I Beg to Differ

OK — beg? No, not so much.

Dell deceived customers, judge says

I have no complaint about any alleged bait-and-switch. It’s this:

“Our goal has been, and continues to be, to provide the best customer experience possible,” spokesman Jess Blackburn said in a written statement to CNN.

Cough, splurt. Get on it, please.

I had the misfortune and displeasure of buying from Dell recently. I was buying a computer for someone else, and they had gone to the trouble of configuring and customizing it, and saving an e-quote. Which I could not retrieve — I apparently can only retrieve quotes for some predefined work group. So if you aren’t set up in the system, I can’t buy from the quote. My colleague didn’t create an account, so going back and even accessing the quote on his computer was problematic. At that point, if this had been any other purchase, I would have been shopping elsewhere, but approval had been obtained for this particular machine. Eventually — it took about an hour — we prevailed. I don’t see the business advantage in making it hard to buy something.

But the story doesn’t end there, since I had to get a replacement keyboard a few weeks later. Except there’s no actual part number on the invoice, and searching on Dell’s website led me to a dead-end. I had to pretend to buy a new computer to figure out what to order.

And even that is fraught with danger. I tried to replace a video card for an older machine last year, and found a list of compatible parts, but the Dell site wanted to charge me tax (government purchases are normally tax-exempt) so I ordered the part elsewhere. And it didn’t fit. An AGP vs PCI problem. When I contacted Dell to tell them their information was bad, I was assured that the card did fit my computer — it says so on the website!

Contrast those experiences with Amazon. I bought a new pocket-camera last week (SLRs don’t always travel well), and after taking a few pictures I noticed a spot in the same location on each. It became sharper when I zoomed in, and didn’t go away when I cleaned the lens. So it was inside somewhere. Went to their website, clicked on the “exchange this” option, and they overnighted a new camera to me (works great!).