surely. Thanks Minesh, you were really helpful."

Various call center forwarding moments aside, I thought the Dell customer experience with their India call center was surprisingly good. However, I will note that I have a lot of patience with non-native English speakers, and being a technology professional, I know things just break and know not to get angry with the other person on the end of the phone, since I HAVE been at the receiving end myself. I also know to speak slowly and clearly to non-native English speakers, and if I don't understand someone on the other end of the line, I ask them to repeat what they said.

I can certainly understand, however, how an average consumer who didn't have my background or even my cultural appreciation for India might not come out of the experience as positively as I have, particularly if it was something a lot more complicated than just a simple hardware failure. I know that when my Mother-In-Law had to call Hewlett-Packard on the phone for a printer software driver issue, she spent several hours on the phone with them. My call to Dell was under an hour.

So to Dell's support center and Minesh -- I bid you Namaste. The light within me honors the light within you.

How would you rate your call center experience with the various PC and equipment manufacturers? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Software Development, Browser, Dell, Hardware, Microsoft, Windows

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

79 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • My experience has always been positive

    I've always had a great experience with Dell technical support. I've had to use them on several occasions to support my Latitude XT. I've never actually had an indian support rep though.

    1) The digitizer on my tablet stopped working. I called, the rep was helpful, they sent me a box which arrived the next day, I sent my computer back, they sent it back to me within a week good as new.

    2) My harddrive died. Again, the rep helped me without incident. The next day I had a new harddrive and I sent mine back with the pre-paid postage.

    I've also contacted them several times using the chat help, which worked flawlessly. In some cases they were able to take control of my machine and quickly diagnose the problem.

    I have nothing but positive things to say about Dell's support.
    ModernMech
  • RE: My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

    OK, here's my experience. After purchasing a Vostro laptop, I got a coupon with a discount code. Unfortunately, the Dell Canada's website insisted it was invalid. I called Dell and after being ping-ponged through several deprtments, some twice, I was told that a) there was no record of my purchase, b) I've never place an order, c) I don't have a business customer account. After my demand to speak to a person's supervisor I was told, and I quote, "sorry sir, I can't help you" upon which Dell customer service person just hanged up on me. It actually happened twice. I never got to talk to a person without a HEAVY Indian accent. I had messages left to call urgently a particular number to clarify something, when I called they had no idea why I called, as my order was already dispatched although I didn't receive any e-mail....

    Most recent experience was different. A mother board and a graphics card in our Dell workstation went south. I told myself, OK, let's try the online chat. Amazingly, it worked. The only problem was that the tech guy who was supposed to do the on-site repair, kept calling on the secondary phone number claiming he doesn't have the primary one... Twice. Finally, I got to talk to him and we agreed that he'd come on Thursday at between 9 and 9:30 AM. Thursday, 8 AM, he calls secondary number, then mine, telling me that he'll be there at 8:30....

    When he arrived, he found out, that Dell had send hime wrong graphics card... unfortunatelly, it had the DMS 59 port not standard DVI and an adapter wasn't included. (After another online Chat Dell agreed to send us an adapter free of charge).

    The guy did the repair, we agreed to accept different card, and asked me: So, you work for XYZ... I said: No, I work for ABC.... He showed me his assignment papers from DELL. The only thing correct was my name. I was supposed to work for different company, I had different phone number... and I guess there is a company in Canada that has a new DVI-out card with an DMS 59 to DVI adapter to spare.

    Still, I find online chat less disturbing, really pleasant, actually, it's always on record, I always get a copy of the chat, and the English used and occassional jokes make me believe I'm talking to Americans.
    kitko
  • RE: My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

    When I couldn't resolve an HP printer install issue to my new computer, after reloads, going to the web, etc., HP tech support told me exactly what to do, noting that the HP web site had the wrong advice. They were right, problem solved.

    When I had troubles with my IBM ThinkPad (bought before Lenovo purchased the ThinkPad brand from them), including on-site service, parts got shipped and techs came out in a timely fashion to swap the new motherboard in. And they let me watch.

    Daniel Dern
    dern@...
  • Had a Dell once

    Bought with the standard 2 years warranty (required by law where I live).

    The bluetooth went MIA. Called the Dell customer support. Got right through. After a few minutes with some basic tests they determined that the notebook needed a new mainboard (sounded a bit like they knew about the problem). Asked me where to "pick up" the unit. I was working with a customer and told them the address and made an appointment for the next day.

    The next day - within 10 minutes of scheduled time - a technician showed up and asked for me. When I met him he asked for a table. I thought he wanted to run some tests.

    But no, he flipped the unit over, unscrewed the chassis and dived right into changing the mainboard. He had the new one with him. Within 10 minutes my computer was up and running again. I had envisioned being without it for days and thought the "pick up" service was pretty good.

