Losing Time, Money, and Sanity: Computer Hardware Woes

BlogHer Original Post

My new laptop from Dell started having hardware problems 7 months after I purchased it. More than 4 months have passed and I've spent over 20 hours on technical support and I still have a $1000 paperweight. I have taken action with formal complaints which in theory are being "handled". (Ask me in a week or two whether this is any more productive than the last four months as the jury is still out.) No one is willing to address the problem once and for all (although they are calling and mailing regularly asking me to pay money to extend my warranty!). Yet I can't stop thinking and seething about the sheer amount of inconvenience and time and money lost to this whole situation.

Multiply my situation by the number of people in a similar boat. How ineffective, unproductive, and money sucking is that?

Let's face it. In today's business world the laptop and desktop are the single most important tool (besides our brains and unique abilities) to a successful career or running a successful business. If you need access on the go, there is no substitute for a laptop. Can you imagine Heather B in her recent post on business travel without her laptop in hand? I certainly couldn't.

That's why it behooves me to wonder how much productivity, money, and sanity is lost on a daily basis due to disturbing customer service with the very tools we need the most. The worst part of it is that as consumers we are at the mercy of the companies and the warranties they offer (and not honor satisfactorily at times). As a self-employed business owner, it is like being held hostage in your own personal hell while watching business opportunities and deadlines go whooshing by.

I know personally if I have to hear one more Dell employee tell me "we care that you're having troubles" or "we will call you back within 24 hours" (and then never do) I could stick a pin in my eye. The sad truth of the matter is that I am not alone. Far from it. Many other professional, intelligent, upstanding human beings are being tortured to within an inch of their wits by the very companies our businesses are relying on - the technology manufacturers.

I read Angela Wilson's "Computer Woes" with great understanding and sympathy. She has a conundrum of problems that have her screaming "Do not bother calling DELL tech support. Never purchase from Best Buy. Never, EVER buy a Hewlett Packard". It does make one wonder - who can you buy from? I have to say I feel her pain when she gets to the bottom line of the issue - how she was treated as a customer:

I am sure there are people who try to take advantage of the system. But I was up front. They have records of the PC issues. Yet, all this aggravation nets me... more aggravation? Whatever happened to a company honoring its customers by providing a working unit if the one you bought was defective? I have receipts. I have logs. This unit, with its sleek look and tantalizing features, WAS BROKE! And instead of trying to honor ME as a customer, I got more headaches than this unit was worth.

I should have bit the bullet and bought a MAC. Not only would I have avoided these issues, but I could have burned all copies of Vista while running naked through the moonlight honoring the Apple gods.

I have been working with technology since the early TRS-80 days. For you non-techies, that is a long darn time back when computers were bigger than early microwave ovens and could do nothing without reams of custom programming. So, I know something about them. In fact I've even performed tech support in my day. I don't profess to know it all and I am certainly no hardware expert. My approach is the opposite of arrogant. Yet, I don't enjoy being spoken to like I am an idiot. I hate it even more when all the painstaking troubleshooting I have performed is dismissed and the non-English speaking, script reading support person starts back at the beginning of the script over and over. But of course THEY are the experts. And sometimes they possess some of the dumbest possible solutions known to mankind.

Ninja Poodles shares a few doozies from her dance with Dell. starts the story off with the tale of the AC power cord:

First, we had to send our laptop back to Dell AGAIN to have the power outlet replaced AGAIN. According to them, it goes bad because we "put too much pressure on the AC cord." According to me, Dell is full of crap, because the only time I ever "put pressure" on the AC cord is when it stops maintaining a connection without supplemental jiggling/fiddling. Typing with one hand while holding in a power cord at an odd angle is no fun. So now any computer time has to be spent shackled to the PC upstairs in the guest room, which means no multi-tasking. This is not how I'm meant to use the computer.

Apparently she had as much fun with the Dell Repair Depot as I did:

Oh, and remember the laptop? That we shipped to Dell last Monday? It arrived back here on THURSDAY. Seriously. Thursday. Which would be great if Dell had, in fact, fixed it, but for some reason, they sent it back to us with the bottom panel unscrewed, detached, and DENTED, for crying out loud. And still without a working power source.

Hello, Apple? You just got a new customer. Referred by? DELL.

In my own tale of woe, still ongoing, I am committed to the mantra that persistence pays. (or maybe just hoping?). It paid off for Ninja Poodles as apparently a miracle unfolded in "Hello, Dell? I'm Staying. Thank Larry.":

So once all THAT was out of the way, Larry got right down to solving our problem. And we were positively bowled over with the speed and efficiency and fairness of his work. When one thing wasn't available, he'd upgrade to the next better thing (I know you love that technical lingo), until finally, because of the uniqueness of our problem and some particulars of our repair history with Dell (seriously, our laptop was whacked), we wound up with a new replacement computer, upgraded from the model we'd had before, because that model wasn't available at the time, and Larry didn't want to make us wait. I'm here to tell you, we had Larry earning his paycheck in dealing with us, because we seemed to have one issue after another, and while he had us our new computer inside of a week, we weren't able to send our old one back to Dell for more than twice that long.

So what is a person to do? I am thrilled for her satisfactory resolution. I continue to be mired in Dell hell, lost time, and wasted energy. While I did finally get a call back from Corporate in response to my formal complaint that I signature receipt delivered to them, all it has gotten me so far is another opportunity to ship my laptop to their repair depot once the shipping box and appropriate tracking numbers arrive. I am sincerely praying this particular road trip for my useless laptop will be more productive than the last that left me with the same problems (sound clicking and a cursor with a mind of its own) plus scratches on the screen.

I have wasted untold hours checking out better business bureaus, small claims court, and consumer protection agencies. Now THAT alone is worthy of its own post. How does a woman protect herself from companies that don't deliver, do what they say, or leave a job undone?

I am still not even sure what my most powerful next step will be if this latest attempt doesn't resolve things. I may just have to tap into this more recent update from Ninja Poodles how to get help with Dell Hardware when experiencing ulcer inducing computer woes:

Be sure and check the comments to this post for the response by Lionel Menchaca, Digital Media Manager for Direct2Dell. In part, he writes, to those of you who've expressed your own Dell-related woes:

"I encourage you or anyone else that needs help with their Dell hardware to go here:

http://direct2dell.com/contactus.aspx
My personal e-mail is at the bottom of this page, and the Customer Advocate team email is listed as well (fourth bullet point from the top list)."

I'm not sure my heart could bear the shock of a person like the Larry who helped her with real customer service and caring, but I'm willing to risk it.

I'm almost too exhausted from all this to even run my business. Not to mention the problems and frustrations it causes when I need a laptop to meet with clients and travel for business. Personally I desperately need resolution ASAP. From the bigger picture, though - I wonder, how could all this run around and time spent be the least bit effective or profitable for the PC manufacturer either? Even if a company is getting tech support dirt cheap through offshoring, it cannot possibly make sound business sense.

How about you dear BlogHer readers? What have been your tales of woe and success stories with computer hardware woes? I'd love to hear from you.


 

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, works with women who are ready to create their lives and businesses in a way that fits who they are rather than how they were told they "should". Get the free 12 part eCourse "How to Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin" http://www.coaching4lesbians.com and start taking charge of your own success.

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Are you a small or solo business owner who wants to be comfortable in their own skin online via a website that is a true reflection of who you are and what your business is about? Paula's signature down to earth and "plain English" approach to website design and consulting can help. Visit http://www.paulagwebdesign.com to download the free successful website planner which will make your web project a breeze.

 

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