by Esther Schindler

A Conversation with Dell

May 01, 200712 mins
IT Leadership

We all have our tech support horror stories to share. This one—a particular painful example of incompetence—comes from my online friend Randy Miller in Glendale, Arizona. He initially posted it on a local discussion list, but kindly gave me permission to repost it here. “Maybe Dell will call me to fill out a survey,” he commented.

Randy Miller wrote:

First, let me say that I have always pushed Dell as a reliable solution to my clients. One of the reasons is their “stellar” tech support. It appears I was out of the loop. What follows is an actual transcript of my recent attempt to upgrade a client laptop from Windows Media Center Edition to Windows XP Pro. We purchased the C from Dell for the upgrade and received a bad product key. It has been a month and we have still not received the new CD you will see promised in 3-5 days by the supervisor. I changed the names of everyone and obscured some address data, but otherwise this is exactly how the conversation went.

Session Started with Agent (Dell_Rep)

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Thank you for contacting Dell Technical Support. My name is Shivani and my rep ID number is xxxxxxxx. How may I assist you today?”

Customer: “Hello”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Hi Customer.”

Customer: “I am trying to install a copy of Windows XP that was sent to us by Dell. The problem is the license key on the sticker you sent says invalid. I have made sure that I typed it correctly”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Thank you for the information. I’ll be glad to assist you. Please give me 2 to 3 minutes to pull up your account information. In the meantime, May I also have your telephone number, along with the area code to update our records?”

Customer: “I am a tech support person and this is my customers laptop his number is xxx-xxx-xxxx”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Thank you for the information. We will not face any connectivity issues in our interaction. However, in case the chat still gets disconnected, we will call you back to ensure that the issue is completely resolved. Please confirm if we can reach you on the telephone number xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Is there any alternate number?”

Customer: “Yes, could we get through this and discuss my issue now?”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Sure.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “As per our records, you have Inspiron 9400/E1705 with Windows XP as the operating system. Am I right?”

Customer: “Yes, I do, but it came with Media Center Edition. You sent a CD for XP and when I try to install the key is not valid”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Okay.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “I can see from our records that you had contacted us for battery issue and you had run some troubleshooting steps to resolve the issue, with tech telling you that you need not change the battery being the last step, am I correct?”

Customer: “Would you please tell me what the relevance of that question is to you sending the wrong key for XP?”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer we are just recalling the last issue for which you contacted us.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Just wanted to know that was it resolved?”

Customer: “And I am in a hurry to fix the current one. Please focus on that. As I said, I am tech support and I have no idea if Mr. Smith fixed the battery issue.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “I understand your issue and I will personally attend to your matter. I assure you that I will do my best to provide you quality service. Please be assured, I am here to assist you.”

Customer: “When can we get started on that.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “If I understand you correctly, you need the product key to install windows XP. Is that correct?”

Customer: “Yes”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, did you fill in the product ID that is written under the system.”

Customer: “Duh!”

Customer: “Of course, if you would read what I am printing here you will see that I have said that already. It is INVALID!”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Okay Please give me the key that you filled in.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Did you attempt PC restore?”

Customer: “BxGx8-Bx7xG-Bx8xY-Wx8xD-9xKxG”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Did you attempt PC restore?”

Customer: “No I don’t need a system restore, I just need to upgrade the OS to XP Pro”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “I see.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, did you buy the CD for Windows XP pro to install the operating system?”

Customer: “Do you have a supervisor. I explained all of this already.”

Customer: “Scroll up”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “I understand your concern.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, as I can see on the records the system was shipped with Windows Media Center.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “And not windows XP pro.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “If you are using a retail version of the CD you will need a product key,”

Customer: “Please read carefully: The computer came with MCE, Dell sent us a new CD with XP Pro, the Key is INVALID,”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “If not then you will not need a product key.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, did you buy the CD from dell or was a replacement CD was shipped?”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Do you have the order number for the CDs?”

Customer: “Is there a chance you can help me? I will try to explain this one last time. the laptop came with MCE, we contacted Dell because we needed it with XP Pro. Dell sent a new CD with XP on it. They also sent a product key. The key is not valid however and we need a new / different key. The Dell Order # is xxxxxxxxx

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Okay”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Thank you very much for the details.”

Customer: “Are you going to help me, or transfer me to your supervisor?”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Yes.”

Customer: “Yes, what?”

Customer: “What are you doing?”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, please be assured.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, since you have bought the CD from sales, you have the product key as well.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Dell does not recommend operating system reinstall.”

Customer: “Maybe your command of the printed language is not good. Yes, I have the product key. IT IS INVALID”


Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, since the system was shipped with MCE.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “That is why it is giving you the Invalid key message.”

Customer: “Please explain”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “System will not take the product key.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “That is why Dell does not recommend operating system reinstall.”

Customer: “You sent an XP disk, You sent an XP code, the code claims to be invalid.”

Customer: “Please transfer me to a supervisor immediately.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Okay.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, please stay online for 1-2 minutes.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “While I transfer the chat to the supervisor.”

Customer: “Yes”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Hi Customer, my name is Ketan, I am the supervisor in technical services.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “How are you doing today?”

