Saturday, November 1, 2008

How to File a Successful Complaint Against Dell

Have you reached a dead-end with Dell? Are they giving you the run-around? Do you feel like Dell is lying to you? Do you feel like you have no place to go and are ready to just give up? Are you not getting promised call-backs or follow-through on commitments? If so, YOU'RE NOT ALONE! And you can get help. As a consumer, you have some rights and options that by and large go unexercised.

Over 90% to 95% of customers who feel dissatisfied with the products or the services they receive just walk away disgruntled, and don't take any further action. And companies like Dell DEPEND ON THIS. You can try to threaten their customer service people or technical support staff with taking your business elsewhere; or reporting them to some agency. But admit it; chances are you won't. AND THEY KNOW THIS. Let's prove them wrong and get you the quality product and level of customer service and response that you paid for in the first place.

First, take comfort that as a consumer, you have more control over an outcome with Dell (or any company) to repair or replace defective products than you may consider possible. You have every right to expect that Dell act in good faith to provide you what you pay for, repair what is broken (usually under warranty), and to provide you with a satisfactory level of customer service.

Before you proceed, make sure you have done your best to get satisfaction. It’s YOUR responsibility to give the company the chance to set things right. Remain calm, be direct, don’t be rude. Explain clearly what you want, what you expect, and when you want it by. Be persistent, and for God's sake take thorough notes of all names (and locations - IE: what state, the name of the department you landed in, etc), and their phone extension numbers (when they are willing to give that information to you). If someone can't help you, try to FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN!

Option #1: Find and Talk to a Manager

Believe it or not, someone at Dell DOES want to help you!!! I'm convinced of this. All companies have bad employees who don't always act in the companies best interest. The task for you is to try to FIND them. They’re there. Ask to speak to a manager. If you are denied this, hang up and keep asking until you reach a manager. If you are connected with a manager, when you first connect with them, make sure to (at least) get their first name, and confirm that they are indeed a manager. (Anyone in a lower position won't be in a position to give you what is necessary).

Once you get a manager, your chances are already better that they can actually help you. Managers have a vested interest in their company and customer service. They tend to care more that Dell’s customers are satisfied. Lower level customer service and support personnel sometimes just don't give a rat's *** (censored myself). Again, if you speak to a manager, be calm, explain the situation to them, get them on your side.

Always take notes. (I'll repeat this: ALWAYS TAKE NOTES) Especially once you have contact with a manager, you need to document what happened, what was said, what you requested, how they responded, what you were told to expect, and of course who you talked to. At this stage, it's extremely important that you speak with a MANAGER and allow them the opportunity to make things right. Remember, you must speak to someone who has the power to say “Yes, I can help you.” "Never accept a NO from someone who doesn't have the power to say YES."

But if escalating to a manager fails, you have more options. First, resolve that you did your best to work things out with Dell, and move on. Sometimes when a company tells you “NO,” it just means “NO." And you need to accept that and move on to your next step. As a friend of mine once said, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. First, you won’t succeed. Second, you’ll only wind up annoying the pig!” :)

Option #2: The Better Business Bureau

Contact the Better Business Bureau for the BBB of Central and South Central Texas at This is the office local to Dell's headquarters in Round Rock, Texas that processes complaints lodged against Dell Computers. Complaints can now easily be completed and filed online. To get an idea of Dell's complain activity with the Better Business Bureau , the following text about Dell's complaint history on their website reads as follows:

“BBB processed a total of 12,035 complaints about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total of 12,035 complaints closed in 36 months, 3885 were closed in the last year.”

Realize that this number only represents the actual number of people who knew about this option, and who followed through and took action. Not included in this number are the countless people like you who just hung up the phone and walked away - swearing to never buy Dell products again.

In your BBB complaint, clearly explain the situation, who you spoke to (in management), when you spoke with them, what they said, the outcome, and what you expect in order to resolve the complaint (IE: fix computer, replace defective part, replace computer, return computer for a refund, etc). This is where the 'magic' happens. The Better Business Bureau will act on your behalf and contact representatives at Dell who are employed to regularly respond to complaints filed through the Better Business Bureau. An unresolved complaint remains on Dell's record, so once you have escalated to this point, (and you have done your homework, documented the facts, and can portray yourself as the "good guy" acting in good faith), your problem will most likely be resolved in some way that is acceptable. Don't ask for the moon. You won't get the moon. But you could get help that you deserved in the first place. Expect an acknowledgement in the mail from the Better Business Bureau, and a very friendly phone call from Dell in the coming days. :)

Usually, your best course of action is filing with the Better Business Bureau. Nonetheless, you still have other options:

Option #3: Call Your Credit Card Company

ALWAYS use a credit card to make any purchase. If you pay cash, check or money order, you have no financial recourse. Dell already has your money and there's less chance you would ever get it back in a dispute. When you use your credit card, the money belongs to your bank.

Contact your credit card company. Tell them that you bought a product with their card that has a problem, and that you have tried unsuccessfully to get the company to correct the problem. They may ask for the names of people you talked to, when, and their position. Let them know you tried to work this out with them in good faith, but that the company refused to cooperate. They will tell you what your options may be. They may ask you to return the product and they may charge the original amount back to Dell. Sometimes, they will even tell you that you can keep the product. It's up to them. But make sure to do exactly what your credit card company tells you to do. Just remember, your credit card company is there to protect you against not getting what you paid for after using their credit card. Let them work for you.

Additional Option: Check Out Your State's "Lemon Laws"

Check out the "lemon laws" for your state that may offer you some additional protection and/or relief. You can usually find out more by contacting your Attorneys General office for your state. Originally, these applied only to motor vehicle purchases. But in recent years, some have expanded to include the purchase of other products (including computers). Do a Google search for "lemon law" and your state for more specific information. Here's a place to start:


When you speak with manager contacts, when it’s clear that they are NOT going to help you, you can casually inform them what your next step will be. Don't threaten them. Remember, you have to make them WANT to help you. If you threaten them with action, communication with them will surely shut down. Say something like: "Tony, I'm doing my best to resolve this problem with. But you’re giving me no other choice than to take this to the Better Business Bureau in Round Rock, Texas (or ask my credit card company for advice). Are you sure there isn't some way we can work this out?" Again, it's in their best interest to help you at that level. Also, if they don't resolve your problem, (and you DO file with either the Better Business Bureau or your credit card company), tell the agency/company that the manager knew what your next course of action would be -- because you told him once it was clear he was not going to help you. Also, that manager's boss may learn from the agency/credit card company that their manager didn't 'handle' the complaint before it went external. This often does not reflect well on the manager.

In summation, please remember that you have consumer rights and have some leverage to get companies to ACT to resolve product problems and to make sure you get what you paid for -- a quality product that works, and services delivered as advertised. Don't accept anything less. It's your money, and it's Dell's responsibility.