"Dell Is Chasing Me Into The Arms Of Steve Jobs"

Reader Julia writes in to say that Dell owes her a $70 gift card and when she didn’t get it they simply told her “too bad.” She’s wondering if any other Dell customers were similarly “cheated.” She sent an EECB to Dell and a quick summary of her problem to us:

I am a faithful – *religiously* devoted – reader of your blog (but not in a creepy way), and a huge supporter of your customer-focused stance. I’ve emailed your articles to friends, family members and strangers.

Unfortunately, I’m writing you today with my own customer service nightmare. I’d like to call it: (cue ominous music)


(Okay, that’s not very punchy… but Dell cheated me out of 70 bucks, and I’m too mad to make a snappy title)

So here’s the SHORT VERSION:

I’m a Mac and PC user, and recently had to buy a new computer. Solely based on price, I decided to buy a Dell on 01/31/08 – it was on sale, and they had a nifty promotion for a $70 gift card to be mailed to you with your purchase. (I think you can guess what the problem is going to be…)

It’s been 3 and a half months, and I NEVER GOT that $70 gift card. I called their customer service three times:

#1 03/30/08: Spoke to a supervisor, who asked me to PROVE THAT I QUALIFIED for the gift card. I forwarded him my confirmation email (with the gift card listed in the order), and he said he’d have a supervisor call me back, no one called me back

#2 around 04/15/08: Spoke to “Anne” who said she’d have a supervisor call me back, hung up on me, no one called me back

#3 05/05/08: Spoke to nameless CSR who said that all the $70 gift cards were all sent out and if I hadn’t received one – TOO BAD – they were all out. Nothing she could do. I asked to speak to a supervisor, she refused to connect me, said he’d call me back, no one called me back

During the three calls, the CSRs were rude, obstinate, uninformed and, of course, unhelpful. Can I mention again that each time a CSR promised that someone would call me back, and I have yet to receive a phone call from anyone at Dell?

So… Now I’m at the point where I am being a good Consumerist reader and sending Dell an EECB. And I want to share my story with you – considering, also, that I must not be the only one Dell cheated out of the promotion. I mean, we all know how horrible their customer service is – but I didn’t know that they blatantly lied to their customers to boot. BUY A MAC!

Julia wrote back today to tell us that her EECB has been ignored and she’s heard nothing back from Dell. Is she the only one who is having this problem?

Any advice for Julia? She could report Dell to her state’s attorney general for not living up to their advertised agreement. What do you think?

(Photo: Ben Popken )


I have an update on my case – Dell will be issuing me a credit of $70 back to my credit card. (!)

I actually had two interactions with Dell, seemingly unrelated:

Geoff [Ed.– He’s a helpful Dell guy who reads the blog.] got back to me, and told me he would be taking care of my issue

Before he could do that, a woman named Anne called me me from their “Customer Resolutions Center”. She was the one who promised me that she would be crediting my acct., and that she will follow up Mon. or Tues. It seems that she was following up on my EECB, as she and Geoff did not know anything about each other.

Anyway… Yay for Consumerist and the mighty EECB!

The EECB is magical, is it not?


Edit Your Comment

  1. rdm says:

    There are other options for a computer than Dell and Mac, btw.

  2. kahri says:

    @rdm: i don’t think this story was meant to start a MAC vs. PC flame war. Would you feel better if she said “Buy a Linux box”
    Julia: I would start with your state attorneys office. If that doesn’t pan out, I would return the laptop ASAP and ask for a refund. Using their failure to honor their promotions as reasoning.

  3. christoj879 says:

    HP, Gateway (well, Acer), your local computer shop, just to name a few :-)

  4. blackmage439 says:

    I have to admit that all in my dealings with Dell, both customer-service-wise and purchase-wise, have been positive. Not perfect, just positive. Between me and my family, we have three Dell systems.

    1. Family desktop. My parents ran into a problem with their order. Something along the lines of, “You lied to us. We do not owe you this money. Don’t even try sicking collections on us.” A call to the BBB got the charges dropped swiftly. So, while Dell may be becoming numb to the effects of the EECB, they still fear the BBB.

    2. Refurbished, Personal Desktop. I have never been happier with a system. Perfect since day one.

    3. Personal notebook. Ugh. A wireless connection that drops out occasionally. Probably my own fault for getting an 802.11n (Draft) wireless card and router, but oh well. The speakers sometimes get staticy and pop. It works, so I guess I have to live with it. I really wanted a MacBook Pro, but even a refurbished one @ about $400 more expensive was a bit much for me. I went for the Inspiron 1520 when I wanted an XPS, but I refused to get Vista. Vista = fail.

