Still Stuck In Dell Hell

by Jon Davis 7. December 2009 19:37

Just sent this off to Dell tonight.

So I placed an order (Purchase # ------------ [for a Studio 16 XPS Intel i7 laptop]) back in September, the order was delayed to October, it was then re-ordered behind my back to be delivered in November, then it was delayed again behind my back to be delivered in December, and then finally, behind my back, my order was cancelled.

That was weeks ago. I have still not been reimbursed for this cancelled order.

Look, you can ship the order (NOW!!) and keep the money, or you can cancel the order and return the money. You may not have both. Shame on you guys for trying to pull a scam like this off!

Please resolve this, now.

Thank you,
Jon Davis

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Dell: Wow. Just Wow. I Really Liked You. This Is Saddening.

by Jon Davis 9. November 2009 03:42

I'm trying to figure out if I should be extremely mad. But I'm really very sad, and amazed. And annoyed.

I always admired Dell, especially for some of their higher-end laptops and some of the innovations they’ve made. And I always figured that made-to-order meant made-upon-order, moderately efficiently, considering how long they’ve been in business and how successful they’ve been as the #1 PC vendor in the world. McDonald’s wouldn’t survive, after all, if their food took an hour to prepare.

I placed an initial order way back in early September, taking advantage of my Dell Financing available credit, but splitting my payment between Dell Financial and a credit card. The order was submitted online and received, and all was well, but that night/morning I received an e-mail saying that the order had been "rejected". Excuse me? I wasn't sure what to think. I called them up to find out what was going on. Half an hour later, after getting forwarded over and over again, I was finally told that I placed my order with one cent ($0.01) more than my available credit with Dell Financial. Huh?!! The order form figured that bit out. If that's what happened, it wasn't my doing, it was the order form. Anyway, I cancelled that order, after repeating my order number and security information at least five more times.

A week or two later, in the latter half of September, I placed another order, for the same computer (the Studio XPS 16 with the Intel i7), and this time while splitting payments I made very sure I was very careful to round down the Dell Financing part by $10 (for example $1259 would become $1250), so that there would be no "one penny" too much being overcharged like last time, with the rest on my credit card. I submitted that order, it was received and accepted. That night I got another rejection e-mail, and a day or two after that I received a phone call from a Dell customer service rep saying that my order had been declined because too much was charged on my Dell Financing account again. I asked how much had been charged on it. He quoted a number that was waaay over what I had manually entered on the order form, and I knew it couldn't have been a mistake on my part because it wasn't rounded down, and I triple checked while producing that order that it was rounded down.

I stayed on the phone with that customer service rep to be sure that this order was fixed. But they had to produce another order (cancelling the original order) and make another charge to another credit card because they couldn't make an instant release on the card they already charged. I registered a complaint with him and by the time the call was finished I'd been talking with him for a good 45 minutes or so. Then I went online and saw that the new order was not accessible to my profile's order history. I sent an e-mail to that same CS rep and he assisted me on how to merge that order with my online profile. Kudos to that fella, Rajesh_R-AT-Dell.com.

So now that my order was associated with my online profile--it was now the end of September--I could not get a delivery date, as it was listed as N/A. I e-mailed Rajesh R again about that, and received no reply, but then the next time I checked the delivery estimate was showing up as end of October, a FULL FRIGGIN MONTH out, which I thought was absolutely ridiculous, but survivable. I am, fortunately, getting by with my existing non-Dell gear, I was just looking forward to using the newer hardware which I had already "paid" for.

Well, that estimated delivery date came and went. When I looked online shortly before that date, I was shocked to see that it had been bumped out to around November 7--another week and a half out!! What gives?!

So I waited on that. If you look at the calendar, it's November 9. And what does my order status say?

Oh, apparently I'm only just getting started!! My order was CANCELLED AND REMADE ("Changed"), without my permission or involvement, with a new order date (not mine!) of 10/29/2009 and a new estimated delivery date of December 2, 2009. The order status is also no longer "In Production", it has been rolled back to "Order Processing" which means it's waiting for payment, and it's been there for a week. (Guess who's not placing any bets I'll get my September order by Christmas?!) No explanation. I think I could maintain some sanity if Dell would just say that critical parts were backordered. But they don't show me anything like that. No e-mails, either. Just *shrug* "Changed". As if they'll ship it when they feel like it.

