Day 2 of the old coffee-in-the-keyboard trick

Day 2 of the old coffee-in-the-keyboard trick

Summary: In the post The Old Coffee-in-the-Keyboard Trick, I presented how I stupidly sloshed coffee into the keyboard of my new Dell laptop. Since I had purchased a next-day, on-site service contract, I didn't go into low Earth orbit.

TOPICS: Laptops, Dell, Mobility

In the post The Old Coffee-in-the-Keyboard Trick, I presented how I stupidly sloshed coffee into the keyboard of my new Dell laptop. Since I had purchased a next-day, on-site service contract, I didn't go into low Earth orbit. Instead, I used Dell's Internet chat service to obtain help. What happened surprised me.

Since the sales pitch for the service contract included the phrase "next business day" and Monday was the next business day after I connected with Dell's service, I expected a call from the local arm of Dell. Since I had heard nothing from them by mid-day, I decided to call their 800 number.

After dealing with an awful voice response system, I was finally able to reach a polite gentleman having a heavy Indian accent. He was very hard to understand. After spelling out my name (K for kangaroo, U for underwater, S for synchronous, N for network, E for elephant, T for trombone, Z for Zebra, K for kangaroo, and Y for yellow), providing my customer number, my service call number, my telephone number, the VIN number of my Gold Wing and the barometric pressure here in Florida, the polite service representative was finally able to determine that his system was down and he couldn't find my record. He was, on the other hand, kind enough to provide another number for Dell service.

Calling this new number led me to an entirely different voice response system, just as vile as the first one I might add. Once again, I found myself speaking with a polite gentleman having an Indian accent. This time, I was able to understand him and the process of spelling my name, providing my customer number, my telephone number, the VIN number of my Gold Wing and the barometric pressure in Florida went much faster.

This Dell representative informed me that he was able to find the service call record and service request number in Dell's system! Ah, sweet success. Then he went on to point out that he wasn't going to be able to do much more for me since he worked for the desktop, not the laptop, support group. He was kind enough to provide the name and telephone number of the local service contractor who had been tasked with bringing my laptop back from the dead.

Monday came and went without a telephone call.

So, it is now clear that next-day, on-site support no longer means next-day, on-site support. What does a contract of this nature mean? Obviously, the answer is more revenues for Dell and lower customer satisfaction. Are we all together on this?

I've gotten many helpful and encouraging messages from readers. It appears that my experiences are quite common. Shame on you, Dell.

Here are the key lessons I've gleaned from this experience so far:

  1. Back up your data files. It might even be wise to back up rapidly changing files each and every time they're updated.
  2. Laptops are increasingly expensive, throw away tools. Keep a six-pack on hand just in case you have a failure or friends come over.
  3. On-site, next-business-day service contracts aren't what they appear to be. So, keep an attorney nearby.

I'll let you know what happens next as the adventures of Dan in Dell-land continue to unfold. Thanks again for the helpful messages.

Topics: Laptops, Dell, Mobility


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • I feel for you

    Dear Dan I will admit that I proudly do not own any dell equipment, nor has there ever been any in my life, but I have had a similar customer support nightmare only replace Dell with Local computer store. 2 months ago I took in my desktop and asked them to replace the heat sink fan. Well no, no they could only clean the thing, run diagnostics, tell me to stop leaving my computer on, pat my father on the back and send him out the door. Well 2 months later the thing finally did kick like I told them it was going to. So rather annoyed that they couldn't just fix the thing without all the Anti virus/anti spyware installation and the vaccuuming(Note I told them I was in the process of a routine format anyways) I did it it myself. I don't think it matters if it's a locally assembled computer, or one made by a large corperation. Customer Service, and actually listening to the customer has gone the way of the freaking dinosaur. I remember when you would call up a store, and rather then tell you it's spyware and stuff, they would actually fix the problem you requested them to fix, not give you the run around, a free lecture, and send you out. So if you think Dell's bad for customer service, it doesn't get much better anywhere else it seems. For the record you should have bought a toshiba at best buy. My mom was having a problem with her dell, and you can't tell her that windows xp sometimes thinks that there's more then just you logged on and that it's a flawed piece of code, she's stubborn. anyways I cleared up her problem. anyways just thought I'd share my customer support nightmare.
  • Thanks for this.

    I am reminded again how glad I am that I didn't let my dad buy a Dell.
  • Tech support

    I was formally a Bantec technician sent to repair Dells after many customer experiences with support by phone failed. It may be funny reading, but I have seen grown people in tears and absolute frustration. In a phone conversation DEMAND a level 2 technician right away. It is good to have the phone number of a fix/break technician handy.
  • Dell next day service contracts

    I had a similar experience. After several phone calls in which I had to spell my name, provide service tag No. Service Contract Number etc., I finally got a women that told me to send the laptop in. I refused. So then she said well she could send me a keyboard and it would cost me $14 plus shipping. I refused that offer. I wouldn't have a clue how to replace the keyboard in a laptop. I kept mentioning that I had a next day on site contract ( which was not cheap ). She finally said she would send the kepboard (free ) to the local repair people and they would contact me. Next day repair time took one day of maddening phone calls and six days of waiting for the repair people. Good luck. kate 4255
  • RE: Day 2 of the old coffee-in-the-keyboard trick

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