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I normally only write about food-related items, but this has gotten me so upset, I’ve decided to put this out there.

By day, I’m a computer programmer. I am an employee of a contracting company. Next week, my current contract is ended and I’m going to be starting one that requires me to work from home.  I like working from home, but I need to fix my set-up a little bit. I got very used to having two 24″ monitors and I’m very productive with them.

I’ve been a satisfied Dell customer for probably at least 7 years. Over the years, I’ve purchased at least 3 laptops and 1 desktop from them. I never had an issue with my warranties or anything and their customer service has always been excellent. So it was only natural that when I purchased the monitors, I purchased them from Dell.

A few days ago, I purchased two 23″ monitors that pivot and are height adjustable. (The 24 inch monitors were almost twice as expensive, so what’s an inch?) I logged into my Dell account, purchased the monitors and paid for them with my credit card.  I got the order confirmation and later that evening a notice that the items were shipped and I would have them this past Friday.

Normal transaction I thought.  Until I received the following:

The email I received from Dell that started the whole mess.

Being a reasonable person, I checked my credit card out on-line and noted that it had been debited the correct amount. I’m also very leery of doing anything with a credit card with a company when they initiate the contact. So I contacted the Dell on-line support chat and was told that everything was fine and the system had shipped and it was on track to be delivered on Friday. When I asked why I might have gotten the error, the service representative told me that it was probably a system error.

Well a system error didn’t explain the fact that I got two harassing voice mail messages to my home phone that night. The messages were from the same person who purportedly sent me the first email, basically threatening me with cancelling my order if I didn’t contact him. Since I had a reassuring conversation with the on-line representative and this seemed to be related to my credit card, I ignored the voice mails (one was at 9:30 at night by the way).

At this point I began to believe that this was a phishing scheme from someone inside Dell to get my credit card information.  After all, why would someone be telling me there is a problem with my credit card, when it’s already been charged and the item was shipped?

I sent an email to the representative the next morning saying:

Actually that is not true. My credit card has been debited the correct amount and I was notified that the packages had shipped.  Tracking with UPS shows them out for delivery.

 I also spoke with a Dell representative yesterday afternoon who confirmed that there was no issue with the order.

I’m not sure why you are contacting me both via phone and email, but please stop.

After this my monitors actually arrived and I figured that all was well.  Not the case.  Here is where it gets really weird.

I get another email from this guy saying:

Dear Shayna,

 Thank you for your email , Appreciate your call to dell . Yes the packages have been sent out for shipping however they await my authorization for delivery . Every shipment before it is delivered has to be confirmed with the account holder for the sake of security of our customers . Please provide me a phone to be able to reach , I would need less than 3 minutes of your time to verify this and authorize delivery of this product . Request your assistance.

 Thanks and regards ,

Note a few things, one he doesn’t call me Sandra, he calls me Shayna.  I used to have a domain called shayna.com which I sold last year. I never used the name Shayna on the Dell site.  My last email address with them had a shayna.com domain, but I changed it to a purchasing email account I set up in gmail.

Also note the threat to stop the shipment and that apparently he needs to personally authorize each and every delivery through UPS before they will give it to the person who purchased it.  Also by this time, I also had the monitors in my possession.  So really, truly not true.  I’m even more suspicious now because what he is saying doesn’t at all relate to my experience.  So I write back.

They were delivered and are now in my possession.  
I’m very uncomfortable with this exchange. I plan on sending this conversation to someone else at Dell, along with the chat log from yesterday. I’m becoming very suspicious of this since it is directly opposite of what I have been told by contacts I have initiated with Dell as well as my previous experience. 
You first indicated there was an issue with my order and it would not be shipped. Now you are telling me you need to authorize the delivery, which is an obvious untruth since I have them in my possession and is a contradiction of your first communication. 

I was pretty busy yesterday so couldn’t do this immediately and before I could do this, I got a phone call from someone purportedly at Dell who told me I needed to verify information. When I told them I wouldn’t verify credit card information and that the amount had cleared my credit card company, he told me it wasn’t about my credit card.  (Oh no?  What did that first email say?). I asked him what information needed to be verified and he wouldn’t tell me.  Instead he gave me a number to call.  So why the heck is this person calling me to tell me I need to verify information and won’t tell me what information I need to verify and requires me to initiate another phone call for this verification.  At this point I’m pretty upset.