    All in all, I still respect (tolerate?) Dell more than any other PC manufacturer. However, after working in IT at a mostly Mac school, I have come to respect Macs and Apple much more than PCs and the Windows OS. I am NOT looking forward to the day when I haev to support labs of Vista machines. Our XP machines are factors more buggy, shoddy, and insecure than our Macs.

    Unless I secure a sweet deal, my next computer purchase will absolutely be a Mac.

  5. christoj879 says:

    @kahri: I would return the laptop as well saying I didn’t get everything it was supposed to come with. AG, BBB, etc FTW.

  6. thirdbase says:

    @rdm: Great advice, glad your a comentator on this sight. You have surpassed the qualifcations you are Insightful, clever, witty and a concerned consumer advocate. Now if you have no further sparkling advice on this post why not read another. There must be some other post you can snark.

  7. ShawnApheidas says:

    Comment on “Dell Is Chasing Me Into The Arms Of Steve Jobs” Dell is a master of the Bait and Switch. I’ve ordered two machines from the
    SMB division. On both, I added firewire cards, which are listed as
    including a cable. Neither system shipped with said cable. One I spent
    several hours on chat / calls, and was offered a $50.00 credit. The
    purchase receipt / build confirmation shows the cable, the shipping receipt
    does not. See for yourself by buikding any Vostro desktop system.

  8. ThunderRoad says:

    Chargeback $70?

  9. @kahri: Couldn’t have said it better myself. I think the golden days of executive support and EECBs are over. They have simply stopped giving a shit.

  10. christoj879 says:

    @ThunderRoad: I’d say that too, but don’t most CC companies limit your time to 60 days? I thought it was 60 or 180, either way it can’t hurt to call and ask.

  11. Megatenist says:

    As I have once worked for Hell, I can vouch for the validity of the OP’s claims. I worked in their consumer sales side, and not a day went by where some poor soul called in to ask about the status of their rebate or giftcard or some other promo.Many times, I tried in vain to pass along any info to my supes,in the hopes it would be resolved.But all of this fell on deaf ears.This would become one of many reasons why I left.

    Someone once told me their slogan should be changed from “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” to “Dude, you’re going to Hell!”

  12. WingZero987 says:

    You could just make your own computer for pennies on the dollar. At least that keeps you away from the Steve Jobs Kool-Aid and from being the kind of person that says, “I love being a part of this *insert random commodity* community.”

  13. Chairman-Meow says:

    A Dell computer would be the last computer on earth I would ever buy. They are junk, junk, oh did I mention they were junk ?

  14. In all the years that I’ve owned Dells, I’ve never had support problems like this. Makes me wonder if I’m the exception to the rule…or if these cases are.

  15. @WingZero987: @WingZero987: You can do both with some planning and tweaking. You can build your system so that will run the latest mac os and windows

  16. Audiyoda says:

    I’ll never purchase from Dell again. I purchased a Inspiron laptop for my wife when her Sony Vaio dies (yet another computer to stay far away from). I’d have preferred to build her a system, but she wanted another laptop – and Dell had a decent deal at the time which was made much better by the included $300 in mail in rebates. Well needless to say, Dell never came through on those rebates – after multiple calls and letters to Dell, a complain with the BBB and the state’s attorney general’s office – we never got the rebates.

    Looking at price points versus performance – it’s hard to argue with going the way of the Mac. A comparably equipped Dell, HP, Gateway or just about any other laptop is generally as expensive or more expensive than a Macbook or Macbook Pro. Even that monster Mac Pro with it’s dual quad-core architecture – starting @ $2800 it’s cheaper than the same configuration from Dell and HP.

    So even as a died in the wool Windows user it’s hard to make that argument that the Mac is so much more expensive – because it’s not – at least not any longer. And the fact you can run WinXP (why even bother with Vista??) on a Mac, it’s really hard to argue against a Mac at all.

  17. guroth says:

    I purchased a laptop about 6 months ago from dell while they had a $100 gift card offer. I received it in the mail some weeks after the laptop arrived so no complaints here.

    There are reasons to dislike macbooks, especially if you plan on primarily running windows on one.

