Dell Doesn't Care Where You Live, Keeps Delivering Packages To The Wrong Address

Elizabeth went out and bought a Mac after Dell twice sent Windows XP replacement CDs to her old address. After each failed delivery attempt, Elizabeth called Dell, which repeatedly promised that they’d get it right next time. One CSR even claimed that he personally called DHL to change the shipping address. (He didn’t.)

Elizabeth’s story is just one of the many examples showing that piss-poor customer service can directly lead to lost business.

It has been over 3 weeks since I ordered a set of windows XP replacement cds, and still no sign of them. I ordered the disks using the form on dell.com and received an email saying that the disks would be sent to me in 3-5 business days. When I had not received the disks after over a week of waiting, I checked my account information on dell.com, hoping to find some answers. It was clear that the customer service rep never read the original form that I submitted and sent the disks to the “original shipping address” instead of the “current shipping address”.

I replied to the original confirmation email (as the email told me to do if I had a problem) and explained the situation. I received what was obviously a form letter in reply saying that the situation would be corrected and that they would send out a new set of disks the following day. After waiting a few days for the “order info” to appear in my account information on dell.com, I was shocked to see that the disks had AGAIN been sent to the wrong address.

This time I tried calling customer service directly. After being on the phone for nearly an hour being transferred to a series of people whose English was barely intelligible , I was finally connected to a rep who said that because the package had not yet been picked up by DHL that he would personally contact DHL and change the shipping address on the package. He also stated that I would receive a confirmation email that same afternoon with the case number of my problem and all of the relevant shipping information.

By the next day I still had not received any confirmation email. My dell.com information still had the incorrect shipping address. Likewise using the DHL tracking number provided on the dell.com order info page, I saw that DHL still had the incorrect shipping address listed.

I called customer service again and was told that I had to be transferred to the technical support department to solve the problem. While I was on hold, the voice recording over the hold music told me to “have my credit card ready” so that technical support would be able to charge me for talking to them. I immediately hung up when I heard this. There was no way that I was now going to pay to talk to technical support about a shipping issue for a supposedly free set of disks.

I called customer service back immediately and was connected to a different representative who said that he would indeed be able to help me. He pulled up my file and said that he saw I had called the previous day and that the agent I had spoken to had contacted DHL and had changed the shipping address. The representative was quite rude and treated me like I was crazy for calling to confirm what I had been told the previous day. When I asked why I had not received a confirmation email about this (as the rep the previous day had promised), I was told that between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon Dell had changed their policy and that they were not allowed to email me a copy of my case number and complaint information nor could they even tell me the case number over the phone. I was however promised by this rep that the disks would arrive on Tuesday.

Tuesday came and no disks. I received an email stating that my order had been “resolved and closed” because the package had been delivered. Magically, they now included the case number in the email, the case number that on Saturday I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to know due to their “policy”. The Dell representatives had blatantly lied to me.

I checked the DHL.com tracking information. The disks had been delivered alright…AGAIN at the incorrect address. I called DHL directly and asked them if they had ever received any request from Dell to change my shipping information. Of course, they had not. The Dell representatives had blatantly lied to me about this as well.

I called customer service for a third time and explained the entire situation again. I told the rep that I had just gotten off the phone with DHL and that even though her computer said that Dell had contacted them about the shipping change, DHL had no knowledge of this. All she could tell me was that because the order had technically been delivered, the only way to receive the disks was to start the request process from scratch. I did so. So here I am Friday, sitting here still waiting for the disks to arrive knowing that some poor soul at my old college dorm has now received two sets of windows XP disks and is probably wondering what the heck is going on.

There is currently no information regarding this third order on my dell.com account info page. At this point, I just want to see if Dell will EVER be able to send the disks to me. Thank goodness all I had ordered were a set of free disks, imagine if this had been done with a full computer system.

This was not my first horror story with Dell customer service, but it will certainly be my last. I am currently typing this on my shiny MacBook. The final selling point for me was that there is a physical Apple store nearby that’s open 24/7 – 365 days a year with customer service reps that I can look in the eye. Then if they lie to me, at least they have to do it to my face. ;)

Welcome, Elizabeth, to a new, better world.

(Photo: Getty)

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  1. ReidFleming says:

    Sometimes it is very hard to undo what is embedded in the matrix. Some hotels still have my old AMEX number from my previous company over 6 years ago. When I check in, they say something like, “This card is showing up as invalid.” When I check the number against my actual card, I can tell it’s the old, and long-ago canceled, card. Each time they say, “I’ll take that off your account and put the new one on,” but that apparently doesn’t do anything.

  2. billbobbins says:

    Stop buying these mass-manufactured PCs. They build them out of the cheapest parts they can find with the idea that it’s cheaper to replace the 10% that go bad. Learn how to buy 8 simple components: CPU, motherboard, memory, hard disk, case, power supply, video card, and DVD drive. It’s easy to put them together and the individual NAME BRAND parts last much longer than the unknown parts you get from Dell. And you don’t have to guess which drivers to get – you know your model number of the motherboard and video card, so you go right to the manufacturer’s website.

    Buying quality parts means that they rarely go bad and you don’t have to spend hours on the phone with techs in India that don’t even own a computer themselves.

    • nicemarmot617 says:

      @billbobbins: I think the problem is that most people buy laptops now and those are vastly more difficult to build yourself. I built my own desktop, but I bought a laptop from Toshiba. If you do your research, you won’t wind up with Dell and their horrific “customer service.”

    • ReidFleming says:

      @billbobbins: While I agree with your sentiments and do exactly as you recommend all the time, I find your comment out of place here. She needs some replacement CDs shipped to her. Further, it also pays to remember that nearly every business on the planet is going to buy pre-built systems and will also want them to be marginally-reliable. I do not recommend Dell for that (although my office is all Dells — except for our Sun Ultra45′s) but it’s a fact of life.

    • Parting says:

      @billbobbins: Where can I learn that? You make it sound so easy.

      It took me hours to find what kind of RAM to buy to extend mine. And after I discovered, that my cpu won’t even detect all 4 Gb.

