It seems Dell customer service has been caught trying to push warranties on customers who call tech support with questions or problems concerning their computers.
Chances are, if you've ever bought a piece of electronic equipment, you've been on the receiving end of a sales pitch for a warranty that covers damage or repairs for your new purchase. However, it seems Dell employees have been particularly eager when it comes to selling warranties. Laptop Magazine recently phoned Dell tech support and was surprised to find the tech support worker on the other end of the line aggressively pushing the purchase of an unnecessary warranty.
Laptop Mag says they phoned Dell tech support a total of three times as part of their research for the site's annual Tech Support Showdown feature. They spoke to a different representative each time, but each time the representative on the line tried to talk them into purchasing warranty for their machine. One representative even tried to sell a hardware warranty for a software problem.
The first call concerned the touchpad. Laptop Mag wanted to know how to get three-finger swiping to work. The rep put them on hold and when he returned said that they would need to purchase a software warranty before he could help. The representative was very insistent they buy the warranty and talked about a special discount that would no longer be available if they hung up to think about the decision. When asked, Dell said that any issues to do with the touchpad are covered by the traditional warranty and that it was a 'misunderstanding' with its tech support reps.
Laptop Mag's second call was about using Dell DataSafe to back up their computer. Once again, the Laptop crew was told that this software issue wasn't covered under the traditional warranty and suggested the purchase of a $239 software warranty. The guys at Laptop Mag refused and the rep then asked if he could transfer them to his manager. Rather surprisingly, the manager, a man by the name of Raj, told them they could get 2GB for free for one year via Dell DataSafe Online. Beyond that, it was going to cost them and they would do better to buy an external drive.
The third call was the clincher, though. When they phoned to ask about improving battery life, the representative taking the call gave "a hurried explanation about never letting the battery’s charge go below 40 or 50 percent." Then, he told them they had won a daily drawing to purchase a four-year extended warranty for $317. When Laptop Mag said they weren't interested, the rep became insistent, before getting agitated. He then started talking about eligibility for a software warranty.
Dell says these daily drawings aren't regular practice nor are they an encouraged tactic and that it would reinforce this with its teams, adding that the company's only priority is to resolve customers' issues.
It'll be interesting to see how Dell fares in Laptop Mag's upcoming Tech Support Showdown. This as this news report is a huge departure from last year's grade. In the 2011 showdown, Dell was given an A- overall grade. Laptop Mag even went as far as to say Dell's telephone support was "truly excellent." The company's 2011 A- grade was up from a B- in 2010, and a C- in 2009. What will the 2012 grade be?