The following is a letter I just sent to a customer support supervisor at Dell.
I was given your email address by a Dell support agent as someone to whom I could direct complaints about Dell’s support.
My complaints center around my Dell 3000cn printer, service tag number ___, purchased in February 2005.
The printer had print quality problems from the day it arrived and I set it up. I therefore filed an email support ticket the next day, case ID ___. Dell responded less than two hours later, which would have been wonderful but for the fact that the response was useless and ignored the facts I’d already provided. I answered, once again describing in detail the print quality problems and stating that the problems were obviously caused by drum defect. The agent responded quickly and said, “I will replace the drum cartridge for you.” However, five hours later, another Dell response from a different arrived and said, “A request has been submitted to ship the new Color Toners to you.” No reason was given for why a promised new drum cartridge had turned into new toner cartridges.
By this point, I was so sick of trying to get useful help out of your email agents that I decided not to let them go ahead and send me new toner cartridges rather than a new drum cartridge. The cartridges arrived, I installed them, and the print quality problems mostly, but not completely, went away. I decided to live with the defects under the assumption that when I finally wore out and replaced the drum cartridge; I made this decision because, again, I was sick of trying to get useful help out of your email agents. Yes, that’s right: the experience of trying to get support was so frustrating that I decided to tolerate a defect rather than continuing to try to get it fixed.
Fast forward to January 8, 2006. The print quality problems had gotten slightly worse. Furthermore, they were more obvious, because my kids had started using the computer to draw color pictures filling the whole page, and the defects were more obvious in their pictures than in what I’d been printing. Also, there were other problems: the toner carousel wasn’t locking during toner cartridge replacement; the printer had reported demanded a “service call” several times; and toner was occasionally ending up stuck to the page after the one it was intended for. For these reasons, I ask for support again, once again via email, in case number ___.
Again, Dell responded very quickly, and again, the response did not address the problems I had reported, or at least not all of them. The agent informed me that he was going to send me a new printer, presumably to address the “service call” error and the non-locking toner cartridge carousel. That was certainly something that needed to happen, but in addition to that, he said he was going to send me a new black toner housing, which made no sense, because the new printer came with a all new housings (obviously), and because the housings can’t be replaced end users. The other problem in his response was that he did NOT say he was going to send me a new drum cartridge.
The new printer and housing arrived January 10. I swapped the new printer into place and moved my old toner and drum cartridges into it as instructed,. Of course, the print quality problems were not fixed. I wrote back to Dell that evening, explaining that the print quality problems were still present, and asking what I was supposed to do with the toner housing that had been sent to me without any instructions.
Over a day later, I still had not received a response. I sent another message asking why; in that message, I explained quite explicitly that the print quality problem was due to a drum defect, a logical conclusion since the drum catrdige was the only component of the printer which had not been replaced.
Finally, almost two full days after I had informed Dell by email that my problem was not solved, I received a response. This response was useless, and again failed to explain why I’d been sent a toner housing or what I was supposed to do with it. I responded, explaining once again that my drum cartridge needed to be replaced. On January 17, over five days later, no one had responded, so I decided to try to escalate the case. Alas, things got worse, not better.
I clicked on the “Outstanding Technical Issues” link on the “Contact Us” page of your support site and filled out the form. When I tried to submit it, I was returned to the form, with the two text fields messed up, and with no explanation of why the form hadn’t been accepted. I tried this several times, from both Mozilla on Linux and Internet Explorer on Windows, with no success. Isn’t that wonderful? An escalation form that doesn’t actually work!
Next, I called 800-624-9897, one of the phone numbers listed on your Web site. After I navigated through your annoying IVR system, it claimed it was going to put me in touch with a technician. After a brief musical interlude, I heard a message informing me that I’d been connected to a “non-working number.” Great! An automated phone menu system which connects people to phone numbers that don’t work!
Next, I called 800-456-3355. After once again navigating a series of menus, I finally got into a queue to speak to someone in your printer support division. While waiting on hold, I heard a message suggesting that I visit www.dell.com/chat to chat with an agent, so I decided to try it. What did I get? “All chat agents are assisting other customers and have become temporarily unavailable.” Charming!
Finally, an agent answered the phone. After looking up my case and confirming that I was calling about a 3000cn, she informed me that her division only supports inkjet printers and she’d need to transfer me to another division that would be able to help you with my printer. Um, hello, don’t you think that if inkjet and laser printers are supported by different divisions, there should be different options for them in your phone menus, rather than making customers wait on hold to speak to one division, only to be made to wait on hold again to speak to a second division?