    So my (limited) experience with Dell support is pretty damn good. I was downright impressed. They went beyond and above what they were required to by the law. The service (both phone and on-site) was fast, professional and efficient.
    honeymonster
  • Not the language nor the accent

    ...is a problem for me, as I speak Dutch, German, French and English fluently. Well, maybe French a little less fluently. Enfin, ce n'est pas mal.

    But what irritates the hell out of me, is the customer scripts these support call centers are using. My G*d. At 40 cents per minute, they walk me through a moronic sequence of actions that I have done already in the first place.

    That is, when I have contacted a human being in the first place. Before I can get a human on the phone, I have to deal with a computerized decision tree first, for what seems like ages.
    pjotr123
    • I couldn't agree more...

      I am Indian, and therefore, have no problem in understanding English spoken with an Indian accent (although the fake American accent and name many of the support reps put in irritate me to no end!). But in my calls to Dell Premier Tech support at my workplace, I have always talked to American support reps. This I can say with certainty: Indian accent or American, the most frustrating and infuriating aspect of Dell customer service is the scripted questions and canned responses, as well as the often-meaningless multitude of steps they want to take you through.
      suirauqa
  • My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

    I have a Dell 8400 - the power supply died slowly and it's death killed the HDD too. It was like watching a sick person slowly die. So anyway - I call and get through the maze of automated answering solutions to Raj - he's good and quick - I understand 99% of whathe says. New HDD and Power supply is delivered in 2 days. Raj offered to have someone come and put the hardware in, but I declined. I can do it! Sweet.

    I have lost the original disks... So I get a new copy of XP and load it up (I don't want any bloat ware). I now need the Dell drivers for the PC. I call Dell back and get a different Raj. This Raj, New Raj, is not my buddy, Old Raj. I get about 30-50% of what he is saying and it takes me three phone calls of 10-20 minutes and then a full week before Raj calls me with the drive names and tell me to look them up online at Dell.com

    Yeah - then a week later I went to the Dell site and plugged in my Tag number to look at a memory upgrade (because you can't just put any ram in a Dell. fie!) ... and there they were. New Raj could have saved me a week by just saying - you can get the drivers online by putting your tag number into the Support line.

    Imagine my shame.

    Dell - 1 for 2! Old Raj was the man! New Raj - C-/D!

    Me - 1 for 2! With an unforced Error.

    Fark
  • Calling is a waste of time

    Instead of calling the 800 number, I just go for their online chat support. I have used it several times with Dell, with great results. I have also used online support with Western Digital, Viewsonic, and HP with similar results.

    I even had a vendor give me a new but failed WD hard drive recently, saying that it just wasn't worth his time to spend an afternoon on the phone to get the drive replaced. I went to WD's website, and in 5 minutes had not only an RMA, but a preprinted shipping label. It cost me all of $5 and 5 minutes to get a new drive, which I gave to my son for a computer he is building for his fianc?.
    itpro_z
  • RE: My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

    Jason,

    Being an Indian, I do appreciate and respect your opinion. However, things are changing at our end. The Customer Support Center executives are now trained to develop the "American" accents and hopefully, next time you drop by an Indian call-center, you may find it homely, i.e., american...

    Cheers!!
    Darshan Shah
    DarshanShah
    • The accent

      Isn't by itself a problem, it's the
      pronunciation, although Indian English can be
      very difficult to understand sometimes. We have
      MANY accents in the United States, just as
      India itself has many dialects. People from New
      York talk differently from people from Atlanta,
      Dallas or New Orleans, but USUALLY we can
      understand each other. English in the large
      cities has become somewhat homogenized, but
      when you start travelling to rural America it
      gets very interesting. I'm from the suburbs of
      New York City and I've been to parts of Cape
      Cod, Massachussets where I couldn't understand
      a single thing someone was saying due to a
      heavy New England accent, I could swear it was
      a different language.
      jperlow
    • Competency, not Accent, is the issue

      Truly it is NOT an accent problem, as most of my dealings are on chat. It is entirely a competency problem. Despite my 30 years as a software developer and MANY projects working directly with hardware developers, I find HP support people simply don't believe the information I give them about system problems, or are unable to understand it, and so require hours of unnecessary actions from customers. This obviously costs HP a FORTUNE in service costs.

      I have found that getting kicked up to higher level support usually gets things resolved (at HP). For somebody like me, who exhausts every line of test, research and action BEFORE calling, it is frustrating to have a support person who is basically looking up the same support documents I've already, and asking me to perform tasks I've tried, but who refuses to believe me.

      rberman
  • Seagate replaces OEM drives.

    They just RMA'd an OEM SCSI 320 drive about two months ago for me. If it's under warranty they will honor that warranty. As OEM's usually give you 1 yr. the rest of the drive's warranty has to be honored by the manufacturer.

