Do Not Buy From Dell's Web Site

I couldn’t decide if this was a rant, or just a warning, or what. But I’m guessing there are people who want to vent about Dell’s ‘Customer Service’, so I put this in the pit.

The other day I ordered a new laptop for my daughter, who needs it for school. I configured it through Dell’s site, and chose the 3-5 day delivery option.

Today I got my order notification E-mail, and I followed the link back to the Dell site, which is now quoting a delivery date of Nov 30. WTF? I don’t want to wait a month for a laptop I could have purchased the next day at numerous places in the city. I ordered online for convenience.

So I searched Dell’s site for their cancellation policy, and the search turned up reams of very angry posts in the Dell forum. Apparently, these kinds of delays are common now - something’s wrong with Dell’s procurement practices. And you can’t cancel. Once the order is ‘in production’, you have to wait for them to ship it to you, then you can ship it back. But you have to pay the postage back, and they ‘may’ charge you a 15% restocking fee. For a $1,000 laptop, my only choice is to wait a month, then pay $30 shipping and possibly a $150 fee. I am totally at Dell’s mercy if I don’t want to do that.

This is totally unacceptable from an online retailer. There’s no way in hell they should be able to arbitrarily change your delivery from 3-5 days to a month or more, without giving you the option to cancel without penalty.

And it gets worse. This may not be the only delay. Some people have had their delivery dates changed 2 or 3 times. One person on the forum has been waiting for over two months.

I thought of simply buying a laptop locally and refusing the shipment when it arrives, but Dell’s got a plan for that too - they say that if they receive ‘unauthorized’ returns, they will refuse a refund, AND they will keep the returned item. They’ll consider it a gift from you to them. Isn’t that special?

In addition, there are people who are having holds put on their credit cards by Dell for the duration of the production. If it’s an order close to your limit, that renders your credit card useless until you get your order and it reverts to an actual payment you can pay off - which could take several months.

People who try to contact customer service are experiencing endless runarounds, disconnects, rude personnel, promises to respond by E-mail or phone which never materialize, etc.

A check on the BBB web site shows thousands of complaints about Dell, many of which have been unresolved.

Something’s gone wrong with Dell. It’s not the company it used to be. I wish I had known that before I ordered the laptop. Now I can only hope it’s not delayed again, and I have to go explain to my daughter that the laptop she thought would be here this week won’t arrive until the semester is almost over, and that’s if we’re lucky and there are no more delays.

Do not buy from Dell online. If you want a Dell product, buy it from Costco, which still has reasonable customer service. Order online at your peril.

If I owned stock in Dell, I’d dump it. This kind of service is death to an online retailer.

Can’t you do a chargeback? That’s the one really good thing a credit card is good for. Have you given your credit card company a call and explain the situation?

That was my first thought too: chargeback.

I would chargeback as well, and write the bbb. I would also consider writing an editorial letter or calling a local news station.

I’ll save you the TLDR post I have in my head, first because it’s too long and second because it’s too painful to relive. But yes, Dell does indeed suck ass, and seems not to care about it anymore.

Isn’t there also a special law in place allowing cancellation of this type of purchase for a short time after placing an order. Call the credit company and ask them.

All I can say is…wow…I’ve been a customer of theirs on several occasions and never heard of such underhanded behavior. I guess times have changed for Dell…thanks for the heads up, Sam.

If there’s an option that sics the government on them, do that one. From the sound of it, they need to fix their behaviour or be destroyed.

I’ve bought a few things from Dell. Never full systems, but I’ve never really had much of a problem with their delivery standards. Mind you it’s been about two years since I bought anything from them.

My major problem with them was that when I did buy something from them, they put a pre-authorization through on my card, and then when they finally shipped the item, rather than settle the pre-authorization, they made another charge, leaving the pre-authorization to languish, which takes 7 days to expire. So for a week I had almost $1000 on my card, $500 of which shouldn’t have been there and that I couldn’t make any use of until the pre-auth expired.

I even tried calling Dell’s customer service, but since they outsourced that to freakin’ India, it was like trying to explain chaos theory to a terrier. They didn’t seem to have the first clue what a pre-authorization was or how one is supposed to settle it, and in any event they couldn’t do a damn thing about it anyway because they’re in India and the charge was from Dell Canada.

