An Open Letter to Michael Dell

This is a letter that I have not mailed. I wrote it as a response to a problem a friend of mine had with her Dell Laptop. I started to write it as if I had been wronged, not her. Then as I wrote more, we turned into the same person. I Blackberry Messaged her to tell her I was writing the letter and she was cool with it. If she ever elects to read this, she is welcome to use it as she pleases. I enjoyed writing it.

Dear Micheal Dell,

After having spent years as a member of a productive and efficient team of office professionals who used Dell products exclusively, I chose to stick with Dell when purchasing a personal notebook computer, expecting the same reliable, high performance. As an homage to my favourite television show “The Big Bang Theory” I even considered buying an XPS, the same one owned by the character Sheldon Cooper.
I purchased it online and received my notebook computer in good time. I kept that notebook with me for the next six months. I used it for everything. It became a part of my life. Then when it started to fail, I panicked, thinking that perhaps I was the one who had mishandled it and caused it to falter. In my mind, a Dell computer had no fault. The problem must have lied with me.
It took a part time technician at an electronics supply store, an employee who perhaps is working there and going to school, scraping together the thousand dollars he would need to startup his own company, to show me that the problem was not with me, and a matter of fact, due to the care and concern I exercised when using my notebook, it lasted longer than it should have. Whatever global location that Dell sourced to manufacture my notebook, they neglected to install my hard disk drive properly. Despite your website’s confident claim that I “can rest assured that [my] computer hardware and services will be of the same high quality and reliability wherever [you] are” my notebook crashed and burned, taking with it months of dedicated work that I had saved there.
My damaged notebook and irretrievable data made me mad enough to want to take a ball peen hammer to someone’s front teeth. I remained calm, though. In my mind, at the time, Dell was a worldwide company that stood by it’s products and it’s services. Quality control is not 100% and mistakes do happen. I have worked in fields where defects are measured in misdeliveries per million, and they are only zero when measured in time spans measuring days, not the years that Dell has been in operation. I had confidence in Dell and that they would at the very least repair my machine or perhaps even replace it with a new one.
After agonizing hours of phonecalls over several days with the most remarkably unhelpful, unintelligible, unimaginably mis-named customer service personnel that ever managed to strap on a headset without strangling themselves to death before their first coffee/tea break, only to discover that Dell was prepared to do absolutely nothing for me.
Nothing.
Not a replacement, not a repair. Not even an upgraded machine, which, after the time I had suffered on the phone, attempting to decipher the inane mumblings of the person on the other end of the line, I felt I was entitled to at the very least. Those are days of my life that Dell has stolen from me and can not be recovered any more than the data on my hard drive can.
What I am left with is a hard drive-less notebook that I must repair at my cost and hours upon hours of work that I will never be able to recover and a loathing for Dell Computers that will never abate.
Rest assured, sir, that while your products and services are not worth the effort of a campaign to dissuade anyone who might possibly consider using Dell, I will never, ever have anything good to say about Dell until my dying day. That is not a promise. That is a commitment.

This is not a letter that would ever make it to Michael Dell’s Inbox on his desk – if his company even uses snailmail anymore, I don’t know and no longer care. It would be vetted by some underling who would send out a form letter telling my friend how terribly sorry they are that they could not help – as close as they could get to sending a lollipop and then sending her on her way as they could.
My computer is fine. I have a 12 year old IBM X22 that still works pretty good and a system I designed and built that will last me as long as I want it to. I tend to take things apart and put them back together again and on occasion format hard drives when I shouldn’t. No one else’s fault but mine.
But when a global supplier of electronics equipment, one among many, doesn’t follow through on their commitment to excellence, then they have failed all of us. That’s why I thought it important to write this open letter.

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