      So where can you can get SIMPLE info?

      • Mr_Human says:

        @Victo: It’s actually a huge pain in the ass to build your own, at least the first one. You’ll learn a lot, though. But is it knowledge that most of us want or need? And it’s not for the non-technically inclined. billbobbins is being a little unrealistic, I think.

      • 2719 says:

        @Victo:

        32bit versions of MS Windows can’t recognize 4 GB of RAM. It will show as 3.25 GB. You need to install a 64bit version of Windows XP or Vista to get to use all 4 GB.

        @Trai_Dep:

        LOL

        Apple mostly uses the same hardware components just wrapped in a nicer package. The only company that still sells a computer with no DVD burner included as standard. Yet even the cheapest PCs come with one. So yeah I would consider a Mac if they were about 50% cheaper.

        • Logan26 says:

          @2719:

          You are mostly right, but also wrong. 32bit OSes do see 4GB of ram, but because of memory addressing, will not see all 4GB of system ram depending on the components you have installed in the system. if you use onboard video(intels) with 1mb shared instead of a 512MB video card, you’ll see closer to that 4GB limit.

          @Trai_Dep:

          You must be an Apple OP or something. Except for notebooks, Apple is just way to expensive compared to any equally built PC. ANd Dell offers no OS installed on their highend stuff. They also offer by the far the best coverage I’ve ever seen warranty wise. They have a no questions asked Accidental warranty coverage plan where you could run over your lappy or desktop with your car and they wont ask how or why, they simply replace it. I’ve seen this first hand. The problem 90% of all PC users have is that NONE of them buy warranties for their computers, be it a 400 lowend machine of the 3k highend box. Almost every Apple user I’ve met buys a warranty with their MAC of any make.

        • nox says:

          @2719: Yes he would have to install a 64 bit OS to recognize all 4gb of memory, but if he is upgrading an older pc that does not have a cpu with the 64 bit extensions that recommendation doesn’t work. Of course I would assume putting 4gb of memory into a computer it would have to be a pretty good cpu, but if its a Dell it could have a P4 for all we know and would be unable to run a 64 bit OS.

          • Logan26 says:

            @nox:

            Oye vay, where do you people get this stuff. A 32bit OS can see 4gb of ram, but it can not use all 4gb of ram because of memory addressing. If you have 8800GTX card which has 768MB of ram, take that amount of ram away from teh 4gb system ram installed. Have 2 of them, take 1.5GB ram away. A 64bit os is not needed to support 4gb, but should be used if one wishes to actually use that 4gb of ram.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @Victo: Whenever I’m in the market to build a computer, regardless of where I actually buy the parts from I always start on Newegg.
        I start by finding a motherboard I like, using the specs for the MB to find a chip that I like and that fits, and then finding Ram that works. Newegg has a huge repository of reviews as well to let you know what other problems people have come up against (like ram not being detected, not working with other OS’s, etc).
        Basically, since the heart of your computer is the motherboard and the chip, start with those two items, then find additional items that are compatible. Then find a case that will fit, and buy peripherals and accessories, and viola!
        If you really want to learn how to build a computer, most community colleges should offer some sort of computer course as well. Check it out. A $300 investment could save you thousands in computer parts and support problems because you’ll know how to do it all yourself.

    • Shadowfire says:

      @billbobbins: Generally, buying a pre-made PC instead of building a frankenclone means you have a company to call when things go wrong. Snapping the parts of the PC together is easy enough, but you forgot the whole “installing Windows can at times be a complete pain in the ass,” and “when something goes wrong, you better know what you’re doing” parts.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      Don’t order replacement CDs. As long as you have the serial number, you should be able to install from ANY CD of the same version of Windows (at least, you can with XP). Just bittorrent that shit, or get a friend to make a copy of theirs. No dealing with lazy and/or stupid Dell employees.

      @billbobbins:
      The only thing to really seriously worry about is the power supply (because it can take out everything else in the system, and will USUALLY take out the motherboard).

      And while you’ll get a system of known quality if you build it yourself, you don’t get the volume prices the major manufacturers get, so even if you buy cheap parts, once you figure in the Microsoft tax, you’re going to be significantly higher priced than them…particularly when looking at low-end systems.

      I noticed my dad bought an HP desktop without consulting me today. I will advise him to get a replacement power supply at his earliest convenience. (His last two systems were built by local shops, that used brand-name parts)

      @JayDeEm:

      Buying the right components IS more complicated. Everything else is WAY easier.

      @edicius:

      What should she have done? Stuck with a company that can’t fix a simple mistake with multiple tries? Life is too short to spend on hold with retards.

    • msbask says:

      @billbobbins: Why are people so pompous? This suggestion is as ridiculous as the posters who gave someone hard time a while back when she got a bad oil change. Not everyone can learn how to do everything. Do you grow your own food? Wire your own home? Perform your own root canals?

    • ViperBorg says:

      @billbobbins: Forgot fans, my friend. But yes, I have never bought a pre-built desktop computer. Ever. It so much easier, and more rewarding to take the time to learn how to build it yourself. And cheaper too.

      On that note, I hope Dell learns how to type an address.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @billbobbins: Unfortunately, you can’t custom build a laptop… But definitely, if you’re in the market for a desktop, build it yourself!

      • Hyman Decent says:

        @Oranges w/ Cheese: You can build a laptop yourself, albeit not quite “from scratch” like you can with a desktop – you’d start with a barebones kit that includes a “case,” motherboard, display and possibly a keyboard. (Or so I’ve read. I did once find an etail site that offered such barebones kits but I can’t seem to find any now.)

    • amuro98 says:

      @billbobbins: Stop buying these mass-manufactured PCs.

      Yeah, how’s that custom built laptop working out for you?

      Sure, you COULD spend the hours researching which parts to buy, looking for the best price, and then spending about a day assembling, testing, installing, and updating (not to mention rebooting). Not everyone, however, has the technical background, or in my case, the patience to do so.