Had this been an oddball personal experience, I would have a bit of hope that this will "just work itself out", but after scouring these forums both here and elsewhere for similar testimonies, I'm realizing that this seems to be standard practice with Dell.

The problem is, not only is this bad customer service, it's very close to illegal. It is certainly unlawful to collect money and not deliver on goods purchased, but it might be unlawful, if perhaps in civil court, to collect money without producing any clear expectations as to a deliverable timeline and a reasonable effort to meet that timeline or provide a reasonable explanation. When I purchase from Amazon I receive delivery within a week. When I purchase from strangers on eBay, I normally receive delivery within a couple weeks. In all cases, a rough estimate with reasonable accuracy is provided. However, in Dell's case, it seems clear that they are intentionally stalling, I suspect perhaps their Dell Financing is under-funded, I don't know, and I don't care, but for Dell to make copping out on an order this frequently is clearly unacceptable and should not be tolerated by its customer base, nor for that matter by Dell management.

It's for this reason that I feel that it may be responsible for fellow customers to see about instigating change--starting with online pressuring with the likes of http://ihatedell.org and perhaps going so far as a class action suit. I really don't know what to think. I just think that all of this is startlingly evil and wrong.

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Satellite Crash (or How Dell Frustrates Their Purchasing Customers With A One-Cent Error)

by Jon Davis 17. September 2009 22:56

Two years ago, I blogged with great excitement the huge investment I made in the most expensive laptop I could find at Fry’s Electronics, a Toshiba Satellite X205-S9359. Keep in mind that software, computers, and the web, are my career and my primary hobby at the same time, so I felt that this was a justified investment, and in the long run it ultimately paid off, as my Toshiba has served me every day non-stop for two years straight. (And needless to say, I’m single.) I reviewed it on Amazon as a "Fully Loaded Do-It-All Portable Mega-Station”, giving it only two stars, though, because of the price, because of its slow hard drives, and because it was HD-DVD and not Blu-ray.

Now the pay-off ends. This beast has eaten eight hard drives like a dirty cassette deck eats cassette tapes. And this week eat ate the last one I’m willing to tolerate being eaten.

Yes you read that right, eight hard drives. How?

Start with two hard drives. They’re slower than a turtle, crawling at 5400 RPM. Toss ‘em, replace ‘em with 150GB 7200 RPM’ers. Use ‘em for a year, watch ‘em fill up. Got no more room! So those get replaced with two 250GB drives. Half a year later, those stop working; data gets corrupted and the whole machine freezes up regularly. So I replace those, now 350GB. The machine works perfectly. Use ‘em for a few months, and the first drive pukes, I can’t even keep it running for a session. So the first of two drives (the main drive with Windows and all my programs) gets replaced.

Now here I am a couple months since the last replacement and I’m seeing the same symptoms—worse, actually, now system files are corrupted and I can’t open several apps I normally use because of corruption. In fact, I couldn’t even boot until I ran chkdsk to repair the data.

There’s a simple explanation for this “melting drive” behavior. Obviously, a fan’s not working right. Maybe a couple fans inside this monstrosity of a laptop are down, I dunno. I used to be able to hold my hand up to the side and it would blow hot air on my hand and scorch it like a hair dryer, now when I hold my hand up I can barely feel any air flow. So there’s no question it’s a fan outage.

The problem is that this is a laptop. I’m typing this blog entry on my mid-size tower PC, not the laptop. It’s a black white box (a black-colored “white box”), a home built PC. If this machine’s fans went out, I could just go to Fry’s and snag any standard PC fan. But laptops are proprietary little devils. You have to either seek out an equivalent unit on eBay that is broken down but hopefully has the working part I need (this investment costs hundreds of dollars) or you have to acquire it from the manufacturer (and this takes months of paperwork and waiting).

[UPDATE: Looks like I might be in luck. Part is here and here.]

Or, you can just toss the laptop and start over.

