Torture By Technical Support

Yesterday was to have been a busy and productive day. I had plans to write a certain amount on my current novel and do some editing. I was also going to write a post or two for my blogs. In addition I was going to help my daughter to set up a new site for her cat rescue charity ‘Greystones Kitty Hostel.’

Note that when you hover over the above title nothing happens. The words ‘Greystones Kitty Hostel’ do not turn into a link and you cannot click and be taken miraculously to see Greystones Kitty Hostel’s new site.

No doubt, if you like cats you’ll be disappointed and if the lack of cats on this page means you are about to leave sorry to have wasted your time. Never mind here’s a nice picture of one of Louise’s rescue sucking my finger instead.

kitten-with-finger-in-mouthIf you don’t like cats then sorry about the cat picture. If you are still reading because you are mildly curious as to why the link doesn’t work then let this be a cautionary tale…


Here’s how it began. My daughter, Louise, purchased a new Dell Inspiron laptop. It came with an operating system duly installed – Window 8 and was ‘ready to use.’

Louise also purchased anti-virus software, an extra warranty and was assured by the sales person she was covered against every eventuality and that their support was excellent.

Everyone was happy, Louise was looking forward to keeping her fellow cat-lovers updated as to the welfare of the cats in her care, the Dell salesperson was looking forward to spending his commission and the Dell company itself?

Well, I don’t know – what do giant companies look forward to – finding new ways to innovate and improve their business by providing a great service?

Not all – apparently, if they’re Dell they look forward to sucking even more money from their customers by selling them malfunctioning laptops and charging them to get them fixed…(it’s the software stupid!)

Louise’s Dell laptop had problems – it never really worked properly so she hasn’t used it. She wondered if she was just not used to it; it being different from her last laptop.


So I gave it a go and to be honest it’s hard to describe just how bad this laptop is but maybe the words ‘piece of crap that makes this normally peace-loving-citizen with no history of violence want to smash it into the head of the nearest Dell executive’ might just give you the general idea.

Not to worry – the piece of crap, sorry I mean laptop is still under warranty, plus she had bought that extra warranty – so all eventualities were covered right?

Wrong – after an unbelievably long wait I spoke to the first ‘expert.’

Have you ever talked to a Dell Expert? You should do it – even if just for the craic. In fact every business or marketing student should ring Dell support – if only to learn how to really piss people off and give them ‘internal derangement of the mind.’ Because one day you might hate people enough to want to do that and Dell have got it down perfect.


First they make you listen to this horrible half-human/half-computer thing; Miss Twangy. She repeatedly tells you to press this button for department this and press another button for department that etc.


Then you enter the Hotel Dellifornia – a kind of button lottery where you can press any button you please but you will not be connected to the correct department. You might come close a few times but that’s just an added value torture extra.

You won’t be connected to the correct, or indeed any department – not until you have been around that button block many, and I mean many times.

Then when you achieved the Holy Grail of reaching what you hope is the correct department you will be put back on hold.

You will be on hold for so long you will begin to worry about that cauliflower thing that is starting to grow out of your phone ear, not to mention the pain that now exists where your phone fingers used to be.


While you are holding Miss Twangy returns to helpfully tell you all the other ways you can get support. Maybe by going to their website and typing in twang twang Dell dot twang com dot Uk twang forward slash something else twangy.

Anyway, to pass the time while you are on hold you go to the site – not on the Dell laptop, this being one of the many times it has disconnected itself from the internet.

The only way I can get on to Dell’s support website is from my Apple laptop.

While still holding I read the website and follow some of their self-help steps. I pass about 40 minutes going round in meaningless loops on this useless website until I hear a human voice.

This person decides the problem is not the laptop (it’s the software stupid!)


At this stage I couldn’t give a monkeys arse what the problem is: hardware, software, malware, scamware, dellware, fuckware – just fucking fix it.

No, she can’t fucking fix it – she’s hardware, but their other department can and guess what? You have to pay for them. Why? (it’s the software stupid!)

