Blogs are a dime a dozen. Bad customer service experiences are about the same. So blogging about bad customer service is worth (0.1/12)2 or about 0.0000694 USD. But I'm going to run through my recent experience with Dell anyway because it was bad in an interesting way.
My Dell beamer smoked and died about two months ago. After ruling out lung cancer, I checked the lamp which seemed fine, but I replaced it anyway. Still nothing. The beamer was almost four years old, so out of warranty, but had been used for only about 60 hours, a small fraction of its estimated service life. I called Dell service and was told, "Out of warranty. Nothing we can do." I went to the Web for possible solutions, but found instead a number of people complaining about similar problems and similar Dell response.
So I sent Dell an email explaining that I knew the product was out of warranty, but that it seemed defective and given their recent efforts to improve their fairly abysmal service reputation, maybe they would have a look at it. Nope. Out of warranty. But "thank you for choosing Dell." Fair enough, I responded, but no, thank you, I will not be choosing Dell again.
Here's where the "service" kicked in. For the next month, I received a series of messages from Dell, seemingly desperate to get in contact with me. Emails and the occasional unannounced call bounced around between Amsterdam, Maryland and Bangalore, trying to find the best time and number to get in touch. Twice, I waited by the phone for scheduled calls that never came. Eventually, they tracked me down here in California and when we finally met, voice to voice, they said (wait for it): "Out of warranty. Nothing we can do."
But they wouldn't leave it at that. I explained again that I knew it was out of warranty and didn't claim any legal right of redress, but that I still didn't think happy thoughts about Dell. I was passed to a supervisor and then a manager who, with increasing levels of authority and solicitude, repeated the same thing: "Out of warranty."
There were some interesting digressions. Like when the supervisor tried to sell me an Epson beamer for $649.99 (Supervisor: "That's a great discount." Me: "Umm. No, it's not. I'm looking at it on Amazon for much less. And why are you trying to sell me something at this point anyway?" S: "I'm not trying to sell you anything.") And when the manager said, "If only it were less out of warranty."
I kept saying, "Look, you're saying it's out of warranty. I understand that. But I still don't like Dell and will not buy a Dell product again. That's just the way it is." This seemed intolerable to them, but marginally more tolerable than actually fixing the thing. Finally, the manager offered to "take this to the engineers." I doubted they would spend much time thinking about a discontinued product, but it seemed to make him happy.
After hanging up, I went back to the Fortune article on Dell's efforts to improve customer service and it's funny. They talk a lot about communicating via social networks and product co-creation and monitoring online chatter: Dis the company in a blog or a Facebook group, and someone from a crack response team may even chime in, if only to let everyone know that Dell cares. They seem to have confused communication with service. "We're listening. And calling. And emailing. And Twittering." They don't say anything about actually making better products and standing behind them. Bad service on Twitter is still bad service. That's my 0.007 cents worth. Thank you for your time.