I don’t have the money to do that, but I think I’m getting antsy enough to be willing to shuffle some personal budget plans around to make it happen. It’s my primary PC, I can’t function without it! ;) (Actually, I literally can’t, even this mid-size tower won’t meet my needs because some software, namely SQL Server 2008 Express, won’t run right on it until I figure out why.)

That’s what I’m going to try to do; I’m going to rearrange my budget and make a laptop purchase happen. However, earlier this week when I discovered that Windows wouldn’t even boot because of corruption and concluded that my laptop itself is in an unusable state, I hopped onto Dell’s web site and made a selection. Given what the Toshiba has done for me for the last two years, I wanted this to be an investment that wouldn’t necessarily be a functional downgrade. I wanted a decent machine I would continue to enjoy like I have enjoyed the Toshiba all this time. So I made my selection—a beautiful Studio XPS 16—and went to check out using the online order form. I selected Dell Financing as my method of payment because I have a line of credit with Dell with which I bought a Dell Mini 9 a while back, which is fine for social networking but otherwise worse than useless for what I need of a primary computer. But the order form told me I didn’t have quite enough credit with Dell Financing to handle the purchase. It let me split the order to two forms of payment between Dell Financing and another card, so that’s what I chose to do.

Dell’s order form determined my available credit and split the charges using that value. I changed nothing. I only entered my address and debit card information for my bank to cover the leftover costs.

Within hours, however, I received an e-mail in my Inbox indicating that my order was put on hold because a payment method had been declined. So the next day (that was yesterday) I stepped outside from the office and called them up to ask what had happened. They told me that it was Dell Financial that declined my order. I spent literally 30-45 minutes on the phone with Dell trying to figure out what went wrong and to ultimately cancel my order. What happened was that when the order form gathered my available credit from the Dell Financing department, there must have been some kind of rounding error because the order form overcharged my line of credit by one cent ($0.01). One measly penny! I asked, “Can’t you extend my line of credit by one penny?” “No, I’m sorry, sir, when I put you on hold a minute ago I was asking if there was anything we could do about this. But there isn’t, you need to ask the sales representatives to submit an order that is less than or equal to your available credit.” Well they weren’t exactly able to help, I knew that the person I was speaking with wanted to help but her hands were tied. Anyway, I didn’t want to fix this problem, I had already decided to cancel the order before it was even “declined”, my selection was made too hastily without consideration of other options, but I was very angry with Dell for making me have to be the one to suffer the follow-up efforts on behalf of their own mistake.

I am truly befuddled by the one-cent mishap. How many customers have to go through this? Does this happen every time the payment methods are split? There is no “complaints and suggestions” e-mail address to pass these people a hint, either. Best I can do is blog about it.

I have since been looking at other brands such as HP. Dell has gone the way of Apple anyway, the Studio XPS, Adamo, and (*gag*) Alienware product lines charge way too much for making an artistic statement rather than for being practical. I’d be interested in the Dell Precision line but my line of credit only applies to home/personal products (which makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever). But I expect I’ll find a laptop, something practical that I’ll enjoy within the next couple weeks.

Meanwhile as for this Toshiba, I think I’m going to try to salvage it. I’ll keep looking for that fan I need, maybe I’ll get lucky and find just the fan on eBay sometime. I don’t see myself getting it working particularly soon so it’ll ultimately be a backup machine but a backup machine has to be in working order or else it’s not a backup, right?


 

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About the author

Jon Davis (aka "stimpy77") has been a programmer, developer, and consultant for web and Windows software solutions professionally since 1997, with experience ranging from OS and hardware support to DHTML programming to IIS/ASP web apps to Java network programming to Visual Basic applications to C# desktop apps.
 
Software in all forms is also his sole hobby, whether playing PC games or tinkering with programming them. "I was playing Defender on the Commodore 64," he reminisces, "when I decided at the age of 12 or so that I want to be a computer programmer when I grow up."

Jon was previously employed as a senior .NET developer at a very well-known Internet services company whom you're more likely than not to have directly done business with. However, this blog and all of jondavis.net have no affiliation with, and are not representative of, his former employer in any way.

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