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We’ll come to you.

Remember "Dell Hell." That’s when Dell learned – or should have learned – the power of consumer anger. Blogger Jeff Jarvis reamed Dell for its shabby customer service and the story was amplified into a "blame Dell" crusade across the ‘Net.

Well, now it is a few years later and you would have thought the computer behemoth would have learned about the power of word of mouth and personal branding. I’m here to report that Dell has moved up one notch, but only a notch, and now qualifies for purgatory.

I recently had a significant problem with my Dell desktop (still under warranty) and warily called Dell customer service. After spending about 15 minutes between being on hold and providing information to a rep, I was told that Dell’s system was down. No one could help me until the system was back up and I should call back later. I have no clue why I wasn’t immediately told that the system was down.

Believing that system down or not, I was still entitled to help, I decided to exercise Consumer Rights Principle Number One: Seek out a higher authority — and asked for a supervisor. The supervisor explained that Dell was actually being helpful by not helping me because the system’s being down meant that the company couldn’t confirm my identify. When I reminded him about Dell’s inglorious past and mentioned that I planned to blog about the company, he offered to have someone call me back as soon as the system was back up.

A rep in fact called me back within a half hour and proceeded to spend an hour on the phone with me without fixing my system. I don’t blame the rep but the fact that computer diagnostics by phone is sort of like witch doctoring. The rep usually doesn’t have a clue what the cause of the problem is and goes through the usually incantations. What I was left with was a choice between two evils: replace the hard drive or the operating system though for all I know neither is the problem. Any computer experts out there want to make a house call?

Meanwhile, all of this reinforces the need to realize that every customer’s opinion counts in building both a consumer and a personal brand.

Love to hear your thoughts and experiences?

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