Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hello, Dell? I'm Staying. Thank Larry.

And give him a raise. I'm not kidding. DO IT, or else I'll...I dunno, type something. You may recall my grousing a little while back, here and here, about our recurring problems with the power source in our Dell Inspiron laptop, and our huge frustration with Dell's tech support/customer service. Our computer had been sent back several times, the problem was never fixed, and we kept buying new power cords (from Dell) and trying to use the computer while holding the cord in place with one hand. I might have publicly stated that "Dell is full of crap" at least once. It could have been worse.

Blogosphere, I present to you a happily resolved customer service issue:

On the left, Old And Busted. On the right, New Hotness (MIB reference-nod to TSM). Let me 'splain, as best I can, how this miracle of corporate responsiveness came about. You may already know what's coming, but I had no idea, so for the other three people out there who might be likewise in the dark, this is for you.

Within hours of my first post mentioning a problem with our laptop, I received an email bearing the subject line, "Problems with your Dell computer." It was short and sweet, and seemed too good to be true:


I am a customer advocate at Dell headquarters in Texas. I read your Blogspot post about having to send your Dell computer back to the repair depot a second time. I wanted to get with you to make sure we get things taken care of. If you can send me the service tag for the computer or a reference number for one of the services and I can pull up all the notes and see what options I have available. If you have any questions for me I will be more than happy to answer them.

I look forward to hearing back from you,

Dell Customer Advocate

OK, stop right here, before I admit that I thought this was probably bogus, because you're all smarter and more internet-savvy than me, and would not suspect that Larry was actually a Nigerian scam artist who was going to somehow empty my bank accounts and ruin my credit-rating by getting hold of my Dell service tag number. Shut up. And yes, one of two very simple things would have settled the question immediately: A Google search (DUH) or checking my own site's traffic report. What I actually did was to kind of blow Larry off, and ask around. No one I spoke to had heard of anything like this, though most people said it "seemed harmless."

So a few days later, when I griped online again, in a bare mention tacked onto the end of this post, I immediately got another very polite email from Larry, again offering to help. This time, I thought (because I am clever like that) I'd just find out if Larry was for real, and asked for a phone number and extension at which he responded by offering to call ME. To which I responded by saying to myself, "AHA! He won't get me that easily! I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, Larry!" I wrote back pretty much implying that I was onto him, and no way was I giving out any information without knowing who I was dealing with. BOY, did I tell him. Ahem.

And as it turns out, I was still ON the turnip truck, because Larry very politely answered that my position was perfectly understandable, and provided the main customer service number at Dell, along with his direct extension. By this time, it had occurred to me to Google the phrase "Dell customer advocate," which I should have done in the first place. If I had, I'd have found numerous articles about this program, and this one in particular, from Dell's own blog, that addressed the very issue I'd had with "stranger danger" apprehension about being approached out of the blue by someone offering to solve a problem. Because honestly, how often does THAT happen? Also at that link, you get to see (and hear) our hero, Larry, in the flesh (and voice) on a video clip! Go, Larry! He's the quiet one of the bunch, but he gets the first and last word in that clip.

So once all THAT was out of the way, Larry got right down to solving our problem. And we were positively bowled over with the speed and efficiency and fairness of his work. When one thing wasn't available, he'd upgrade to the next better thing (I know you love that technical lingo), until finally, because of the uniqueness of our problem and some particulars of our repair history with Dell (seriously, our laptop was whacked), we wound up with a new replacement computer, upgraded from the model we'd had before, because that model wasn't available at the time, and Larry didn't want to make us wait. I'm here to tell you, we had Larry earning his paycheck in dealing with us, because we seemed to have one issue after another, and while he had us our new computer inside of a week, we weren't able to send our old one back to Dell for more than twice that long. (We had to figure out how to transfer our many programs and files from one unit to the other, which was complicated by the fact that the old was unit running Windows XP and the newer one came with Vista. Hint--it involves ordering a special magic cord. For real.)

So now, we are humming right along in computerland, and as you can see from the picture above, we got everything transferred over to the new 'puter, right down to my Huey Freeman wallpaper. Larry even made sure that I got the same faux burled cherrywood cover on the new 'puter that I had on the old one. Between the upgrade and the not having to type with one hand while holding a power cord in the other any more, this new laptop is like a bionic version of the previous one. THANK YOU, LARRY.

As for Windoze Vista: Not a fan. It has a lot of new bells and whistles, true, but anything I needed? No way. Plus, a lot of the new features--heck, most of them--actually clutter up my internet/computing experience and get in the way. It doesn't seem to want to play nice with Mozilla Firefox right out of the gate, but having been told firmly by Alex that this is the way things are going to be, browser-wise, seems to have settled down on that count. And it only took me ONE session of using Vista's "new and improved" Internet Explorer to know beyond a doubt that I LOVE FIREFOX. Never leave me, Firefox.

That Mac commercial, where the PC has the Secret-Service looking guy interrupting him every 5 seconds asking him if he really wants to do what he's trying to do? Totally not an exaggeration. Constant pop-up windows are everywhere, and you have to spend a lot of time turning things off. Software designers and computer manufacturers would make everything easier on us if they'd just send us the units stripped down to the bare basics, along with optional programs on disks, so that we could install only what we WANT, rather than going through the headache of having to figure out how to uninstall what we DON'T want.

Consider this a Love Thursday post. We love Larry. All right, it's not your typical LT fare, but seriously, he brought some happiness and relief into our lives during a very frustrating time.

