Is Dell Customer Service Good? 2017 Rating
Dell offers a wide variety of tech-support options, including phone, Facebook, Twitter, web resources and live web chat. Despite its wealth of information, I didn’t always get correct information from Dell. In the last year, Dell representatives tell me, the company focused most on its SupportAssist software, which can recommend driver downloads and help with support requests.
|Dell Tech Support|
|Overall||Web Score||Phone Score||Avg Call Time||Phone Number||Web Support|
|Phone Hours (ET): 24/7|
When I called with questions about the XPS 13, including adjusting the audio equalizer, prioritizing which apps get access to the internet and increasing the amount of time before the computer falls asleep and asks for a password (we asked all laptop manufacturers this question), I sometimes received different answers based on which method I used. With the exception of one question, I did eventually get the right answer to my queries.
Web and Social Support
Dell offers technical support online via its own website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. I was able to get decent answers through web chat, but the company's social media options were less helpful.
Dell’s support site is easily accessible from a navigation bar on its home page. It has links to check previous support requests, Windows tips, online diagnostics you can download and run yourself and a library of how-tos and FAQs about common problems.
There’s an “interactive support agent” that filters FAQs based on your unique issues, but I didn’t find my specific problem. Instead, I clicked on an option to contact the tech support team and began an online chat.
I was second in the queue, and when it was my turn, I asked my support representative, Carlos, how to stop my laptop from going to sleep and asking me for a password everytime I walk away for a few minutes. During a 13-minute chat, he guided me through Windows 10’s settings to the right spot to make the changes. However, the Dell rep sometimes got ahead of himself, assuming I knew what I was doing and skipping a step here and there.
On Facebook, I went to Dell’s page and asked if I could change my audio-equalizer settings for more bass. About 30 minutes later, I received a private message from Gokul, who suggested checking for Dell Audio software and asked me to send my email and service tag. There’s no Dell Audio app — instead, I was hoping he’d send me to the pre-loaded Waves MaxxAudio Pro. Half an hour later, he sent me a message about MaxxAudio Pro, and pointed out that support had spoken to me about it before (see phone support, below). I asked if there were any bass-specific features, and he suggested third-party software, though there is a bass dial in the MaxxAudio software.
I took to Twitter to ask the @DellCares support account about how to prioritize which apps get the most of my bandwidth on the latest XPS 13. I got a response 29 minutes later saying that there was no way to do this. Unfortunately, this information was incorrect, because the Killer Network Manager app that comes with the XPS 13 does allow you to control bandwidth usage.
Dell has a ton of different support numbers based on what you’re calling for and if you’re in warranty. (I found 11. For instance, Alienware has its own phone number, as do phones, small business help and different types of warranties.) So I did what any good consumer would do — I called the phone number Google suggested and followed the automated phone tree. I was able to call whenever I wanted, because Dell offers 24/7 support on the phone.
If you pay for Premium support (prices differ based on product lines), you’ll be transferred to a higher tier of support. We called without this support. There is no dedicated service for product lines, so expect the same quality whether you bought a cheap Inspiron or an expensive XPS 13 or Alienware.
My first call was a late (11:45 p.m.) chat with Justine, who told me she was located in the Philippines. I asked her how to keep my XPS 13 from constantly sleeping and requiring a password. Instead of just telling me how to make the change, she had me download software to let her take remote control of the laptop and make the changes. She then showed me some additional settings I could change to keep the computer from sleeping, like customizing what the power button does.
It worked, but I wish she would’ve given me the option of receiving step-by-step instructions. The bulk of the call was actually spent getting an automated phone tree to work and giving all of my data, like the laptop’s service tag number, to Justine so she would start providing instructions. From dial tone to hang-up, it took 17 minutes and 34 seconds.
My next call was at 8:13 a.m. I spoke to Jen, and asked if there was any way to customize the music equalizer, as I preferred a bit more bass than the standard sound. She said that she didn’t know of any software to do that, and then gave instructions to check my audio driver that were so rapid-fire I couldn’t keep up. Ultimately, she said, it would be easier to find software to download. I was hoping she would point me to the Waves MaxxAudio Pro app that already came installed on the system.
Instead, the Dell rep offered to transfer me to its software department for a recommendation, but after a bit of time on hold, the phone rang and I got disconnected. No one ever called me back with the callback number I provided on my previous call. The whole thing, including the phone tree, took 5 minutes and 19 seconds.
I called back the next day at 12:27 p.m., hoping to get the audio question answered. I spoke to Andrea, also in the Philippines, who managed to answer my question correctly without transferring me. She had me use Cortana to search for the Waves MaxxAudio Pro app (she spelled out the two XX’s, just to make sure I knew). During the call, there was a brief 1- minute hold while she researched, but there was no waiting otherwise. I was on the phone for 8 minutes and 36 seconds.
Finally, during a 1:43 p.m. call, I asked about prioritizing which apps get most of my internet bandwidth. Maria, on Dell’s main tech support line, told me that because it was a software issue, I had to be connected to another team. I was on hold for 3 minutes and 40 seconds before the service tag was verified, then was put on hold again for 30 seconds before being connected to Sonny in India.
Sonny put me on hold for 2 and a half minutes to check my service-tag information a second time, when he came back with questions about my warranty status. He put me on hold again, this time for 40 seconds, when he came back to request my name and when the computer was purchased, but still had warranty questions.
I was put on hold again for 5 minutes and 22 seconds while he did a bit more digging. He wanted to put me on hold again, when I suggested that because it was a software question, he could help me without my warranty status. I restated my question, and he said, no, prioritizing bandwidth prioritization isn’t possible.
This is incorrect. I was hoping he would point me to the preinstalled Killer Network Manager, which works with Dell’s Killer Networking Wi-Fi card and supports prioritization by apps. Sonny decided to put me on hold one more time to double-check with his supervisor, and after 4 minutes, he had an unorthodox solution. There was no Dell or Microsoft software to do this, he said, but in a Google search, he came across NetLimiter, a third-party application that he couldn’t guarantee would work. The whole call lasted 25 minutes and 48 seconds.
Of those calls, Justine and Andrea both sent follow-up emails with reference numbers that I could reply to if I had more questions. The other representatives didn’t send those emails.
Dell’s laptops come with a standard one-year warranty, which includes return shipping. When buying from Dell, consumers can pay extra to extend the warranty up to four years, and to move from Basic to ProSupport to ProSupport plus plans. Basic support gives you phone support during business hours; ProSupport extends that time to 24 hours a day; and ProSupport Plus adds accidental damage protection.
I appreciated Dell’s many means of offering technical support, including its social media accounts, phone tree and plethora of information on its website. However, the quality of the service seemed based on the luck of the draw, especially on the phone, and it was frustrating when representatives didn’t know about the software the company has on its own laptops. With Dell, you can rest assured you will eventually get your question answered, but you may have to try a mix of chat, online and phone help until you find what you’re looking for.