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A letter sent to the Dell Board of Directors
Posted by Proo on 07/01/2005
Below is the text of a letter I sent to the Dell Board of Directors, along with several other departments, on 6/13. This issue remains unresolved, and I have not even heard from the company since writing this.

To the Board of Directors:

My name is John, and I have been a Dell customer for over 15 years, going all the way back to a Dell 386. During all of that time, I have never had a bad experience with your company, and have recommended it to friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else who asked. After purchasing two new desktop computers for myself and my wife, that will no longer be the case. I thought you all should know why.

The issues began when I first purchased the computer. The representative with whom I spoke that day did not understand many of the questions I asked about the configuration of the machines. She also had an annoying pattern of using the same phrase over and over again, which grated on the ear after a time. Eventually, she transferred me to her supervisor, who was able to answer some of my questions, but still could not answer a fairly straightforward question regarding the printer that was included with the system. After agreeing that I would attempt to use the printer for its intended purpose and, if it did not suit my needs, I could return it, I went ahead and placed the order.

I received both PCs within a few days, but immediately began to notice problems. My wife's system arrived first, and I set it up myself. The speakers didn't work, so I attempted to contact technical support. I first tried the chat option, but I received a message telling me that I wasn't a home or home office user, so I could not use chat support. I then proceeded to call technical support and inform them about the issue with chat support. They informed me that they could not fix that problem, and that I had to write to the webmaster. I did so, but received no reply for some time, so I went ahead and called technical support again.

At the time, I informed the support representative (as well as both representatives with whom I subsequently spoke) that I was visually impaired. I was first asked if I had the speakers plugged in correctly, and I described to them how and where I had plugged the cord. I was then walked through a number of tests, and eventually was informed I needed a new sound card. I accepted this diagnosis and went ahead and scheduled a visit from the local service technician. Also note that, during this call, I found the representative using the same type of repeated-phrase pattern that I'd encountered during my initial call to purchase my machines, and it continued to annoy me to no end. Later that day, as I was reviewing the installation, I discovered that, indeed, the speakers had been plugged into the wrong jack. Despite all my descriptions, and my suggestion that I had difficulty seeing the back of the computer, none of the support representatives even checked to see if the hole into which I'd plugged the speakers was, in fact, the correct one.

I immediately called back to cancel my appointment. The representative with whom I spoke said it would be handled. It wasn't. The next day, my wife received a call from Dell when I was unavailable to confirm the appointment, and my wife again told them that it was no longer required and to cancel it. This wasn't enough, either, as I was then woken up at 9 AM on a Saturday by a call from the technician, attempting again to confirm the appointment. I told him that it wasn't needed, and finally that issue was resolved after three attempts.

Shortly thereafter, my wife and I both noticed that our Windows sounds weren't working. All other sounds worked fine -- Windows Media Player worked fine, MusicMatch jukebox worked fine, I could even play the Windows sounds from within the window where I set up the sound scheme -- but when the Windows events that are supposed to trigger these sounds occurred, no sounds played. After my past experience with the support staff, I tried to address the issue myself, trying a number of tweaks in all the various places where sounds can be played or methods for handling sound can be set. I had no luck.

Finally, today, I decided to contact technical support. I was first amazed to discover that the chat feature worked, as I'd never been contacted about that issue after reporting it nearly two weeks ago. During the chat session, I kept getting redirected to a blank page, and had to press the back button to return to the session. This occurred three times. Finally, the representative told me I should try to create a new user account in Windows XP. I told her at that time that I would need to import my old settings, and she expressed nothing that would lead me to believe this would be a problem. I admit that I did not tell her WHY I would need to do so, but given what was about to happen, she should have told me this would cause problems.