Then he tells me that if I don’t call the number I will be blacklisted at Dell.  He goes on to tell me that my warranty on these monitors will be for a year.  The order indicates 3 years.  So the implication is that if I’m black-listed, my warranties will not be honored.  On items I paid for!  Including my laptop.

I’m still wary of simply calling this number.  So I go back to the Dell online support chat, at which time the support person tells me that she can’t open my account to look at it, its been locked by the Verification Department.  She gives me the same number that I got before, but at least this time, I actually believe the number is a part of Dell.

So I call, and at this point, I’m fuming angry.  Why is my account locked because I didn’t kow tow to some unknown person who wants my credit card information over the phone when the credit card has already been charged and the purchase was made?  The same person who sent me the original emails takes my call and tells me that he holds any order with a gmail account.  Apparently, it wasn’t my credit card at all.  Dell is discriminating (or at least this guy is) against gmail accounts.  But he lied, the first email said it was about my credit card.

At this point I’m so angry I can hardly speak. He keeps telling me he did nothing wrong?  Oh really?  He locked out my account, threatened and harassed me via email and phone because he didn’t like the fact that I am using a gmail account. I ask to speak to his supervisor.  He kept trying to stop that and I simply kept interrupting him until I finally (after 15 minutes of listening to him defend himself) got to a supervisor.

The supervisor tried to defend the original person. Apparently, if I had only called them straight-away and given them what they wanted (which they had no right to ask for in my opinion) everything would have been okay.  He also told me that they didn’t verify based on previous history, but only on the current order.  Considering all the information was the same for shipping and billing as in all the previous purchases, this might have been a clue?  I told him that while they might be black-listing me, that at this point I would also be black-listing them. I asked what he planned to do to keep me as a Dell customer.

“All I can do is apologize”, he said.  I asked to be kicked up to someone who could do something.  So along came the floor manager, who actually admitted that the whole thing was their error and apologized and told me my account was no longer restricted.  But really, at this point, are canned apologies enough?  I asked him what he was going to do to keep me as a customer.  Apparently he isn’t able to do anything but apologize. So I asked him to give me to someone who could.

I then got foisted off to another “floor manager” who basically said the same thing the previous one did.  There is no attempt to fix this, there is no attempt to tell me they will look into their policies.  Just a “I apologize”.

All these interactions were with people with Indian accents. So I’m assuming all of this was outsourced to Dell’s call centers in India.  Apparently no one there can rectify the mistakes they make and someone in a foreign country has to power to threaten and harass me and to restrict my account.  I was promised (after an hour of having this escalated) that they are going to get someone to call me today to try to appease me.

I don’t know what it will take to make me happy.  Part of me is ready to send these monitors back, but then again, how hard will it be to get my money back?  At the least I’d like to see a change in Dell’s policies that allows something like this to happen at the whim of someone who simply doesn’t like gmail accounts.

What do you think should happen?


(Update 6/24/2012):

I received two phone calls from Dell yesterday (both from India).  The first one was a total wash, it was a manager who basically just reiterated that they apologize, but could do nothing. And apparently wasn’t really concerned enough to do anything else about it.

Thanks to the advice I received here, I sent some emails yesterday.  So the second call was actually in response to the email I sent in which I said:

For the full story, please see my blog at http://healthyfoodnaturally.com/2012/06/23/im-black-listing-dell-computers/


 I have been a satisfied Dell customer for over 7 years. Last Wednesday I purchased 2 monitors.  They were shipped promptly and arrived on Friday. Thank you very much.

 On Thursday I received a notification from Dell (emails attached) stating there was an issue with my credit card. I checked with my bank, the charge was submitted by Dell and subsequently cleared on Friday. I contacted your customer service (chat logs attached) and was told there was no issue.

 I received several emails from the same person (xxx_xxx@Dell.com) telling me the order would be held without verification. He also told me (after I received the monitors) that he had to verbally authorize deliveries with UPS.  All of this sounded very strange to me and I refused to give any verification information.

