Telephone hell with Dell…

Tom’s on holidays, I’ll be your host for today. My name’s Frank P, you might remember me from such blogs as “”,”” and “”.

If you fancy being bounced around in telephone hell for a little while, try and call up the Irish Dell Outlet Store about the possibility of purchasing a machine on the UK outlet Store…

First you go through the usual press 1,2 or 3 etc… you’ll get through to teleperson one who will half listen to you and put you through to ‘someone who can help’… teleperson two will then half listen to you in a very bored manner and explain that you are through to the wrong person and if you want to buy a refurb machine you need to speak to someone in the Outlet Store. After you explain that you were through to the Outlet Store originally, you will be put through to teleperson three who turns out to be from the UK Outlet Store. He will listen to your question and explain that if you’re in Ireland you need to call the Irish Outlet Store – this is the UK Outlet store. He will patch you through to where you started, and after pressing the appropriate numbers you will be through to teleperson four – an Irish lady who talks to you as if you are stupid, stupid, stupid. At this point you will be bored and frustrated and, because of the day that’s in it, somewhat amused. The Irish lady will explain that there are two sites. One for the UK, and one for Ireland. No, of course you can’t purchase a machine from the UK Outlet store, that’s for people in the UK. There are no words to describe the patronising manner in which she will explain this to you.

If you’re in the mood, you can pretend to be as stupid as she believes you to be and keep her on the line for at least as long as you were in telephone hell for.

27 thoughts on “Telephone hell with Dell…”

  1. Dude,

    did you record it? I think consumer activists should start recording these kind of calls and then podcasting them.

    They reserve the right to record our conversations for “quality control” purposes yadayadayada. Let’s do the same.

    Maybe the penny will drop when the Dell and the Sky Handling Partners of this world actually hear the frustrations of real customers.


  2. I moved to France last year and if you think it is Telephone hell in your own language then try it in the another persons. Different circus- yes but the clowns are the same. Here the teleperson not only thinks you are stupid but they also have proof of it – sure you can’t even speak their language.
    I had a situation with Orange Telecom (used to be wanadoo)(used to be France Telecom) where the ADSL “modem” they sold me could not manage DHCP. I rang customer service from work and lo and behold I got the right man who gave me the fixed IP, default gateway etc. that I needed. I went home that night and stupidly left it in work. No bother sure I’ll ring customer service. At the end of 29 minutes of telephone hell yer man informs me that a) the call is about to end – help is limited to 30 minutes and b)The problem is obviously at Operating system level and so if you have a pen I’ll give you the number of Microsoft France! The sting in the tail was however yet to come. All of the help desks here in France cost money to call. Thats right 30 cents per minute to call customer service. All of them. Washing machine you just paid €600 for not working? 30C per min. Internet down? 30C per min. Wonderful. You get to pay for Telephone Hell 🙁

    Great idea to record….

  3. Hehee,
    I did the same as you Frank when I last phoned Dell. I was enquiring about getting a Dell lappy and the sales lady was talking back to me like I was thick out. She was explaining what a hard drive was and what RAM does, all this crap…I kept her on the line for about 20 minutes asking her the most ridiculous and repetitive questions.

    ‘Twas great!

  4. I wish I had recorded it… it was the kind of call you wouldn’t believe if you saw it in ‘Office Space’…
    turfreek: slightly OT, I spoke to a pub owner in France recently, an English bloke, and the cops rang him up one day and started ranting at him in French.. to which of course he replied
    ‘I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.’
    ‘But this is the police.’
    ‘Yes but I’m sorry, I don’t speak French.’
    ‘But you HAVE to speak French. This is the POLICE.’
    ‘Er.. yes, but I CAN’T speak French…’

    Cormac: RAM? Count yourself lucky… I got:
    “In – the – UK – they – use – STERLING. In – Ireland – we – use – the – EURO. Those – are – DIFFERENT – currencies.” and so forth!
    Amazing. Global marketplace my hole!

  5. FrankP,

    I work on the digital media team at Dell. Thanks for bringing this to our attention and we apologise for your negative experience. I will ensure this matter is brought to the attention of the appropriate management in both of our locations. We do take customer satisfaction seriously and we appreciate feedback that will help us meet or exceed expectations. Thanks again.

  6. I’d like to vote for recording and podcasting calls to customer service. It would be even better if we could come up with some calls that were excellently handled and set up a site which could be full of source material for management training courses or MBA students. There could be an annual award for the best and worst in class. Some of you bright people would find it easy to set up and write instructions so that the rest of us could easily record and upload.

  7. Actually I really don’t think it’s fair to have a go at the front line staff. They are as good as their managers: their selection, training, development, reward systems and so on…

    By the way, since Sky Handling Partners have been mentioned, could someone please tell me whether the fuss died or what happened next. please.

  8. “I am recording this call, the recording may be used to show up your company’s bad customer service. It may be broadcasted, streamed, or stored in any way. It may end up in the hands of people with names like Joe Duffy or Damien Mulley.

  9. Hi Frank,

    I feel your pain, it’s the only thing I don’t like about Dell, they need to get their act together. Try calling them for anything and it’s a nightmare.

    I don’t blame the staff.
    The person that you want to talk, gets to you after 10 to 15 minutes of you playing phone hop scotch, so your voice “tone” is not very friendly at that stage and they react to it.

    Mac anyone ?

