Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dell loses a customer …

Dell really made a bang back some years ago with their fantastic build to order strategy. You could call them up and they would ship you a computer in no time at all.

So when I was looking for a new laptop for work, I looked at Dell first. I also looked at other brands, finding a few that I liked, but Dell’s site is generally the easiest to use (although their user interface fails a lot on various browsers.)

I really like using a small laptop that I plug into a large monitor at home and at the office. 12” is my favorite size, but 13 is also excellent. I am looking for a desktop replacement with 8GB RAM and a fast processor on the order of an i7 620M up through an i7 840QM … these things are really fast and they support hyper-threading for 4 or 8 threads of execution respectively.

I narrowed it down to two laptops … the Alienware M11x and the Studio 14. The studio is a bit bigger than I wanted, but it has the wicked fast i7 840QM … unbelievably quick for a notebook processor. The M11x is nicer in the hand and has every single feature I want except one … the processor is a bit of a joke. It is an i7 640UM. The U stands for “Ultra Low Voltage” but it might just as well stand for “Ultra Slow” … too bad, because I would love to use one of those machines.

Anyway … I bit the bullet and ordered the Dell 10 days ago or thereabouts. I was immediately annoyed by the projected ship data moving out from 24 September to 18 October. Sheesh … a month to build a laptop from parts? Seriously? But I swallowed my irritation because I knew how great the machine would be in day to day use.

I had ordered an extra power supply (always need two) and a nice mouse and mini surge protector … the last two being on sale. The power supply shipped separately and so did the other two as one other shipment. Both arrived several days ago.

It had been a while since I checked the status so I looked yesterday morning and found that it had been cancelled. That seemed really peculiar, as I did not cancel it. I was busy until the afternoon, when I finally got a chance to call. It took several attempts because the commerce site is in the US and calling those numbers connects you with people who cannot see Canadian customers or order numbers. Sheesh …

They finally transferred me to someone in Canada and we discussed the issue. It seems that the reason why a product gets cancelled is a build configuration problem. This is really strange, since cancelling it loses my place in line, and we are already about 1/3 of the way through a month-long build cycle. So pausing it and calling makes way more sense.

I was so annoyed with the thought of getting back in line that I told them to leave it cancelled … that I was done with Dell (and I am.) So I got an RMA for the power supply, which I have packaged and sitting in my car waiting to go to the UPS store (which keeps banker’s hours for reasons unknown.)

The cherry on top of this travesty is a call I got this morning from Dell, informing me that my order had been cancelled … they had actually left a message on my cell yesterday, but I did not get it until well after the issue was terminated.

He went on to tell me that the graphics card I had selected was not available on the Studio 14 (so why the f*ck was I allowed to select it?) and that all we had to do was to redo the configuration and reorder the laptop. And for my trouble, they would give me an extra $20 off over the $30 I was saving by not getting a good graphics card :-\

Jeeeeeeeez …

I gave him a real earful at this point:

  1. Your build times are *far* too long … 1 month to install parts into a laptop? That should be 1 *day* …
  2. Your machines are uncompetitive. The Sony Vaio Z series is a 13” laptop that is just as well speced as the Studio 14 and is *cheaper* … and Sony ships in a week …
  3. Your web site sucks if it lets me pick illegal options …
  4. Your process for handling issues during the build is *terrible* … you don’t *cancel* a 1 month build cycle near the middle … that’s *insane* … you interrupt it and then *resume* it where you left off … that adds 1 day, not a week and a half.

I am having trouble thinking of Dell as a serious company nowadays … the above mentioned issues all impacted me on this order and lost them a customer. Probably forever as there are lots of brands out there. When you look at their lineup, one thing that strikes you is the mish mash they have made of the configurations … they make no sense together. Some offer one version of Office, others offer a different version. Some offer modern processors, others look like they were designed 5 years ago.

Dell … get it together.

2 comments:

juniper said...

I am intrigued that you have to shop for your own laptop for work. Do you get some kind of allowance in Canada, rather than a ThinkPad?

Kim Letkeman said...

I have a W500. A rather large and heavy beast. I am looking for something small and much faster to carry day to day. It is not uncommon for people to pick up an extra laptop to augment their tool set.