 I then received a phone call from a man last night who told me that unless I verified my information I would be black-listed with Dell.  I told him I would not verify credit card information since the charge was valid and had posted.  He told me it wasn’t credit card information, but something else and refused to tell me what it was.  He also implied that the warranties I hold (for the monitors which are 3 year and my other items would not be honored). He told me to call the number on the first email.

 I went back and contacted Customer Service chat and they told me my account was locked.  They gave me the same phone number which at least relieved me that the communications were actually coming from Dell.  When I finally got to “Stephen Daniel” at your outsourced call center, he told me it wasn’t about the credit card information (which the email clearly states), but was because I was using a gmail address and that he always verified gmail addresses.

 All my information with the exception of the email address has been the same since I began buying from Dell.  The email address was changed because I had sold my domain (shayna.com) which was where the old email went to and switched exclusively to gmail. I cannot believe that Dell would regularly restrict transactions on the most popular email domain on the web.

 I was escalated to 3 managers (one who called me back today).  All were Indian and I believe from your call center.  None of them were willing to do anything other than simply apologize to me.  I am very concerned that this is some sort of identity theft situation coming out of your identity fraud group.  The whole thing doesn’t make sense unless placed in that context.

 I would like to speak to someone from Dell USA with authority to handle this issue.  As of right now, I have no intention of purchasing from Dell again, nor can I recommend your brand. The chances of being harassed and possibly lied to are just too high.

The person who called me told me that he was from the Executive Customer Support Team.

He basically told me that the email I received that the issues were with my credit card was sent in error, and that the entire issue was my email address.  He said he would try to take steps to see that never happened again.

He offered me a $50 credit to make up for the issues.  But at no time did he deal with the issue of the phone harassment or the fact that I was told I would be black listed or that they did lock my account.

A friend was over at the time of this phone call and she asked me what would make me satisfied and I realized it’s not the money.  I was happy with the price of the monitors and I’m not looking to get them for free.

I said something along the lines of I’d like to have their policies and procedures for verification clearly spelled out and for them to adhere to them.

She said, so if they said “We are sorry this happened and to make sure this doesn’t happen to another customer, we will take steps A-Z.”  and I realized yes, that’s what I want.

  1. To investigate my actual complaint instead of simply trying to placate me with words and a small amount of money without actually doing anything to improve their systems.
  2. To make sure that the threats from their people to their customers stop.
So now I know what I want from Dell.  And I’m still going to call Dell USA (I found a 512 number) on Tuesday when I’m working from home.  Because it’s really not about money for me.  I don’t want to be foisted off.  I want Dell to improve so I can feel good about buying their products again.


15 Responses to “I’m Black-Listing Dell Computers”

  1. Glen says:

    My opinion, FWIW, is that you should post links to this complaint on all possible social networks with hash-tags like #Dell and #douchebags for twitter. The result may or may not be satisfying to you, but most companies monitor social networks and will act to at least protect their reputation. That act may include offering you some sort of customer-satisfying deal.

  2. Erika says:

    I’m sorry you had such a hassle with Dell. That sucks. Did you post this to their Facebook page?

  3. Jen Larkin says:

    Dell is not going to lock an account as suspicious because it’s using one of the most popular email providers in the world. That’s complete nonsense. This was likely attempted identity theft. Either call center management is in on it or every “floor manager” that you talked to was in on the scam.

    There have been several issues with the India Dell (and other) call centers, including fraudulent and harassing behavior by the employees against the customers. The only way to get anything done about it is to get the information to a US Dell office, tell them that the Indian call center threatened you and locked your account because you refused to violate proper security procedures by giving them your credit card info over the phone. All of the reasons that they gave you were clearly false. And that when you tried to address the problem in a way that showed that you knew to not give that information over the phone, they immediately changed their story to a different obvious lie.


    That you kept escalating the call and upper management (assuming that it was management) “admitted their error” implies to me that the call center that you reached is systematically scamming Dell customers. Harassing a customer, threatening a customer, and locking their account because they didn’t give credit card info over the phone isn’t an “error.” They’re hoping that because they apologized and admitted an error that you won’t escalate in a way that gets Dell US’s attention.

