Dealing with Dell support
Greg's experiences in late 2005
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This document starts in the middle of an only partially documented issue with Dell after I purchased an Inspiron 6000—by no means my first Dell laptop—in October 2005. There may be additional information in my diary for that time.

Monday, 10 October 2005

In the afternoon, finally got round to ordering a new laptop. I had tried earlier, but the Dell web site was such a pain that I had given up. Today it wasn't much better. It continually gave me error messages (“Document contains no data”), and of course the security settings were invalid:

Out to Belair nursery to buy some more plants; that takes a surprising amount of time. On the way back, a phone call from Ramya of Dell wanting to know where “no suburb” was. They refuse to deliver to PO boxes for “security reasons”, but as we've seen in the past, their couriers also refuse to deliver to us (on the way to the Post Office!), and dump the stuff (without a signature) at the General Store instead. We're in for more fun, I fear.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Still no order confirmation from Dell. On investigation, I discovered it had arrived, but had been classified as spam:
Spam detection software, running on the system "wantadilla.lemis.com", has
identified this incoming email as possible spam.  The original message
has been attached to this so you can view it (if it isn't spam) or label
similar future email.  If you have any questions, see
the administrator of that system for details.

Content preview:  Thank you for choosing Dell, This email is to let you
  know we have received your order.  Because we let you decide what you
  want, we take extra care to make sure we can deliver! [...]

Content analysis details:   (3.3 points, 3.0 required)

 pts rule name              description
---- ---------------------- --------------------------------------------------
 0.4 FROM_NO_LOWER          From address has no lower-case characters
 3.0 BAYES_95               BODY: Bayesian spam probability is 95 to 99%
                            [score: 0.9869]
-0.1 AWL                    AWL: From: address is in the auto white-list

The original message was not completely plain text, and may be unsafe to
open with some email clients; in particular, it may contain a virus,
or confirm that your address can receive spam.  If you wish to view
it, it may be safer to save it to a file and open it with an editor.
Looking at the attachments, I discovered:
 I     1 <no description>                                 [text/plain, 8bit, us-ascii, 1.2K]
  A     2 original message before SpamAssassin        [message/rfc822, 8bit, 81K]
  I     3 |-><no description>                          [multipa/mixed, 7bit, 80K]
  I     4   |-><no description>                           [text/plain, 7bit, utf-8, 2.5K]
  A     5   -->THANKU_QT_391_10540891_101005_152402.HTM   [application/octet-stream, base64, us-ascii, 77K]
What a mess! Why do they attach HTML files as application/octet-stream? It's still surprising, though, that it had such an effect on they Bayesian analysis.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Dilip from Dell called about the shipping address. Connected me to Ramya again, who of course could still not find my “suburb”. Finally connected me to Kirin (?) Kumar, who promised that he would get a courier who would deliver here. If he does that, he'll be better than most Dell people.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Still no invoice from Dell. Checked the web site with the order number they gave me, and it didn't find it; it looked for all the world as if they had forgotten the order. On the phone things looked better: the order is being processed, but their broken web site doesn't know how to find it. It should arrive almost exactly when I get back from Helsinki. And the missing invoice? “Oh, we don't give an invoice until we deliver the goods”. The fact that they deducted the price from my credit card on Tuesday didn't make them feel any obligation to issue an invoice.

Thursday, 27 October 2005

–> Singapore –> Sydney –> Adelaide

Back home, lots of things awaiting me: a number of database books and my new Dell Inspiron 6000, complete with scratched cover (don't they have any quality control?). Turned the latter on and was presented with a screen asking me whether I accepted the EULA. The problem was that there was no way to enter “no”. Pressed n and was accepted anyway. This is nonsense.

Friday, 28 October 2005

More fun with Dell: you'd think that something as obvious as a scratch on the lid of a laptop would be easy to handle, but when I spoke to “Teh” (I wish these people wouldn't mumble their names), she was unable to help: first the technical team needed to “troubleshoot” the issue. But they weren't reachable. She promised a call back, something that Dell usually manages, but it didn't happen by evening.

Saturday, 29 October 2005

Another quiet day. With my new Dell toy, of course, I had to play around and install software. This is the first laptop where I have really completely wiped the Microsoft operating system: I have far too many already, and on this one I wanted to run FreeBSD, Linux and NetBSD, so even on a 60 GB space is at a premium.

