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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Paul vs. Dell

I think I now have some personal experience with part of the reason Dell has been stumbling lately. On October 6, I ordered a Dell XPS 410. The cost was $1584, a bit on the high end for a midline tower system, but worth it, I felt, for the processor (a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo E6700) and the quiet case. But even from the second I ordered the machine, I could tell something was up: The expected ship date was October 25, 2006, or about three weeks in the future at the time. I've ordered a lot of Dell machines over the years, and I can't recall one ever taking that long.

Whatever. I could wait. However, reviewing the order a day or so later, I saw that Dell had the wrong billing address and figured that would cause some issues with the credit card company. (It was my prior address; I've been ordering Dell PCs for over a decade. My first was a Dimension XPS Pentium 166 with 16 MB of RAM, if I'm not mistaken.) So I called Dell. All the stories you've heard about Indian outsourcing are true, by the way. I asked them to fix the billing address, figured everything was all set, and forgot about it for a few days.

During that time, I occasionally checked for more reviews of the XPS 410 online. One of them included some info about the Firewire ports and made me realize if I didn't get the optional Firewire card (which I didn't need), I wouldn't get a front-mounted Firewire port either (which I wanted). So on October 12, I called Dell a second time to add the option. That added $29 to the cost of the system and pushed back the estimated ship date to October 30. Whatever.

Checking on the order the next day, I saw that the billing address was wrong again. So I called to change it again. The next day, I saw they had changed the shipping address instead, so now both were wrong. I called back. Got shuffled between four different people and was hung up on once. Grr.

On Friday, October 20, I checked on the order again. It had been cancelled. Confused, I called Dell and, after getting hung up on again, called back and discovered that the reason the order was cancelled had to do with the credit card: I'd have to call them to find out why. Now, almost two days after the order was actually cancelled, I have yet to actually be contacted by Dell about the cancellation. I had to notice it myself by manually checking the Web site. In fact, the only time Dell contacted me during this entire episode was to acknowledge the original order.

Oh, and the credit card? As you must suspect, there's nothing wrong with it. There's plenty of credit, the number is valid, and it should have worked fine. In fact, it worked fine this morning when I ordered a comparable HP Media Center PC online. It will be built around the first of November supposedly.

Here's the thing, and I asked Dell about this: If the credit card wasn't working, why didn't they contact me? Didn't they want the sale? And why did I have to do so much legwork during this entire thing? As my wife noted, if this is the level of support they supply during a sale, imagine how bad it gets after you get the system.

So I guess I'm not surprised to discover HP surpassed Dell this past quarter in PC sales. Maybe my experience is emblematic of the problems Dell is experiencing now, maybe not. But they've lost a long-time customer. I'm tired of being treated like crap, and it's not like I don't have a lot of other options.

Sorry Dell. But you lost me.
[ Posted at 11:33 AM | Permalink ]


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