Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dell and Caller-ID

The other day I had to call Dell tech support. If you purchase a machine through Dell Home the support stinks. Invariably, you're connected with a man named "James" whose actual name probably has 15 letters, 12 of which are consonants. Ezzie recently linked to a NYTimes article on the matter, so here are my thoughts.

Luckily, I knew just what the problem was. I'm almost 25, and have been using computers since I was 9. I don't mean plain using. I've spent, on average, over 6 hours a day on a computer, including during elementary school and high school. Ever since I began taking notes on a laptop, the average has just gone up. I also majored in computer science.

So what did I do? First, I called DELL, keeping track of every number dialed. Then I asked for the person's extension, in case we got cut off (they asked for my cellphone number).

Before setting up the service call, I needed to verify who the computer was registered to. Unfortunately, I didn't know *exactly* who it was registered to, my friend, her parents, or a sibling. After going through half a dozen names, she put me on hold, saying she would speak to her manager to make sure enough information had been verified. By this time, I already had the case number.

On came the music. After 2 minutes, it stopped. It remained quiet for about 5 minutes. So I decided to call back. I called, dialed the extension, the music promptly disapeared. Realizing I was back where I had been before, I called back. Again.

This time I blocked Caller-ID. Lo and behold, this time I was successful. I got someone else, named Francis. And here the fun began. I explained the problem to Francis, a nice man who told me, at the end of the call, that I'd be a good tech (duh).

I never did what he told me to do. I just made the noises, told him to hold down, and closed the lid a bunch of times. I knew the problem, had suggested the solution. After 5 minutes of tests, he agreed.

So, next time you call back Dell, block caller ID. And don't buy a Dell. More expensive? Yes. But I use an IBM.