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Dell Stops Using Tech Support In India

After an onslaught of complaints, direct sales computer king Dell has stopped routing corporate customers to a technical support call center in Bangalore, India.

Tech support for Optiplex desktop and Latitude notebook computers will be handled from call centers in Texas, Idaho and Tennessee, Dell spokesman Jon Weisblatt told The Associated Press Monday.

"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," Weisblatt said.

The development was first reported Saturday by the Austin American-Statesman.

Weisblatt would not discuss the nature of the dissatisfaction, but some U.S. customers have complained that Indian support operators are difficult to communicate with because of thick accents and scripted responses.

Dell is one of a number of high-tech companies that has in recent years moved jobs offshore 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 about 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, Weisblatt said.

He said Dell has no plans to scale back resources at the Bangalore call center or change employment plans in the United States, although he would not comment on specifics.

Worldwide, Dell employs about 44,300 people. About 54 percent are located abroad.

Among Dell customers dissatisfied with the company's use of overseas labor is Ronald Kronk, a Presbyterian minister in Rochester, Pa., who has spent the last four months trying to resolve a miscommunication that has resulted in his being billed for two computers.

The problem, he says, is that the Dell call center is in India.

"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," Kronk said.

Kronk has been credited for the second computer, but still faces late charges on a balance he said 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," 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."

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