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.
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.
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.
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?
Vij—oops! Customer no.782607148