Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Open letter to Michael Dell


Your people's approach punishes your customers who do not follow your processes which are not clear; also, these processes cause your people to give ambiguous instructions. Before the events described below started, I had researched Dell's ratings. Some things that I noted, and ignored, came about. My intent here is to document what happened clearly. Perhaps, you might learn from this.

By the way of introduction, except for systems bought in the early 90s (one still working), I have bought Dell computers. These still work (10 years old, 7 years old, 4 years old) even if I do need to nurture the function of the older models. I am currently writing this on the 4-year old (Vostro) which has performed marvelously (still does). But, I need a larger laptop plus something a little more mobile.

So, to the gist of the story. I ordered a Venue 10 in February. I thought that it might be large enough. The Venue and its accessories came quickly with no problems (two boxes, though, from two different places). After a week, I saw that it was too small. The keyboard was awkward (larger hands and fingers, also I am a touch typist so I do not hunt and peck). Incidentally, I have an early Toshiba laptop (the model that went up on Everest). Its keyboard was quite comfortable.

I called Dell to initiate a return. Your agent asked, would you take a discount and keep the thing? Well, I opted for that. Dell gave me a discount. But, after another week, I did not see any need to keep the system. Also, I think that I need, at least, a 12" to have a more comfortable keyboard. I called Dell, again. The person that I talked to was hard to understand but ended up sending me one address label. I had asked about this. To the person, and by email.

There was no response, so I put everything into one (the larger) box and took it to UPS (destination, Ohio). There were several items in the box: those that came originally in the larger box plus the Venue which had come from a different location by itself in a smaller box. Everything was packed well in the larger box. I received notice of receipt by Dell plus UPS notified me of delivery.

Recap - timeline:
    Feb - order and receive; start return
    March - pack and ship, confirmed by UPS and Dell; call about refund
    April - calls about status and refund
    May - calls about status and refund
We are now into June.

I got a refund in short order for the items in the larger box. When I called about the Venue, I was told that Ohio did not handle these types of returns. But where was the Venue? I had feared that someone would swipe the Venue. But, it sat on the shelf for over six weeks. After several calls, we worked out that the Venue was supposed to have gone (by itself, separate box, address label) to Tennessee. Tsk, Tsk for me (stupid customer).

So, we have a problem in this instance. Your people implied that the process could not work because the records in the computer were not right. Okay, is that my problem as a customer? When the box was opened in Ohio, the extra item (the Venue) ought to have been noted and put into some type of return process. As in, change the computer record to reflect this. But, no, the Venue was put on a shelf somewhere.

In response to some of my calls, your folks noted the time lapse and promised that the remainder of the refund would be done in 3 to 5 days. On the last call (two weeks ago), I was told that the case was, finally, in finance. That is, there had been some change made to the computer record, the Venue had been shipped to Tennessee, the Venue was processed back into the Tennessee site, and the refund process was going forward.

And, I was reminded that refunds could take 30 days. By this time, it was already over 60 days from receipt of the Venue by Dell in Ohio.

Today, I re-checked; there is no refund. We are not talking a huge amount. It is not the money. Rather, I wanted to see just how botched up your process might be. Too, I got an earful of your people's attitude. As well, this has caused me to delay my purchases.

So, the issue is that I ought to have been sent two address labels. However, even with that, the person opening the package in Ohio could have done more than just put the Venue on a shelf. Then, I talked to several people who could not figure out what had happened. Some actually suggested that the problem was due to me (stupid customer). Meanwhile, the Venue sat and sat. At some point, in late April, one of your folks got the process going to get the computer record updated so that the Venue could be handled properly (planned delay to make me squirm?).

What gives there? Dell is supposedly a top-notch technology firm. And, it takes six weeks to move one little computer one state over? I could drive that in half a day.

My purchases are pending resolution of this little tangled mess.

BTW, since I am a long-time customer, I got an email asking how the purchase went. I responded and never heard back. I have sent notes through various means. It is like a blank wall. That is, people respond to a call; then, things are dropped. Where is the follow-through that would help with your customer relations?

Fortunately, I can still call which I will do in the near future. When I do so, I will put notes below.

Like your canned music. Being on interminable hold (time and again) can be bothersome. But, perhaps, the light at the end of the tunnel is close at hand.