      And if you do go the custom built route, and find a problem, who do you call? The manufacturer of the part will blame the motherboard maker, the motherboard manufacturer will blame Windows, Microsoft says don’t call them, period. Yeah, this kind of headache is worth saving a few hundred bucks over… Been there, done that.

      The real tragedy here is that Dell used to be a really good company – great computers, good service. They once confused my shipping and billing addresses on an order, apologized, and sent me correct shipping labels. Even paid for express shipment. That was about 10 years ago, though.

    • Major-General says:

      How many times do I have to repeat this: DHL can’t deliver a cat out of a wet paper bag. Or find an address within a mile of their distribution centers.

    • blackmage439 says:

      @billbobbins: It is still nearly impossible to custom-build a laptop, which is what this person’s Dell and MacBOOK are.

      Way to read the damn article, and be knowledgeable in the area of building computers.

  3. Nick1693 says:

    Hope you like the new Mac. =)

  4. ameyer says:

    Since when does Dell charge to talk to tech support?
    That said, what sort of incompetent system does Dell run?

    • JalenJade says:

      @ameyer: Dell charges to talk to tech support for anyone that’s out of warranty. But this should not apply to anyone requesting replacement OS disks.

  5. JalenJade says:

    As someone who worked for Dell QA I know what the problem is. The idiots they have answering the phones are just not doing things right.

    The software which Dell uses for notes has 2 spots for address when you’re sending things to a customer. I would guess a high percentage of the agents on the floors update the address in the wrong spot. (This is partly due to a major flaw in the software)

    When sending an item to the customer the shipping information is pulled from the main account header, but when you select an item to be shipped out it presents editable address fields. These don’t get sent to the shipping company though.

    This is one of the things QA could send to the supervisor for the agent doing wrong and the same agent would continue to do it incorrectly.

  6. Trai_Dep says:

    Forces of Light and Goodliness: 1
    Forces of Dark and Badliness: 0

    And. PC build-it-yourself guys? Bravo. Really. Honest!
    But recognize that many people don’t want to burn the cycles. They simply want something That Just Works. Similar to hobbyists who like fixing up their car on weekends versus those that want to spend that time playing with Teh Kittehs and lounge at the beach. To each, their own. So let it go, huh?
    And, the whole point of avoiding Dell, Acer, and the many PC mfrs that have worse consumer satisfaction rati… is that they don’t skimp on parts to “save” $50 only to leave you cursing over the next five year of life of your computer. Apple offers value over price, a smarter choice for many.
    Let it go. :)

    • Parting says:

      @Trai_Dep: Aha, and couple of $K of difference.

      With all Dell/Gateway cpus I had, I had on one problem with the sound card and one problem with DVD writer.

      Even replacing these, costed me much less that a mac, and all 3 are still running smoothly afterward.

      Plus I can ran more games, than on a mac.

      So buying a mac, is only worth, if you have extra money to throw at a machine. Which would be outdated in couple of years anyway.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @Victo: Pound for pound, spec for spec, Dells cost the same as Macs. And with iLife and all the other fully functional, useful and just plain snazzy software that’s included, you come out ahead going Mac. Not even getting into the dizzying combo of vital software that PC users need to get the thing going. And the headache of stripping out the bloatware. And. And. And.
        Although, back in the day, there was a price premium, so I understand your confusion. It’s just your info is out of date.

        Real life example. A friend was in the market so I suggested a Powerbook for under $899 (school discount). Point. Click. Grin. He said, “Too expensive!!” So he spent over two hours on Dell’s site, ending up with a $1,400 system (but with FREE laptop fan unit!!). Received it 1.5 weeks later, and the damned thing won’t sit on a flat surface without wobbling. Seriously. Could have gone MacBook Pro and not had a wobbly, brand-new laptop.
        That’s Dell’s model: bait & switch, throw in worthless freebies then chuckle as that “$700″ system transmorgifies into a $1,399 one. While collecting $$ on the side from loading useless trial software that takes a half-day to strip clean.

        And, Macs are dual-boot, so if Blizzard, Maxis, Activision, EA etc., aren’t enough to meet your gaming needs, you can boot under Windows to play Valve games. Or (are you listening, Gabe?) use bittorrent to download the cider emulation of Half-Life 2, play to your heart’s content for free and cut Valve out of the action (which: bad. but boycotting OS X: worse).
        Since PCs can’t reliably dual-boot into OS X, you’re buying half the computer, looking at it that way. :)

        It’s been a while since you probably compared them. You should take a second look. :D

        • ncboxer says:

          @Trai_Dep: I have no idea what anything costs with an education discount as I don’t get one, but retail-wise equivalent Macs laptops are double what PC laptops are. On Apple.com, I can get a supper basic model for $1100. I have seen $399 PC laptops that have better specs (but maybe cheaper housing) than that Mac. I bought a cheap laptop for $600 several months ago, that looks equivalent in specs to a $2000 Mac Pro laptop.

          Sure Macs are great to use- I use one at work (also use Windows and Linux boxes), but they are pricey. As for software, I use mostly open source or free at home, so it doesn’t add much to the cost.

        • geckospots says:

          @Trai_Dep: There was an interesting article from some computer magazine that compared Mac and PC benchmarks – startup time, shutdown time, launching programs under intensive usage (like photoshop when a bunch of other programs were open), etc. They tested desktops and laptops.

          Mac ended up coming out on top. Not by much in some categories, and in a couple the PC did better, but in the end the Mac was the better machine.

      • Dyscord says:

        @Victo: Macs are built like tanks and tend to last a good while longer than PCs. I have an old imac from 99 that I recently acquired and it works like a charm.

        Granted if you buy a computer you have someone to call if something goes wrong, but if something goes wrong while you’re building it, nine times out of ten you have the know how to address and fix the problem yourself.

    • Logan26 says:

      @Trai_Dep:

      Are you for real? I could go out, buy topend parts and build a MAC clone for HALF the price of a mac.

  7. Rask says:

    All that heartache and then completely switching platforms just to avoid Vista? Really??

    I betcha she would’ve loved the OS has she just given half a chance.

