My bad experiences with Dell began in 2001 with the purchase of a Dimension 8100 desktop. Aside from the unstable Windows ME operating system (frequent crash potential 100%), Dell's "award-winning customer service" was deplorable.
Wait time was an average of 45 minutes, and the possibility of talking with a tech who actually understood computer problems was 50/50 at best. I won't even go into Dell's great warranty which began when the order was INVOICED, not when the order was received by the customer, effectively cutting the actual "warranty" period by half, thus preventing any possibility of a return. This complaint is about an aspect of Dell that is even worse than the product quality, warranty, and tech support: Dell Financial Services. Despite past experiences with Dell, in 2004 I decided to give the company another chance and purchase an Inspiron 1000 laptop for Christmas. While the product quality and tech support had improved a good deal (and Windows XP had increased overall stability), I had no idea how completely uncompassionate and unwilling Dell is to assist customers until I suffered a serious on-the-job injury in January 2005 resulting in a period of recovery and, alas, unemployment. Bills piled up to the point that bankruptcy seemed the only alternative for us; but, we believe in shouldering responsibility, and doing whatever it takes to get back on track, and out of debt. Most companies and financial institutions are willing to work with individuals in financial difficulty. Not Dell Financial Services. Finance charges are carved in stone, and the 29.99% APR they will raise your account to in the event of a late payment is completely inflexible. Several calls to attempt to work out an easier payment arrangement have resulted in ZERO assistance from Dell Financial Services.
Unlike other companies we have dealt with, Dell Financial Services offers no programs or means to assist customers who have suffered a period of financial hardship. As a result of my accident, my account balance is higher than it was when I purchased the Inspiron, despite efforts to make payments as regularly as possible. Unfortunately, this is an uphill battle, despite working two jobs, due to finance charges and a horrendous interest rate (to companies like Dell, suitable punishment for customers' financial difficulty is to make it even more difficult for customers in hardship by raising the interest rate to 29.99%; an act of sheer corporate-financial genius: "It's currently very difficult for the customer to repay. The solution is raise repayment options from 'very difficult' to 'near impossible'). Numerous calls have resulted in my being put on hold until the line goes dead, being transferred back to the main menu, or just being disconnected. I have rarely spoken with a "customer service rep" who speaks English well enough that I don't have to ask them to please slow down so that I can understand them (or having to speak very slowly and frequently reiterate so that I can be understood BY them). If Dell employed the same heavily Indian-accented English-challenged reps to take orders, I am quite certain Dell would have entered the dustbin of collapsed corporations years ago.
Life is uncertain, to say the least. Illness or accident can plunge individuals into seemingly insurmountable hardships. In those unavoidable situations, dealing with companies who are understanding and willing to assist those who wish to get back on good financial footing is critical. Dell is obviously not such a company, as evidenced by Dell Financial Services. We are working diligently to overcome the hardships of debt. One thing is absolutely certain: once our debt to Dell Financial Services is history, we will never do business with Dell again. I would never recommend Dell to anyone.