Dell Charges Customer $300 More Than He Authorized

Matt is having some trouble getting Dell to sort out its billing mistake with his new TV purchase. It’s an interesting story because for the most part, Dell employees or outsourced CSRs are trying to be helpful to Matt, but nothing has actually been accomplished yet over email, chat, or the telephone. Matt wants his $300 back, and Dell wants Matt to just return the TV set if he won’t pay the non-discounted price. We think he may have a case here for disputing the overcharged amount.

The problem started on Saturday, March 21st, when Matt went to use a coupon code for a discount on a Sharp Aquos 52″ LCD TV. The code brought the price down to $1049.30. Then Matt abandoned the shopping cart to do more online research on the TV in question, and when he returned later that day the coupon code no longer worked.

A few days later, Matt decided to contact Dell via web chat to ask someone if they could honor the coupon. The CSR checked with her supervisor and told Matt yes they would, so the two of them completed the transaction right then over the web chat. She quoted a final price of $1049.30 plus tax, and Matt approved it and gave her his credit card info.

A few days later, he saw a charge on his account for $1448.49.

Here’s where the real problems began. Matt contacted Dell customer service online via their web chat again, and “Adrian” told him they had no record of his earlier chat where he approved the purchase.

17:26:51 Customer Matt
i just received an invoice in the mail today from Dell. I checked my order status the other day and it said $1049.30 so I assumed all was well

17:27:21 Agent E&A_Adrian
can you give me the link to the order status you see online?

17:27:41 Customer Matt
I just put in the order number and my zip code. When I do it now I can’t find anywhere that shows the price.

17:27:58 Agent E&A_Adrian
hmmm, ok

17:28:07 Customer Matt
Can you please email me a copy of the chat log?

17:29:01 Agent E&A_Adrian
unfortunately, the only one I have here is the chat you have made 45 minutes ago
[referencing an earlier chat that Matt abandoned due to a language barrier with the chat agent -Ed.]

17:29:18 Customer Matt
There is no chat log from the date of the order?

17:29:29 Customer Matt
There has to be some record of an order since I placed it via chat.

17:30:07 Customer Matt
Otherwise there is no record of me accepting any charge to my credit card

17:31:16 Agent E&A_Adrian
there is a record of the order – its in the order confirmation email

17:31:44 Customer Matt
I never received one

17:32:08 Customer Matt
Had I received one that said $1448.49, I would have called Dell immediately

Adrian told Matt he could return the TV for a full refund of the charge, but there was nothing else he could do.

Matt then emailed michael@dell.com and explained the situation. A few days later, he heard back from someone via telephone:

I received a phone call from someone at Dell around 3:00 EST today [March 31st]. He said he was an assistant of Mr. Dell and my email (to Michael Dell directly) was received. I was told that it was going to take 2 or 3 days, but he would get back to me and he would try his hardest to make sure that I get the TV for the price that I was quoted.

Sounds good, right? Then today, Matt received another phone call:

I just wanted to send along another update as they come in. I received a phone call from the same man (seems like someone from their outsourced customer service team) on Thursday. I was told that they still cannot access the sales chat log from my date of sale. He told me that at this point it is unlikely that they can help me any further, but he needed a few more days to confirm. He said he would call back Monday.

You may not have the original chat log, Matt, and clearly Dell doesn’t (or doesn’t want to admit to it), but you do have a pretty clear admission by Adrian in the second chat that you were charged more than the amount you authorized:

18:29:54 Agent E&A_Adrian
the coupon was erroneously applied that’s why the sales rep gave you that price. But since our system detected that the coupon should not applicable on the TV, the price adjusted automatically giving you the sale price minus the coupon

18:30:50 Customer Matt
That is understandable, but I did not authorize that price to my credit card. My credit card should not have been charged and I should have been contacted.

18:32:50 Customer Matt
I was authorized a price, and it was approved by a supervisor. That price should be honored.

18:38:00 Agent E&A_Adrian
I’m sorry but errors do occur every once in a while, and I also apologize in behalf of the sales rep that placed the order

18:38:50 Agent E&A_Adrian
that she did not contact you right away

Based on that alone, we think you have enough to go to your bank or card issuer and dispute the unauthorized $300 charge.

Somewhere in Matt’s emails to us—we’ve tried to edit it down to the most important details here—he points out that he should have copied and saved that initial web chat just in case something like this happened. It’s a good point, and this is a good example of why you should do it. Remember to always take steps to keep a record of any exchanges you have with a business in case you need to refer to it later.

(Photo: ethanlindsey)