Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Shout-Out to Jerry Strother of Dell Financial Services

Jerry Strother (strä-thər) from Dell Financial Services called me today. I'd had an issue with their website recently and, while it was a simple fix, it took several hours for me to come 'round to it, ultimately on my own. The service rep I chatted with after too much time spent trying to reach a human via their customer service phone line wasn't in a position to help through no fault of her own, and reaching customer support on the website was impossible as the problem was that I couldn't log in.

My first instinct upon seeing an 800 number listed as 'Toll Free' on the caller ID was that whatever bot was on the other end of the line would be greeted by an immediate hangup, but as I always do I answered just to ensure that it wasn't a call we needed to take. A human voice asked for me politely by name and responded with his own when I asked who was calling. Because I'd just gone round with Dell I didn't immediately hang up, but still expected the scam to begin any moment. I'm always interested in hearing the latest hokum - gotta keep up on this stuff, ya know - so I listened as he explained that he'd become aware of my issue and that he and Dell's technical staff would very much like to address it.

Still skeptical, I explained in the vaguest terms that I'd tried to make a payment, but had been unable to until I went to a different computer and used a different browser, which had at no point been suggested. He stated that Dell's technicians had been unable to recreate the problem, at no point taking a tone of blame toward me, just seeming genuinely flummoxed and eager to get to the bottom of the thing, and asked if I had any screenshots of the issue that might help them identify what went wrong, even though he realized that was very unlikely. If I'd had screenshots I wouldn't have immediately shared them, since they capture an image of various extensions and who knows what nefarious scheme may be in play by someone trying to glean that information (not to mention what browser and OS I use and anything else that may be on my desktop at the time), but he didn't ask for anything more, didn't seek any PII (personally-identifiable information), didn't press me for anything other than, if it wasn't too much trouble, would I please contact him should I have the same issue again and we could try to get to the bottom of it.

Mr. Strother asked if he could give me his extension, not just for my sake but that of any other customers who might be having the issue(s; there was also the problem of not being able to reach a human via their customer support line). I agreed, but in any case like that my agreement is contingent upon first having done some research to see who I'm dealing with. If they're legit as far as I can tell, then yeah, you got it, but if not, their deception negates any contract.

I looked him up, [jerry strother dell], and found a few complaints including his name. Went to look at them and with the exception of one young lady whose family had fallen on hard times for a bit, and who was trying to make payments and was honest about her situation, most were from folks who sounded as though they were excusing their own oversights and in some cases outright deceptions, or who thought that unavoidable occasional equipment failure absolved them of their responsibility to see through with due diligence the separate processes of dealing with said failure and with the contract into which they entered willingly in order to purchase the product. Those are two separate things. While we've had issues with the DFS website in the past, and in getting payment problems resolved (years ago), they've always been quite good about responding with regard to product issues.

One person had actually spoken with Mr. Strother, but was unsatisfied with her result as it didn't end with her getting her money back and keeping the laptop she loudly insists is a lemon. (It could be. Having worked in semiconductor fabrication, there are always going to be those components that get through the process without being up to the manufacturer's, seller's, and consumer's expectations. Shouting about it rarely solves anything.) The rest of the complaint pages contained his name because he had responded in their comments, even-handedly and with respect, to their complaints with an offer to try to help. On each page, at the end of his third attempt to contact the individual, he would say that if he didn't hear back by the end of business the following day, he'd assume their matter had been resolved, which seems perfectly reasonable to me.

If I were a 'pissed consumer' or posting a complaint on a public message board, I'd probably be skeptical of this person so eager to have me call him, but the numbers he gives are Dell numbers and he has a dell.com email address. I just want to say, if you have an issue about which Mr. Strother tries to contact you, give him a listen, see what he can do. Be reasonable. He probably can't absolve you of your credit burden (that's of your creation and remains your responsibility) and he probably can't fix your computer, but he can probably escalate your issue to someone who can either fix it or help you get to a satisfactory resolution, and from my dealing with him today I'd say he'd really like to.

Of course he wants to keep business for the company - given DFS interest rates it behooves anyone who uses their service to check around for a lower one, as I informed my service rep I'd be doing (and still will, although I'll wait a month now and see if I can help out Mr. Strother) - but he also gave an impression of actually caring about customer service. Even if it's only an impression, in this day and age and having done what he does for as long as he apparently has - several years at least - I appreciate his approach. Thank you, Jerry Strother, for doing well what can't always be a fun job.
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