People seemed a bit surprised when, last week, Dell announced it will start selling versions of the Dimensions PC at Wal-Mart. Folks ask, what happened to Dell’s sword-in-the-stone of “selling direct to the consumer?”
For your consideration: An email I received from my sister two nights before the Dell announcement. She’s a hotshot web designer in Cambridge, MA, and wanted to upgrade her desktop at home for freelance work:
Bear with me; I want to write this so I can see how truly crazy this is:
I ordered a desktop Dell (my laptop isn’t working well) online. I did not receive a confirmation email so I contacted them on the phone. Their first line of customer service is in India. I talked to a nice but clueless woman who said there was no order in the system, had checked "everywhere.” She said to re-enter. Uh-huh. So I go and re-enter. I get emails from Dell saying your order is in process etc. Then, I get an email saying TWO computers had shipped and two packages of Acrobat (of course they shipped the computers FedEx and software DHL). I also ordered a refurbished monitor and the Indian woman had told me they would try to redeliver today. They didn’t come and I called and they said it had been held at the facility in Wilmington, MA since Friday.
I took the day off today to get my last chance at signing for these stupid computers. They are not supposed to come before 7 a.m. Guess what? Uh-huh. I call immediately, and FedEx tells me that their drivers are all contractors and so they have no authority over them to try and redeliver, even though the guy had JUST left my house. Now, they are telling me that one computer was sent back to a FedEx facility even though the tracking said it was out for delivery, and the other one is lost in space. Re: the packages of Adobe acrobat – both were signed for and received by someone named Wilson. The person on the phone said, "Gee, maybe they delivered it to Tremont Street in Boston." Oh f*** me.
So now, I have to drive to Wilmington after work in crap traffic and hope that both machines are there plus the monitor. I have to then drop off one of them with a UPS ship tag to go back to Dell (God forbid they let me send it back to them the same way they sent it to me!)
I would rather deal with someone seeking asylum!
I wonder how many thousands of stories like these are floating around out there. Not only does Dell screw it up, so does FedEx (long on my list of companies gone south). I wonder how long it will be before Dell slips into the morass that holds companies like GM and Ford. Reaching out in panic to Wal-Mart is the first treacherous step on a slippery slope to irrelevance.