Tech Support Showdown 2012

Dell

Dell Tech Support Results
Average Call Length 17 minutes
Phone Grade 2012 F
Web Grade 2012 B
Overall Grade 2012 C-
Overall Grade 2011 A-
Overall Grade 2010 B-

support.dell.com
@DellCares, @DellCaresPro, #DellSolves
facebook.com/Dell
866-930-3355
877-293-1197

Last year, Dell earned a very good second-place finish. Since then, among other features, the company has added a “highly skilled” team for people who have to call more than twice to get customer support, called S3R3. Customers can now request a factory-imaged key that automatically tries to repair OS problems when plugged into a laptop.

The company has also significantly beefed up its social efforts. For instance, the Dell social team started working with YouTube to create how-to videos for common technical issues. And the company started its @DellCares Twitter account.

To test these improvements, we asked how to use three-finger swiping, how to lengthen our notebook’s battery life and how to use Dell DataSafe.

Web & Social Networking

According to Dell, 80 percent of all technical support questions can be answered on support.dell.com, and we mostly believe it. We found pertinent information about Dell DataSafe using the search bar. And on battery life, we found tips in three clicks of drop-down menus. But on the third question — how to use three-finger swiping on our touchpad — we were unsuccessful in our search.

Using Dell’s Interactive Support Agent — a natural language wizard that processes questions — we asked “How do I enable three-finger swiping on my touchpad?” and had to clarify a few more details before the wizard suggested, “You are having trouble with multitouch gestures.”

We asked the same question using Dell’s live-chat feature. Paul slowly verified our system, service tag and other info. Then he advised us to install the touchpad driver, before pointing us to our manual. Our chat took 23 minutes. After disconnecting, we received a follow-up message with the transcript.

We posted our question about Dell DataSafe on the brand’s official Facebook page, and in 14 minutes, a representative responded, asking us to send a private message with the computer’s service tag and some more details about the issue.

After tweeting to @DellCares, we got a response 8 hours later with some basic information about Dell DataSafe and a link to a help article. We were asked to send a DM detailing the problem, which led to a helpful exchange.

Phone

Dell’s telephone support specialists require a lot of details before you can get help, including our system’s service tag number, our name, phone number, address and the date and place where our notebook was purchased. Then we ran into much bigger problems.

On our first call at 3 p.m. EST, Sakhi from India (where all of Dell’s representatives were based) answered our call with a curt tone. We asked about three-finger swiping, but he needed our details first. After 3 minutes on hold, Sakhi said our problem was a software issue, which requires a paid warranty before he could assist us. A one-time fee would run us $129, or a value-bundled plan would cover four major incidents for one year. Sakhi said we shouldn’t even take the time to think about accepting the offer. He offered us a manager-approved discount that would expire if we hung up. He then asked to arrange a callback. We weren’t sure whether Sakhi meant to sound abrasive or whether it was his accent. The call took 15 minutes and 20 seconds with no answers.

We asked about DataSafe on our second call, to Denzil, at 11:19 a.m. He also told us that software questions — even those about Dell-specific software — required a $239 software warranty. We demurred, and he asked us to speak to his manager, Raj. He explained the costs and features of DataSafe, but suggested we buy an external hard drive from Dell instead. He said this would ultimately cost us less. The call lasted 17 minutes and 48 seconds.

[MOREDell Responds to Support Sweepstakes Uproar: We Need to Get Better]

On our third call at 2 p.m., we asked Sherma about improving battery life. He only recommended we never let the battery’s charge drop below 40 or 50 percent and then announced we were one of three to win the chance to purchase a four-year extended hardware warranty. If we didn’t want the offer, he would give it to his next caller. When we declined, he became agitated and tried to sell us a software warranty, before suggesting we go online to resolve technical issues on our own. Our call lasted 5 minutes.

Verdict

Dell has retained its stellar response in terms of helpful online support on most channels, including live chat and social media. Too bad Dell’s phone service dropped off a cliff since last year. A new policy — excluding simple how-to questions from the standard hardware warranty — barred us from getting satisfactory service from the computer manufacturer’s phone support reps, who also tried to sell us new (and often pricey) services. The reps were downright pushy.

