Living Below Your Means
Dude, Didn't Get a Dell

Related Links
Discussion Boards

By DocM47
July 20, 2009

Posts selected for this feature rarely stand alone. They are usually a part of an ongoing thread, and are out of context when presented here. The material should be read in that light. How are these posts selected? Click here to find out and nominate a post yourself!

I'm not sure if this is the correct venue for this post, and if not, if someone will point me in the right direction I'll post it there.

I thought others might enjoy, and possibly benefit, from my recent order process with Dell. I have purchased two Dell computers for my own use in the past, one desktop and one laptop, with fairly satisfactory results. It's time to retire my desktop, and with some of the promotions being run by Dell, I thought I'd order a new one. This time, the results were far from satisfactory. Those who want to skip all the details should scroll down a bit. Here's the timeline.....

6/4/09: Entered the order online. The order included the PC, monitor, printer, and a few extras, some of which were "free". There was nothing noted on any of the items ordered regarding backorders, delays, etc.

6/11/09: I received an email from Dell stating that two of the items in my order were on backorder and would delay the order. I was instructed to call them to let them know if I wanted to continue with the order or cancel it. By then the promotion was over and I told them I wanted to continue with the order. They said it would ship within the next week.

6/19/09: I received another email from Dell stating that one of my items was still delayed. I made the same call, telling them to continue with the order.

6/22/09: I received an email from Dell stating that my order had shipped. My credit card was charged for the full amount. The delivery date was supposed to be 6/25/09.

6/25/09: As promised, four boxes arrived at my house. These boxes contained some of the miscellaneous extra items in my order, but not the PC or monitor. Interestingly, one item was a little speaker which I had not ordered. I called Dell to inquire about the PC and monitor. They told me both had been shipped, gave me FedEx tracking numbers, and promised they would arrive by 6/29/09.

6/29/09: No PC or monitor yet. Called Dell, was told they would arrive by 7/1/09 at the latest. Called FedEx and they said the order had not been picked up yet. Called Dell back and they said they would work with FedEx to correct the issue. (I should note that on every call I was told "We will make this right for you". I think this must be a phrase the Dell support folks are trained to say.)

7/1/09: No PC or monitor yet. Called Dell and was told that my order had been canceled. When I asked why, they said the cancellation was due to FedEx not picking up the PC and monitor on time, and since the promotion was over, Dell's policy was to cancel the order. They said the refund for the PC and monitor would be credited to my credit card within 5 business days. I asked them why they couldn't go ahead and re-send the PC and monitor. At this point I was told again that the promotion was over and that I would need to re-order the computer at the current prices. When I checked online the price for the PC and monitor was higher than the promotional price, not including all the free stuff they were throwing in. I then asked about the boxes I had already received, and they said the "current purchase price" for those items would be deducted from my refund. Now angry, I told them I wanted to return everything for a full refund. After being transferred four more times, I finally spoke with someone who emailed me the shipping labels for the returns, which I printed, stuck on the boxes, and delivered to the carrier that same day. As an aside, one of my neighbors is an executive at the local FedEx center. I called him, told him about the issue between Dell and FedEx. He checked into the situation and told me that Dell had never contacted FedEx to pick up the PC or monitor. When I went to the FedEx site with the tracking number from Dell, I got the same message.

7/3/09: Received a refund for some of the items returned on 7/1, even though they were still in transit back to Dell. Called and asked about the other refunds and was told they were in process and should be credited to me by 7/6/09.

7/6/09: Called again and asked about the refunds. Was told they were in process and should be credited to me by 7/8/09.

7/8/09: Received a refund for the rest of the items returned on 7/1. Called and asked about the refunds for the PC and monitor and was told they were in process and should be credited to me by 7/10/09. (Again, "we will make this right for you").

7/10/09: Received a refund for the PC (but not the monitor). Called and asked why. After more than an hour on the phone with at least 7 people, I finally talked to someone who looked up the refund and noted that Dell had, in fact, refunded me the purchase price for my PC. No kidding.... I asked again about the monitor. He said that portion of the refund would be processed when Dell received the monitor back from FedEx. I explained that FedEx had never picked up the monitor, and suggested that he look at the tracking information for the monitor. He put me on hold for about 10 minutes while checking on this, and found that the refund for the monitor had, in fact, not been processed. It seems that the instructions were to refund the purchase price for the PC, which they had done. He then said he would expedite the monitor refund, and that I should expect it within 3 business days.

7/15/09: No refund for the monitor yet. Called and asked about it. Was told it was in process and I should expect it within 8 business days. When I asked why the time-frame for processing the refund was getting longer, I was in the process of getting transferred to someone else when I was disconnected. Called back, went through about 15 minutes of transfers, and was told that 8 business days was the Dell standard for refunds.

7/17/09: No refund. Called again (I guess since I had not talked with them for a couple of days) and was told to expect it by the end of the month, and they were going to "make it right for me." At this point I don't want to call again for fear that it will delay my refund until the end of the year.

I wish I could predict an end to this story, but I'm not sure what it would be. I've mostly given up, and have already internalized that the monitor refund will not materialize. My wife (the optimist) is sure that the rest of the refund will show up eventually. I've told her that if it does, we'll use it to finance a nice dinner and a show.

The bottom line for me is that I'm disappointed in Dell for several things:
- They did not process my order correctly.
- They refused to honor the promotion after it was over, even though the delays and errors were their fault.
- The processing of the refund has been handled badly.

It's been a few years since I ordered a computer from Dell. Back then, it was a quick, painless process. When you needed to talk to someone, you were connected quickly to someone who could answer your questions. Now, not so much.

I'm a physician, not a computer expert. And I know that a huge corporation like Dell will make mistakes, but this borders on what I'd call gross incompetence. Suffice to say that I will never order a computer from Dell again. We had a staff meeting Friday afternoon at my hospital, and during a break I entertained a few of my fellow docs with this story. I was amazed at the litany of similar Dell stories that followed, including some real nightmares. One doc had ordered a new computer from Dell, which arrived on time, and his son found out that the internals of the computer were not anything close to what he had ordered (and paid for). Dell never did "make this right" for him. Another guy told us about a laptop that wouldn't even boot up when it was delivered, and after numerous attempts over three months, it couldn't be fixed. He returned it and had a "restocking fee" deducted from his refund, which by the way took 60 days to process. So it's not just me....

Anyway, if you're still with me at this point I applaud your patience and hereby prescribe a cool glass of iced tea and five minutes of quiet time.

And of course any suggestions are welcomed, especially where I might buy a new desktop computer.

Doc M