    A somewhat silly but seriously annoying and deal-breaking issue for me: I personally can’t stand using the touchpad for mouse clicks (this is one of the first things I disable on a new laptop) and on a macbook you have to 2-finger-tap the pad to right click.

  18. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I don’t think she’s a devoted Consumerist reader, as she claims. If she was, then she would have known better and bought her computers through Dell’s Small & Medium Business division instead of the Home & Home Office division.

    I’m pretty sure I and other Consumerist regulars have posted this advice in almost every Dell related story.

  19. Buran says:

    @rdm: Yes, but that’s not the point. She got lousy customer service from one company and is now going to patronize the other, which she has used before (as per her note) and is happy with, from the looks of it. (So am I — I’ve bought stuff from Apple before, including computers, accessories, and ipods and a cellphone both for personal use AND for my employer/boss).

    The issue is, simply, “I patronized Company A and Company B. Company A cheated me and didn’t care even when I repeatedly tried to solve the problem. Company B didn’t. So I’m only going to patronize company B in the future.”

    The specific names of the two companies don’t matter.

  20. Buran says:

    @WingZero987: Having happy customers mean that companies have drugged Kool-Aid?


  21. Buran says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: Thanks for your blame-the-victim snark. Oh, that’s SO innovative.

  22. mike says:

    Buy your Dell computers through the small business portal instead of the retail portal. Better service, slightly higher prices.

    It’s been in my experience that Dell computers are kind of like Linux. If you know what you’re doing, you’ll be fine. Otherwise, be prepared for long and painful CS.

  23. stupidjerk says:

    @kahri: @thirdbase: too many consumers see “computers” as “should i buy a dell, or a mac?” because they are (were, in dell’s case) the most reputable and common names in the industry.

    it might be a bit generalized, but seriously, some people do hate apple and know better than to buy a dell…maybe go for a leveno or asus or a cute little shuttle…some people are afraid to try anything thats not advertised to death.

  24. stupidjerk says:

    …still a little beside the point

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    Watching people buy PCs is like watching a battered wife return to her abusive spouse. DTMFA, gurl, DUMP!!

  26. scoosdad says:

    @sohmc: Exactly. I did just that on a recent Dell purchase and was absolutely floored when I got a phone call a few days after I received the computer from a guy at Dell introducing himself, and offerering to be my Dell rep for any and all issues with my purchase. He followed up with an email with his contact info. Worth whatever extra I paid for the computer buying it that way.

    Came without crapware or bloatware too.

  27. Ryan H says:

    For what it is worth, there are other ways of getting the right click. If you have two fingers on the pad when you press the mouse button that also registers as a right click.

  28. scoosdad says:

    @ThunderRoad: My impression of a chargeback is that it’s an all or nothing situation. Either you’re going to get credit for the whole purchase or not. And since the gift card wasn’t part of the original purchase as an itemized, costed item, then good luck trying to convince a credit card company to charge that back to Dell.

  29. kahri says:

    Also, where did she buy the Dell from? If it wasn’t through Dell itself, maybe she has some recourse through the reseller.

  30. Buran says:

    @guroth: Macs have come with 2-button mice for a while now, and for even longer than that you have been able to plug in a multibutton mouse and have all the buttons recognized.

  31. nequam says:

    Why so many comments about laptops?? We have no ides from teh post whether she bought a laptop or a desktop.

  32. Megatenist says:


    Maybe it was one of those “wonderful” low-end rejects Dell shoves out to Wal-mart…

  33. nequam says:

    @nequam: … and I apparently have no idea how to type!

  34. scoosdad says:

    @nequam: That’s ok, kinda looked like you were responding in LOLspeak anyway.

  35. garykung says:

    Time for Dell Boycott……

  36. bilge says:

    My company orders lots of Dell and I end up using this webpage quite a lot: [support.dell.com]

    Also, when you get an email from someone at Dell and the 50-line sig has their supervisor’s email address, carbon your reply to that address.

  37. Ringl says:

    @bilge: actually whenever you respond to someone at dell (at least on the small-medium business customer service) the e-mail is automatically routed to his or her immeadiate supervisor.

    I’ve had to work with Dell’s customer service three times in the past two months and each and every time it was completely painless.

  38. ELC says:

    Hey @WingZero987: Thanks for the idiotic, off topic response. Yep, Steve Jobs runs a cult alright, no doubt about it. I go to the “church” every day when I sit at my Mac.

    Gimme a break!

