I just had quite the experience with Dell, but it all worked out in the end, so I am appreciative.
I know I knocked Dell only yesterday for their customer service, but I still wound up trying to place an order with them last night. I got an alert from SlickDeals about a great offer, 40% off Inspirons over $999, and I couldn’t resist. See, at the moment Dell still offers pricing and deals that none can match, so there I was.
I configured an excellent system:
- Dell Inspiron 6000
- Intel Pentium M Processor 725 (1.60 GHz/2MB Cache/400MHz Front Side Bus)
- Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
- Windows Media Center Edition backup CD (how this is not free, I don’t know, but for $7 I needed it)
- TV Tuner w/ Remote Control
- 15.4 inch WXGA LCD Panel
- 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM 1 Dimm (I paid an extra $25 for one Dimm, instead of two, to allow cheaper aftermarket upgrades)
- 128MB DDR ATI Mobility Radeon X300 PCI Express x16 Graphics
- 40 GB Hard Drive (enough for me, I use external drives heavily)
- Integrated 10/100 ethernet and modem
- 8x CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) with double-layer write capability
- Intel PRO/Wireless 2200 internal wireless (802.11 b/g, 54 Mbps)
- No productivity suite (gotta get one myself…)
- No security subscription (MSN gives me McAfee for free as a member
- 6-cell Lithium Ion Battery AND an additional 9-cell Lithium Ion Battery (HUGE battery life there)
- 1-year limited warranty
So, a kickin’ system, with room for upgrades, priced out at $1,556. The 40% off coupon knocked off $622.40, I added a photo printer for $30, and shipping was $19.
Grand Total: $982.60
So, all is well, I’m happy, no need to deal with customer service (although I did call them up to confirm the upgradeability of the RAM). So, I’m about to purchase, and all of a sudden my browser gets caught in a redirect loop, refusing to load any page. I am forced to shut the browser, disable and then reenable my wireless card, return to Dell.com and redo my order. At this point, I had been working for over an hour, so that actually went quickly, as I had pretty much memorized the configuration. Still, when I got to checkout and entered my code, it was…
Why? Because I had already used it. Which was true, technically. Problem was, I may have applied it, but I certainly hadn’t completed a purchase. So I made the dangerous step of calling Dell.
90 minutes later, I was punching the wall. See, the online support phone department was gone for the day, so I kept getting bounced around from the Home Sales department to the online support department (which of course did not pick up the phone because they weren’t there, and I even got voicemail). The Home department was too stupid to realize that the online department was dark. The Home department was not authorized to help me.
So, I gave up, and try live online chat support. After the web client crashed and reset itself four times, I got a human being (on a keyboard, natch). I explained my situation, and was helped by being told:
I’m not authorized to help with that.
I was given the phone number and told to call the online support department when they opened at 10 a.m. Eastern. I went to sleep (unhappy) and called them at 10:02 a.m. this morning. They told me:
We aren’t authorized to deal with coupons
Why? Dammit! But they did forward me to the redemption department (or whatever the hell they’re called). When I got there, they told me they are only authorized to deal out $75 and $100 coupons, no more.
This is where I took control, and became their support representative.
Well, ma’am, I may have a solution for you. Today, Dell is offering a 34% discount on Inspiron 6000 and Dimension orders. Now, as configured, this system is still $1,556. With a 34% discount, we are looking at $529.04 off, or a total of $1,056.96. Now, the 40% coupon discount last night totaled $622.40. That means, that with a stackable $100 coupon, the total order price would be comparable to last night’s order, which no one at Dell is authorized to allow.
Now, don’t be confused. That was not the representative talking. That was me explaining to her the options available to her. This because I was completely aware of Dell’s current sales. This because I was completely aware of the options available. This because I realized that the only thing she was authorized to grant what is known as a “concession coupon” that is stackable over all other sales, sales that normally only allow one coupon.
Let me nail it down: I had to explain to the representative her options, because I, the customer, was more aware of it that she was.
Well, I must have done a good job, because I got my concession coupon. I re-configured my system, applied the coupon (it worked!) and bought my system.
(Inspiron 6000) $1,556 – (34% coupon) $529.04 + (photo printer) $30 – (concession coupon) $100 + (handling w/ free shipping) $19 =
Grand Total: $975.96
I actually saved $6.64 over my original order. And I earned it, over a 14-hour period.
So, the verdict: Dell has a ways to go towards training their representatives. They need to train their coupon department to be aware of ALL coupons and ALL options; to ask the right questions and use their brains to find a solution, and when all else fails, just give the customer what they want. Dell also needs to train their other departments to understand better which department deals with which issues, and to never forward a customer to a closed department (give them schedules!).
Oh, and I’d like to add that not once did I get an Indian representative, so you guys are off the hook. That said, Russian call centers stink!
So, I am getting my first ever Media Center system, one capable of actual gaming and, hopefull, running Windows Vista. I’m even going to have a decent printer. I worked my butt off, but I’m getting what I wanted. It won’t stop me from using Dell in the future, but it does give me an idea of just how prepared I’ll need to be.