Monday, 16 January 2006

Echunga

Finally got round to calling Dell to get my laptop repaired. Went through many people and finally ended up with Teh, and asked her what the meaning of the text on the delivery note was:

CUSTOMER RECEIVED ORDER WITH BACKCOVER BADLY SCRATCHED .APPROVED BY WENDY AS A GESTURE OF GOODWILL.
I see that as a suggestion that it's not Dell's policy to replace parts that arrive scratched. She tells me that this is standard verbiage, which I suppose is possible; clearly it's the kind that they should try to get rid of.

Told her of the demise of the PC card ejector, and she said I would hear from a technician tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Echunga

Got a phone call from somebody to organize the repairs to my laptop. He was in Malaysia, so he couldn't do very much about it except to “organize a technician”. He also didn't know about the damage to the PC card ejector. Basically, he contributed nothing.

Thursday, 19 January 2006

Echunga

Another phone call from Dell this afternoon to organize the repairs to my laptop, this time from Sathyan. He said effectively the same thing as the bloke yesterday, and that somebody would contact me tomorrow. That's now been three days since Teh said the same thing. He also confirmed that the technician would have the material to repair the ejector for my PC-Card slot, in a manner that makes me suspect he didn't understand the question.

Friday, 20 January 2006

Echunga

Finally got a phone call from Charles, the local Dell technician, at 15:31. He called on my mobile phone despite my request not to, and left a message. From what he said, it appears that he didn't know anything about the ejector. Clearly he wasn't able to do it this week. I'll see if he calls back again next week.

Tuesday, 31 January 2006

Echunga

Charles from Dell came along. He didn't have the replacement parts for the PC Card ejector: he hadn't been informed that there was a problem. He did have a new lid for the laptop, though, nicely covered in plastic film:

Click on the picture to see a medium-size version in the index

Two more bad points for Dell: supplying a used machine as “new”, and not sending the parts despite multiple reminders. Now I'm going to have to call them up all over again.

Monday, 20 February 2006

Echunga

It's been over a month since I reported the problem with the ejector for the PC Card slot on my Dell Inspiron 6000. As I expected when Charles came at the end of last month, they have taken no further action, and I had to call back. That took 35 minutes on hold; my telephone headset has proved very useful. Finally was connected to Wayson, to whom I had to say the word “ejector” three times before he accepted it. Clearly they have no record of the problem. He promised me that somebody would come tomorrow to fix it. Later I got another call from Roy, who confirmed that he was in Malaysia, and who said that Charles or Andrew would come along tomorrow and fix it. I wonder how they expect to have the material by then.

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Echunga

Charles in from Dell today round midday with a new motherboard for my laptop. I was astounded. It's unfortunate that replacing the PC Card slot requires a new motherboard, but the fact that it happened so quickly blew my mind; it's completely out of keeping with my previous experience. Still, a pleasant surprise.

Thursday, 6 April 2006: Spam from Dell

Echunga

Dell has been sending me spam faxes about once a month. I most certainly never asked for them. Today I got another one and called them to ask them to stop and to explain their behaviour. Here's what happened:

  1. I called 1 300 302 385 and was connected to Shirley, who asked me for URN (at the bottom of the fax) and phone number. I had to give her the phone number twice, slowly, and she still got it wrong (instead of 08 8388 ... she quoted 03 ....). The third time she appeared to have got it right and promised to cancel it. I asked her again to explain why I was getting these faxes, in contravention of current legislation, and she said she would connect me to customer care.
  2. Connected with Tan, who required three questions with timeout before even telling me his name audibly. Wrong department: call management. Connected.
  3. After a total of 14 minutes, connected with Eleen. I asked her why she was sending this spam, and she said that it wasn't illegal, since they got my phone number from legal sources, and it was just for promotion. Asked to be connected with her manager.
  4. Connected to Wendy, who said that the line wasn't very good, and arranged to call me back immediately. She did. It seems that the faxes automatically go to customers. What a way of making them want to buy more from Dell! At least they're thinking of making it optional, by no means too early.
Wendy left me with the following ways to contact her:

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