Want to complain about Dell? Forget it

Customer Support Forums canned


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


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022