Tech Support Showdown 2012

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  1. Not Phil Says:

    Dell service stinks. They also don’t stand behind their equipment. I’ve had nothing but problems with Dell and will never purchase another.

  2. don Says:

    then if the sony is the top 1 at tech support..

    what is the brand that is best for gamings..

    i mean which brand is best for gamings..

    including the price the kind of specs the kind of products.

    which is the best brand of laptop that is good for gaming..

    mostly and surely about durability and performance through out the year.

  3. Al Says:

    “Acer Tech Report Results” is shown as the title on the Sony page.

  4. Karen Says:

    I have to agree with Not Phil – I’ve never in my life encountered such appalling “service” as I just did from Dell! Will never buy from them again (not that they care).

  5. graham (australia) Says:

    ive got a couple of asus notebooks and also a netbook, over the yrs ive had a couple of minor warranty issues and asus support has been brilliant, the asus techs seem enthusiastic about there products and are more then happy to take the time to show u little things or answer questions,

  6. Cappy Says:

    I’m with Karen and notphil…….. Dell is terrible. Half the time they give you the wrong information and if you have continuing problems… too bad.

    I say this as a person who has purchased 4 computers from them in the past, and will not in future.

  7. a person Says:

    the thing about dell is their consumer products suck they have for a long time and they probably always will. That said buy the same computer relabled vostro, pay the extra for pro support and your phone wait time is 2 minutes max and they’ll have a US based technician solving any problem have and they’ll drop off the part you need within 4 hours. but if you expect to pay $400 for a laptop that costs $375 to build ship and market. you’ll get crap support.

  8. Steve Says:

    I’ve had had Dell XPS’s since 2004. That came with a dedicated phone line only for the XPS line, it was India sometimes but not all. The support was decent.
    Prior to that I had Dell Dimension’s 8400 and their tech support was as good as dealing with monkeys.

    Recently I bought a Lenovo Desktop. Tech support is located in the U.S. for my model and I just read yesterday that all tech support is coming back to the states. I also bought a 5 yr. Priority Service upgrade so I am good till 2018 if I still even have this them?
    Having U.S. support is one of the reasons I bought this system. I liked another one a bit more, same price.. more of a gaming system with support in India and no Priority Support like I do here in the states. I do get next day service with this one too and they will only warranty it for 3 yrs max, (what’s that tell you?)

    I am still within the time frame of returning this system exchanging it for the other and dealing with India.

    Also, Lenovo does not use refurbished parts when repairing your computer, completely new parts are always used.

  9. Dom Says:

    Let me just say that I will NEVER EVER buy a DELL product again! I just had the worst experience with tech support. I have had continuing problems and they said pretty much what I have already heard on here…too bad. I told them that you all just lost another Dell customer and it didn’t really phase them too much. I was supposed to get a new laptop from all the problems I had with this one and they told me “it won’t get approved from all the departments here and plus we need more information.” Really?? Like you don’t have a ton already with all the problems I’ve had??

  10. sam Says:

    Let me just say that I will NEVER EVER buy a DELL product again! I just had the worst experience with tech support. I have had continuing problems and they said pretty much what I have already heard on here…too bad. I told them that you all just lost another Dell customer and it didn’t really phase them too much. I was supposed to get a new laptop from all the problems I had with this one and they told me “it won’t get approved from all the departments here and plus we need more information.” Really?? Like you don’t have a ton already with all the problems I’ve had??
    and then i took help from axes pc care they are the genuine people their number is 1-877-509-8360

  11. JDE Says:

    I’m stunned to see Sony get first place in tech support. That doesn’t reflect my experience at all, and I’ve been on the phone with them as recently as a few months ago. I think they’re no better than any other manufacturer, and they’re all terrible.

    I also think that Apple’s tech support, while probably better than everyone else’s, is overrated. I’ve had at least two negative experiences with them over the past couple of years, one of them requiring intervention on the part of a supervisor who was embarrassed by the ignorance and unprofessionalism of his subordinate.

  12. She Says:

    When will Laptop Magazine release the showdown results for 2013?

  13. Anna Attkisson, LAPTOP Managing Editor Says:

    We are putting the finishing touches on this story now. It will be coming in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned!

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