In any case, I created the new account and restarted the computer. Again, let me remind you that I am visually impaired. Specifically, I have some difficulty focusing, and viewing a computer screen with high contrast gives me a headache in short order. With that in mind, I logged back onto the chat feature and entered my case number. A different representative picked up the chat, and I asked to speak with the person with whom I'd already addressed my problems. The new representative told me that was impossible, but that he would help me. I then proceeded to tell him that I was having trouble with the screen, and that I needed to import my old settings. He didn't seem to know what I meant, so I told him about my difficulty viewing the black-on-white color scheme that is used as the default. For some reason, he had me open the Device Manager, and I informed him that the text was too small and I couldn't make out the fonts. His solution to this was to tell me to reinstall the Video Driver. I told him that all I needed to do was use my old settings, but neither he nor his supervisor, who eventually joined the chat, was able to understand this. Eventually, I gave up and ended the chat session. The supervisor then called me and I explained my problem again. He then told me that they couldn't fix it because transferring my old settings was a software issue, and that I needed to call another number. Why I wasn't told that earlier is still a mystery to me, but I accepted this at face value and called the new number I'd been given.

Upon reaching a representative at the new number, I was told that if I wanted his assistance, I would either need to buy a software service contract or I would have to pay a one-time fee of $49. I was quite surprised to discover there was a separate software service contract, as this had never been mentioned when I bought the computer. I told him I could not afford this, as I'd already blown my entire budget in buying this PC along with the maintenance agreement and hung up. I then proceeded to call the sales number again, and described to the representative what I'd so far encountered. By now, I was fed up. I told her that I hadn't been offered this software service contract, and that I would have to return something if I needed to purchase it. I also said that I couldn't understand how a company such as yours could justify shipping me a defective product and then charging me to fix it. I gave her three choices -- either fix the machine, replace it, or allow me to return it for a full refund. She wouldn't even tell me which of those Dell would be able to do for me, so I asked to speak to her supervisor. She offered me a $50 gift certificate of some kind to placate me, but at this point I just wanted my machine fixed, so again I asked to speak to her supervisor. She said she would do so, and left the line for a few moments. When she returned, she did not allow me to speak to her supervisor, but she did say she was going to place some kind of service order so that I could access software support to fix my problem without being charged. After waiting a few minutes for her to place the order, she said she was going to transfer me to the software support line. Finally, I thought, I would get some satisfaction. I waited on hold for a couple more minutes...

...and then I was disconnected entirely. She never told me the number to which I was being transferred, and never gave me the order number which she'd placed, so now I'm stuck. My original issue was never resolved, and now I'm stuck with a useless user account sitting on my system to boot. All this, and I haven't even TRIED to get my wife's system fixed yet. I must admit, Dell has impressed me. I have never encountered such a company-wide level of incompetence. The sales staff couldn't provide me with the information I needed, and didn't offer me necessary options that I now cannot afford to purchase. The telephone customer support staff seem unable to even solve simple issues such as where to plug the speaker jack. The chat customer support staff tried to solve nonexistent problems while ignoring the actual problem I'd reported. I am at my wits end. Only Dell's superior hardware is preventing me from just packing up the entire machine and sending it back.

I hope that you all will understand it when I say: given that the entirety of my experience with your company over the past two weeks has been beyond sad to the point of being laughable -- or at least it will be once I'm done being angry beyond belief -- that I will now tell anyone and everyone I meet that Dell makes a good product, but if you want even the most basic level of customer service you should stay far, far away from them.

     
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Posted by PaulC on 2005-07-01:
This all sounds so familiar to my experiences with my new Dell back in February. I had problems with my "service" contract and with the telephone support staff, too. They NEVER fixed the problem, although I spent three weeks on the phone with them, every day, for hours on end. I even had to go out and buy a telephone headset, because after the first few days I got so tired of spending four or five hours in a row on the phone getting NOTHING settled. I finally gave up and took my computer to a shop around the corner. They charged me $95 for the one hour fix, but it was worth it not to have to talk to all those outsourced Indian techs. The service contract essentially is money lost, not worth the paper it's written on. I'll never buy another Dell product again.
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Nightmare
Posted by PaulC on 03/09/2005
TEXAS -- The problem: I must admit that after reading all the reviews about Dell on this site I feel lucky. Lucky that my computer at least comes on and connects to the internet. The problem? The Philips rewritable DVD Rom Dell put in my computer will not burn music or video files. And apparently Dell has no intention of fixing the problem.

