Dell: NA-Based Tech Support Will Cost You

Anyone ever had a tech support issue, not just with Dell, but with any company, and ended up with a TS rep who was obviously based in India or Manila, or some country with cut-rate employee pay? of course you have. It doesn't even have to be a tech company for that to happen. And have you ever wished you could speak to someone in the U.S.? Probably. Dell says they can guarantee you a support person in North America, but only for a price ...

It's called Your Tech Team. Thing is, although the Washington Post first brought it to light on Thursday, it doesn't appear to be new, at least me. It seems that it was first unveiled in July on the Direct2Dell blog. Your Tech Team costs $12.95 / month for customers with a Dell account, or $99 when buying a new PC. It promises, besides service in N.A., that wait times will average two minutes or less.

What's interesting is that in the blog post announcing the program, Dell said the following:
Finally, there is one other piece of information you’ll want to know about Your Tech Team—the agents are based in North America. Now, I know this can be controversial for some people but we have 2 critical customer needs to meet that are in direct conflict with each other. First and foremost, customers want low prices. We see time and time again, that when we increase prices to cover certain costs we drop in sales. We also have a great deal of research that corroborates that PC decision making is largely influenced by price and customers expect low prices from Dell. On the other hand, we must balance that with many suggestions that we provide North American support. Dell’s philosophy is all about providing customer choice and this service is no exception, rather than adding cost to every system for something that many people aren’t interested in, we will make it optional.
Translation: N.A. reps cost more (and let's face it, living in the U.S. vs. India, they have to) and thus, since we know many people want to speak to a N.A. rep, we will pass the cost on to you. Dell spokesman Bob Kaufman told the WP:
Occasionally, "we've heard from customers that it's hard to understand a particular accent and that they couldn't understand the instructions they were getting. This illustrates Dell's commitment to customer choice." 
As echoed in the Direct2Dell post, right? Choice, at a price. Honestly, we must admit, we find it annoying when Johnny answers the call and we can tell he's not Johnny, but someone in India using a fake name. At least have the courtesy to use your real name, huh?

But our main problem is not that we can't understand them; our problem is that in general we know way more than they do. They run off a script, and if your problem deviates from their script, they have no idea what to do.

And quite honestly, everything they generally want me to do ... I've done already. This isn't isolated to Dell, by the way; we're speaking about any tech-related issue: Comcast and AT&T in particular really tick us off with this.

Anyway, what we'd really like Dell to do, is if we're going to pay this type of cash, rather than giving me support in N.A., and guaranteeing us two minutes or less of a wait, is to guaranteeing us  a support person who knows what they're doing. It doesn't matter what country they're in, as long as that's true.

Of course, perhaps part of that equation is in fact the country; perhaps the language and culture barrier is such that out-of-country tech support simply doesn't get it. According to the WP, the customer satisfaction score for overseas PC call centers was 23% lower than for U.S. call centers, as noted by the CFI Group.

And finally, for those who say the concerns about call centers in India being racist or protectionist, Sharmila Rudrappa, a sociology professor at University of Texas at Austin and native of Bangalore, India said to the WP:
"I hear people say all the time that people who complain about call centers in India are being racist or nativist -- but it's not as simple as that. If you need tech support, it already shows you're having a crazy time getting your Dell computer to work. And when things go haywire, you want assurance, you want familiarity, you want someone to hold your hand and say it's okay. What you don't want is to have to work at understanding the person on the other end of the line."
Amen to that.