I informed her that the machine was in warranty and covered by their extra warranty, in fact there were three warranties on the thing but still she said it could only be fixed by paying their software department to do it.

I informed her that we were not going to pay and she very reassuringly promised she would find another solution. She put me on hold again.

This time I passed the hour on hold by watching some very amusing ‘Dell Suck’s’ videos on You Tube – in fact I watched three videos – about 30 minutes worth, until they cut me off. This video is my favourite as it completely replicates my experiences – well almost.

And so I had to ring in again, do the button lottery, listen to Miss Twangy extolling the virtues of their website.

By the way Dell, your website is as crap as your laptop, hard to navigate, broken links, impossible to follow self-help steps etc.etc.etc.

Eventually I got talking to another Tech support person. This nice and friendly man was based in the Philippines and he guided me through a hardware test.

While this test was going on we had a nice conversation about dogs. I told him all about the lovely Sheba, Eppie and Jessie and I can only assume he liked hearing about my dogs a great deal as he apologised for all the previous hell I had endured at Dell’s supportive hands.

This man was great! He even assigned my troubles a case and gave me a number. This made me feel like at last I was about to get the decent service I deserved.

Anyway the machine passed the hardware test, (it’s the software stupid!)

I re-explained that the machine was in warranty – the software was purchased from Dell and that we weren’t going to pay to have a laptop fixed that was in warranty – stupid software or not.

He agreed the problem would be fixed. Indeed he promised it would and then he passed me on – to their paid software support service.

I had been on the phone since 2.30pm.  It was getting near five. I was now capable of parroting their horrible repetitive passive-aggressive script right back at them.

I repeated all that I had said before. Quoted my shiny new case file number and still he asked the same questions (it’s the software stupid!)

So fucking what? We didn’t buy the fucking software from some fucking discount dodgy software shop – we bought it from Dell! Oh wait a minute…

Anyway I repeated that the machine was under warranty, the software was bought from them, installed by them, as part of a package and that their telephone sales person never said that the warranties, not to mention the extra paid for warranties didn’t cover everything.

I was told I should never have been passed on to software (yeah so this is my problem as well now?)

In the meantime I went on their Facebook page and began posting about my experience. I told the tech-support person I was doing this and that I was doing it live as we spoke.

All changed – He agreed to get the laptop fixed – he would arrange for it to be collected, send it to some miracle laptop fixing Dell-heaven that takes days to reach and that he will return it to me fixed, within 5-10 working days which is Dell-speak for two weeks. Best of all there would be no charge.

Unfortunately the time for arranging this was passed – they can only do this in business hours it was now after 6pm. Yes he knew I had been trying to do this since after 2pm and yes he was doing everything he could – even liaising with the previous support person. Wow!!!!

In the end he promised faithfully he would ring me tomorrow to arrange this…

So after all this – what have I learned about Dell?

1. They appear to interpret warranties in any which way they can get away with, in order to push, shove, drag and kick you screaming towards their paid tech support service.

2. Their telephone system appears to have been  designed to deter all but the most determined support seeker (the more a company messes me around the more determined I get – I can’t help it.) If you get past Miss Twangy you will be manipulated, tortured and groomed towards their paid support service.

3. Their personnel are trained to frustrate you so much with their passive aggressive Dell-speak script that you are practically begging to give up your statutory/consumer rights, you forget that you hadn’t even used their malfunctioning piece of crap laptop yet, and begin to believe that yes it’s all your fault and that you should be punished by having to shell out even more of your hard-earned cash on their paid support service.

4. They think that having a laptop which never functioned correctly in the first place taken away for weeks while they ‘fix it’ is a good solution to a bad problem.

5. They have no awareness of what good customer service is. A decent company would have just replaced a product that malfunctions when in warranty with an apology and perhaps even a nice present to make up for having stolen hours of their precious customers precious time.

Anyway the story is not over yet. I am still waiting for the phone call…

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