    Will the expanding marketshare that Apple is getting nowadays, I’m really looking forward to them facing the exact same problems that MS faced in the 90′s (the anti-trust, security issues etc etc).

  8. Trai_Dep says:

    Oh, Elizabeth – if you have any questions transitioning from PC to Mac, drop me a line on my profile page.
    http://www.apple.com/getamac is a good place to start.

    If your Dell worked (cough) then I’d suggest bringing it in to a local Apple store, and they’ll seamlessly move your files, bookmarks, etc to your new Mac and give you a one-on-one tutorial (for gratis, ‘natch). Err, if it worked. :(

    Enjoy!

    • Parting says:

      @Trai_Dep: I would like to know where to get extra 2k$ to pay for a mac? Especially, that inflation and gas are going up, and up, and up.

      • c0ntro1 says:

        @Victo:
        yes, and you can see how well that phone support is working here.

        macbooks start at $1100, you don’t need “an extra 2k$” so lets not be dramatic ;) you get what you pay for, and that includes the customer service that comes with it. some people are willing to pay a premium for that, others aren’t.

      • picardia says:

        @Victo: Do what I do and buy the last model (not the newest model) of the Apple product you want, refurbished, from the Apple.com site. You still get the same guarantees as a new product, and chances are that if you are not a high-end user, the last model back is going to be more than adequate for your needs. I get great Apple products for the same price I’d pay for PC stuff.

        • Parting says:

          @picardia: However, how compatible they are with mainstream pc games? We have 2 gamers in our family, and a powerful PC is a must.

          I’m not sure all those games can ran on mac. Correct me if I’m wrong…

          • Logan26 says:

            @Victo:

            No, not all games will run on mac, even the new ones. It isn’t the hardware that is the problem, it is the software. Very few companies will port their stuff over to the MAC OS.

      • cerbie says:

        @Logan26: The best I could do at Newegg was about $2200 (no OS), which is nowhere close to half of $2800 (baseline Mac). Dell’s cheapest option I could configure to Apple’s baseline was just over $3900 (2×2.83GHz T5400).

        FB-DIMMs aren’t cheap. Server/workstation boards aren’t cheap. Nice PSUs aren’t bad. Xeons above 2.5GHz are not cheap. And so on.

        The differences are too often stated using apples to oranges. I’m sure you could make a socket 775 single quad for half the Mac Pro cost…but that’s no better than comparing a $300 deal-of-the-month Dell to an iMac, because the Dell has the same speed CPU; nor any better than comparing a Macbook to a cheap Acer (redundant, I know).

        I’m sure the OP could have compared prices and said, “Omigawd, that is like, so expensive,” but, instead, decided that her time and calm was worth something, and went for the Apple.

        @amuro98: absolutely. Up through the early P4 era, anything but the cheapest Dells (TANSTAAFL applied, even then) were nice machines, and Dell wasn’t half bad to deal with.

        • Logan26 says:

          @cerbie:

          Why use XEONS when retail C2Q are the same exact chip and give the same exact performance and also has the added benifit of not needng FB DIMMS(which by the way hinder performance). So right there alone, knock off 1g from your total.

          @Hyman Decent: The best thing Apple could do is to start using standard GPUs instead of ones needing MAC based BIOS. I know alot of MAC fans would love that. Imagin being able to goto BB and picking up a GTX260/280 or 48×0 and throwing it into you MAC Pro without havng to find a MAC specific video card, oh the love they would have.

          • cerbie says:

            @Logan26: …because the C2Q won’t allow you to add another (Intel learned from dual Celerons, you know). Also, you will have no ECC for possible bit-flipping over years and years of having the same data in the same area of RAM. Finally, because that is what the Mac is specified with, and the use of multiple Xeons is one of the reasons to get it (nice hardware RAID being another).

            The Mac tower desktops are competition for the likes of Precision workstations, not consumer gaming type desktop boxes. Apple does not make a computer that fits in that range. If you want one, then you don’t want a Mac. Kind of like how if you want three buttons, you don’t want a MacBook (Thinkpad all the way!).

            While the demise of FB-DIMMs will be welcome, they really don’t hinder performance much for the Core series chips. The occasional task where it brings you down 3% compared to the C2Q is made up for by the ability to have 8 Core series cores working for you…and both Intel and AMD know that, and charge accordingly, since you have few other options when you need that kind of CPU power.

  9. ottawa_guy says:

    My advice, if going with Dell go to the business side of things.

    Better technicial support, faster replacements, and standard 3 year warranty. Sure you have to spend a bit more on the machine, but it’s an investment that definitely has a return on it.

    I have gotten replacement parts next day and could get a technician out on site next day for no charge.

    For those people who buy cheap bottom of the line residential laptops, expect crappy customer service for the low low WalMart price.

    • Parting says:

      @ottawa_guy: Or get a dell from Costco. They give you a free 2 year warranty and phone support.

      • nox says:

        @Victo: Yes the first time you build a PC it is pretty difficult, but you learn alot while you do. As for the RAM upgrading finding out what RAM you have is pretty easy being every stick of RAM has a little sticker on it that says what size and speed it is. Or you could download CPUID and it has a spot that tells you what speed your RAM is also. And Installing Windows usually isn’t that hard, Most of the time finding the drivers for your pre-built system is, especially when they don’t give you a disc with drivers on it. That is where buying all the parts seperately is sweet, when you install windows you got all the drivers and you know what parts are in it to find updated drivers. It may not be easy the first time but it gets easier every time after that. You can ‘build’ your own laptop too… just do a search for barebones laptop. Its definately not cost effective to do so though.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @ottawa_guy: Oh yeah, forgot that part about Dell. Really, for hardware reliability or decent support, you can’t go thru their consumer channel. Or go “naked” as far as support plans go. Which pushes the price point even higher, by several hundreds, making it an even less attractive comparison vis Macs.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @ottawa_guy: Dell’s customer service quality seems to go up exponentially the more money you spend on it initially.

      I’ve dealt with Dell twice. Once on my own, which went rather smoothly, and once through my company which went almost instantly because they had the Gold service plan.

      In both cases we had purchased some extra service option when we got the system.