  39. AmbroseP says:

    @Audiyoda said, “Looking at price points versus performance – it’s hard to argue with going the way of the Mac. A comparably equipped Dell, HP, Gateway or just about any other laptop is generally as expensive or more expensive than a Macbook or Macbook Pro.”

    What have you been drinking?
    At least for Dell, some comparable (if not better) configurations I looked at were at least half the price of the MBPs.

  40. jimv2000 says:


    I also did the IT helpdesk thing at a university, and I was less than impressed by the Macs. There was a hardware repair shop on campus, located near where the IT helpdesk was, and they got dead and dying Macs all the time. And they hated dealing with them, because apparently Apple notebooks are hard to get apart and back together again. Plus the Macbooks use hte same parts that you would find in a Dell or Gateway laptop.

  41. thenotwho says:

    Hey all – thank you all so much for the responses. :)

    Here are my answers to the comments:

    – I bought a desktop (but I used to have a Dell laptop in the days when their retail customer service wasn’t as crap) – though the laptop/desktop isn’t really a part of the issue

    – Point taken that HP, Compaq, Alienware are other PC options – it’s not just Dell and Apple (but that doesn’t take away that one of the two biggest players in the game – Dell – is routinely screwing their customers)

    – I debated on whether to purchase from the Small Business gateway – but ultimately, the price difference was several hundred dollars, so I opted for Dell retail. Yes, I regret it now. Can I hear a collective “I told you so?”

    – Thanks for suggesting a chargeback! I’ve talked this over with my CC company, and apparently, this is BOTH outside the time limit, and an all-or-nothing proposition, and since I did receive the actual computer, there’s nothing they can do… And I can understand that

    – Depending on how things go with Dell after a few days, I’ll follow up with the AG and the BBB

    I think that’s all the stuff I wanted to clarify… Thank you all so much again for your support and feedback!

    I’ll send any updates as they come up.

  42. theblackdog says:

    @Trai_Dep: You’re a Dan Savage reader, aren’t you?

  43. anarcurt says:

    Never buy something on the basis of an expected rebate. I know that won’t help your current situation but it is a lottery scam. I’m with kahri, try your retailer if you haven’t already.

  44. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Well then she would have to say that she loves being a part of the custom builder community.

  45. gomakemeasandwich says:


    People like him are way too far gone. Don’t worry about him.

  46. gomakemeasandwich says:

    So has anyone noticed that LeBron James has been playing like shit?

  47. WingZero987 says:

    @Buran: Since you post on everything, what did you post when Apple wouldn’t replace that power supply that fried a macbook, or all the other problems people have (LCD SCREEN LAWSUIT LOL)?

    I have a Macbook for work. It works, just like my friend-built PC does. It’s certainly nothing special.

    Then again, there was nothing like paying $2000 for $1000 worth of parts in a white box! Thank you reimbursement!

  48. calvinneal says:

    Apple consistently has the best customer service in survey after survey. We must all be deluded. I like my coolaid sweet with extra sugar!

  49. sgodun says:

    Return the Dell. Buy a Mac.

  50. dorkins says:


    Playing *like* or playing *with*?

  51. Doug81 says:

    Dell owed me a $150 gift card that the regular CSRs told me I wasn’t eligible for. I e-mailed customer_advocate@dell.com and got it in the form of a credit back to me because they were “no longer issuing” those gift cards. I would rather pay less than buy more anyway. Glad to see the EECB still works with Dell though.

  52. awolcfh5150 says:

    I used to be a rep for Michael Dell’s team. All we did was contact angry customers and try to fix things. I almost got fired for making things right with a customer. They don’t care about anything but your wallet. DO NOT buy from Dell! Oh and just in case anyone needs it, Michael Dell’s email address is: michael@dell.com

  53. tneria01 says:

    I bought a Dell XPS desktop about 6 months ago. Everything ran smoothly. Out of the blue about 3 months after I bought it, I received a $150 gift card from them. I went on line to Dell’s web site and used the card to buy a 500 gig back up hard drive. The cost of the hard drive at the time was $160, so I ended up paying about $14 total for my purchase. Nice experience all around.

  54. Lambasted says:

    @WingZero987: When I learn how to put a computer together, I’ll do just that.

  55. Lambasted says:

    @edicius: I’ve owned several Dell desktops and never have had a problem as well.

    While I would never think twice about buying another Dell desktop, the constant Dell bashing does have an affect on me and makes me leery to buy a laptop from them since laptops tend to be more delicate and temperamental.

