Service of Computer and Software Support

March 5th, 2015

Categories: Patience, Technology

software 1

Frank Paine, a retired Federal Reserve Examiner and international commercial banking officer, has previously written guest posts for this blog. He is more than comfortable around computers so when he proposed this topic, and wrote the following, I jumped at the chance to publish it and look forward to your answers to his questions.

Frank wrote:

laptopI just bought a new laptop, a Dell equipped with Windows 8.1.  While I haven’t had any problems with the machine, I have had many problems with the software I bought with it. 

Dealing with Dell’s software download department has been a nightmare, with several problems still pending.  I’ve been getting answers to questions I didn’t ask, lengthy prescriptions for what I should do to make something work using a browser I don’t use (and which I learned isn’t compatible with the software I had ordered), and a version of Internet Explorer (which I hate) that doesn’t work because of an extension that was added that I didn’t want.  Oh, and also, I received a bunch of software that I didn’t order and didn’t want and more…Very frustrating!

Help buttonI sent a couple of e-mails to Dell’s Customer Support on the specific instructions of Technical Support.  Both received automated replies saying that I could expect a reply within 24-48 hours (usually), although they gave themselves some wiggle room by saying that depending on the nature of the inquiry, the response might take longer.  96 hours later, there has been no response. 

I’m not expecting a clear answer, but I’ve had times (not yet with Dell) when software vendors never did reply.  What has your experience been? When should I stop being patient? How long is it appropriate to wait before following up?

As I read Frank’s story I imagined myself in a swivet with a looming deadline, programs I needed that weren’t working and an attitude from those I was counting on to fix the glitches of “you’ll hear back from us when you hear back.” My suggestion is to use the resource––that DManzaluni recommended in a recent comment to get Dell’s phone number [or any other corporate consumer service number] and call right away.  And you?


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8 Responses to “Service of Computer and Software Support”

  1. DManzaluni Said:

    Your friend should have realised long ago that he was dealing with non-trained personnel who don’t understand any problem but who have been told to try to identify words in any question so that they can send out stock answers. Invariably these stock answers WILL NOT answer the question he or any caller has.

    I don’t understand, given these circumstances, why he thinks someone who can’t answer his questions would ever call him back?

    Actually he is lucky if he has a new computer which he hasn’t yet installed software or data on or changed much on: He should try getting or making a USB LinuxMint boot drive, installing that alongside Windows and working with Mint thereafter. I did this about five years ago and have rarely bothered booting into Windows since then! Everything works in Linux, – nothing works in Windows. Microsoft is apparently dumping 8 in favour of their new os, called 10.

    The sorts of questions he has either don’t arise in Linux or get answered within a day or so if asked on the Mint forums. The actual interface itself resembles the Mac a bit and is infinitely easier to work with than Windows!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You are WAY over my head but I’m sure your advice is sound.

    Although not a Dell software issue–rather a Dell printer issue–a friend’s husband who was tech-savvy as you clearly are, couldn’t get the printer to work. After countless calls and following all sorts of directions–say four calls–he got lucky: The person who picked up this call was stationed in the States and told him that the foreign tech reps hadn’t yet received the info about a glitch in the set up which he could circumvent if he did thus and such. Voila! The printer worked. So maybe, if Frank or others are lucky, they, too, might land, someday, on a person who knows what to do.

  3. CG Said:

    When I left my corporate job and its easy access to IT wizards who were able to solve any computer issue in minutes, I knew I would have to find someone local who could serve the same purpose, and so I did. Believe me when I tell you the guy has saved my sanity on many occasions and is worth every dime he has charged me. He’s a corporate refugee, like me, and the former head of the IT department at a large company. He was so fed up with corporate politics and his long commute that he walked away and launched his own business. He has a computer repair shop in town full of computer innards that are thrown around in what appears to be a haphazard manner. It’s hard to understand how he could keep track of anything in such an environment, but he does. The guy even makes house calls. He understands his market’s needs and has priced his services fairly. Some of your readers may balk at the idea of paying someone to do what they should be able to do themselves with some assistance from a customer service department, but we all know that customer service isn’t what it used to be. For those of us with a short fuse when it comes to this type of stuff, having an IT wizard on speed dial is the best strategy.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I, too count on a brilliant person who rescues me. I am getting better at calling him at the first sign of trouble where before I would try to fix whatever it was myself. I’d end up tearing out my hair, wasting hours, and ready to toss everything out the window.

    I am also getting better at not blaming myself when a glitch may have nothing to do with me. Frank is tech-savvy enough to know that it’s the programs that are at fault. I’d figure I’d installed something incorrectly–which is why I’d hire Andrew to do it. Like Frank, he’d know the score.

    Andrew doesn’t have a shop, he could work at any job he wanted and succeed, he’s not only brilliant but he’s a lovely person and he explains things so anyone would understand what he was talking about. Thank God for such wonderful people. I envy their talent.

  5. P. Windom Said:

    Two thoughts come to mind:

    I read the other day in a review in either the Times or the Wall Street Journal of an highly regarded, much published, non-fiction author who still writes his manuscripts in Word Perfect. I remember it as being far more reliable and vastly easier to use than Word.

    Not that long ago in this country, if you were very bright, but black, you could not get an education or a job doing other than manual labor. Are the technologically inept, who are unable to grasp even the simplest elements of computerese, but very bright, destined to be the new under class, the disenfranchised of our generation?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    P. Windom,

    There are authors who still write their first draft on legal pads and others who slam away at electric typewriters. Choose your poison. I have horrible handwriting so I’d spend hours trying to decipher myself in the first instance and drive myself nuts at how SLOW the writing by hand process is and as for the typewriter, I’d miss being able to move paragraphs around and make corrections in a trice. Further, my mind seems to work through my fingers these days. Scary because I remember how clumsy the transition to a computer was for me at first.

    WordPerfect was fine and I don’t see much difference between that and Word except when I use a new computer with new software. Then I can’t find where to print, change formatting etc. Like anything, it takes getting used to.

    I worry about people who don’t have smartphones: They won’t be able to buy things in future.

    I recently sent change of address notices to a bunch of folks. Most received an e-card with the information. I was surprised at how many needed a mailed version. I wonder how people are able to tolerate being so cut off. I felt as though someone had put a bell jar over my head when I first landed in Turkey, not speaking a word of the language, and immediately signed up for elementary conversational Turkish. To be unable to use a computer these days means you can’t easily find what’s going on at the movies, how to change the address on your driver’s license or register to vote quickly, see photos of a wedding across the country or the world as it happens, find out how a friend is doing who is on a stressful business trip, learn that Maggie Smith really is going to stay with Downton Abbey until the end and on and on.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Hope I’m not jinxing my faithful SONY PC, but there has been no trouble since its purchase nearly six years ago. I’ve had trouble with Dell, and don’t recommend it.

    While local PC stores have given nothing but grief, and one owner is currently in jail for embezzlement, there is an outfit in Ardsley, which knows its business. My recommendation is to buy quality products, and save.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I agree but there are lemons even in the inventory of the best brands. I’d had luck with one brand and when I opened my business went to a then great computer store in the financial district to buy one. The computer didn’t work. I blamed myself for doing something wrong and it turned out it was a lemon. And the store–J & R, now gone–immediatly took it back and sold me a different make and model. [I’d lost faith in the original brand.]

    May your Sony last for years to come. More than the expense I dread finding my way around a new one and wish that mine would last for years and years.

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