Monday, August 27, 2007

Heading off the edge with Dell

If "The World is Flat", then Dell is heading off the edge.

It's too boring and tedious to detail, and it was already covered in a post in May 2006, but Dell's customer service is like a circuitous bad dream, a Kafkaesque nightmare, or maybe being stuck on a tarmac for six hours with no useful information from the flight crew.

Obviously working from scripted protocols, the customer service reps in Mumbai, Bangalore, or wherever are just amazingly frustrating to work with. "Working" with them is like being on the designated losing team in one of those professional wrestling matches: "just let me put you on hold for a few minutes" equals a thumb in the eye; "now we need to remove all cords from the computer and open it up. It's just like a suitcase" portends a period of time being bounced off the ropes repeatedly accompanied by occasional head-butts; "do you have all of the disks for the software that was preloaded at the factory" is a body slam; and "can I call you back later" is pretty much like being thrown out of the ring headfirst onto the scorer's table. The Dell team wins. You're exhausted and bloodied.

At least 80% of the service reps speak English in an accent that can be understood and roughly the same amount seem to understand what you're saying. Unfortunately they are not necessarily the same 80%. Perhaps it's a lack of training, maybe it's just that on average Dell products are lousy in the first place, or could it be some kind of cultural thing(following the protocols precisely and rigidly seems to be the goal, and no ingenuity, real problem solving, or understanding needs to be displayed). That's too much of a generalization of course as usually after about eight hours and at least four "technicians" someone intelligent somehow appears. Even that may mean a "we'll send you the software" solution(elbow to the head), which means the entire process gets to start again after DHL comes to your door a few days later.

Can yoga relieve the stress of dealing with Dell. Thinking back on the Indian call center scene in Albert Brook's "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World" helps. Expressing any form of emotion is politely ignored and therefore more stressful. Enough on heading off the edge of the world with Dell. It's time for a cup of Kava before calling U.S. Air to book a commuter flight here in America with the service reps in, you guessed it.

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