I sympathize with your Indian chat experience, David. My Dad complains about the difficulty of understanding lots of different tech support people with various companies for similar reasons, often.
I am ambivalent about this and other recent "consumer protection" lawsuits being filed by the NY Attorney General, however. There may be good cause to define and correct the reasons for poor customer service complaints, but let's also consider a couple of other things, as we do.
1) 2007Q1 sales figures reported by Dell were 4,126,000 units. (Contrary to the ABC article's headline about being the "No. 2 computer seller", Dell posted the #1 numbers for 2007Q1, beating #2 HP by more than 500,000 units and #3 Gateway by nearly 3 million units, according to Gartner Group stats.) Out of those, NY consumers sent 700 complaints to the AG's office, including complaints about customer service and with regard to misinterpretations of the company's financing plans, among others. I don't know how many complaints were received by other AGs, nor do I know how many units were sold in NY, but that strikes me as a trickle of complaints, more than a flood.
2) Is it possible that people's expectations are out of line with reality? What is the definition of "customer support"? (I agree that the lady who waited 6 weeks for an "in-home" tech visit waited too long, but what was she guaranteed? 48 hours? No time-based guarantee?)
3) And to stoke the conspiracy theorists, why is the NY AG's office bringing all of these lawsuits, now? Is Gulianni running for president, or something?
Like David, my first choice as IT Director of a large law firm is Dell. We've never had any trouble with the hardware (don't get me started on the operating system, which causes pretty much every problem we've ever had) and they're tanks compared to similar offerings from other vendors at a price point that often shaves 20% or more off their competitors' units for more features. Plus, I like the way they build their cases.
We have never purchased any of their service plans, and we have never used the ones that get thrown in with the deal, because we've simply not had any problems with them. Software and operating systems are our problems, not Dell's.
I may even go so far as to suggest that David's problem with the docking station might not have anything to do with Dell hardware, but rather with the way the operating system integrated with it. If the laptop plugged into the docking station successfully, but then failed to communicate with it, that indicates a failure of the operating system, not the hardware (unless there was actually a physical problem with one of the pieces of hardware involved, in which case no phone support technician would have been able to troubleshoot it ... that requires bench-testing.) I am glad to note that your dissatisfaction with the support had to do with a language barrier, rather than with whatever the guy might have been saying.
So, IMVHO, while I do agree that a vendor who sells packages that include hardware and software should support the total product shipped, including being able to resolve software-oriented issues, I simply cannot bring myself to agree that an Attorney General for one state in one country should be initiating a lawsuit over complaints about the level of service a relatively few consumers have received.
My 2 cents.