Archive for December, 2007

Dude, Where’s My Dell: Day 73

Friday, December 28th, 2007

I’ve owned a few Dells in the past, but my current purchase might just be the last. I’ve had an almost indescribably bad experience buying my current PC. Well, it’s not indescribable, I suppose. In fact, I’m going to describe the experience right now.

I placed an order for a Dell XPS 720 with the Q6600 quad-core processor back on October 31. To give you some hint about why I’m so angry, here’s teaser: I’m still waiting for it, 2 months later, and no one at the company can or will tell me when to expect it.

That’s the short version of the story. Here’s a more detailed version, told in bullet form:

  • I created a Dell Preferred credit account (to get 6 months same-as-cash) and placed an order on Oct 31. The estimated ship date was in about 10 days.
  • Almost immediately, $1100 in charges were added to my account that did not belong to me. I called right away, and a rep told me the charges were accidentally placed on my account due to a technical glitch, and they would be removed from my account within a few days. After a week, those charges were still there. I called several more times. Finally, someone gave me a completely different story: now the mysterious charges were a fraud problem, and they sent me paperwork to complete in which I had to swear they were not my charges. Several weeks later, the charges were removed.
  • On November 9, I received notice that the PC was delayed. I called Dell, and a customer service rep said that it was delayed for the processor — and helpfully suggested that if I got a different processor it might ship faster. Seemed like a good idea, so I upgraded to the Q6700 processor, for an extra $800. This resulted in the order being canceled and re-created from scratch. New estimated delivery date was around Thanksgiving.
  • After a delay, the system finally arrived on December 3.
  • I immediately noticed the Bluetooth headset (a $100 option) didn’t work in stereo mode. After several hours on the phone with tech support, they decided it was a hardware problem and shipped me a replacement headset.
  • After a few more hours of setup the next day, I noticed the system crashed regularly. After several more hours of troubleshooting on the phone with Dell, they said they’d ship me an expedited replacement PC. Notice, it’s December 4. Replacement system scheduled to arrive on December 11.
  • The replacement Bluetooth headset arrived. Same problem: they didn’t work. Is this because of a fundamental problem with the PC (after all, the PC was crashing frequently and probably had some significant defect) or there’s a driver problem, and perhaps they simply don’t work at all with Windows Vista? I don’t know (yet). I suspect it’s the latter, but currently the jury is still out. For that to be true, Dell would have to be selling a Bluetooth option with Vista computers and not know it doesn’t work. Conceivable? Read on about their overall competency, and decide for yourself.
  • When the expected ship for the replacement PC date came and went without so much as a status update on the Dell web site, I started calling. I was especially concerned that there were two different, contradictory ship dates indicated on the site, depending upon where you looked, and both were increasingly in the past. I got rep after rep after rep in about a half dozen different calls who all insisted that (1) their screen showed the system "in production," (2) please be patient and wait for the system to arrive and (3) there was nothing to be done, it’ll work itself out.
  • Eventually, after about 4 days of this, I got someone on the phone who confirmed my fears–that the order was indeed lost or mis-configured and we needed to cancel it and re-create the order from scratch. On December 19, yet another order was created, now with an  estimated ship date of December 26.
  • Here it is, December 28, and history repeats itself. The system has not shipped, the order status is woefully inaccurate on the site, I’ve gotten no email updates from Dell about the status of the order, and several different support reps continue to tell me that there’s nothing anyone can do except wait for it to someday ship. I have essentially begged for someone to escalate this to someone who can actually do something, but it appears to be falling on deaf ears. "We’re a mail order company," one rep helpfully explained, as some sort of mind-boggling excuse for why it’s impossible for customer service to actually talk to someone in production about the status of my ghost PC, or perhaps to escalate the issue to a manager who has a more holistic view of the overall order/production/customer service picture and effect an actual solution. 

Wow. I’ve talked to a slew of reps, asked to be escalated several time, and I continue to not find a single person at Dell willing to actually "own" this problem, advocate for me, or find out what the real issue with my order actually is. I’ve been waiting for this PC for a few days shy of 2 months now, and spent $3300 for the pleasure of getting jerked around by Dell.

Unless something dramatic happens soon, there is simply no way I will ever buy a Dell again, or recommend a Dell to anyone I know. This is the kind of service that makes you wonder how the company can remain in business.

I’ve wondered what Dell could do at this point to win me back as a customer. And to be honest, I’m not sure. It would have to be quite a gesture.


Update: December 30: no change to the order status, and no communication from Dell despite numerous requests for assistance.


Update #2: I got a call from someone who identified herself as "Dell corporate customer service" yesterday, December 31. (Though the person had an Indian accent, so I highly doubt I was getting a call from Texas.) She reported:

  • My system was being expedited (but wait — I thought they said they were doing that already..? Is it now Super-Duper Expedited? Or was it not really expedited previously, despite what they told me? Or was it expedited before, and nothing is really changed, making her now a liar? Ah, my head hurts.)
  • It was being held up because of a missing/backordered component. I asked her what part that was, and she said the Bluetooth headphones. That’s right, folks–according to this woman, the $3000 computer isn’t shipping because of a $50 pair of headphones, which they could easily slap in the mail separately. Or so she claimed. In reality, I really, really doubt that this system is not being sent to me because they’re sitting around saying "We need to wait for the headphones, Ed. That computer is useless without headphones."

And today, I see the system has been inexplicably canceled again, with a new order number, resetting their clock on the delivery date yet again! Now it has a new estimated ship date of January 8. That’s right, Jan 8. That’s 3 weeks after customer service generated a replacement order, after they lost my first order. And it’s an entire month after they promised to rush me a computer to replace the non-functional one they sent me that I ordered at end of October.

Wanna start a pool on when it REALLY arrives? If it ever arrives? If you ask me, they should give it to me for free.


Update #3: The system shipped today. Interestingly, even though Dell claimed they were going to ship it Next Business Day, apparently it went out Second Day. This is the email I received from Dell this morning:

This e-mail is a follow up to our conversation concerning Order number 916848917. The replacement system under Order number 995209833 has shipped via DHL on 01/08/2008 and is estimated to be delivered on 01/10/2007.

Honestly, what gives?


Update #4: It’s here. It appears to work. Of course, the Bluetooth stereo headset does not work, but really folks, who honestly expected it to? After all, Dell only advertised it and charged money for it — expecting them to preload the proper drivers and ensure it functions is a bit too much to ask.

Nonetheless, on Day 73, the Dell Ordeal appears to be over. Thanks for reading.


Update #5: I spoke too soon. This replacement PC doesn’t work either. More to come in another blog post…

For Marin

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Sometimes, I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.