What happened to Dell?

What happened to Dell?

Summary: I've worked with Dell systems since 1997. Over these years, my general experience with Dell has been a positive one, with an occasional hiccup here and there with bad support, faulty hardware, etc.

TOPICS: Open Source

I've worked with Dell systems since 1997. Over these years, my general experience with Dell has been a positive one, with an occasional hiccup here and there with bad support, faulty hardware, etc. I've been especially impressed over the years with their server line though. The quality has been sufficient and support good.

Recently I posted a blog regarding the Windows Tax, and how Dell is a victim of this horrible problem, strongly urging Linux users to contact Dell for a Windows refund if they are forced to purchase a new system with Windows.

But over the past year or two, other things seemed to have disintegrated at Dell. I've noticed a few things, some very recently:

- The Dell Premier site for businesses is extremely slow, and seems to have a lot of problems (miscellaneous errors or pages that do not load, etc.). I noticed that they use Microsoft ASP.NET technology on their servers, I don't know if this has anything to do with it.

- Production times have greatly increased over the past year, and are very unreliable for new systems. Recently with a couple of orders, the initial ship date was set to 2 weeks, then got moved back 2 weeks twice, making it a total wait time of about 6 weeks. I was told that there was a problem at one of the facilities in China, and they may have experienced a shortage of parts so they couldn't fulfill the order. 6 weeks wait time for a new PC seemed a little extreme to me. It seems that wait times on almost all new orders are taking at least 2 weeks, often times closer to 3-4 weeks.

- In a recent attempt at contacting Dell support, I went to use the Dell Chat Support, however when viewing it in Firefox it errored out saying I needed the Quicktime plugin in order to display properly. I also tried Internet Exploder and it said "page cannot be displayed". I was forced to use the phone and in the end the tech said that they would send a technician out to fix the PC, but it would take up to 3 business days. I immediately looked at my receipt which says we have "Next Business Day" support. The tech explained that there could be unexpected delays. He also said he would provide further details on the service call in an email later, as he could not over the phone because their "database was down for maintenance".

- I also experienced another recent problem with Dell Latitude e4300 machines where the original motherboard was causing Windows to "lock up" at random. Replacing the motherboard fixed the issue in 5 separate machines. There are also posts all over Google on this very same issue, yet Dell has not acknowledged any problem whatsoever, or offered a recall to the problem.

At times, I have considered looking at other vendors like HP which is #1 worldwide at the moment. Acer seems to be up in the ranks too. I know it's impossible to find the perfect vendor, however Dell gives many reasons to look at competitors.

Topic: Open Source

Chris Clay

About Chris Clay

After administering Linux and Windows for over 17 years in multiple environments, my focus of this blog is to document my adventures in both operating systems to compare the two against each other. Past and present experiences have shown me that Linux can replace Windows and succeed in a vast variety of environments. Linux has proven itself many times over in the datacentre and is more than capable for the desktop.

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


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • What happened to Dell?

    Totally agree with you on this one. Our department (schools services) has now switched over to buying new machines from HP, which work very well. The reason we switched from Dell to HP is due to the lack of support and the hardware in the pc's fail after a year or two. The support helpline was never 'helpful' always talking to someone overseas who would arrange a visit, if needed, from a technician in Glasgow, why they couldnt just give us the number for the Glasgow centre (believe me we constantly asked) is a mystery. I wouldnt recommend to anyone to buy Dell anymore as they dont live up to their own expectations and as soon as they have your money, you might as well take a out a service agreement with someone on the moon, then at least your problem might be solved quicker.
  • What happened to Dell?

    I too have noticed a drop in standards, both in hardware and support. The hardware issues (at least in EMEA) are, according to a friend who works in the company, largely down to the transition of manufacturing to a new plant in Poland.

    The support issues appear, at least from the outside, to be partly a result of consolidation within Dell resulting in less granularity in the support structure the company runs.

    For the record, I always found the business support technicians in Glasgow to be top notch. Just seems to be harder to get through to them these days.
  • What happened to Dell?

    Sorry to see that Dell Support has not done well. After an initial check with our chat team, I'm not aware of issues with our chat tool and Firefox. Most importantly though, I'd like to help with your service request if you still need it.

    Feel free to contact me via a private message with your service tag and contact information. I'll be happy to have someone from the team follow up with you.


    Lionel Menchaca
  • What happened to Dell?