    Also, it is no surprise the Seagate drive tanked. I have a buddy working for seagate in their Colorado location. He travels to places like China, Singapore, etc and builds the drive lines for manufacturing (after the tech is developed in the US). It is not uncommon for Seagate drives to approach a 20% failure rate. What's worse, this is becoming quite common across the whole SATA industry. I bought five 80GB WDC drives in March. Four of the have failed. And you can bet that your warrantied drives will be REFURBS and not new ones. Then these refurbs often fail because they were not repaired correctly if they were repaired at all.
    bjbrock
  • I'll tell you what I find amazing about Indian outsourced support...

    I've made multiple calls to support lines over the last couple of years for support of cameras, Travelocity, Gateway PCs, etc, and I've apparently never spoken to a real Indian. I [i]have[/i] talked to:

    Greg
    Alan
    Lisa
    Bill
    Steve
    Mary

    and many others. They all had Indian accents, but they all had American names.

    As for the quality, there has only been one time that I had to ask to be transferred to someone else, and that was just because I couldn't understand him.



    Hallowed are the Ori
    • LOL...nt

      nt
      TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
    • Those are not exclusively American names...

      ... and such a provincially rustic attitude is not going anywhere in this world, which is larger than North America, after all.

      Many Indians are Anglo-Indians, which means they have English-sounding names, posibly educated in Oxbridge or similar universities, and may even be Christian. In my office I work with Indian colleagues Desmond, Reuben, Rita, Geraldine, and Amelyn - and I'm sure you've heard of Russell Peters, and his parents Eric and Maureen.

      That's not even going into church, where there are people who go by some interesting names such as Ernie, Olga, Frederick, Fiona, Paul, John, Peter, Victoria, Mercy, Ruby.

      All fine, upstanding names on their birth certificates, too.
      Da-G
  • My experience has been dismal...to the point

    I don't buy Dell. I have two neighbors that are not buying Dell because of very bad experiences. Another actually had a good experience and a 4th one had a great experience after they transferred is problem to the US.
    TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
  • RE: My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

    I had a similar positive experience with Dell Greece. I live in Oman and my Dell XPS M 1330 lost its motherboard for the second time in less than 2 years.I called the local dealer who directed me to the call centre, which happened to be in Greece, staffed by people with an Arabic-English accent. Luckily, since I live in Muscat, I understood the person, who was very efficient and sent the parts to Oman within 2 days. Dell must,however, feel ashamed that a good high end laptop should lose it motherboard twice in less than two years.
    desh2
  • Good Experience With ASUS, but not with my own Company

    I had a top-of-the-line ASUS mobo fail, and could only correspond via email (its even very hard to find the email address, let alone a phone number). Later, they sent the phone number to call and speak with a Technician. He sure sounded domestic, and the RMA address was Indiana.
    My own company's internal Call Tracking tickets go to Mumbai (or occasionally, Manilla). I fill out the tickets myself because I'm one of the 3,000 support people. The folks in Mumbai NEVER read the damn ticket info, no matter how clearly it is spelled out. You can enter exact info, or specify that it is required for the to contact a specific server or network engineer for the requirements, and they end up emailing me for the server or router name. Arrrggghhhhh!!!
    Unfortunately, we are a Fortune 500 IT Outsourcing Company, traded on the NYSE. I pity our customers -- really.
    Fyrewerx
  • RE: My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

    I had the luck of having to call HP call center last night for a pc I just purchased. It has 2 conections for the monitor. VGA and DVI. They also sent an adapter to go for the DVI to the VGA. Problem, it doesn't fit. The DVI plug on the back has the 3 rows of 8 pins but the top part has only a small slit for one long pin and the adapter has a longer slit with 4 pins around it. HP answered quickly, which was a pleasant surprise, but it went downhill from there. He didn't know what adapter was correct of if they had any and just kept asking me if I had called about the adapter. Finally he wanted me to hook up a web cam to see it for himself. That is only helpful if it is online and has a webcam. No and No. They do not have email for a photo to be sent either. After about an hour, he told me they don't have any adapters anyway and I can call back when I have it online and a web cam. Only problem is the fact that the VGA has a cover on it that says Do Not Remove. After telling me to call back when I was prepared, he wanted me to answer a few questions about a survey. I suppose I can just try to find the correct adapter myself but it just seemed like they should give me the correct part. I did just remove the cover and hooked at VGA but now there is a mystery on what kind I really need......
    Janewayk
  • RE: My Experience with Dell's Namastechnical Support

    This was a funny article -- but is so familiar with calling for support and especially calling to an outsourced center. As a tech guy I find I can usually navigate the Support waters without too many delays but I feel sorry for anyone non-technical who will spend hours and hours on the phone struggling through. Dell does have call centers in Austin and Oklahoma City in the US that do a great job of support if you can get to them.
    chuckgaff@...