      I dunno, its better than Best Buy.. *shrug*

  10. Dell screwed up the OP’s address…so she switched to a Mac? That sounds a little extreme and an overreaction.

    It’s like saying, “Yeah, Saturn kept sending my bill to my old address…so I’m buying a Toyota now.”

    Love my Dell laptop. Planning on buying a new one next year too (I’ve had this one for at least 6 years). My wife loves hers too. And she loves her Dell desktop. I loved my Dell desktop until it finally gave up the ghost after 6 years (and then had a buddy just build me a new desktop). Great customer service and great computer quality.

    • brokeincollege says:

      She tried, three times? Dude, first time and I’d be gone. FOR GOOD.

      @edicius: Not an overreaction at all. If I worked for Dell and I sent a bill for a major customer to the wrong address TWICE and kept lying about it, Dell would fire my ass in three seconds. Dell sent the OP’s CDs to the wrong address TWICE and lied about it TWICE, so she “fired” Dell.

      @jwissick: I know the Apple store on 5th Avenue in New York is 24/7/365.

      And on the Mac v. PC debate, again, like someone said, I value my time and sanity. I can put a dollar value on it. Frankly, I’d rather pay double and get great support than pay less and get crap like the OP did. I had a couple battery failures and I only stayed with Apple because they sent a replacement out to me promptly, free of charge, TWICE. And one of the times they sprung for overnight shipping. So I may have paid $250 for AppleCare but a year into owning my laptop I got my money’s worth. Other times I had a problem with my orders or any other problem for that matter, Apple customer service reps have been nothing short of brilliant at resolving it. And plus, I get AN AMERICAN (or Canadian, whatever) on the phone who speaks FLUENT English (same with American Express by the way). When I placed my order I ordered, cancelled, and then reordered, charging to the same credit card. The order went through just fine, and the computer showed shipped as of 45 minutes after I placed the order, from a warehouse in the Los Angeles area (I was in Northern California at the time) while the credit card transaction was rejected because the limit was $3k and basically the charge supposedly went through twice. I call Apple to try to sort it out, and I expected them to say, “I’ll talk to them, and then it’ll be resolved sometime after new years.” No, he calls the credit card company ON THE SPOT, and gets it resolved RIGHT THERE AND THEN. Took less than 3 minutes. Not to mention the guys that work at the Apple store actually know the product they’re selling and don’t push upsells.

      On the other hand, I bought an HP desktop for $500-ish. Came with a printer which BROKE three weeks after we got it. I think I spent at least an hour and a half on the phone with HP at least six times. At that time I told my mom trying to get the $30 printer wasn’t worth my time and we just wrote it off. And when I was on the phone, they’ve been nothing but trouble. Starts with a 40 minute hold, ends with phone tree bouncing and getting nothing done because the Indian guy on the phone doesn’t know how to think for himself.

      Honestly, if you cared about my business, you’d get it right the first time. If you screw up the first time and don’t fix it promptly, you obviously don’t care and therefore don’t deserve my business.

  11. dragonfire81 says:

    Is there any company out there whose customer service has taken a bigger nosedive than Dell’s?? If so, please let me know so I can avoid them too.

  12. JayDeEm says:

    I’m all for building your own PC, it’s all I’ve ever done, but it’s definitely not for everyone. In some ways it’s much more complicated now than it was back when I started out (jumpers excluded). Does anyone else remember when you could put an Intel, AMD or Cyrix CPU in the same motherboard?

    That being said, I have pointed many a friend and relative towards Apple, Dell, HP and other brands when they ask for advice about a new computer. It comes down to support, and the fact that I don’t want to support it :)

  13. micasaessucasa says:

    A similar thing happened to me as well. I had to send my Dell in to be repaired. They sent the box for me to ship it back to them to my correct, new address, but when they sent it back after it was repaired they sent it to my old campus address. When I saw that the delivery was confirmed and signed for they said they didn’t even know the address to which it was shipped. I went into panic mode. Luckily…I still knew the people who were living at my old address and they called me and told me they had the package. They certainly have some issues with their address system.

  14. OMG! Ponies! says:

    “Welcome, Elizabeth, to a new, better world.”

    Are we talking about Apple? A company that once lost my MacBook after repairing it? A company that ships all product ordered off the website from Shanghai – regardless of whether it would be cheaper and more efficient to send it from a local Apple store?

    I ask because Apple is a lovely computer company that is so adept at programming computers that evidently if you need to send your Apple product back in for repairs makes you make a follow up call to be sent a box.

    That’s right. If you take your iPod to an Apple store and it needs repair, they will tell you to call 800-MY APPLE to be sent a box.

    They could always take the problematic iPod from you to be sent in for repairs. I’d think that Apple has access to the US Mail Service or failing that, FedEx, DHL, or UPS. They could give you a box on the spot to send the iPod in. They have room for inventory – I think they can reserve some shelf space for a box. They could – in theory – press a button on the keyboard that says “Send This Guy A Box”. Instead, the customer is responsible for making a follow-up phone call to be sent a box.

    I hate to break it to you, Carey, but AppleCare is just as crappy as whatever Dell has to offer.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      Please, you folks who can’t be bothered to learn what’s in a PC by building your own or at least learning a little bit about what goes on in there (Again, Google is your friend) need to stop complaining about getting ganked by Geek Squad and/or Firedog or the lousy customer service of Dell/Gateway/whoever. If this is not “knowledge you want” then you cannot complain when you must PAY SOMEONE ELSE who has the knowledge. And buying me a crappy pizza when I come over to visit/hook up your new wireless router does not count (sexual favors might, see store for details).

      Not that I’m bitter or anything.

      Oh, and @OMG! Ponies!: Is there some inherent need you have that I don’t that requires 3 1/2 paragraphs of bold text?

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @doctor_cos: If he was OMG!Stallions then perhaps he wouldn’t need to overcompensate? :P

      • MelL says:

        @doctor_cos: What a very creative way of blaming the victim, because that is what it is all about. Whether the customer knows everything or nothing is 100% irrelevant. Whoever the customer goes to should be providing the service paid for, period.