    This is a good response, and I hope it pays off in getting this problem solved - if it is not already too late. From the text of the original posting, I suspect that it is too late, both to fix this problem and to save the relationship with the customer who is already considering other suppliers.

    I hope that it is clear, both to the person who posted the comment offering help and to the general readership, that while kind and probably well-intentioned, this kind of follow-up is NOT any sort of solution to the original problem. Dell's computers have become obviously and significantly less reliable over the past year or so. Their delivery schedules have become equally less reliable. Worst of all, when this happens, their customer support has gone downhill as well. None of this is going to be improved, or in fact helped in any way, by offers of individual help like this.

    Until about a year ago, I would automatically recommend buying Dell computers, both laptops and desktops, to anyone who asked. I then started having second thoughts about that recommendation, when a few of my friends started telling me about problems with their Dell computers, compounded by even bigger problems when they tried to get them fixed. I now not only do not recommend Dell to anyone, I actively discourage them from buying Dell. Period.

    Sliding down this slope of poor quality, poor service, and poor reputation is easy. Climbing back up it again is very, very difficult. Good luck, Dell, I would like to see you recover - but I am very skeptical.

  • What happened to Dell?

    JW, you are right on. The problems with Dell are far more severe than simply their customer support. The problems go back to the manufacturing level, and continue all the way up to the final product and support thereafter.

    The Dell Premier site has been slow and buggy for years. We've attempted to log in to get quotes or make purchases, only to find out that it's down for 2-3 hours. This has happened repeatedly, we've informed various Dell contacts of the problem and they acknowledge it, and yet the problems still happen. Essentially Dell is turning away business up front by having a site so unreliable.

    Countless times while on the phone with a Dell tech or contact, their own systems are down and they cannot get certain information. It's not a problem to us, but I take notice in that they have so many technical problems on their end. I often wonder what hardware/software they run internally that has so many problems.

    In the example in my original post where I attempted to use Dell Chat, the situation only went downhill. As the technician on the phone pointed out, there was a delay, but it was only by 1 day. Instead of getting "Next Business Day" support that we paid for, we got Two Day Support. It's almost as if the technician knew in advance there would be a delay as he mentioned it completely out of the blue. And, unfortunately, that did not fix the problem and the tech had to come out the day after and swap out the motherboard, and we had to wait an additional day on top of that to get a replacement stick of bad RAM. In the end, it ended up taking 4 days total to get this system fixed, and the system was only 2 days old.

    Dell's problems have compounded and as a result, it is leading to very frustrating times with customers. It's not just one issue, but a whole series of them. This is going to drive business away from Dell, no doubt about it. I really hope Dell gets its act together soon. Overall over the years, I've had great experiences with Dell, until recently. It would be nice to see Dell get back on track and back to how they used to be.
  • Well, its good to see after a month that no representative from Dell is willing to step forwards and defend the issue/s !
  • Dell goes from bad to worse. You would think with their numbers and share price in the toilet that they would want any business they could get. I have bought Dell for years but no more. I purchased an XPS 8100 on special offer from Dell Ireland online. I get an email next day saying missing part (DVD writer which is standard and ships with just about every Dell they sell). They say I have to upgrade to bluray. I don't need bluray so contact support centre. Seven days of calls, internet chat and email and three customer service reps - each tell me they will process my order - I give my credit card information three times. They never intended to process the order - they just delayed me long enough for the offer to expire. Then I get an email saying my order is cancelled and a call back from CS rep saying if I want the computer it will be an additional €600. Dell staff are trained to lie - I have it in writing. Now I am looking for HP alternative. Save yourself time and stress - AVOID DELL.
  • Can agree with this comment. Having ordered a part from Dell over the phone we were not given an order number and the promised confirmation email never arrived. Completely wrong part delivered and no order number on paperwork. On to Dell for about one and a half hours on premium number being switched from one person to another, giving the same information over and over again without success. A basic simple task and they completely failed. What happened to basic customer service. Requests for name of managing director - no joy. On to the part suppliers - who confirm completely wrong part. They have email with photos showing correct part and fingers crossed. Now waiting for confirmation they have it in stock. If I did not already have a wig through chemo treatment, I certainly would be hairless now. It was like being on a wind up program on TV. We have several Dells at home - but have now vowed that this will be the last one. When things go wrong I expect service - not ****.
    Solent Lass