    They likely saw a female name and thought that you would be a sucker.

  4. Sam says:

    I think that you should contact the attorney general’s office of your state.

    Because this:
    “Then he tells me that if I don’t call the number I will be blacklisted at Dell. He goes on to tell me that my warranty on these monitors will be for a year. The order indicates 3 years. So the implication is that if I’m black-listed, my warranties will not be honored. On items I paid for! Including my laptop.”
    is the kind of situation that screams unfair and deceptive business practices. Not to mention all the lies you were told. Depending on your state laws, it might be actionable. Especially since you’ve confirmed that it was in fact Dell you were talking to.

    In addition, keep doing what you’re doing. Tell everyone on planet earth that Dell threatened to black list you, hold up orders you already paid for, and ignore their warranties.

    • Sandra Clark says:

      Thanks for the idea Sam. I plan on contacting Dell USA (if I can find a phone number) on Monday and I’ll add the Maryland AG office to the list.

      I’m lucky, I’m simply feeling harassed. But how many other people went through this same thing and possibly got scammed.

  5. BD says:

    Jen’s the one you want to listen to. Dell is as much a victim in this matter as you are, though the culpability of an employee of one of their overseas call centers is merely the most likely possibility and not yet really proven.
    Preserve the e-mails (with their original headers intact) as evidence, and send them to michael@dell.com with the standard addresses of legal@dell.com, abuse@dell.com, and fraud@dell.com CC’d in.
    (Note that you may get one or two bounce messages if one or more of those “usually standard” addresses aren’t in use.)
    If you get harassing telephone calls, and use a landline, do a *57 trace on it. This will cost you: IIRC, the price is about five bucks. But it’s worth it, because it starts the telephone company on collecting records pertaining to these calls. If you use a cell phone, your cellular carrier can advise you on how to pursue the matter.
    If you continue to be contacted by these false reps, do not answer further. Wait for word back from a credibly official Dell channel, and move from there.
    Good luck, and best wishes.

  6. Laura Garth says:

    I’ve had a lot of unpleasant exchanges with Dell as well. Outsourcing customer support to closed caste-based societies is bound to result in this sort of outcome. It is a cultural leap for an Indian or Chinese citizen to not assume that you must and will obey the corporation as if it is the state. Your failure to obey is punishable, according to the mindset. Similarly, if you don’t use your computer exactly the way that the programmers and quality assurance at Microsoft are directed, then you are some sort of renegade beneath reproach.

    If there was a computer company staffed by U.S. citizens who were not all just recent immigrants from totalitarian or caste-based countries, would we be able to afford its products? Ironically, we won’t be able to afford anything of quality soon the way things are going.

    Meanwhile, if I were you, I’d stick with the phone. Try contacting the sales department until eventually you get a U.S.-based name to complain to. Cultural synergy still matters in the Dell sales department. Start by emailing the person. I got a free computer out of Dell! It was an entirely different issue but still about rudeness and incompetence. It took me two full days of phone calls and a bitter, biting, full of details, two-page email. I never did actually talk to the guy, but the next time I called, suddenly everything went smoothly. Magic. So, now that I know the system, I’m still using Dell. Better the devil you know.

  7. Mark Mandel says:

    Just posting a comment so I can keep up to date with how this all unfolds.

    Keep kicking tail Sandra 🙂

  8. Sandra Clark says:

    Just an FYI for those that want to follow. I’ve updated this post with the events of yesterday. Thank you for your support and suggestions.

  9. Laura Garth says:

    Maybe Dell will help to install a decent sewer system or even just paint some traffic lanes in Bangalore.

    I trained the team that replaced me at my pre-IPO-start-up onsite in Bangalore (Technical Writing). I figured if I could impart a little knowledge and they were grateful for it, they could pay me back by quitting their jobs and taking their knowledge to a competitor. I spelled that out to them in between bouts of food poisoning.

    Job hopping was really heating up in Bangalore as the better-trained and skilled employees were highly in demand. Management bitched and moaned about it. Boo hoo.

    They all went off on a “team building” junket while I was there. The focus of which was, “Be sure to train the rest of your team with your knowledge so that if you’re sick [or quit] your work continues seamlessly.”