The history: When I discovered the DVD Rom wouldn't burn music files, I called Technical "Support" and like everyone else was shifted from one number to another, holding every time for 15-30 minutes each time, and repeating my express code number, service tag number, email address, and telephone number every time. Finally, I got a "specialist" aware of "issues" Dell was having with the Philips DVD Rom. I spent two hours on the phone trying to burn music files every way possible but had the same result every time. The DVD Rom would kick open, disregarding the blank DVD +RW I had in the drive, and a message would demand that I "insert a rewritable blank disc". TS finally said it was a hardware problem and dispatched a technician with a new Philips DVD Rom to be installed at my house.

When the technician arrived and installed the new DVD Rom, I asked him to wait so I could test it. He did and the new DVD Rom demonstrated exactly the same problems as the first one. The technician said, sorry, it wasn't his problem and left. I called TS again, spending another 45 minutes holding, giving all the personal information plus my new case number and then waiting 10 minutes while the TS agent "reviewed" my case. He came back and said the problem was I was using blank rewritable discs on my rewritable DVD Rom and that I should instead use NONREWRITABLE blank discs!!!! I knew this was insane but went out and purchased a five pack to satisfy TS that I was at least trying. Of course the nonrewritable blank discs didn't work either.

I called again and spent several hours for TWO DAYS with my calls being "dropped" after I would spend 10-30 minutes on hold and another 10 or so minutes giving my personal information, each time, every time, over and over and over.

After two days of futility, I tried calling TS once more. After going through the usual song and dance for 25 minutes, the real DELL HELL began. I was shifted to no less than eight (YES, 8!!!!! different numbers) and ended up spending literally over 6 hours HOLDING for various TS agents until one of them came on and informed me they had discovered a DIFFERENT reason my DVD Rom was not burning music files: software incompatibility. And despite the fact that Dell was the one who installed the hardware and the software on my new computer, TS says that since it is NOT a hardware problem Dell no longer has any responsibility to resolve the matter. They offered to SELL me new software.

I pushed the matter and demanded restitution and compensation but was told that my 21 day product return period had just ended. That day, nonetheless! (See how things work? String along the customer and then dump them once you've got their money and their return date out of the way.)

This was my second Dell. The first one, bought over six years ago, worked fine and had only a few problems that were handled by TS back then rather handily. The new TS in India, however, is rude and incompetent. Their English is incomprehensible and their sense of urgency and customer service non-existent. This is the last Dell product I'll ever purchase. Everybody else, when you hear the word "Dell" offered as an option, start running and don't stop till you pass the county line. Avoid these people, because Dell is the Ebola Virus of computers.
     
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Posted by Taurus212 on 2005-03-09:
Nice review of Dell, showing how you worked with them and still got booted aside.
See my review of Gateway ("My Experience with Gateway Computers") for a possible way to get this righted.

I dunno; Dell may be legally in the clear, but they sure aren't morally.
Posted by PaulC on 2005-03-09:
Addendum: I posted this review yesterday. Between then and now, I had been waiting for a senior Dell Customer "Service" agent to telephone me from Austin. Yesterday, when talking with TS I ended by pleading with them to allow me to talk to an American, somebody in Austin. The agent agreed and made an "appointment" for the American agent to telephone me at 3 pm CST today. Need I really bother to add that it's now 3.28 CST and, of course, NOBODY has called.
Posted by tander on 2005-03-10:
Its always a headache dealing with tech support with any kind of computer support.
Posted by Taurus212 on 2005-03-10:
One can have good experiences with TS, its just a matter of lucking into getting a competent rep who cares about doing his job well.

Re: your question on my review about "all these companies being the same": in my view the problem boils down to "Marketing, Marketing, Marketing, Marketing, Marketing, cs, Marketing, Marketing, Marketing..."
They seem to care more about making customers than keeping them.
Posted by Mario on 2005-03-22:
I had the same problem with my new Dell Dimension back in Dec of last year. Dell tech support was useless and offered no real help or insight after more than 4 hours of calls.