      • picardia says:

        @doctor_cos: Also, by the same token:

        People who can’t be bothered to go to medical school and learn how to do surgery have ONLY THEMSELVES TO BLAME when they have an operation go horribly wrong. If they’d known how to check for sepsis themselves, they’d never have lost that kidney!

        People who don’t farm all their own food and cook it themselves have NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN when they go to a restaurant and find ground glass in their mashed potatoes! If you really valued your larynx, you would have threshed some grain yourself, buddy.

        If you don’t build your own car (including smelting the metal, so you know what’s in there), and then a mechanic tries to charge you $5000 for a $200 repair, tough! The entire world is entitled to rip you off if you don’t know absolutely everything there is to know!

        Seriously, shut it. We all have certain skills. We all outsource other skills. Companies that offer themselves as vendors of those skills and products have an obligation to be borderline competent. Stop defending them when they aren’t.

      • Parting says:

        @doctor_cos: Oh please! I used google to upgrade my video card and RAM myself. It was long process. And I didn’t get everything as I hoped.

        So stop being holier that thou. You sound more like an ass to me, and I’m talking from personal experience, upgrading hardware.

        The major problem is COMPATIBILITY. You have NO EASY way, finding out, which components are compatible in a smooth way.

        Especially, that a lot of hardware problems, arise from little known problems. For example, I have a sound card. It works pretty well. But with use, I discovered (and confirmed on forums), that it’s pretty much impossible to use a microphone, due to some mysterious hardware bug.

        I wish it would be THAT simple.

    • schweetzy says:

      @OMG! Ponies!: Perhaps Apple has changed its policies since you’ve been a Genius Bar customer, but store technicians will only direct costumers to ship their iPods to the warehouse if it’s a personalized (engraved) model and the customer wants their replacement iPod to be personalized. Any other iPod can be repaired or swapped in-store. That goes for any computer model as well. Though we’re getting pretty OT here I just wanted to clarify.

  15. ReidFleming says:

    A story about building a PC: My neighbor’s boy wanted a computer. He was 13 years-old at the time and knew exactly nothing about them — this is in rural Nebraska, mind you. I thought it might be fun to show him how to build his own. We decided that I’d buy all the parts in exchange for lawn care for the whole summer.

    We sat down at my computer and hand-picked every part based on price/value and reviews. We spent the better part of a month waiting for free shipping and sales and the odd rebate but we were left with a very nice system for, IIRC, about $300. As the parts arrived, we stacked them until the inevitable time when we could start the assembly. When I say “we”, I really mean him as I was very hands-off but talked him through everything. Once done, we put Ubuntu on the system and went through the installation and talked about what was happening. He tried a couple of other versions and then decided to install XP as he has friend who gets (legitimate) deals. He did that install with no assistance.

    Over the months and years, he learned to do dual-boots and tried other Linux variants. He has now helped out other neighbors for three years straight to include picking all the parts to build another system which worked flawlessly at first boot.

    Here’s the thing, though. He needed the initial help. He really did. Things that seem simple to him now — like matching the right RAM to the MOBO — wouldn’t have made sense if he did it all alone. There is nothing that we did that couldn’t be taught as part of a high-school computer class in a day or two. Instead, though, the fall following our system build, he came back from his first day griping that all they learned how to do in his much-anticipated computer class was, “how to turn it on!!”

    If nothing else, this is a financial consideration. He has had parts go bad and known how to fix things now. I’m sure many of you know somebody who’s computer wouldn’t turn on so they bought a new one (especially an out-of-warranty systems). My neighbor’s boy know likens that to throwing out your lawnmower because the pull-cord broke. It would be fantastic if everyone out there could find a helpful, knowledgeable person to get them started — and for them to teach their children.

    I’m sure I left out many things I wanted to write during this ramble so, if something I typed really didn’t make any sense, feel free to call me out on it.

    • Parting says:

      @ReidFleming: You’re right, not everyone gets this level of support. I can be qualified as advanced user, but still cannot build my own desktop. Everything that’s available online is very specific, and there is no step by step guide.

      And to get there, where I am, I basically destroyed 4 school’s computers, by experimenting with different configurations.

      So a knowledgeable person, is a big help to start.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @Victo: “To get where I am, I basically destroyed 4 computers.”
        Geezus. Great advice you gave to Elizabeth then, huh?
        /sarcasm

        • Parting says:

          @Trai_Dep: We’re talking windows millenia/95 generation pcs. And I’m talking about hardware upgrades. I’m sure Apple is no better… Basically, it’s not as easy, as some people make it appear, to upgrade your desktop. And even more difficult, to build a new one.

  16. ClownSuitCowboy says:

    I had the same problem with Dell, except they had my laptop and had the wrong address to return it to. Bad motherboard made my computer into a paperweight.

    In all, I spent THIRTEEN HOURS on the phone with eleven customer service reps and nine “supervisors” who all assured me they’d taken care of the problem. I finally got ahold of a guy who did it in five minutes.

    When I got the laptop back – SIX WEEKS LATER – it had not even been opened and/or repaired.

    This was the Inspiron 5150 with the class action lawsuit filed on it, too. I can’t imagine how they treat customers who don’t take them to court. They later replaced it with a brand new loaded Vostro and I STILL will never, ever own another piece of Dell anything again in my life.

  17. jwissick says:

    Where are you that there is a 24/7/365 Apple store???

    • Hyman Decent says:

      @jwissick: I know the Apple Store, Fifth Avenue in New York City is open 24/7/365 (except for the occasional closure for one reason or another). FWIW, if Elizabeth lives nearby that one, she’s rich.

      @Trai_Dep: I recall there were PowerBooks that wobbled because they warped from the heat.

      @ReidFleming: That’s an awesome thing you did for the neighbor kid. Kudos.

  18. Petra says:

    Welcome, Elizabeth, to a new, better world.

    Amen to that! A new, shiny one! Hope you like your Mac!