And that's not for nothing.

UPDATED to add--Be sure and check the comments to this post for the response by Lionel Menchaca, Digital Media Manager for Direct2Dell. In part, he writes, to those of you who've expressed your own Dell-related woes:

"I encourage you or anyone else that needs help with their Dell hardware to go here:

My personal e-mail is at the bottom of this page, and the Customer Advocate team email is listed as well (fourth bullet point from the top list)."

Hit it.


  1. Thank goodness for great customer service folks like Larry. They're gold, aren't they?

    I'm planning on avoiding Vista for as long as possible.

  2. I can only guess that Dell has a team of people who do nothing but comb the blogosphere for negative comments and problems, then try to fix them. I have a Dell computer that has been a total pile of crap from day one, and complained about it often in my blog. The last time I complained, I got the same email you did. It was too late for me... but I'm glad your problem got solved!

  3. I have to say I'm kind of impressed. And strangely aroused.

    A strange man emails me (after absorping every word of my vent in my blog) and offers, without asking for anything, to solve my problem? He then proceeds to take care of all of my needs, listens to me and never onces accuses me of blowing something out of proportion or being a hypochondriac?

    He would SO be scoring with me.

    OH...and I've been reading DAVE up there's blog for quite some time (and commenting, mind you!) and he's never visited me! He's too famous. Ya'll are A list and I'm not even in the alphabet. I see how it is....

  4. You know, you may have hit on why I was so impressed with Larry. ;-)

    And I must admit, ol' "DAVE up there" was just about my first daily must-read blog addiction, and remains so. Only a handful have had that kind of staying power for me. Great, now he's going to be telling girls he meets that women say he has "staying power..."

  5. I love Dell! My husband's company uses Dell for ALL of their Laptops, so when Kaitlyn spilled a can of pop directly on to the keyboard of mine, Chris was able to take it to work, call Dell to have a rep come and pick it up, they replaced pretty much everything but the screen under warranty, and I had it back in less than a week. "You think Dell service is awesome, cancel or allow? ALLOW!"

  6. I'm not sure if you've tried it yet, but Firefox 2 might play better with Vista. I'm using it with XP without a hitch. But, yeah, Vista is whack.

  7. Where is my Larry???? I have blogged about my lemon Dell and no one has emailed me.

    Picture me stamping my foot and whining.

  8. Belinda:
    Love to hear stories like yours, and thanks for blogging about it. I'll make sure Larry sees this.

    Sorry.. we just haven't found you yet. This is Lionel Menchaca, Digital Media Manager for Direct2Dell. I work pretty closely with this team.

    I encourage you or anyone else that needs help with their Dell hardware to go here:

    My personal e-mail is at the bottom of this page, and the Customer Advocate team email is listed as well (fourth bullet point from the top list).

    Sorry we missed your blog.


    Lionel Menchaca
    Digital Media Manager, Direct2Dell

  9. Thanks, Lionel--Larry was really just great. He was like those British guards at Buckinham Palace, and remained totally unphased by everything we threw at him, and was ALWAYS courteous and super-helpful.

    Chris, there ya go! I was going to reply and suggest you email the advocate team, but Lionel beat me to it. Here's a "hot" link for the page he referenced: Direct2Dell Contact Info

    Zach--I've been using FF2, but Vista kept making me reinstall it, then accusing me of not having it, and it would NOT run the older version. I don't know what kinda juju Alex worked on it, but he finally got Vista to recognize my beloved FF2. My heart is happy.

  10. And Lionel--if you happen to check back: I believe that Chris is referring to THIS POST, which generated a LOT of attention, as she is widely read. Might be a good idea to hook her up with some assistance! (Of course, I recommend Larry.) :-)

  11. So much catching up to do....I'm so glad to read Bella is still infused with spirit, that girl has thespian written all over her - one day Belinda you're going to be at the Oscars, not just watching and blogging about them.

    Love your dell story = amazing!

    As for your depression, I'm so sorry to hear about that, as a sufferer of the disease myself I wish I knew some magic cure but it sounds like to me you are doing better than before and that's a start. I find taking it day by day easiest. Please know, despite my lack of communication, I'm here for you babe.

  12. What great service you got after complaining on your blog, how cool is that:o)

    I know you are A-list and my first read of every day. We love you!!!

  13. Do they have Larry's that fix other problems....non-computer related problems. If I blog about my problems, will i get an e-mail with polite offers to fix them????? Please, don't tell me this is just a Dell thing. Please! I have a leaky roof and a grating sound in the front of my car, and wonky washing machine. Do they have Larry's for that?

  14. Yeah, unfortunately, Larry and his ilk seem to currently be unique to Dell...however, if this program is successful for Dell, who knows how many other corporations may model similar programs after it?

    The day that Larry solved all our computer issues, I turned to Alex and said, "I'm fixing to write a post complaining about my car..."

  15. Wow. That's even better than my trick of searching e-mail addresses for heads of companies.

    Glad you are happilly laptopped again. Vista is a bit fussy though as I've learned setting up my SIL's HP laptop

  16. Hey Belinda!

    Is that the E1705? I have the same one and it is damned heavy.

    My clock is wigging out due to the early time change so maybe I will blog about the inconvenience ;)

  17. The Dell Mini 9 comes with a solid state harddrive which is a blessing and a curse.

  18. I suggest this site to my friends so it could be useful & informative for them also. Great effort.