  56. truthbuddy says:

    @WingZero987: and you can make your own butter too!


  57. wildness says:

    I went over to the dark side of the force (Apple) six months ago and it was the best thing I have done in ten years – and I have done some cool things.

    Vista was my final straw, but Dell sure plays its part.

  58. madog says:

    @kahri: Not intended to start a Mac v. PC flame war?

    Oh but it has, kahri. It has….

  59. Trai_Dep says:

    @theblackdog: Yup. Ain’t he great? :)

  60. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Good question…both? Though this is the team that made it to the finals last year.

  61. gomakemeasandwich says:


    I’m not going to Dell bash, because I don’t own one (although my Grandpap does and it’s crap), but my roommate had a Dell laptop and he always had problems with it. Honestly, I don’t know anyone else who owns a Dell laptop, but I thought I’d just let you know.

  62. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Are you Indian?

  63. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Apple fans are more fanatical than most. This is a fact.

  64. gomakemeasandwich says:


    Or build your own computer? You could build a sweet Hackintosh for half of the price of Apple’s entry level desktop.

  65. RipRagged says:

    Oooh. I just love me some flame wars.

    I use a Dell at work. I’ve used Macs at home for 21 years. If price and conformity are your only criteria, buy an Acer or an Asus. If function, style, security, customer service, and total cost of ownership are what motivates you, get a Mac.

    fanatical, adj. convinced of the superiority of a system based on empirical evidence rather than monopoly-induced popularity.

    Having used both Dell and Mac for over ten years, I am qualified to say that the Mac is better. This is based on fewer crashes, no infections, superb customer service, and seamless software upgrades on a Mac. The reality distortion field isn’t a factor.

  66. sam1am says:

    Dell, HP, Gateway, Microsoft, Compaq, Acer, Sony, Toshiba, and every other manufacturer has been chasing you into the arms of Steve Jobs for about 9 years now.

    If I wanted a design-by-committee hunk of gauche plastic, I’d … well, kill myself I guess.

    @all Apple fans are fanatical for a reason. We’re watching a bunch of computer-Cromagnums walk around with something from the dark ages while they scoff at the obviously far-superior machines we know and love.

    There is a reason people are switching to Macs in droves. They’re starting to realize that the opinions they formed about computers 15 years ago don’t necessarily still hold true today.

  67. newfenoix says:

    I have owned one Dell and it was a wonderful computer. But, the only time that I had to call CS was a nightmare.

  68. Rusted says:

    @rdm: Yeah. The best are home built. “Branded” computers tend to have too much garbage in them anyway, both hardware and software.

    @kahri: Linux isn’t looking bad. Dreading Vista bigtime. Already have Ubuntu waiting in the wings.

    @WingZero987: Amen!

    @awolcfh5150: You mean it was. Bet any email to M Dell is gonna get bounced.

    @sam1am: Ah, but those are “branded” machines. I build my own. Quality parts on the inside. I don’t care if the outside is an unadorned black box missing side panels.

  69. Buran says:

    @WingZero987: I would say that every company has exceptions, which is true. I did say that I personally have gotten decent service from them, not that everyone has, but overall the impression I’ve gotten from the net in general is that their service is pretty good.

  70. Rogue Justice says:

    I like that she doesn’t realize that there is anything but Dell and Apple. I built my computer and it’s better than anything at Dell or Apple and much cheaper. Even if you don’t want to build/buy a custom computer there are a ton of other awesome computer companies. I wish people would realize there are more than 2.

  71. Rogue Justice says:

    @sam1am: You have to be kidding. Right? I admit, Apple makes a good casual computer. But that’s all they really are. They aren’t good for most people. I was at a friend’s house and they only have Mac. I had to use the computer to look some stuff up and I got annoyed. I had to click to scroll and there isn’t multiple mouse buttons (people will say its a stylistic choice, but for me who needs to do things the fastest and simplest way, those features are needed). If the branded computers don’t work for you, it’s easy to build a computer and relatively cheap. The parts only go in one way, so it’s hard to screw it up and they come with manuals that can direct you. Anyways, not buying a branded computer does NOT automatically mean a mac.

    Also, before I’m called an Apple/Mac hater, I have an iPhone and I want to get the Macbook AIR. It just has to do with the usage of it, for desktops I don’t think that Mac can beat PCs for a more serious user.