Resellers have spoken out about Dell's "arduous" post-sales support service in India, claiming there is a lack of understanding of the channel and products.
But one partner has claimed it's the distributors which are most at fault, and some of the big broadliners "don't want to know" about any RMA (return merchandise authorisation) issues.
Now resellers have voiced criticisms again, this time over the way the support teams in India handle RMA issues.
Dave Wilding, account manager at reseller Shadowfax Technology, said Dell's Indian teams do not offer reseller-specific support, which he said creates "barriers".
"You phone up Dell and you speak to an Indian call centre and they don't understand what distribution is and the fact we are a reseller," he said. "The whole process is really arduous, which in turn diminishes the whole purpose of the channel."
Wilding said when there is a product which is dead on arrival, he is forced to ring up the Indian call centre, which will ask for a Dell order number which he, the reseller, doesn't have as the product is bought through distribution. He then has to go back to distribution which creates further complications as they are often reticent to help.
"We have an account manager over there [in India] but he is only a sales guy; he is not interested in providing the rest of the service," he said. "When it comes to needing other areas of vendor support, we are forced down the same route as all the other end-users."
Wilding also said the Dell direct teams compete for prices against distribution, and sometimes offer a better price-point than the distributors if the "account manager is more desperate for the sale".
"It seems a bit strange that despite Dell saying we love the channel, and we are going to look after channel partners, there is still [this] strange internal competition at Dell."
Wilding said Dell is not the only vendor guilty of providing inadequate post-sales support, but another reseller, who did not wish to be named, said he had problems with the Dell support service.
"The Dell hardware side is a well-oiled machine, and has been for many years," the partner said. "The software side has been evolving for them to get all the software and security products under a services process, and therefore it has been slightly frustrating."
The partner said there is a general lack of understanding and a lack of product knowledge of Dell software from the Indian support centre which can create problems.
In response to these claims Dell sent CRN a statement, which said: "At Dell, we pride ourselves on being there for our partners when they need us and that means ensuring after-sales support is accessible to partners no matter what their size or turnover. With that in mind, we offer all partners and customers, whether they have purchased from Dell directly, or through a distributor, a basic level of support.
"As a first step in the support process, call centre agents require a service tag to identify whether the caller is a partner or a customer in order to ensure they receive the help they need. Alternatively, partners and customers can choose to pay for ProSupport to access the highest level of technical advice and expertise.
"The overall feedback we've received in response to our customer support services has been positive, with less than 0.5 per cent of partners escalating issues to us."
Where does the responsibility lie?
But while Wilding was critical of the support he receives from Dell, he felt it should be the distributors' responsibility to help resellers resolve RMA issues, rather than the vendor, and that generally the broadliners pass the buck when there are post-sales issues.
"The big ones are the worst; we will get a more dedicated service from the more niche players but the broadliners are more difficult to deal with especially with their high turnover of people you deal with and teams of sloping shoulders."
One partner, who did not wish to named, also said distributors' service was on the whole "somewhat lacking".
"The distributors almost have the reseller partners eating out of their hands so they feel they can get away with whatever level of service they want," the partner said.
Wilding singled out Exertis, one of Dell's UK distributors, as particularly unhelpful with post-sales support.
"They [Exertis] will forward things on to customer service and they will take a considerable amount of time to get back to you," he said. "In the most recent case, I've gone to customer service directly and the account manager was copied in but there has been no intervention from him. Customer service has been very blunt and said this is dealt with by the vendor and we have nothing to do with it.
"We've had a number of dead-on-arrival Dell products over the years, which Exertis will provide no aftersales assistance with," he added.
Exertis was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
When asked which party should take responsibility for post-sales support, Wilding felt the onus should be on the distributors as they market themselves as "value-add" and are UK based.
"To some degree they should smooth the process of our vendor interaction and not just fob us off with the same customer phone line," he said. "In this case, where there is no responsibility at all from distributors and the vendor doesn't understand who you are, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place."
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