Dell Redacts Prices And Dates From Sales Chat Transcripts, Rendering Them Pointless

Usually, it’s our job here at The Consumerist to do the redacting, removing employee and location names in order to prevent Internet mob harassment, among other reasons. But now Dell has gone ahead and pre-redacted chat transcripts when customers try to save them, erasing the evidence of price quotes and sale dates that they’ve discussed with potential customers. That’s what happened to Julie when she tried to discuss a financing offer over chat.

I was purchasing a laptop with a unit price of $768.99; that price is listed on my order summary. Special financing is available for systems $699 and over. But discounts applied to the price after the initial listing – four line-items totaling $114.38 – would drop the price of the laptop below the $699 threshold; however my total purchase from Dell would be $717.60 prior to taxes, shipping, etc.

I wanted to know if I would still qualify for the special financing (to be clear: I didn’t think I should be eligible, I just want to know if I am eligible). I didn’t do a screen capture as I knew from earlier when I chatted about product features, they would email a copy of the chat. What I didn’t know is that all mention of prices and dates would be replaced with asterisks. What good is following their own advice of “Please save the log for your records.”

So should my bill arrive without the special financing, demanding payment in full or else they’ll charge me 19.99% (or more) interest, I have nothing to back-up my “Hey! Not what I was told!” Which. Yeah. I suppose is why they do it. But it is wrong.

Here’s the relevant part of Julie’s transcript:

07/17/2012 02:04:57PM julie: “I am trying to figure out if my purchase qualifies for the special financing through Dell Preferred account.”
07/17/2012 02:05:10PM Agent ([JT]): “I’d be happy to assist you with that question today”
07/17/2012 02:06:04PM Agent ([JT]): “Our current Dell Preferred Account promotions: Interest free on new home sales systems (XPS, Inspiron, Alienware) $******* or more until June *******”
07/17/2012 02:06:06PM Agent ([JT]): “Do you have any specific specs you were looking for in this system?”
07/17/2012 02:07:00PM julie: “Is that $******* price before or after the limited time offers applied to the computer?”
07/17/2012 02:08:01PM Agent ([JT]): “As long as there is a system in the cart, and the price is over $******* after the taxes are included it will be interest free until June *******”
07/17/2012 02:08:44PM julie: “Great. That is what I needed to know! Thank you.”
07/17/2012 02:08:58PM Session Ended

Yep, saving her transcript for her records will come in really handy.

Comments

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  1. Dell-Lorna M says:

    Hi Julie,

    Thank you for using Dell’s Sales Chat to get quick answers to your questions. Customers are currently able to place orders with an agent in Chat using their credit card and we are making an effort to expand that same option to our Dell Preferred Account holders.

    This will advise we are masking all numbers in our Sales Chat transcripts to guarantee the security of payment and other private information. As you can imagine, we take the privacy and security of credit card numbers, social security numbers, and Dell Preferred Account numbers very seriously. We are investing in our chat tool to provide the utmost security possible regarding private customer information. We are working diligently to be able to distinguish between confidential information vs. order details as provided by our agents.

    Please review our privacy policy at: http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/policy/en/policy?c=us&l=en&cs=19.

    For additional information, please contact our agents at Dell.com/Chat. We are here to help.

    Thank you,
    Dell’s Sales Chat Team

    • az123 says:

      There is no privacy reason for dell to mask the quoted price for a unit in the email chat. I get payment information and other things, but really if Dell thinks consumers are going to really think they are going to mask the quoted price of a computer in order to protect my privacy in an email confirmation sent to me about the conversation…

      All I see this as is an effort from Dell to not be held accountable to what they quote customers. This case is a clear indication of how that can work. The price is something that is not personal and private to the customer, Dell just does not want to be held accountable to what they tell the customer and the problem with online chat is that you have it in writing, so Dell cannot get out of whatever is there if they send it out.

    • ZachPA says:

      I’m sorry, but giving anyone chat access to full credit card numbers with all the validation codes is just asking for trouble. The fewer people who have access to customers’ full card information, the better. You’re telling me that out of all the possible ways to allow a customer to enter his card info to pay for a purchase, Sales Chat is the most secure? Dell is really setting itself up on this one.