I had to find myself that there was a Phillips DVD-RW drive firmware update released by Dell and posted on their support web site. Go figure! They should've known and told me about it.

To top it off, the tech support person could not speak English clearly (try that for 4 hours on the phone!). Being a long time customer of Dell, I found the whole experience very disappointing and aggravating.

Try the firmware update, it fixed it on mine!

Good luck.
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Dell from HELL - Four months of nightmare
Posted by Pattye on 04/19/2005
I purchased a desktop finance through Dell Financial back in January.

I spent EIGHTEEN HOURS over a two-week period talking to "technicians" from India who could not fix the problem. I was unable to connect to the Internet. We uninstalled, installed, uninstalled, installed operating systems and drivers. They would lie to me and tell me that they would research the problem and call me back but didn't. They would lie to me and tell me they would ENSURE that the problem was resolved and after THREE weeks, I called and said that I wanted to return it.

They gave me a return authorization number, sent me shipping labels, and finally I received an email stating that they had received the PC.

All through Feb, March, and April, I get phone calls from Dell Financial telling me I am late on my payments. They do have have any record of receiving my PC. Each time I talk to someone, they tell me they will get it resolved, but nothing ever happens except more demands for money.

Now they have turned me in to the credit bureaus!!! For a PC that never worked and that I sent back WITH THEIR AUTHORIZATION to return it!!

I have never been so frustrated with a company in my life. I have spent hour upon hour on the phone talking to them, on hold waiting to talk to them, or being transferred by them.

And they are still calling me (just last week) wanting to sell me a warranty! WHAT?????!!!!

How in the world does Dell function? They are existing and profiting from their name and from the fact that they USED have quality.

The quality of their products and the horrible customer service shows that Dell has gone downhill and is atrocious.

     
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Posted by leiko on 2005-04-28:
dell from hell is RIGHT! my son purchased a laptop and it broke within 5 months. what a rip off. since his insurance ran out and he called to get a quote to have it fixed they said it would cost him almost 500.00 dollars. that was even more ridiculous. what a ripoff company. the more money they make it less effort they put into making quality products like their adds say. dell from hell is right!
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DON'T BUY A DELL!
Posted by Lamere on 03/25/2004
CALIFORNIA -- The most frustrating business experience that I can remember. From the minute I received my Dimension 2400, it was apparent something was wrong with it. I called Dell, repeatedly, only to experience extremely long wait times. When a live person actually came on the line (and for a while I couldn't figure out why they all had Indian accepts - until I learned that Dell outsources customer service to India!) they told me I needed to speak to a different department. I was then put on hold again or the call was dropped. Email was a joke - emails were not responded to other than an automated response, other than my most recent emails about when would I receive the promised refund on the return of the junk computer - that day I got three responses - all different! Dell proclaims their products and customer service - I found both to be less than inferior - whatever that is. Customer service out and out lied to me, prior calls were not documented, the right hand obviously does not know what the left hand is doing.

     
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Posted by wearecruisers on 2004-03-27:
You are right. Their support is the worst. I just purchased a Dimension 2400 and it is a low end computer, but I only paid $500 for it. The problem I have with Dell is when you call to talk to someone about a minor problem it becomes a major problem because you can not understand a word that these people are saying. Dell is a good computer except for their service.
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LOUSY WARRANTY SUPPORT
Posted by Dona on 03/20/2005
Have been fighting with Dell for 2 weeks to get hard drive problems fixed. Their support people only like to argue from INDIA. Apparantly no support in United States and there is no contact with Customer support or Customer relations. At this point I have dealt with over 15 Technicians and they have failed to fix problem. I do not recommend purchasing any Dell products.
     
