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Astoundingly, after telling me yesterday that it was impossible, Dell customer service found a way to get a computer technician to my home office today to replace the defective CD/DVD drive that came with my new computer.
If the first tech I spoke to yesterday had done his job and run diagnostics on my CD drive, it would have saved both me and Dell many exasperating hours of time wasted on the phone yesterday.
I ran a consumer complaint handling service called Rent-A-Kvetch for many years. Here’s my guide to effective complaining when you are forced to use the telephone for customer or technical support:
- Get people’s names. Always get the first and last name of every person to whom you speak as soon as they pick up the phone. Only hookers and people who don’t want to be accountable for what they say or do will refuse to give you their last name. If they say it is “company policy” not to give last names, get their employee number.


Remember, do this before you start talking to them so you can keep a record of what was said and done.
- Explain the problem clearly and succinctly.
- Say what you want done, when you want it done by and what you are prepared to do if you don’t get what you want. (Post to consumer opinion web sites, write to the agency that issues the company’s license to do business, etc.)
- Go to the top. If they waste your time, don’t do what they promise, keep bumping you from person to person, insist on speaking to the manager of customer service.
- Tell that person that the treatment and service you got is unacceptable, and that your service now needs to be escalated.
- Demand compensation for time and aggravation. That’s how I ended up being sent a Dell Digital camera, which, frankly, isn’t enough for the ordeal they put me through.
- To make sure you are not screwed around the same way next time, ask for a direct number for a customer service or tech suppport supervisor. Insist on it.
- Don’t take no for an answer.
- Stay calm, don’t yell, don’t curse and don’t back off.
Wishing you good consumer experiences.