Whether on the phone, through social media or from their website, Dell provided us with quick, accurate answers to most of our questions. I was especially impressed by their support agents' timely responses on social media and how thoroughly they addressed my issues without asking for superfluous information. But the standout feature of Dell's support remains the contact information that you're given after a call or chat that allows you to reconnect with the same technician should you have any further questions.
|Dell Tech Support|
|Overall||Web Score||Phone Score||Avg Call Time||Phone Number||Web Support|
|Phone Hours (ET): 24/7|
I did come across a few cracks in Dell's technical support. The company's call-center agents failed to answer my questions about Dell's own preinstalled programs, and their eagerness to resort to remotely taking control of my laptop was frustrating. Dell's support website could also use a visual overhaul and a more useful search function.
I posed as the owner of an Inspiron 15 3000 and tested Dell's support by asking three questions over the phone, one over web chat and two on social media — one on Facebook and another on Twitter. To test the knowledge of Dell's support crew, I asked about mirroring my phone using Dell Mobile Connect, ways to disable Windows 10 forced updates, and how to prioritize a Wi-Fi network for specific tasks.
Web and social support (50/60)
Before reaching out to an agent, I went to Dell's website for answers. Clearly displayed at the top of the screen is a Support tab with a drop-down for direct links to drivers, warranty info and manuals. For the best support, you can input the model of your PC or use a neat "Detect PC" application that automatically identifies your exact model. The home page also has links to software licenses, warranty, drivers and downloads, and diagnostic tools.
In the center of the support page is a search box I used to try to figure out how to disable my webcam. While the first result pulled up a promising "Dell Webcam and Dell Webcam Central Software Guide" article, the page didn't include any info on how to disable the webcam, only how to ensure it was working. The remaining search results were a jumble of forum posts, downloads and more than 5,000 manuals and documents.
The website is easy to navigate, but it could use a fresh coat of paint. The small font and blue-and-white color scheme feel a bit too business-focused for me. I'm nitpicking here, but some larger, cleaner icons and a splash of color could make the site feel more welcoming to a wider range of consumers.
Before you even go to Dell's website, I strongly suggest using SupportAssist, an app that updates your computer with the latest drivers, provides troubleshooting solutions and makes it easy for you to contact support. The "Get Support" tab in the app is a quick way to get relevant contact information, including the main support phone number (1-800-624-9896). Unfortunately, there is no mobile support app for consumers.
If you dread making phone calls, then you can use Dell's online live chat, which is available Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. I was instantly connected to Debarati at 4:54 p.m. on a Wednesday after pressing the chat button and typing my question about Dell Mobile Connect into a form. Debarati was extremely friendly and helpful; however, the agent insisted that I give them remote access to my computer, even after I expressed reluctance. Debarati persisted, promising that this would make the process easier.
Frankly, it didn't. The process of mirroring my smartphone using Dell's Mobile Connect app is so straightforward that there was no need for Debarati to take over my device. More troubling than the extra time it took was that Debarati saw private messages to my fiancée once my phone was properly connected. While the agent did a good of solving my problem, I wish they had simply walked me through the steps instead of doing it themselves.
It seemed like the real reason the representative wanted to take over my computer was to run diagnostic tests and ensure the drivers were updated after they had answered my question. In general, Dell's agents, whether on the phone or online, were eager to run these additional tests. As much as I appreciate them wanting to go above and beyond, I wish the agents made the extraneous testing an option, not a strong suggestion.
You can also ask Dell questions on social media using the @DellCares handle on Twitter or by DMing Dell's Facebook account. I received quick and accurate answers on both platforms. I posted a question to @DellCares on my Twitter timeline and, within 3 minutes, received instructions to respond to a direct message. Sure enough, in my inbox was a note from Mellisa requesting my laptop's service tag.
Once I provided the code, I was connected to Tejashree, who gave me step-by-step instructions on how to disable the webcam. Tejashree correctly told me to open the Device Manager from the start menu, expand the imaging options icon, right-click the integrated webcam selection and press disable.
Dell was just as helpful on Facebook. I sent a direct message to the main Dell account at 3 p.m. ET asking how I could prevent my Inspiron 15 from going to sleep. I immediately received an automated response asking for my service tag number.
A few minutes later I was sent another message, from a service rep named Kavyashree, who said they needed 10 minutes to look into my question. Nine minutes later, Kavyashree provided a detailed, step-by-step list describing how to change "put my computer to sleep" to "never." This time, Kavyashree politely gave me the option to follow the instructions or allow them to gain remote access to my machine. I chose the DIY method, and successfully changed my sleep settings within minutes.
