A representative will be with you shortly.

A representative will be with you shortly. Wait times can vary so stay tuned…..
That’s the ironic message boldly written at the top of the Dell Live Chat support page, next to the quirky speech bubbles and positioned over the “Feedback” link with the rotating +/- icon.

At the bottom of the screen, users can view their number in the queue waiting for assistance. I’m currently number 75.

When someone mentions Dell’s technical support team to you, chances are good that you subconsciously picture the cubicle-jammed Jakarta sweatshop-style, turban-topped support technicians practicing their all-too-friendly American English Southern Dialect and common phrases, such as “We’ll getcha all fixed up and rarin’ to go” or “Oooh, that’s N.G., [caller’s name]. Let’s take a quick look-see.”

Dell’s technical support has created this image in your mind because that’s exactly what is happening. Dell, as Naomi Klein would surely agree, is no longer selling a product line, but rather pushing a brand on you. Their meticulously-created products are assembled by 14-year-old Indonesian girls at $2/week at a tremendous mark-up to you for the purpose of paying for more advertising to show 14-year old Indonesian girls excited about the new designs on Dell’s colorful line of laptops and their “global” appeal. Let’s face it, they—and dozens of other technology companies—spend most of their time and money trying to eradicate that image from your mind and, instead, show you international calls between Japanese and Bronx middle schoolers to replace those images with how Dell is bringing the world together.

Truth is, they are, but not in the way we think.

And now, Dell has added to their existing tainted image the visual imagery of a PC owner standing 75th in line behind 74 other frustrated users with problems, waiting for one be-turbanned technician to practice their Southern Dialect and hopefully—HOPEFULLY—solve your problem.

DELL Support

I am now 68th in queue, and I’ve been notified by the automated Stepford Wife voicemail of a new service that she (personally) is proud to offer her customers:

“Do you want your calls to be answered in two minutes or less by a North American support technician? Dell now offers premium technical support for additional charge. Call  1-866-223-5417 or visit dell.com/yourtechteam to purchase your very own tech team today.”

The arrogance of a business that dares to charge for customer service after a purchase has been made makes my stomach turn.

Companies nowadays have entire departments devoted to customers who are fed up with the marginal support that is tolerated by most consumers. “Elevate the call” enough and you’ll find yourself in the ear of the “Irate Customers Center” of any customer service department. My personal opinion is that these people must have leaden blood or suicide hotlines on speed dial. Their entire career is based on getting yelled at when customers are on their final nerve.

Regardless of the ulcer-rife clerks, consider how you’d feel if you were actually 75th in a queue at your local Walmart. I’ve been frustrated when a line was 10 deep at Duane Reade and the manager didn’t open a second register, I can’t imagine how I’d feel if it was 7.5x the length. If we wouldn’t tolerate it in real life, why do we tolerate it online? Why do we continue to spend 3x the time on support calls just trying to help the technician with their loose grasp of English? Why do we continue to buy products from companies that CHARGE for support after certain periods—some as short as one (1) month—and others that declare a restocking fee of up to 35%?

The reason is because we’ve become apathetic. We’ve allowed customer service to slip this far down the tubes that it’s hardly recognizable as an amenity to product sale. Like poor Dr. Frankenstein, we’ve created this monster and are now lost in the South Pole trying to figure out how we got here.

Some businesses have realized that while half of America has become numb, the other half has begun to protest. Most of my friends and colleagues have already plead anthems of anti-corporatism and I’ve seen less and less labels on clothes and devices. Teens and college students are outraged by school contracts with products and companies, have covered their swooshes with black gaffer’s tape, have occluded jeans brands with patches, have covered laptop logos with bumper stickers and band decals.

I, along with a number of other people I know, refuse to purchase products from companies that:

1. Use sweatshop labor
2. Refuse to provide a free return policy
3. Refuse to provide free technical support
4. Refuse to provide a warrantee for products sold
5. Refuse to provide support by phone in my language

I absolutely encourage you to do the same and recommend this to your friends and family. If enough people declare that won’t tolerate bad technical support, unfair labor or trade practices, or service that doesn’t cater to a customer’s satisfaction, companies will soon find themselves explaining to their shareholders why their sales have dropped. Ultimately, we can change turn the industry around and help our poor doctor out of the tundra.

I’m currently 55 in the queue.

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