Dell’s New Nightmare Return Process

Dell sells a lot of products, and I figured that since nearly everyone reading this site has probably ordered from Dell at one time or another, it was worth sharing this story with you. I’ve also posted this story to Dell’s IdeaStorm, so if you have an account there, please go promote my suggestion.

So what’s the issue? Dell’s new return process (RMA) is horrible. It’s beyond horrible: it’s so frustrating it makes me not want to purchase a Dell product again. The way it used to work? You’d call customer service, talk to an agent, and they’d issue an RMA via email. Pretty fast and simple, with only the occasional frustration of having to deal with an agent who tries to talk you out of returning the product.

The way it works now? I phoned Dell customer service on October 23rd, asking for an RMA on an Inspiron Mini 9. I was told that my request would be passed on to the sales agent who processed my order, and he’d phone me back. What? I have to wait for a phone call from a sales guy to return the product? Not surprisingly, a full week passed and I didn’t receive a phone call – sales guys sell things after all. I phoned customer service again on the 28th of October, asking again for the RMA – this time, they emailed the sales guy again and told me they CC’d his manager. Two more days go by, and still no phone call from the sales guy.

On the 30th I call customer service again, and this time they give me his extension so I can phone him directly. I do, leaving him a message with all the details. No call back. On the 31st I phone him again, and after a few hours he phones me back – it’s now been 8 days since he was supposed to contact me. He tells me he’ll pass my return information to the returns department and I should expect a call from them within a week.

Dell’s goal seems to be to make it nearly impossible for customers to return products, thus boosting their bottom line by reducing the money lost on returns. I’ve easily wasted two hours of my time with all the phone calls I’ve made, and at the time of this writing I’m still waiting to hear back from the returns department.

It simply staggers the imagination that Dell considers this process acceptable. I will now have to think very hard about whether or not it’s worth ordering another Dell product in the future – they’ve created a nightmare return process that I never want to go through again.

Dell, go back to the old way of doing returns – the new system is a disaster!

  • OSUKid7

    Wow, that’s crazy. It’s amazing how different two parts of the same company are – a few weeks ago I had to do an RMA for a Dell server hard drive that was beginning to go bad. It was for a corporate/higher education system, and the process couldn’t have been easier. I called, might have had one menu to go through, then spoke to a person right away who directed my call to a technician. I was on hold for 1-2 minutes, then described my problem, and the support technician diagnosed the problem and said the replacement drive would arrive the next day by 10am, and he even offered to have a technician sent to install it on site (which I declined… I mean, come on, it’s a hot-swappable server hard disk. lol). The drive arrived the next day as scheduled, with a prepaid return shipping label and everything. On top of that, I received a follow-up call a few days later just to check that everything was working correctly.

    But yeah, yours is not the first Dell consumer support nightmare I have heard. It’s a shame that the same company can be this divided in such an important part as customer service. Hopefully Dell execs see this too and can make needed policy changes.

  • OSUKid7,
    I know what you mean – on the same day I had to return a paper shredder I bought from them, and because it was considered a business product, I dealt with a different group – and the RMA was 1000% easier. It was a single conversation with a single person – nice and easy. Dell is only screwing their home consumers with this policy change…

  • Cold Flame

    Hey Jason,

    I was reading this post on the other board and saw it here too. Just thought I’d share my thoughts as well. At work we are pretty much strictly an HP shop with exception of a few machines. All of our servers, SAN’s, 90% of our switches, etc… are all HP.

    HP’s business support is top notch for the most part. They typically don’t doubt me at all and just take my word that I have done all the troubleshooting they could do (and typically I have). In previous times, we have had a couple HP “Home” machines and have had to call for support/warranty on those devices, and it was absolutely ridiculous the hoops we had to go through to get any satisfaction. To the point where it wasn’t worth it.

    I don’t know the percentages of HP’s total sales which come from business vs consumer purchases, but I would suspect that the consumer side probably distances the business side by a large margin. I would guess that Dell is the same. I can’t imagine why they don’t take the time to make their return policies the same, etc… I can understand having different call queues/support reps, but the return process should be just as easy regardless of whom you are.

    As a result of having dealt with HP’s business support, I suggest their laptops/computers to people on a regular basis. Pretty much all of their notebooks/workstations get 3 years of NBD support. That’s top notch and is something I wouldn’t want to live without if I was buying a new laptop.



  • Cold Flame,
    Yeah, I’m a pretty big fan of HP – I now have three of their Slimline computers in my house, and a tx2500 laptop. I definitely opt for HP where possible, but they also seem slow to get to the market with certain products – they only now have a 13.3″ laptop (that isn’t a tablet PC), and their first-gen Mini-note wasn’t very impressive – this new Mini 1000 they have finally catches up to the rest of the pack. But, as you noted, it’s pretty common for these big companies to make it hard on consumers. With businesses they seem to realize the importance of the customer, but with individuals they feel they can push you around and if they lose you as a future customer, oh well.

  • Cold Flame

    THREE? Do you have guide-wires tieing your house down (to prevent it from lifting off due to the speed your power meter is spinning?)… lol. You and your gadgets… I’m envious/jealous.

    I REALLY want that new Touchsmart you posted about a month or so ago… the 25.5″ one. That thing would be so sweet. Given that my main PC is umm, 5 years old now (P4 3.0E w/ 1.5GB of RAM: PATHETIC) and I still don’t even own an mp3 player, I’m severely lacking in the gadgets department.

    Anyway… I hope those guide-wires hold for ya. :p

  • Cold Flame,
    Yeah, I do use a fair bit of electricity. 😉 I have, let’s see, seven PCs if I include my Windows Home Server. I’m pretty aggressive with power savings though, I try to have them sleep as much as possible (though that’s a frustation in and of itself!). I have six laptops as well if I include the mostly useless Samsung Q1 Ultra, but it’s not like I’m buying a new laptop every six months – I tend to keep them in pretty good shape and so they keep going and going… 🙂

    And if you want an MP3 player, I have a few spares – just email me. 😀

  • Cold Flame

    7 PC’s and 6 laptops? Sounds like my office/lab at work. *laughs* It seems like you’re buying a new one every few months based on the reviews and whatnot that you post, but I suppose a lot of those are sent back post-review. It just seems worse than it is. :-p

    Thanks for the offer… private e-mail sent!

  • Knnwsc

    I have problem on refund with Dell too. I bought Dell XPS 17″ on December 2010. I received a defective computer and could not be used. I contact them since Januaray 2011 until march 30, 2011. tech support talk nice but noting happen. I contact tehm 4 time a month and teach time I had to spend wait on them and talked to them almost half day. Now noone pick up Dell defective XPS 17″ and they already have my money $ 1190.76. I still don’t know. when I am going to receive my money back. I contact financial department. They decline.

    Every thing is in India. I just graduate from school and paid a lot of money for Dell defective Computer Laptop XPS 17″ . Whoever want to buy Dell computer . Please be aware.