Dell Tech Support: 2014 Rating

Web and Social Support 2014: B Phone Support 2014: C Overall 2014: B- Average Call Time 2014: 27.3 minutes Overall 2013: C+ Overal 2012: C-If the angry posts on Dell’s Facebook profile are to be believed, Dell’s tech support team is made up of rude, incomprehensible reps. We encountered none of that, however, during our experience with Dell this year. Ranking in the middle of the pack with a B grade last year, Dell continues to show signs of improvement. Over the past year, Dell has focused on improving its support services, especially on its website, to make it easier and quicker to get help. However, the average call time to Dell’s call centers was 27:03, the longest we tested this year.

To test Dell’s services, we looked for help on keeping a laptop running even after its lid is closed, how to set up a picture password in Windows 8, and how to set up Dell Backup and Recovery on a Dell Inspiron 15.

MORE: Laptop Interactive Buying Guide

Web and Social Support

In the past year, Dell says it has updated the design of its support website ( to offer more intuitive navigation, reducing the number of clicks required to get help. Overall, the website is easy enough to get around, with a helpful “Detect My Product” button for you to get information relevant to the device you’re using.

Unfortunately, the myriad options in the top menu made it difficult to find specific information, because of sections that seem to offer similar things, such as Drivers and Downloads, Dell Software Download Center, Manuals and Product Support. I didn’t know where to start to find information on keeping my laptop on after closing the lid or setting up a picture password. Thanks to the search tool at the top right, I easily found an answer to the second question, but Dell didn’t have resources on the first.


The company also made it possible for users to post questions on its Facebook pages over the past year, and says it “will attempt to assist.” I posted on Dell’s profile asking how to keep my laptop on even after closing the lid, but did not receive a response within a month.

Dell’s Twitter team (@Dell) was more responsive, replying in 2 hours to my tweet on how to set up a picture password. The tweet directed me to a Microsoft support page instead of actually giving me steps to solve my problem, but it did resolve the issue.

Dell’s Web chat service proved helpful as well, as a rep walked me through keeping my laptop on upon closing within 25 minutes. That time would have been shorter had Dell not needed to find out who the computer was registered to, but the agent, Tarun, was responsive and helpful, for the most part. If your computer is second-hand, a gift or an office device, you might run into delays trying to verify who owns it.

MORE: 12 Best Dell and Alienware Laptops

Phone Support

Every call placed to Dell’s help hotline is greeted by the company’s voice-based operator system. I liked being able to speak my product’s service tag instead of having to enter it while juggling the phone and laptop, and the system interpreted my queries accurately most of the time. Like last year, Dell’s agents were reliant on remotely accessing our computers to troubleshoot.

My first call to Dell’s tech support started at 2:55 p.m. ET and lasted just 6 minutes, thanks to the efficient and helpful Mel in the Philippines. I asked for help setting up a picture password, and he quickly walked me through the steps, after cautioning me that this login method is more complicated and less commonly used.

"Like last year, Dell's agents were reliant on remotely accessing our computers to troubleshoot."

Other calls were not as breezy. The next call began at 10:27 a.m. ET on a Monday, and was answered by Dennis, who was in the Philippines. After taking 6 minutes to look up and confirm my information, all the while politely asking me to bear with him, Dennis informed me (incorrectly) that it’s not possible to prevent my laptop from going to sleep when I close the lid. I explained that I wanted to run downloads and close the screen while I go to bed, and Dennis suggested an alternate method to make that possible (setting the display to go to sleep in 5 minutes while the computer continues running).

He walked me through downloading the remote assistant GoToAssist program, which was set up in just a minute, and went into Power Options in the Control Panel to set it up. Dennis was helpful and clear, explaining what he was doing each step of the way. It took him a few minutes to go through all the steps and restart my computer. He stayed on the line for 5 minutes, all the while explaining what was happening, to make sure the changes worked. Although his solution was not what I was looking for, Dennis listened to my problem and offered a method that worked. The call ended at 10:53 a.m. (26 minutes).