I told her I was only because I wanted to escalate my case to get someone at Dell’s corporate office to call me back about it the next day and asked her to simply escalate the case for me even though she couldn’t actually give me technical support. She said she wasn’t sure she could do that, put me on hold for several minutes, and then came back and said she couldn’t do it. So away I went to wait on hold again to wait to speak to someone in the laser printer division.
An agent answered the phone several minutes later. I asked him to escalate the case to someone to call me back the next day, and he told he couldn’t do that, since Dell support people don’t do outbound callbacks. He then asked me to explain my problem, which I really didn’t want to have to do yet again considering how many times I’d already done it in email, but I did it anyway. Afterward, he said the email agents shouldn’t have sent me a housing and should have sent me a new drum cartridge. He dispatched one to me. It arrived January 19, and lo and behold, after installing it, my print quality problems have vanished.
Four hours later after I spoke to the phone agent who actually helped me, I finally received a response to all the email I’d been sending for the past several days. It was useless, and ignored the fact that I had already spoken to a telephone agent and gotten a new drum cartridge dispatched. A little over two hours after that, I received yet another email response, this one confirming that a drum cartridge had been dispatched. It was so nice of them to send me email and let me know that I’d already managed to solve my problem despite them!
But wait, there’s more… During this experience, I received email asking me to participate in a survey about the quality of Dell’s email support. I went ahead and filled out the survey, but I also wanted to send more detailed feedback (i.e., this letter). Conveniently enough, the survey form said to go to support.dell.com and select the “‘Global Support Sites’ drop-down menu on the left side of the screen” to give additional feedback to Dell. I tried this; as far as I can tell, that drop-down drop-down doesn’t actually exist at support.dell.com.
I thought that perhaps the drop-down wasn’t there because I was logged into the site, so I clicked “Log Out”, which led to the discovery that the “Log Out” button doesn’t actually do anything! The only way I was able to log out of Dell’s support site was to bring up my cookie manager and remove all dell.com and support.dell.com cookies from my browser.
Yet another annoying little nit… All the instructions for returning defective parts say to call Airborne or Federal Express to arrange for a pick-up, depending on what kind of waybill came with the replacement part, but all three of the parts I received came with DHL waybills.
Now that I’ve gone through the entire of why my recent support experience was so incredibly, horrendously bad, I’d like to tell you why I’m rather dissatisfied with the 3000cn printer itself. To be blunt, the 3000cn is a poor product and I feel like I was ripped off when I bought it. Here’s why it’s a poor product:
- There were quality flaws in its output from the very first day I used it.
It’s a really bad sign when a brand-new product has a defect right out of the box. It means that almost certainly, quality is going to be a long-term problem with the product.
- The toner carousel not locking properly and the repeated “service call” messages, more things which just shouldn’t happen in a new product, were more signs of the product’s unreliability.
- When photos are printed on photo paper, the rollers inside the printer leave visible, indented streaks down the page. This is, quite simply, a blatant design flaw in the printer which makes it impossible to use the printer for nice photo prints.
- Despite trying various methods for almost a year, I have been unable to get anything approaching good-looking photos out of this printer. I know this isn’t an impossibility, because my employer’s color laser printer does beautiful-looking photos with no effort at all.
- The printer doesn’t take index cards. My old laser printer had no trouble with index cards.
- There is no manual feed slot. Furthermore, because the paper tray frequently partially feeds the top page in the stack in advance, you can’t just put new media on top of what’s there when you need to temporarily print on different media.
- The paper tray jams frequently.
- Paper does not feed straight, so printouts are frequently slightly off kilter on the page.
- Frequently one or more pages of a canceled job come out of the printer even when the cancel button is pressed before any paper has fed into the printer.
- The printer sometimes forgets its IP address and must be restarted.
And here’s why I feel like I was ripped off::
- When I went to your Web site to order the printer, using the URL from one of your newspaper ads, I was unable to convince your Web site to give me the price printed in the ad. I had to call your toll-free number and bargain with the guy at the other end of the phone to convince him to give me the price you had advertised. If I hadn’t argued, I would have ended up paying more than the advertised price. A little fishy and dishonest, don’t you think?
- A month after I bought the 3000cn, you were selling the significantly better (PostScript support, higher capacity toner cartridges) 3100cn for the same price.
- You have intentionally sabotaged the higher capacity color toner cartridges to prevent them from working in the 3000cn, even though there’s no technical reason why they can’t. This is, quite simply, outrageous. If I’d realized this before buying 3000cn, you can be sure I wouldn’t have bought it.
Given all this, I’m sure you can understand why I will actively discourage everyone I know from purchasing Dell products in the future.