  19. Jetgirly says:

    Dell also shipped my laptop to my billing address rather than my shipping address. Luckily, my billing address was my parents’ house. However, my parents opened the package to see if everything was in order, and then Dell said that because the package had been opened they were no longer responsible for it. Hours of phone calls later I got them to pay for it to be shipped to me, but my parents still had to take it to Purolator in person.

  20. res1i3js says:

    This doesn’t make sense. She’s not mentioning some very important details, or she got put in the 0.8% people who get extremely unlucky calling Dell and catch people who slept through training and have been on the floor for a week. :|

  21. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    Welcome to the MAc world. I priced a comparable Dell laptop to a macbook and the Dell was $50 cheaper. But when you add in the extra virus and malware software you need for the Dell the mac turns out cheaper. =)

  22. J.Heck says:

    Right now Dell has a glitch on their website, where when you make an order, if you have previous addresses still stored on the site, sometimes it will assign wrong addresses to things automatically and you can’t change it.

    A Dell support forum said to log in on dell’s site and clear out all of the previously used addresses except for the one that is correct, THEN place your order. When my mom’s address was showing up as my default shipping address, I logged out, logged back in, cleared out all of the past addresses, and set my order back up. Viola, problem fixed.

    Sounds like the OP never took her old address out of their systems, therefore stuff was messed up. Either that, or this could be a DHL screw-up (DHL around here sucks). Either way, I love my Dell and have never really had any major problems with them at all. And my laptop is awesome, thanks. *shrugs*

    • Anonymous says:

      @I am Mrs. Nerdtastic.: Dell doesn’t only have problems shipping to the right address if you have old addresses in the system. I placed an order with Dell and provided separate addresses for billing and shipping. They sent the product to the billing address via FedEx. That address is a PO Box, so FedEx couldn’t deliver the package. Despite calling Dell about this 5 times and speaking to them for about 2 hours, they couldn’t figure out that they had sent it to the wrong address.

      Their customer service is by far the worst I have ever experienced. I will never buy anything from Dell again.

  23. johnnya2 says:

    Iwonder if billybobbins builds his own home and cars. It is cheaper and assures you get the highest quality workmanship and quite honestly a computer is disposable compared to a HOUSE. If you enjoy building your own computer, then go for it, but to suggest others should and its easy devalues their time. YOU may have time to build a computer, but I guarantee when i walk into a store, tell them what I want and need, I will have mine by the time I leave the store, while you will have had to go to the store to pick up what you want, spent TIME building it, and then “tweaking it”. I put a dollar value on my time, as should all people. I bet I could buy 2 cheap ass Presario’s for what it costs you to make one, and still have it do what is needed.

    • Logan26 says:

      @johnnya2:

      I bet you couldn’t. For 400 bucks, you’ll have 1 Comcrap with vista home basic(useless and totally crappy), 512mb(the bare min and should be avoided like the plague) ram and tons of bloatware you dont need nor would want on the machine and intergrated graphics that couldn’t play HL2 with decent settings. But for the cost of 2 of those machines, one could have Vista U or XP, 2-4GB ram(their option), a real video card(512MB) and a Quad core CPU.

  24. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Simply put, it’s easy to put eight basic components together, but it’s not easy to get them to work together. They have to be compatible components in the first place, not the eight cheapest components or the eight closest components or even the eight best components.

  25. unpolloloco says:

    I’d just keep having Dell ship out replacement CD’s. Eventually, someone’s going to notice that 1000 CD’s are going to one person and start asking questions (and in the mean time, Dell’s out several hundred bucks).

  26. night_2004 says:

    My advice…get back on the phone. When a CSR gets on the line, first off ask them AGAIN for their full name, name of their manager, and employee IDs for both.

    Then tell them what is going on.

    Ask them THREE TIMES to confirm the delivery address to you. Do not give it to them three times. Give it to them once, and ask three times during the call to make sure they get it right.

    If it doesn’t get shipped to the correct address this time, contact the BBB and state that either a partial refund in the amount of a Vista Business license w/ XP downgrade option, or some real discs, are the only appropriate solution.

  27. kbrook says:

    One of my required classes this semester is “PC Maintenance and Repair.” I am joyfully happy at the prospect of being able to poke about in a computers’ innards! ANd the instructor has assured us the by the end of the semester, we will all be able to build a computer from the ground up. This makes me even happier, because it’s valuable knowledge, both for me and for whoever ends up my apprentice.

  28. goodywitch says:

    Back when it was semi-OK to blame the OP, I was going to say “that’s what she gets for moving.”

    I honestly don’t get what’s with all this build your pc stuff going on here. This is a pure customer service issue. If you replace CD with harddrive, it’s the same customer service SNAFU.

    I would personally be annoyed that a company is keeping my home address when it’s no longer pertinent to my transaction with them. I’d rather tell them my addy all the time, so that I know it’s the most current one… but then they can’t send me catalogues for which I can burn on a blog.

    Still, one would think that getting an apple is going a bit far for customer service, considering that she could have gotten an IBM instead. I’m surprised that an EECB wasn’t attempted, then maybe a real person at the main office could have sent her the CD. I’m also confused that she had to pay for support, because I still received over the phone help after my warantee expired.

    Oh, well, at least she has a computer that she likes (and it’s darn purty too).

  29. brokeincollege says:

    Bottom line, I live by this maxim: If I have to EECB you to get you to fix your screwups, you’ve already failed and you’ve already lost me as a customer. I EECB to spite them. Seriously, if I have to talk to the CEO over a small customer service issue, I shouldn’t be doing business with them in the first place.

    • mmmsoap says:

      @brokeincollege: Hear, hear!

      @edicius: I dunno, your example sounds pretty rational to me, although I don’t think you intended it to.

      I may be in the minority, but when I buy a product, I consider the value of the actual merchandise, the service, and my own time. I certainly will spend $50 more on something, if I have to drive crazy places to get the discount. I avoid stores and companies that I’ve had bad customer service interactions with, because I don’t have the patience to hope that this time I’ll get someone competent. I’m not going to write an entire company off for one bad apple, because ill-trained employees are everywhere, but I’m not going to bend over just because I can save $14.37 compared to the other guy either.