Customer: “Hello Ketan, I have been trying unsuccessfully to get my issue addressed. I have a laptop with MCE, it should have been ordered with XP Pro, I received your XP Pro and Product Key but when the key is entered it says it is invalid”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “I understand your concern Customer.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Let me explain you everything in detail.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “As per records, your system has been shipped a long with Windows XP Media Center Edition.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “So, it is configured accordingly.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “As far as Windows XP Professional is concerned, Dell doesn’t recommend installation of any other operating system on your system apart from Media Center Edition.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Its for your system’s stability and compatibility.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Could you please confirm from where you have arranged the Windows XP Professional CD?”

Customer: “OK, now I will try to explain everything to you. Windows XP PRO is REQUIRED for this system and your sales Representative sold it to me. I need to install it on THIS system and connect to a DOMAIN. Something MCE is not able to do. I PAID you (dell) for it and it has an invalid code. I need a correct code.

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “As you have purchased it from Dell, so you can get its product key from the CD cover.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “One more thing.”

Customer: “Maybe you did not understand. I have the key you sent. It is invalid.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “There are chances that sometimes we enter wrong numbers like instead of 2 we enter Z, instead of 0 we enter O, instead of 8 we enter B, and like wise.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “If you have already tried all of the possible permutations and combinations, then in this case, I would suggest you to contact Microsoft to get the correct product key.”

Customer: “Yes we d0 50metimes, but as I said I have checked my spelling, so have the 3 other people here. I have entered it correctly and it is still incorrect. and as this is OEM software Microsoft in accordance with your agreement to sell OEM software requires that you assist me with this issue.

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “I understand that.”

Customer: “Ketan, are you still here?”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Yes, we are connected.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “In this case, we have one resolution available.”

Customer: “?”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “As you have already tried different permutations & combinations, so we need to replace the CD for you.”

Customer: “When”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “We will ship you another Windows XP Professional CD. We will create the dispatch now.”

Customer: “Will it have a valid product key?”

Customer: “Empasis on the VALID”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Certainly, it will have the valid product key.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Could you please stay online for 4-5 minutes while I check the details for you?”

Customer: “I only ask because so far you are 0 for 1 on that”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “I certainly understand your concern Customer and apologize for the inconvenience.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Could you please stay online for 4-5 minutes while I check the details for you?”

Customer: “yes”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Thank you for staying online. I appreciate your patience.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “I’ve checked all of the required details.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “To get this issue resolved, we will replace the Windows XP Professional CD for you.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “You will receive the CD within next 3-5 business days.”

Customer: “Thank you.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “You are welcome.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Customer, let me connect you back with Shivani. She will create dispatch for Windows XP Professional CD. She needs to confirm shipping details.”

Customer: “fine”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Thank you.”

Agent (Dell_Supervisor): “Please stay online while I connect you back with Shivani.”

Customer: “Yes”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Thank you for staying online. I appreciate your patience.”

Customer: “Yes”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Okay.”

Customer: “Will you confirm details please”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Sure.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Before we proceed; may I have the name, phone number and the original shipping address? This is for the verification purpose.”

Customer: “Are you being intentionally annoying?”

Customer: “Mr. Smith”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, I understand that you are not the original owner.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “However, we need to confirm the above details.”

Customer: “The owner was here over an hour ago when we started, but now is with a patient and cannot be disturbed.”

Customer: “You verified me before and I just need you to do as you are supposed to. Send the CD”

Customer: “I seems you are more interested in covering up your error that correcting your mistake.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Customer, fully understand your concern.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Please give me the shipping address.”

Customer: “Address removed to protect identity”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Thank you very much for the details.”

Customer: “Are we finished?”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “I will give you the case number and the dispatch number.”

Customer: “We began this chat at 11:22 and it is now One Hour and twenty minutes later. As I bill 107.50 per hour your customer is now out over $200.00 for a simple error on the part of Dell.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “I understand.”

Customer: “But you don’t care.”

Customer: “I do.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Is there anything else regarding your Dell system that I may help you with today?”

Customer: “NO, do you have the dispatch number?”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Yes.”

Customer: “do you have the dispatch number?”

1 minute later

Customer: “do you have the dispatch number?”

1 minute later

Customer: “do you have the dispatch number?”

1 minute later

Customer: “What is the dispatch number?”

1 minute later

Customer: “What is the dispatch number?”

1 minute later

Customer: “What is the dispatch number?”

1 minute later

Customer: “What is the dispatch number?”

1 minute later

Agent (Dell_Rep): “I have included your Case # 160129520 to reference our interaction today. Please keep this on file; it will assist you when contacting DELL.”

Customer: “Thank You, I honestly did not think Dell Tech support was as bad as I had heard, but may I say that you have managed to remove all doubt from my mind.”

Agent (Dell_Rep): “Thank you for contacting DELL Technical Support and allowing me the opportunity to assist you. If you still feel that there are additional DELL Hardware related concerns that need to be addressed, please contact us again at 1-800-624-9896 or Click on “Chat with Technical Support” at the following web page and enter the Service Tag. cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

It was really a pleasure to assist you and I really appreciate your time. Have a nice day!

Bye, take care.

Session Ended