Feeds

Want to complain about Dell? Forget it

Customer Support Forums canned

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Want to complain on Dell's website about its customer service? Too late - the Customer Support Forums, operational until last Friday, have been shut down, apparently to try to quell bad publicity there about Dell products and especially after-care service.

While all the other equipment forums are still working - last time we looked - the areas where you could vent your anger or delight about Mikey Boy's company were shut with a peremptory notice saying that "The Customer Service boards on the Dell Community Forum will be retiring at 3:30pm this Friday, July 8th. ... Customer Service FAQs will still be available to help answer your questions. If you need further assistance, you may contact our customer service team via Chat for any non-technical issue you may have." (The UK site appears not to have such a forum.)

Why? Could it be anything to do with the unbelievably corrosive effect on Dell's reputation that has followed its insistent refusal to deal with problems with the Dell Dimension 4600 power supply?

Noted Windows expert Ed Bott, who has been tying together some of the threads of the tale, comments: "Dell continues its race to the bottom with the new management strategy: If your customers continue to ask annoying questions, stop listening."

Dell didn't have a response to our query about why it had shut the forums, although in a chat with Christoper Carfi one Dell service bod said: "We are closing the Customer Service boards on the Dell Community Forum for the time being as there certain updates which needs to be taken care of."

Dell is not the first company to find its customers revolting online; Apple has taken similar measures in the past, though not gone quite as far as deleting an entire category of discussion.

Part of the problem seems to have stemmed from Jeff Jarvis, a columnist on the San Francisco Examiner, who summed up his anger in a letter to a Dell VP, saying: "This machine is a lemon. Your at-home and complete care service is a fraud. Your customer service is appalling. Your product is dreadful. Your brand is mud."

That has snowballed into growing pressure on Dell to improve its customer service, at precisely the time it has been driving ever-harder to improve margins. Unfortunately, the two conflict: excellent customer service can't be measured by standard accounting metrics because it doesn't show up until people renew purchases or service contracts - which is a future, uncertain, event. However, you can cut costs in customer service today and it shows up in the bottom line.

Jarvis's travails sparked a little civil war in Blogistan, where some thought he deserved special treatment from Dell as an "A-lister" and "influential", while Bott pointed out that "Google Dell customer service problems and you get 2,950,000 hits, which seems like a lot by any standards. (Just to check, we did "Britney Spears" customer service problems and got only 181,000 results. It's good, Britney, but there's still work to do.)

In fact Dell's growth has clearly been putting increasing on its customer service operations. In 2000 it won high marks in a PC World survey of subscribers. But fast forward to 2004 and it was slipping badly.

Meanwhile, Jarvis found his own solution to his problems. He bought an Apple Powerbook. Doubtless Apple's moderators are already readying their "delete" keys. ®

Related stories

North Carolina residents sue Dell to keep their $270m
Legal watchdog investigates Dell sweeteners
Dell recalls 4.4m notebook power adaptors

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.