For the customer service issue alone I try not to buy from Dell because if ever there is a problem, I do not want to deal with someone on the other side of the world who knows no more about my problem than what’s written in their script book.

While I agree Dell definitely has some issues and its customer service has long since gone down the hole, but I didn’t read anywhere that you actually tried calling customer service yourself and seeing what they say. Make sure to talk to a supervisor if necessary. There is a good chance you will get the same run around, but you also might get taken care of properly. Don’t blindly trust what people say on the internet as their circumstances are often not the same as your own, and companies often react quickly to this type of problem to fix it in their system.

A good place to contact is also The Consumerist, a website that deals with consumer issues and often runs stories on bullshit business practices like the one described in the OP.

They’ve had quite a run of Dell stories recently.

I don’t feel right about a chargeback, as technically Dell is still within the limits of their fine print.

Part of the fault is mine. I’ve gotten so used to great service from online retailers that I never even stopped to check the fine print on Dell’s site before pulling the trigger.

As for canceling the order, it’s technically possible to do it within a day, but very few people have apparently managed it. The tech support runaround required to actually talk to someone who will approve a cancellation takes more than 24 hours, by which time they will refuse, and they don’t seem to make exceptions for cases where the delay was their fault.

I’m basically flabbergasted that a company the size of Dell, that derives as much of its income from online sales as Dell does, would allow their customer service to become this poor.

The delays in building hardware would also suggest that Dell’s problems extend to their production facilities and probably their inventory management as well. In general, from what I’ve been reading since this debacle started I’ve found that Dell is a company with some pretty deep problems.

I don’t think I will ever buy another machine from them. If they’ve got these kinds of management problems, quality control can’t be far behind.

But far from the spirit of decent and honest service. Given what you describe in the rest of your post, i wouldn’t have any moral qualms whatsoever about a chargeback.

Actually, I’ve been hearing complaints about the quality of the computers for a couple years now.

I had the same though. I bought my desktop and laptop through their website and never had a problem. Sucks to hear that isn’t the normal experience anymore.

If what you say is true…screw them. I mean, you went into the contract with the expectation of a 5 day wait for shipping and the moment that you press Send they turn around and say “ha ha. Just kidding. We really meant 30 days with the option to extend it to 90.” That’s not what you agreed on, fine print or not.
So if you can work it out with customer service, more power to you. I wish you the best of luck.
But if it comes to a decision between calling the credit card company and saying you want to cancel the transaction or eating hundreds of dollars because Dell has no possible way of allowing you to stop a transaction that thus far has cost them nothing…I know which way I’d lean.

Again, have you actually personally called customer service? Even if what you say is true, I guarantee they will waive the restocking fee, at which point you are just out the cost of return shipping (which is a risk you take with many online vendors).

I really am not defending Dell here, Dell has gone far enough downhill that I would probably buy just about any other brand before Dell at this point. It is ridiculous their would be no way to cancel your order when it is delayed. However, you have provided no evidence that you have given them a chance to fix your (and not others) situation.

That’s not saying much. You’ll find that’s true for any company that has as many customers as Dell. People complain.

All I can say to that is that I’ve been a loyal Dell customer for a long time and every system we’ve bought from them has been a good, reliable performer.

Back in the old days I swore by Dell. I bought 4 or 5 machines from them. Then . . .

I will never do business with Dell again. They struck out.

Same thing happened with HP. I probably bought 1/2 dozen machines from them and a dozen printers. Now, no more.

These companies wonder why they struggle. They blame the economy. The fact is, they are managed by a bunch of shitheads who have no idea that their customers expect them to honor their warranties, their extended warranties and the quality of their basic product. They suck and should go out of business.

(Ex: I bought one of the top line machines with a full service, in house warranty that I paid extra for. The mouse failed early on. It was flat-out defective. I tried to tell them that because I knew enough to be able to diagnose it myself. After all the cost and hassle, some dimwit in Calcutta with no authority tried to keep me on the phone for 2 hours doing diagnostics on the stupid mouse. All I needed was a replacement mouse. I finally had to hang up, and go to Staples to buy and buy a new one. The fuckheads lost a customer for life because they wouldn’t just send me a new mouse that probably cost them $2. No more orders for $2,000 machines from you assholes. Also, your printers suck. The software is a nightmare.)