Phone support (28/40)
Dell offers 24/7 phone support to every customer covered by warranty. With just a few clicks, I was able to find the phone-support number on Dell's website. When I dialed it, I was greeted by an automated voice prompt that asked for me to input my service tag or Express Service Code (found on the bottom of the laptop). I was connected to a service agent almost immediately after inputting the code. I didn't have to wait longer than 5 minutes on any of the three calls I made.
My first call was the most successful. I rang up Dell around 5:30 p.m. EST on a weekend. Within 2 minutes I was speaking to Gipul, who I asked to help me disable forced Windows updates. Before answering the question, Gipul wanted to test the hardware of my PC, so he instructed me to press the FN and Power button upon startup to initiate a diagnostics boot test.
Once that was completed, Gipul asked if he could remotely take control of my computer in order to suspend automatic Windows updates. I obliged. The agent clearly knew what he was doing and within 10 minutes he had disabled the Windows update tool in "Services." As pleased as I was with the help he provided, it was somewhat concerning that Gipul didn't explain the consequences of disabling forced updates, or provide instructions on how to re-enable it.
My second phone call was hugely disappointing. While I got someone on the line without waiting any longer than a minute, they weren't able to help me use Dell Mobile Connect to make calls or receive text messages on my laptop.
After being transferred to software support, I spoke with Kulbeep, who told me there was no way to integrate my Android phone with my Inspiron and make calls or send texts on the laptop. He didn't once mention Dell Mobile Connect, an app Dell has been touting for doing exactly what I was asking.
Instead, Kulbeep said you could transfer content, like photos, to my laptop using a USB connection. While Dell's agents were generally friendly, Kulbeep seemed a bit rushed, ending the call rather abruptly with a swift thank you and farewell. I was so bummed out that I called to give Dell another chance. Sadly, another representative, Devin, gave me the same response.
Call 1 was good, Call 2 was bad and Call 3 was ugly. My conversation with the Dell agent, John, on my final call left me confused. I had asked John if there was a way to prioritize my network so that different tasks could be allocated more or less network bandwidth. That's exactly what the SmartByte app is for, and John even told me as much.
Then, strangely, moments after making sure that the SmartByte app was on my laptop, John told me to uninstall it. I asked repeatedly why I would do that given that the app should solve my problems based on his own definition of it. Regardless, John stuck to his guns and assured me that uninstalling the app would improve my overall network connectivity.
The only potential reason for why John asked me to uninstall the program is because he thought SmartByte was slowing down my network (although I made it clear that my network was fine). I came across a page on Dell's website that suggests disabling SmartByte because it could be the culprit if you're facing network performance or audio issues.
Every Dell laptop comes with a standard one-year warranty that protects hardware defects and offers remote troubleshooting over the phone. The one-year warranty can be extended with Premium Support or Premium Support Plus for an additional fee.
Premium Support ($84.38 for one year) offers on-site repair service within one to two business days, how-to help on popular software and help with antivirus software setup, among other perks. Premium Support Plus ($144.04 for one year) takes all of those goodies and adds a bunch of other benefits, including repairs for accidental damage like drops, spills and surges. You can purchase accidental damage protection separately as an add-on for $50.29.
Different laptop models have different warranty-extension terms. For example, you can extend the warranty for the XPS and Inspiron laptop by up to four years, while Alienware products can be extended by up to five years.
Dell picks up the tab on shipping both ways — to a repair center and back to your address. That is true regardless of the laptop you own and the warranty it's under. However, if you choose to upgrade to Premium Support or Premium Support Plus, Dell will throw in shipping materials.
Upgrading the RAM or storage on your Dell laptop will not void the warranty, just be aware that Dell won't service parts purchased outside of Dell.com. Dell also offers out-of-plan support in which customers pay a one-time fee for help if their warranty has expired.
Dell did a good job of providing fast and accurate answers to most of our questions. The company's social-media support was especially impressive, responding to our inquiries within minutes with detailed solutions.
There are, however, a few areas that could be improved. Dell's phone support was hit-or-miss, and the company's agents prematurely requested access to my computer, even when my questions could have been answered in a few sentences. Regardless, Dell offers customers an excellent range of support options, making it one of the top-ranked companies we tested.
Tech Support Showdown