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Posted by C130Driver on 2005-03-20:
I couldn't agree more...my Dell (1 year old)has so many error messages on boot up...it takes another 5 minutes just to close those windows. The hoops you have to jump through to get any service is pathetic. I will never by another Dell! Dell...the computer from H---!
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Dell's horrible customer service.
Posted by Cassiecat5838 on 11/28/2011
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Doesn't matter what Dell product you have, customer service sucks. My brother in law leased a Dell Computer, then died. I called Dell Financial Services at least 6 times, somewhere in India/Pakistan, their English was always poor and the knowledge was worse. I also sent a copy of the death certificate, return receipt, they got it. I was never able to close the account, still getting bills. The probate lawyer charged us $400 for dealings with Dell, he couldn't get anyone that understood or knew how to close an account after a death. I finally gave the computer to a senior center.
     
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Posted by Cwazychicken on 2011-11-29:
Sorry to hear about your loss. It is sad how companies have no sympathy for people in this situation. Been there, seen it. Oh and i have owned a dell, they are crap. My dell lasted a year before it broke for good. I would never get another dell, they did nothing to help me either.
Posted by trmn8r on 2011-11-29:
Count me in as another that went through horrid customer service with both Dell and Dell Financial Services. I wouldn't give that lousy company another nickel of my money.

I'm sorry about your loss. I can just imagine the horror of attempting to get DFS to help close out an account of a deceased person.
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Studio Desktop 540 Just Simply Stopped Working After 17 Month Of Service
Posted by Boriskontsov on 12/16/2010
I told myself before - no business with Dell, but I did it again. And it was even worse. 17 month - that's it. And now, I need to buy an extended warranty. But the quality electronics are supposed to work at least twice longer without requiring any repair! Moreover, if you add up the price the interest, and the extended warranty, the price of the computer becomes twice of what the item was listed when you bought it!

Go somewhere else - you will see a free shipping, interest free, etc, but not with Dell! Dell does not offer the best price and quality! Why people keep buying from Dell?!
     
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Posted by trmn8r on 2010-12-16:
I double checked your math on this, and everything is in order. Good luck with your next computer. I'm going back to Lenovo (IBM) after 5 years in Dell Hell. Just started my research.
Posted by bcd on 2010-12-16:
Describe the problem with the computer.
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Never Again Dell
Posted by DellSoldMeJunkCapacitors on 09/28/2010
In 2005 I purchased the high end Dell XPS desktop computer. The computer began failing in 2009. I spent a considerable amount of money to have it fixed. Eight months later the unit's motherboard failed from multiple capacitor failure. The capacitor's were known to be defective and Dell refused to address the problem by telling me that my warranty had expired. Dell officials hid the truth about the defective capacitors and blamed the consumer for the failures. I will NEVER purchase another Dell product again and I was always a Dell user. They failed to own up to the problem and caused undue finacial hardship on the consumer.

     
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Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-28:
The expected life span of a home pc is about 2 to 3 years. That said, it does stink that Dell knew about the problem.
Posted by Skye on 2010-09-28:
Where did you get these facts about the life span of a home PC? Just asking because I bought my PC in 2004, and it still runs just as well as my husbands new PC. We don't own Dell, we own HP's.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-28:
Gartner research.
Posted by Skye on 2010-09-28:
You researched well grasshopper :)

I guess now I just jinxed myself :(
Posted by jktshff1 on 2010-09-28:
You can play with the numbers to make them say what you want. Politicians and the gubment do it all the time. I've still got a Commodore 64 that works. My pc is 8 yrs old, my work laptop is 5 yrs and the HP I'm using now it @ 3....must depend upon the IBM compatibility (and luck) of the user.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-28:
Not playing with numbers here..how do you say it? Planned obsolescence.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-28:
Our Dell laptop just gave up the ghost after 7 years. We didn't buy another Dell though, because we'd heard they were having problems and customers service was lacking.

That research is very accurate from what I've seen. These are probably averages. I was actually surprised our laptop lasted as long as it did. It kept running well right up to the day it died. When we tried to fix it with a new hard drive, everything else on it was so outdated that it would not resusitate(drivers, etc. on our recovery disks). It was a goner.

Our new laptop is one I bought here in Singapore--an ASUS. I'd never heard of them, but I did read some good things about them. I'll see how long this one lasts. So far, so good.