  10. mmm… some good points there on all sides… I think though I was fair and reasonable and very polite up until I got through to the Irish lady at which point I just became pedantic and ‘stupid’…. childish of me perhaps, I admit, but I felt like I deserved some fun.

    I mean let’s face it, the ridiculous thing is that I was trying to give dell several thousand euros worth of business at the time!

    @John from Dell – that’s good to hear… if you’re serious… 🙂

  11. It is illegal to record a telephone conversation unless both parties to the call are expressly informed, hence the “this call may be recorded for training purposes” blurb at the beginning of all these type of calls. This is them notifying YOU that the call is being recorded, if you are recording it you must inform THEM – and they can refuse also.

    Anywho…. so, the lady in the irish sales team tells you you cannot buy stuff from the UK outlet store and you call her an idiot. Wow good blog, try buying something from expedia.

  12. AFAIK it is not “illegal to record a telephone conversation unless both parties to the call are expressly informed”… Only one of the parties needs to be aware, i.e. it’s illegal to record without one of the parties to the conversation being aware, such as a phone tap. However, some industries, especially financial services, require that they (banks, insurer, mortgage broker etc.) notify callers that their calls will be recorded….

  13. I came across this while Googling ‘Dell Outlet’
    I was searching the Irish outlet for an Inspiron 9400 when I came across the spec I wanted for a reasonable price-about €900 pre vat & delivery.Ordered online (Sunday).Monday morning got the confirmation emails etc,everything going grand including the price put on hold on my plastic.
    Checked the status website and my order was there going through the motions until late Monday night it disappeared off their site.
    Emailed Customer Service and got a prompt reply telling me that their was a ‘problem’ and they had to get one from the factory with the same spec,gave me a new order number which is in the same Pre-Production state since yesterday morning.

    The odd thing is I see one with the exact same spec. on the outlet site this evening but €200 odd more expensive…..did they pull my order cos it was under priced and will they try to send me a lower spec one…..
    I have a bad feeling about this………

  14. I am so glad to see your blog, I am intersted in purchasing a new computer and wanted the super dooper dell PC. Tried their Irish site and it was blank!!! After reading your article I think I will purchase elsewhere or get one with my own specs built for me.thanks for the ever friendly warnung, I will not wasrte my money on the inter net, too many corners to go round if something goes wrong and I am a man of little patience. It would kill me to go through what you went through

  15. Frank,

    I can understand your frustration – I’ve dealt with Dell quite regularly for work as we have a few very important servers running a Unix variant on Dell hardware. We have had numerous firmware/hardware issues involving memory, motherboard, drives, PSU, system & array controller bios.

    Dell’s reaction thatwe run Unix on Dell – “it is unsupported” is always funny. We still regularly receive Windows executables to debug the o/s 🙂

    Then eventually the engineers turn up completely unprepared and without floppy disks, USB keys…anything! Unfortunately all hardware changes have to be done by recognised engineer or you invalidate the warranty.

    Needless-to-say, the issue is eventually resolved but never within the agreed SLA and it’s a nightmare trying to get anything from them. We run a 24*7 infrastructure on which these servers play a vital role.

    Our Premium Support has never been satisfied and we usually waste a week resolving the issue and escalating to the VPs across Europe and the US, trying to ensure the problems don’t re-occur the next time though they invariably do 🙂

    You can only laugh!

  16. Thanks be to God, I read the above stuff! It’s no wonder that you cannot find a telephone number in their website. I bought a Dell very successfully about five years ago over the phone. Now I think I will go for a HP instead.

  17. Well, maybe more fool me, but I went ahead and ordered a different machine from the Irish Dell outlet store in the end.

    It’s a sad state of affairs, but I’ve come to expect this sort of malarkey from most companies.

  18. Did you get the MS Office with yours, Frank? If so how much is it? How long is the wait for delivery from Dell?

  19. Follow up to previous above…

    Laptop arrived yesterday and it appears to be fine and the spec I picked.
    Regarding a ‘refurb’ the only defect I can see is a tiny chip out of the side of the lid

  20. Mine should be arriving tomorrow…

    it was actually due this time last week originally, but on the day it was due I got a call from Dell to confirm my details.

    When I asked when I could expect delivery they said 5 to 7 days… I explained that was what the site had said initially, and that the expected deliver date was the previous day. “Oh yes,” she replied “I don’t know why it was delayed…”

    Hmmm… anyway it should arrive tomorrow, I actually can’t remember was Office with it, but I’m not too bothered I wouldn’t use office a huge amount… Open Office or some such would do me…

  21. it arrived – and it is a thing of beauty… I haven’t set it up yet, just looking at it. More soon!

  22. Booted up last night… mmmmmmmm… it’s lovely… beautiful screen… it’s the coolest thing I ever bought… I’ll post about it soon.


  24. It’s not illegal for members of the public in the UK to record their phone calls, so long as the recording is made for personal use only and not passed on to any third party. No permission is required and no advance notice has to be given. Individuals are not to subject to the UK Data Protection Act, as it only applies to organisations.

    This is all covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator, has a useful advice page for consumers on recording phone calls. It’s at:

    The situation is different for businesses. However, many organisations often have a generalised telephone announcement saying, “Calls may be recorded…”. I have always heard that as being permission for me to record the call as well. It has to work both ways. However, as stated above, I don’t actually need permission to record my calls.

    I am currently in dispute with Dell. My phone recording proved I was right, but Dell didn’t like it that I hadn’t asked for advance permission before I recorded the call. How rich is that?

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