Earlier today, I noticed the A/C adapter for my laptop seemed to be broken. It took a few minutes to realize that there was a kink in the wiring under the shielding. If I moved that around just a bit, it would work properly. “That sucks,” I thought. “At least I have the warranty and it should be a quick phone call to get a new one out.” Wrong.

The first thing I noticed, is that their PBX is a complete mess. I had to punch in literally, 7 or 8 different options. I was a little surprised to hear they had a department specifically for parts replacement for stuff under warranty. Of course, the rep sounded like I had just pulled up to a McDonald’s and asked for a Medium Meatlover’s - but I’m used to that.

He takes my service tag and then puts me on hold for a few minutes. Then he comes back and transfers me. It must be his first day with his phone - I sat in silence for a solid minute before I was actually transferred anywhere.

The next person I spoke with was an Indian woman who I could barely understand (and who could barely understand me). She’s apparently the person who is going to get me a new power supply. This is more or less the conversation we had:

Me: Hi, the power supply on my laptop is broken. I’d like to see if that is covered by my warranty and if I can get a new one.

Dell: The power supply?

Me: Yes, the little plug that goes into my laptop from the wall… it is not working. It does not give my laptop a charge. A friend of mine has the exact same model laptop and I’ve tested his power supply and it works perfectly.

I say this thinking we can skip a few pointless troubleshooting steps. Wrong again.

Dell: Okay… now by power supply you mean the A/C adaptor cord or pack?

Me: Yes, the power pack that plugs into my laptop and then into my wall outlet. I’ll read you the model number if that would help.

Dell: Can I place you on hold for a moment?

Me: Sure.

At this point, I’m simply amazed that this person can’t grasp what a power supply is. Perhaps I messed up - I didn’t use the words “A/C Adaptor” that would have appeared in their scripts. I’m also wondering what the hell she could possibly be looking up/asking someone. About 3 minutes goes by.

Dell: Hello?

Me: Yes.

Dell: Yes, I just want to make sure I am clear with what you are talking about. When you say power supply, you are indicating the A/C adaptor for your laptop, correct?

Me [trying not to sound irritated]: Yes. Are you sure you wouldn’t like the model number?

Dell: No, that is okay. Can I place you on hold again for 3-5 minutes?

Me: Yes, okay.

Now, I’m starting to get more irritated, but I think, “This has to be it. She’s gonna come back and ask me for an address to ship the new one.” Wrong again.

Dell: Hello?

Me: Yes, I’m here.

Dell: Can you please try using another A/C adapter?

Me: No. I don’t have another. That’s why I’m calling you.

Dell: Ehh…

Me: My friend has the same laptop. I tested his and it works. I’ve tried multiple outlets with mine - it doesn’t work. I’m fairly confident that the A/C adapter in my hands right now is faulty.

Dell: Can I place you on hold again please?

Me: Okay.

WTF! How can it be this hard? At this point, I’m trying really hard to be nice because I am in tech support - and it sucks when people fly off the handle. This is just getting ridiculous though - we’re 25 minutes into what was supposed to be a 10 minute call. A few minutes later…

Dell: Hello?

Me: Yes.

Dell: Thank you for holding. Is the LED light on the A/C adapter light when you plug it in?

Me: No. It is not.

Now I get my hopes up a bit, thinking that we might be nearing the end. Wrong.

Dell: Okay. I would like you to remove the battery from your laptop and try powering it on with the A/C adapter alone.

You’ve got to be kidding me. To humor her, I remove the battery so she can hear me doing it. I even pressed the button in knowing it wouldn’t turn on.

Me: Yeah, that doesn’t do anything.

Dell: Okay. Are there any visibly frayed wires?

Me: No.

Dell [sounding confused as hell]: Okay, may I place you on hold again?

Me: Yes.

At this point, I’m wishing I had taken a few shots before I had called. After a few more minutes…

Dell: Hello?

Me: Yes.

Dell: Thank you for holding, Mr. Priddle. Based on this information I am going to dispatch a new A/C adapter. Can I place you on hold to create the order?

Me: Yes…

Why the hell didn’t she do that before??!! Another 5 minutes goes by and she’s back. We spend the next 15 minutes going over my address and what we did.

The entire phone call took 37 minutes. Dell wonders why their tech support ratings have been going down for years. It was, quite literally, painful.

I wish they had a store - next time I’d like to just walk in and buy a new one.