Posted by MRM on 2010-09-28:
It doesnt matter if you have Dell, HP, or Toshiba brand name computer, its all about the motherboard. Put in a brand name motherboard in any laptop or a desktop, and your computer will last longer.
Posted by Anonymous on 2010-09-28:
Good to know, MRM.
Posted by Venice09 on 2010-09-28:
I'm sure this will come as no surprise, but I believe that planned obsolescence exists.
Posted by trmn8r on 2010-09-28:
If you want an example of planned obsolescence, go look at what is going on at the Complaints Board thread about my3c members.

On another note, I agree computers are probably made to last 2-3 years. The only reason my Dell has lasted 4 years is I replace parts on a yearly basis.
Posted by Alain on 2010-09-28:
The Dell I'm on right now is 6 years old, but still hanging on pretty well. Of course, it doesn't get very intensive use.
Posted by leet60 on 2010-09-28:
Dell has actually been the subject of numerous lawsuits involving faulty components that were installed in their products that the company was aware of before sell of the devices.
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Dell only hires liars from what I can see
Posted by Caajna on 06/22/2010
When I first went on line to see what Dell offered, I was looking for a lap top.. when I called the sales office, they said that a desk top is best for me. I bought one, over $1,000 as I also bought a fax/ copier. I rec'd it but was unable to use it to what I wanted. I called and called and all I got was foreign people and trying to explain what my problem was but never got any answers. Then, windows 7, and I called them back and they said too bad in their own way. I gave up and have never used this computer as yet. I decided to try DSL, high speed and called them again as Verizon said I needed to. They charged me $60 for this and and I also bought the windows 7 pack and the salesman said if I bought a warranty for a year, then I could call anytime and not have to pay $60 anymore and that did sound good as I can't use this computer and needed help. So did and when I tried to call back and asked for help. Another foreign person said that this call will cost $60. I said I had a warranty for this and they said no, I didn't. I had a warranty on the computer only. So, I now have a new, one year old and windows 7 and all just sitting on my desk not being use as I can't figure it out. I have been lied to over and over again and no one to talk to but foreign people which can't help me but will take my money. I will never buy anymore from Dell, and if this hasn't cost so much, I would trash it. SO, all just sits on my desk getting dust on it.
     
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Posted by saj80 on 2010-06-22:
What can't you figure out? If you provide more information, there are a lot of computer-savvy posters on this site, who may be able to assist you.
Posted by gush on 2010-06-22:
You never once said what you wanted to use your computer for.
Posted by caajna on 2010-06-25:
To the two people who responded to my comment... Yes, I can't use it, I have tried to get even on line but have had problems with that as I use juno. I tried to put my old lexmark printer on and it seems to not like it. As for the use of my computers, one is I use in my office and the other use of it is for e mail. Is there anything else one would use it? I even bought the windows 7 for the new computer but since I can't get on line in it, I can't download windows 7. I taught myself computers and with no real training, that makes me out of the youth help.
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Dell Corporation does NOT help the consumer trying to get out of debt.
Posted by Texasnurse on 06/22/2010
CAROL STREAM, ILLINOIS -- In 2007 I opened a small home-based business and got a Dell Desk top computer. I had $2,000.00 available credit. Within one year, I had to close my business and was left trying to pay all the companies I owed money to. I even joined Consumer Credit Counseling Services. Dell Corporation does NOT participate with decreasing their finance charges nor their percentage rates. The annual percentage rate kept going up year after year. Even with the minimum payments I sent I would be billed $39.00 for late charges (for 1 day or more late) plus $45.94 for finance charges. To make the long story short, I was still paying this computer in 2010. I got a personal loan jut to pay these people off; otherwise, if I continued making the minimum payment of $42.00 a month, it was going to take me 17 years to pay off balance of $1, 390.00 Don't get a computer from Dell on credit. They are not consumer-friendly.
     
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Posted by Anonymous on 2010-06-22:
the bill has the date the payment is due. Anytime after that is late, of course they are going to charge you the late fee.
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