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About the Blog

The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Dell to the rescue...

Back in February, I bought myself a new PC which included the ultra-nifty 2407FPW 24" widescreen monitor. When I get back to posting entries in the ISBS Tech Guide (shut up, I will so...), I plan to do an entire entry on this monitor. It is just that cool.

Anyway, last Friday, I'm on the phone with my wife and she says, "Oh, by the way, there's a grey stripe down the middle of the monitor. You should take a look at that when you get home." Turns out the grey stripe was a series of alternating 2" lines of black pixels and working pixels running the entire height of the monitor, just to the right of center. Possibly dead pixels, but more likely some kind of power problem in the monitor itself, since the odds of so many pixels blowing out all at once (and in a repeatable pattern) are fairly low.

I called Dell Technical Support at around 10pm that evening. Here's roughly how the phone call went:

Me: My monitor is broken (explains the black lines)

Dell: OK, please unplug it from the PC so we can verify that the problem is your monitor, and not your video card. Are the lines still there?

Me: Yes.

Dell: OK, is there another computer you can plug the monitor into, so we can verify that the problem isn't related to the PC at all?

Me: I have a laptop. Hold on. (finds serial cable, plugs in monitor, lines are still there)

Dell: OK, let me confirm your address and we'll send you a new monitor. It should be there within 5 business days.

That was late on Friday night.

The new monitor arrived at my house at 9:15AM on Monday morning. I plugged it in, tested it, put the old one in the box it came in, slapped the included shipping sticker on it, and called an 800 number to schedule a pick-up. On Tuesday morning, the old monitor was gone.

I was very impressed with this incident. The CSR on the phone asked me two very logical questions, ensuring that a new monitor wouldn't have shown up and had the same problem as the old one. She didn't put me through unnecessary tests (diagnostics, virus scans, etc.) that I've seen in the past as part of the standard operating procedure for other support desks. She also didn't suggest that I send the old monitor back to a manufacturer for repair, pay some sort of service/shipping fee, or even leave my house to deliver the monitor somewhere for shipping.

Perhaps my only complaint was the 5-business day estimate, when in fact the new monitor showed up after 15 business minutes. I understand that delivery dates are hard to predict and they're hedging with their estimates to keep me happy, but if the part in question was time critical (say, a hard drive rather than a monitor), I may have made contingency plans assuming a 5-day outage. Still, though, no one ever got fired for finishing their work early!

Support is typically a thankless business. It's very easy for people who have had a bad experience to declare the company insensitive to its customers, while folks who have a good experience declare the company a personalized, free business center. Both parties can find supporting anecdotal evidence to reinforce their impressions (especially in the blogosphere).

At the end of the day, though, what impresses me is an efficient, customer-focused process, as opposed to a dedicated, proactive individual (not that both is a bad thing, of course). The former ensures good customer experiences most of the time; relying on the latter leads to a wide breadth of experiences, ranging from amazing to downright frustrating.

UPDATE: Ironically, it turns out there is one company that did announce a personalized, free business center today. :-)

posted by Brian at 2:00 PM


  • Um, ok, so I'm probably about to reveal the depths of my ignorance here, but I've never dealt with anything like this and I'm curious.

    Question #1 was: "please unplug [the monitor] from the PC so we can verify that the problem is your monitor, and not your video card. Are the lines still there?"

    If you unplug the monitor, how can you tell if the lines are still there? Doesn't it just go to black screen and say something like "signal lost" or some such?

    By Anonymous jason, at 3:56 PM, June 25, 2007  

  • Heh...I guess that wasn't entirely clear, was it?

    When you disconnect the monitor from the computer, a "No Signal" message appears in the middle of the screen, and then starts tracing one of those "diamond" patterns around the screen. Note that on a 24" wide screen monitor, it's a very slow, process to sit there & wait for it to pass the sectino of the screen with the lines to check if the problem's still there. I kept telling the woman, "just one more second...almost we go..."

    By Blogger Brian, at 10:22 PM, June 25, 2007  

  • Okay, that makes sense - guess I've never waited long enough to notice that the No Signal message moves around. In any event, I'm glad you had some decent service and got the problem resolved. It's such a hit-and-miss proposition sometimes...

    By Anonymous jason, at 11:33 AM, June 26, 2007  

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