      Kudos to the OP for telling Dell (both here and with her $$ that she took elsewhere) that their service was unacceptable.

  30. Geblah187 says:

    Speaking from personal experience, usually you have to give DHL the wrong address to get your package delivered to your correct address.

    We tried them out at work because, at the time, they were offering significant discounts over UPS … and promptly switched back to brown after about 6 weeks of nonstop customer service calls of packages being delivered all kinds of crazy places (including one lady who found her package ON HER ROOF.)

    DHL stands for Damn, He’s Lost.

  31. Daemonstar says:

    We have only Dells for workstations and servers here at work (aside from 2 big IBM servers).

    If you get a Dell, make sure you get their Gold tech support. Most of those guys can either help you fix the problem or send out replacement parts with very few questions. I’ve only ever had 1 problem with the tech support personnel when the woman misdiagnosed the problem. I’ve occasionally had them send a bad replacement motherboard, but they sent another one after calling them.

    Apparently in their OptiPlex line, they had problems with some GX270′s and GX280′s motherboard capacitors going bad. One tech support guy I spoke to said that if I came across any more of our PC’s who had blown capacitors to call him directly (he gave me his extension), and he would get the parts replaced. In one instance, they actually sent 2 bad motherboards to me. They sent a tech out with the second one. He called Dell to report that the MB they sent was bad, and they offered to replace the whole desktop. We ended up getting the GX280 (which was about 2 years old) replaced with a brand new OptiPlex 755.

    Our one big issue with Dell is that they send their stuff by DHL and supposedly won’t let us use a different carrier (I’m not privy to that info, that’s just what my supervisor told me). DHL no longer operates here, so everything gets delivered to the post office. The lady who gets the mail from the post office refuses to pick up the boxes, so I have to go and get them. :P

  32. Rachacha says:

    Dell has a terrible customer database. I routinely order equipment from Dell for home, and have things delivered to my wife’s office so that an adult will be available to sign for the shipment (and to make sure that the $2000 PC is not left out on the front porch).

    Her offices uses Dell as their primary IT vendor. Somehow my wife’s name (she is not the IT contact at her office), and my personal E-mail address have become the primary contacts for their corporate account, and the corporate IT person has become the primary point of contact for my personal account. Several calls have been made to try to correct the error, and if you can find someone who understands what the problem is, they don’t know how to fix it.

  33. incognit000 says:

    When I need a pre-made box, I buy from HP, because they make money by promising to suck slightly less than Dell. thus far, such has been true.

  34. jrobie says:

    I had a very similar experience to the OP – I called in to order my computer (because Dell’s website offered a single choice on one component and that option said it would delay my shipment date). I spoke with a shockingly helpful young woman who took my order, and (seemingly) changed the address in the system, as they still had my old address on file. The woman gave me her direct dial extension, as well as her full name and email address.

    When I recieved the confirmation email 5 minutes later, it had the old address on it. So I called my salesperson back, she was very gracious, made the change again or somewhere else or something, assured me that it was now correct and sent a new confimation email, which (as she predicted) had the correct shipping address, but the old billing address.

    One month later, my new laptop arrived but the shipped-seperately accessory was nowhere to be found, even though DHL’s website showed it as delivered and signed-for. It had, of course, gone to my old address, so I drove over and picked it up (if I hadn’t I probably still wouldn’t have it).

    Overall, the impression I got was of a company really trying to get it’s act together, with great customer interaction people working against an awful computer system.

  35. Phreggs says:

    Just to point out here, a lot of the power to actually change an address on a Dell Account has been removed from most support techs. There were a lot of problems previously from when outsourced techs would put in the wrong addresses, or in some cases their own address for orders.

    Dell offers the ability to change account information through dell.com. Log in to your dell account and change your own information. Dellserv (their ticketing software) will parse over the information seen through the account screen.

    And if your going to be charged for tech support, its because you dont have a freakin warranty. You go off on a company willing to send you out OS+Drivers+Software media on their bill. Not only on their bill, but they’re willing to handle your situation free of charge through Customer Support. Unless your still part of the people who previously didnt call in to claim their free OS+Drivers+Software replacement media, then you should still have them. Unless of course you lost them.

    Either or, im going to blame the customer here. Just an ignorant person complaining about a problem that’s come about by their own doings.

  36. GMFish says:

    I just wanted to point out that Dell’s inability to change shipping addresses is an old problem. I remember reading about these types of problems back in the 90s. I’m assuming either their employees are too lazy to input new addresses or Dell’s address information resides in an amalgamation of crappy databases, so even if one portion of the database is updated with a new address, the old address remains in other portions to rear its ugly head again.

  37. madfrog says:

    All I can say (and I’ve said it before) Dell stinks. Talking to India with some random guy named “Bob” – yeah, right- who can barely speak English, doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies. Not only that, they receive a payment and it takes them 2 weeks, yes, 14 days, to credit my account!

  38. beigemore says:

    You could try to not lose your discs that came with the system in the first place…

  39. keleka says:

    I bought an Alienware laptop sometimes after Dell bought that company (which I didn’t know at the time). I struggled from the beginning with a machine that turned itself off whenever it felt like; a machine that refused to see its own disk drive. I also struggled with customer service reps whose accents were so thick there was no way to carry on a conversation with them. I had paid $200 for onsite repair service and despite this had to return the laptop for two months for them to put in thermal grease that they somehow forgot to put in when they built it (and coincidentally to forget to fix the nonfunctioning disk drive). One day while in Las Vegas, I got so frustrated with my ten-month-old machine that I marched down to the Apple Store in the Fashion Show Mall and walked out with a MacBook. The two of us have been very happy together for over two years now. No more PCs for me.

  40. ayame4 says:

    It might as well have been me writing this post. I’ve had the same overwhelmingly frustrating conversations with customer service (5 hours being passed around tech support!), rude service and attempts to bill me for supposedly free support. Ultimately I did what any sane person would – I switched to mac!

  41. ElizabethD says:

    Yay! Once you go Mac, you’ll never go back.