- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Direct-sales computer king Dell Inc. has stopped routing corporate customers to a technical-support call center in Bangalore, India, because of many complaints.

Tech support for Optiplex desktop and Latitude notebook computers will be handled from call centers in Texas, Idaho and Tennessee, Dell spokesman Jon Weisblatt said yesterday.

“Customers weren’t satisfied with the level of support they were receiving, so we’re moving some calls around to make sure they don’t feel that way anymore,” Mr. Weisblatt said.

Some U.S. customers have complained that Indian support operators are difficult to communicate with because of thick accents and scripted responses.

“They’re extremely polite, but I call it sponge listening — they just soak it in and say, ‘I can understand why you’re angry’ but nothing happens,” said Ronald Kronk, a Presbyterian minister in Rochester, Pa., who has spent the past four months trying to resolve a miscommunication that has resulted in him being billed for two computers.

Dell is one of a number of high-tech companies that have in recent years moved jobs out of the country to India and other developing nations for the cheaper labor, which in Dell’s case helps keep down the cost of providing round-the-clock support.

Corporate customers account for 85 percent of Dell’s business, with only 15 percent coming from the consumer market. Consumer callers won’t see a change in technical support, Mr. Weisblatt said, and Dell has no plans to scale back resources at the Bangalore call center.

Worldwide, Dell employs about 44,300 people. Fifty-four percent are located abroad.

Mr. Kronk has been credited for the second computer, but still faces late charges on a balance he says he never owed.

“Every time I see a Dell commercial on TV, I just cringe. They make it sound so easy, and it’s been a nightmare,” Mr. Kronk said. “I even said to them once that I’d like to speak to someone in the U.S. They gave me a number but it’s a recording and I can’t speak to a human being.”

Dell shares rose 62 cents to close at $35.14 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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