My third call, placed at 8:30 p.m. on a Thursday, was transferred from department to department as each rep struggled to find the right place to send my question: “How can I set up Dell Backup and Recovery?” The fourth person I got passed to was Rohan, in India, from the Dell Backup and Recovery department. He informed me that the software in question was only able to reset my laptop back to factory settings, and I could only set up regular backups (which is true, but Dell doesn’t make this clear when it touts the service) and recovery disks if I had paid for the premium version.

I decided to do a factory reset, and Rohan repeatedly reminded me that I would be wiping everything from my notebook if I decided to go ahead. The rep clearly and quickly walked me through the steps. At the end of the call, Rohan asked me to hold for his supervisor, who greeted me 4 minutes later to ask if there was anything additional I needed. This call lasted 50 minutes.

Bottom Line

Overall, Dell’s Web presence made up for its underwhelming call performance this year. Thanks to a speedy Twitter team and a helpful chat service, I quickly found solutions to most of my problems online. On the phone though, agents’ insistence on finding out who paid for the device before deigning to help added a chunk to the company’s average call time (27:03), which is the longest we’ve tested. I also got transferred from department to department on more than one call, which was frustrating.

Dell needs to streamline its support site to make it easier to get to the live chat function, cut down on the red tape and transfers at its call centers, as well as beef up its Facebook response team, to rank higher in future Tech Support Showdowns.

Cherlynn Low
Cherlynn Low
Cherlynn joined the Laptopmag team in June 2013 and has since been writing about all things tech and digital with a focus on mobile and Internet software development. She also edits and reports occasionally on video. She graduated with a M.S. in Journalism (Broadcast) from Columbia University in May 2013 and has been designing personal websites since 2001.
Cherlynn Low on
Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

  1. Dennis Gagnon Says:

    I recently purchase Dells Inspiron desktop computer and nee

  2. Robert Deck Says:

    Your amateur review of Dell shows. If you want to talk to a script reader in India, Dell is your company. They wouldn’t give me onsite repair for a failed fan though I had an onsite warranty. They sent me a windows installation disk with a windows 8 set of drivers. They insisted I wipe off the feed tray of my printer with a damp cloth for a wifi connectivity problem. What a joke! How much did Dell pay you?

  3. Adam Says:

    I’m sorry but your review doesn’t address more important customer service issues.

    Like when your computer simply isn’t working properly. Every case you gave them was a relatively simple task for anyone who has basic computer skills.

    I’ve been buying from Dell for nearly a decade now. Purchasing my first laptop from them in 2005. I’ve loved them over the years. The ease of custom putting together a computer, ordering it, and getting service for it.

    Enough so that I’ve gotten several family members on their computers.

    Over the past decade I’ve purchased more and more valuable models from them. With the most recent model I bought in May 2013. It was their top line XPS laptop, costing me nearly $2000.

    Unfortunately it’s been nothing but a headache of a product. Being the only laptop that I’ve had wifi card issues in… on top of that compared to the past where I could get a technician to help me with those small things (like finding certain applications or components to re-install drivers) for free, I learned the harsh way that anything outside of basic troubleshoot problems is now a $30 charge. An unfortunate change from service I’ve been given in the past.

    Not to mention that many barely understand your issue, and anything more complicated then “how to set up the basics takes a lot longer then a half hour”. This review got the top of the ice berg. There’s a whole lot of trouble below water level though.

    Suffice to say I will be doing a lot of reconsidering before I purchase my next computer from them. Especially since overall I think the products they are creating now are inferior in their design compared to past models.

  4. Kris Says:

    This review is laughable. Did the writer preface contact with, “Hello Dell Representative. I’m researching an article for Laptop Magazine. Tell me, how much is the company willing to bid for an A rating? Anything below 50 million puts you in the running for a C minus”…. In the past 6 weeks I have suffered through 45 emails, phone calls and live chat sessions with Dell customer support. The option to speak with an English speaking rep is non-existent. I spoke with many reps named Karash and PuhLeep. I typed with many reps named Jay and Jenna. Exactly 1 day after the return period lapsed, Dell admitted that my brand new $1500 computer was a lemon. A replacement computer was authorized. 7 phone calls later, it was processed and shipped. The brand new replacement computer is also a lemon.

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options