A recent bit of investigative journalism by the crew at Laptop Magazine has uncovered some shady sales tactics in use by Dell's support team. As part of their 2012 Tech Support Showdown, the publication placed three separate calls to Dell's support team regarding various issues and each time, they were solicited to buy additional software or hardware in order to resolve the problem.

The first call to tech support had to do with a question about using three-finger swiping on a touchpad. The rep informed them that this was a software issue and they would have to sign up for a paid software warranty before he could assist them any further. Packages included a one-time fee of $129 for a single incident or $199 (a special discount rate) to cover up to four incidents over the next year.

The focus of the next call was to ask about using Dell DataSafe to back up a computer. They were told that software questions, even ones related to Dell-specific software, weren't covered under the hardware warranty and they would need to buy a $239 software warranty to proceed. When they declined, the rep handed over the phone to his manager who explained that DataSafe online would be free for 2GB of backup storage for a year and a fee applied to extend past the one year timeframe. The manager then told Laptop Mag that it'd be easier to buy an external hard drive locally or through Dell for backup purposes.

Improving battery life was the topic of the final call and after a hurried explanation about not letting the battery drop before 40 or 50 percent, the caller was told he had won a daily drawing to purchase a four-year extended hardware warranty for $317. The rep continued to push the warranty on them even after they made it clear they weren't interested.

When confronted with this information, Dell told the publication that their observations gave them an important lesson to learn from. More specifically about each incident, the touchpad advice in the first call was said to be an error, questions about the second call were generally avoided and Dell's reaction to the third call was that daily drawings weren't a regular practice nor were they encouraged tactics in technical support.

Laptop Mag plans to profile other brands in the near future as part of their 2012 Tech Support Showdown.

Support image from Shutterstock.