Five Tips for Buying Dell

DealHack’s Dell Buyer’s Guide might not be spanking new, but they’ve got a lot of practical advice on picking out a new PC or laptop. While it’s probably worth visiting the article itself—it’s a lot more in depth—here’s the gist:

  1. Buy one step below top-of-the-line. Just like wine in a restaurant…

  2. Decide your needs before you configure. If you don’t game, you’ll probably save yourself some dough.
  3. Make the most of coupon codes. Wait for the good ones.
  4. Buy and install additional memory yourself. is your friend.
  5. Buy online, not over the phone. Because talking to people reminds you of the intelligence of Dell’s workforce.

Dell Buyer’s Guide [DealHack]


Edit Your Comment

  1. D says:

    Perhaps Dell’s competitors are no better, but Dell’s level of customer/technical support is now so unacceptably incompetent that under no circumstances will my next PC be another Dell.

  2. Scott Kidder says:

    6. Make sure you have enough time to spend arguing over the phone when it breaks and they won’t fix it…

    (and now for a serious tip)

    6a. Buy Small Business instead of Home/Home Office, because they have better and American-based support, or so I was told.

  3. Josh says:

    6b. WHen they refuse to replace or fix it tell them it smells like it is burning or smoldering. Got my sister’s replaced in no time. (That really was the smell though it was due to a fan gettting really hot form not spinning)

  4. Mechalith says:

    7. Learn how to make your own. It isn’t that hard, and it’s generally far cheaper.

    OEM systems are usually garbage, and preloaded with a million things you neither want or need.

  5. KenyG says:

    8. Be prepared to nicely explain the time difference between the East Coast and India – and if they call after midnight again on a Saturday, that you will find them and kill them.

  6. thrillhouse says:

    @Scott Kidder:

    I’ve experienced Dell Small Biz support first hand and while you may have to argue a bit to convince them that yes, it really is broken, they will come out and fix it first thing the next day.

    Also, on the India tech support issue, I’ve seen this work quite well:
    customer – where are you?
    Indian CSR – Bangalore
    customer – Can I talk to an American?
    no response, immediate transfer to a stateside CSR.

    It may also help to say that you are having trouble understanding them, which is usually not untrue.

  7. joeblevins says:

    Why would you want to talk to an American CSR? They were flipping burgers just last week. But the Indian CSR is more likely to have a BS in IT. They tend to be much more educated. I know there may be some xenophobes here, but the Indians are better.

    Have you ever heard about the HIGHLY trained US CSR’s? No.. No you haven’t.

  8. zibby says:

    @joeblevins: My experience has been that NA CSR’s are more likely to mess around a bit and ultimately find the source of your problem.

    Indian CSRs, while polite and perhaps better edumacated don’t seem willing to deviate from whatever troubleshooting chart they are issued. It’s somewhat better if you can get asupervisor, however.

  9. appleface says:

    @D: I second that emotion. I however am taking it a step further. Under no circumstances will I ever buy another anything from Dell.

  10. revmatty says:

    My experience with computer company CSRs (Dell, HP, Gateway, Compaq back in the day, IBM way more than I care to recall, and Apple) has let me to an opinion similar to Zibby, but not identical.

    The U.S. CSR’s are more willing to deviate from script (but not IBM ones, then again we have a super-secret-platinum level support agreement with IBM: they send us a live person within 24 hours if we have a real problem) but I’ve had that end up breaking things worse more often than I’ve had it help.

    Far far worse than the hardware companies though is software/service support. A thick Southern accent or a thick Indian accent is nothing compared to the just plan crap knowledge they have of the product they’re supposed to be supporting.

  11. Slosh says:

    #9 – search google for a current “dell coupon code”. before i bought my last system, i easily found a 25% off coupon!

    if you edit your shopping cart before checking out tho, you will need to re-enter the code! how sneaky.

  12. Cap'n Jack says:

    As I stated earlier today, do NOT buy a laptop from Dell. PCs are okay, but the laptops are crap.

  13. Daveed says:

    Concerning #4, remember to be careful how much you go the “add yourself” route.

    I got screwed over because I figured I would add new things later. I got the desktop and found out it wasn’t configured for additions. Spaces were limited, and the input connectors were outdated.

    Like I figured I would install a great graphics card later, only to realize this new computer only came with a PCI slot. The lowest end graphic cards available fit PCI. Now I would have to get a completely new motherboard…it just isn’t worth it.

  14. jendomme says:

    Many people recommend not buying from Dell. What are some better alternatives to Dell and why?

  15. appleface says:

    People would be better off finding a local computer shop that can build them a PC. Besides Customer Service and Tech Support issues, the problem with Dell, and some of the other major manufacturers is that they use “cut” versions of the OS. The copy of the OS installed on the computers is not a full version like one would get purchasing the OS in a box. One of the computer shops I have gone to recommended ACER; said they make good notebooks.

    The thing I like about using a local computer shop is that if/when problems arise, one doesn’t have to navigate a horrendous answering system to get help, they can build a truly custom PC. No need to uninstall useless software once the computer comes. Another plus is not having to deal with call centers overseas. Overall it is a lot less frustrating if one is able to purchase locally.

    Anyone have any experience with ACER?

  16. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @appleface: I’m using an Acer Aspire(right now!). Not impressed.

    It’s theoretically powerful on paper, the specs are higher than my last home built desktop system, but it’s a dog.

    Most bizarrely, the dvd tray has apparently melted some. It still works, it just looks like shit.

    I will say though that the display is great.

    My company laptop is a Dell D620 which is nice to use, but that was specced out with 2GB RAM (overkill for what I use it for, but nice).

    To summarise, I couldn’t recommend an Acer in good conciousness.

  17. bchains says:

    Forget Dell or Sony Vaio.. they are pulling the Gateway move of years gone by: cheaper parts and higher prices as people begin to more widely accept them as the “standard”. Flimsy keyboards, rattling displays, and drive failures abound.

    Check out Lenovo for a beautifully made well supported machines. I called over a missing install CD and was rewarded by a native English speaking tech in ATLANTA picking up after 3 rings. No phone tree, no bopping around, no bs. Just great.