Michael, Dell doesn’t tell, creates hell

Dear Michael,

This is not fan mail, Michael. Nor am I here to whine. This is all about facts; the names are real. I will quickly take you through a series of events before I come to what Dell doesn’t tell. And how Dell creates hell for me as a the customer and for itself.

Dell Inspiron laptop with monitor showing Order Status.
October 19, 2012. My new Dell Inspiron is just of its box.

Nothing beats the rush you feel when you start your new Dell. You love Dell; I love Dell. You own it; I own it—this is the fourth Dell I have bought in the last three years.

On September 8, 2012, I walked into a Dell outlet in my city and placed my order. There was no question of looking beyond Dell. And I knew my specs. I wrote a check for the full amount and I was promised delivery by September 25.

By the time my order status came up online, the estimated delivery date had become October 2, 2012. That was fine, I thought. What’s a week more for a Dell.

Delivery date was close but “work in progress” was not making any progress at all. The frequency of my calls and emails increased. Various theories were thrown at me—a very large corporate order, parts are in short supply, laptop of my specs not available, etc.

When it is clear the company cannot meet its commitment, why not just pick up the phone or send an email and tell the client the exact reason? Is it cheaper to let rumors float and leave everyone in the dark, including your own employees?

On October 3, one day after “estimated date of delivery”, I got a call from Veena. The gist of her call: my order has been cancelled. She had no idea why. She did know that Arvind did it.

Screenshot of Dell Order Status on October 8, 2012 showing estimated delivery date as October 2.
Screenshot of October 8, 2012. Estimated date of delivery has not moved from October 2. How do you do that? Travel back in time?

The customer, who has placed the order and paid for it, should be doing the cancelling. The vendor can very well refuse the order, for whatever reason. However, you cannot sit on the customer’s money for a month and then cancel his order, just like that.

I must mention here. All the people who spoke to me for Dell (Veena, Sagar, Amir, Freddy, Saaransh) were all very polite, very apologetic and very helpless.

By now, I was down to “gimme the laptop or my money”. When I called the outlet person for the third time with the same demand, he put me on hold and spoke to Bangalore (that’s code for Dell HO). He came back on the line to assure me that my order had been rebooked (Why? No one knows!) and Arvind (again!) would call me within 30 minutes to explain the situation.

I concluded that Arvind was a fictional character, just a convenient fall guy who did not exist. (It is a different matter his name appears on the invoice.)

My online order status was now looking busy with two orders—one a joke, the other, hopefully, the real thing.

Order status screenshot October 15, 2012, showing two orders, old and new.
Order status screenshot October 15, 2012, shows two orders. The old one still promises delivery on October 2.

On October 16, I received a message from Blue Dart, the courier company, that I would get my Dell consignment on October 19. Immediately after, I received calls from three different Dell people, giving me the same information.

Why pepper the customer with calls or messages, when things are happening the way they ought to? Why did no one bother to call to sort out a problem?

On October 18, the day before I got my Inspiron, I got a cheerful call from Dell. “This is your welcome call. How are you enjoying your new Inspiron?” I told him I was hoping to enjoy it thoroughly, as soon I got it.  I like your sense of humor, Dell.

The second welcome call was more timely—four days after I unpacked my fourth Dell. I requested him to call back as I was in the middle of a meeting. He never did.

I wish he had called today (October 26). Then I could have given him the update. That my week-old Inspiron is at the service center with a dead motherboard and a dead speaker.

If at all there has to be a delay, the least you can do is take a couple of days more and deliver the customer a product that works. Keep the customer in the dark, decide to cancel his order, rebook it and then deliver something that is dead in less than week. How is that for inspiring confidence?

Even before I placed the order in September, I knew that I would need at least two more Dells after March next. Then I read about the new Dell XPS models and I was sure what I would buy. That was then.

Now I am not very sure I want to touch those. Maybe it has something to do with what Seth Godin says: “The feelings are all that matter, and changing feelings takes humanity and connection, not cash.”

You know, Michael, talking of feelings, if someone were to spare five minutes to explain what was happening and why, I would have waited for another three months. Because, that is the way I used to feel about Dell. Well!

One question, Michael. A long time ago, when the other Michael sang, “…they don’t really care about us,” do you think he was waiting for a Dell?

Your friend,

Vij—oops! Customer no.782607148


12 thoughts on “Michael, Dell doesn’t tell, creates hell”

  1. If you replace Dell with any Bell, don’t you think we get the same Hell these days? Is there something wrong with the way we work? Is there something wrong with our education system? Are we forgetting to give values to our future generation?

  2. The point is here Customer service, in INDIA it’s always taken for granted sometimes by the customer and sometimes by the seller. moreover it’s the attitude here that drives these things, I wonder these same companies in USA & UK deliver like anything.

    The point is why there and not here !

  3. Sorry to hear this, but this might be good luck ! You should be able to return the Dell and get one of the better hybrids that came out yesterday! This time you won;t have to restrict yourself to Dell !

  4. Answering Shailesh’s question, theres a nice saying i heard from my good friend balbir,” The standard you allow, is the standard you get”. We have just allowed poor standards to get away for far too long and therefore friends we will have to keep putting up with these low standards of service till somebody has the “—-“, guts, to crack the whip.

  5. Amazing story…. I just shared it on Twitter. Dell! Dell! Terrible Tell!
    Aside: did you have your sense of humor at your side as you were going thru the Dell hell?!

    1. Didn’t have much of an option, mj. I continue to get apologies once in a while from call center personnel, who discover my personal Dell hell in the course of routine follow-up calls. All of them promise it would never happen again, as if they had some say in the matter. And as if I would give them one more chance.

      1. That sure feels good …….. on the other side I am thinking of human nature…….

        BTW, I am glad mj (and I am j) likes and appreciates your sense of humour 😉

        On Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 9:30 AM, WordPress.com

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