Remarks: Modified: 07/15/2016

06/03/2016 -- Called today. Another 45 minutes or so. Most of it was the Dell person having me on hold while he researched the problem. After some circuitous movement through cases, delineated by long numbers, we got back to the original one. That was nice, as I recognized the number.  In short, he verified what I knew. Made sure that I knew that I was to blame by insisting that Dell sent two labels. My email shows that I got one. And, the Venue was in Tennessee by early May (six weeks) at which time the refund process went to Finance as I learned when I called on May 3 and verified on 11. Why did I call back in 8 days? On May 3, the person said it would be 3-5 business days for the refund. We are waiting. 10 weeks after the Venue was in Dell's hands. The Return department has done their thing; now, they say wait. Some more.

06/06/2016 -- No refund, as this am. The computer sat on a shelf about four hundred miles from where it should have been for six weeks. At least, it was not stolen. Does that, perchance, say something of the Venue 10? BTW, I drive that in a day. Perhaps, I ought to have offered to carry it from OH to TN.

06/14/2016 -- The last time I spoke to Dell in early June, it was the Returns department. They informed me that the they have done what they could and that I ought to contact Finance. So, not being an irritant, I waited and was going to call today. As, there is no refund. I have been checking, every day. Just did a few minutes ago. Now, to call Finance, I needed a number. Looking, again, at the FAQ, I saw that refunds could take 60 days from receipt. Let's see. That was March 21st. So, we're approaching over 90 days. But, it sat for six weeks. The clock then started in late April. The FAQ suggested to check Dell account. I had been doing that; last time was on the 6th. So, I see, today, that on the 7th, payment was approved. The notice looks like an order with a delivery date. The type of delivery was for 7-days. So, that would be today, unless it means business days. In any case, the order said that it was awaiting pickup by the delivery system. Okay. The other credit was back to the card used in the order. Other? Yes, the part of the order that was returned to the right place. That worked well. It was the part of the order that went to where it ought not that caused this hangup. So, the question is, when will the refund pop up? There are purchases pending resolution of this. Not from a financial sense; rather, a mere matter of principle. In the meantime, I am looking at other options. You know, Samsung looks good.

06/30/2016 -- Went to my Dell account. This refund is put out as a shipment. It says shipped. That record was put there on 6/7. Of 2016. There has been no completion So, I called. By email, I got a Credit Memo. Which I am to take to the bank, the Dell person said. There has been no transaction that corresponds with the CM. ... Spent two hours on the phone. So, the Credit Memo, more or less, shows what Dell paid so far. And, it was as of Mar. It took Apr and May to get the Venue processed. According to Zaid, there was a credit posted on 6/7. But, it takes 30 days to kick in. So, we have to wait until July 7th to find out. ... That would be receipt on Mar 21 (confirmed) with refund in July. Well over 90 days. But, then, it's my fault as a customer for letting their process have a system sit on the shelf for 6+ weeks gathering dust. I am grateful that no one ran off with the thing. No one wanted a  Venue?

07/07/2016 -- Nothing. Mike, are you running a scam?

07/11/2016 -- Nada. Talked to several people. Lines were dropped. Spent 45 minutes, twice, on hold, listening to the music. How? Phone on desk, speaker on, and doing other work. I was finally told by one person that it was paid on 6/8/2016. What? Yes. Also, I was given a number to call that handled credit card disputes. But, I did not use Dell's credit. I didn't use credit at all except for handling the payment. The thing was purchased in February, paid in March, returned in March. I tried the number. Long wait on hold. I also left a message.

07/12/2016 -- No return of the message. So, I chatted with AmEx. I don't know if they like that contraction, but I use it. I told AmEx that Dell swears that they sent a credit. You see, this raises the concern of AmEx about mishandling or reputation. Whatever. They said to get a Credit Memo. That was done earlier. Now, if Dell gave me such, they would be saying that they paid. But, where is the credit? So, I called that number given to me yesterday. The guy says. The payment is in the final stages. But, I respond, I was told that on June 30th and was told that it takes 30 days starting on June 7th. How long does it take? He comes back on the line and says 48 hours. He also gave me a confirmation number. So, we shall see. However the next two days unfold, I intend to recap this. It seems to be a problem on the consumer side, not the business side.

07/14/2016 -- Going on 48 hours. No credit. How many people have gone through this and gave up? That is, Dell, then, kept the money. How is this illicit gain accounted for?

07/15/2016 -- What's up with Dell?