Why Do I Have To Hand Over My Personal Information Just To Get A Price Quote From Dell?

Joe wanted to find a new battery for his daughter’s Dell Mini Inspiron 9 laptop computer, as the original couldn’t hold a charge, so he checked out the company’s website for a replacement. He didn’t have any luck, so he began chatting with a customer service rep online, which turned into one of those roundabout ordeals no one likes dealing with.

By the time Joe waded through a few conversations with different reps just to find out if Dell even made the batteries any more (they’ve stopped selling the Mini models, as Consumerist reported earlier), he thought he was at the end of the search, finally.

He writes:

After going through two reps, the third rep happily said she would look for the part. After waiting a few minutes, she came back and told me she could not quote me a price unless she set up a profile for me. She asked for me name, phone number, billing address and e-mail address. At that point, I ended the chat.

Is there really a reason they need all of my personal info just to quote me a price?

Joe included a screen grab of the chat, where the agent says, “For me to be able to check the price on the battery, I need to create a profile.”

We’re not sure why such personal information would affect the cost or availability of a product, either. Unless it’s just another way to get a customer’s info into the system, which should be an option, not a requirement.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Darrone says:

    How else are they supposed to bug if you after you hang up?

  2. stevenpdx says:

    I found a price in 1/2 a second using that new-fangled Google thing. $33.18 at Amazon.

  3. joescratch says:

    That’s when it’s handy to have memorized the address of the White House, a fake number, and a fake name. For the phone number, it’s fun to pick some other obnoxious company’s toll-free number.

    • cheviot says:

      I also use the address of the white house, but for added fun use the real number (202) 456-1414 and the name of whoever is the current chief of staff.

    • A.Mercer says:

      Wow. I remember using the White House address when Radio Shack asked me for my information. I wonder how many other people do that. I wonder if the companies have learned and have that address filtered out of their junk mail lists. I guess if they were that smart they could just block it from being entered to begin with.

    • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

      The best address to use is 1600 New York Avenue, Washington, DC. Go ahead and check Google maps, I’ll wait…

      If you look closely, New York Avenue (if completed), crosses Pennsylvania Ave right at the center of the White House at 16th St. Back in the day, Pennsylvania was much more politically powerful than New York. Therefore, they gave the White House an address on Pa Ave. Now a days, the White House would have been at 1600 New York Avenue.

    • Velvet Jones says:

      No, always go with:

      1060 W Addison St
      Chicago, IL 60613

      Name: Ellwood Blues.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Ernest Banks
      1060 West Addison

    • SabreDC says:

      I use the name Joe Bethersonton at the address 11454 Pruder Street, Fargo, ND 50504.

  4. kelcema says:

    I hate to ever blame a customer…. but feel free to tell them whatever the heck you want to. How are they going to know the different??



    Starts at 1:50…

    • Supernautus says:

      The only thing about giving them a random, made up address, is that when they send the battery out, you’re not going to get it. If you correct the address they’re then likely to know all the other information isn’t correct either.

      • kelcema says:

        Ah, but the OP in this case just wanted a price, not to order anything. So, you can give them whatever fictional information you want for this instance and be safe.

  5. ScandalMgr says:

    I blame the OP for not knowing how to use Google shopping for a simple search term like “Dell Mini Inspiron 9 laptop BATTERY for sale”

    • ScandalMgr says:

      …And if the OP ever tried entering the helpful Express Service Code sticker on the bottom of said laptop on Dell’s site, then he already has a profile.

    • ovalseven says:

      But what exactly are you blaming him for? Even if he’d used Google, Dell would still have the policy he reported.

  6. Nighthawke says:

    Go third party at Amazon or NewEgg if the laptop is out of warranty. Abandon the fools to their scripts and rules and get a better battery at less than what they want to gouge you for.

    • unpolloloco says:

      Warranty doesn’t really even matter – if there’s ever a repair, just swap back in the original battery. That said, generic batteries aren’t necessarily the greatest – typically lower life and worse long-term durability. OEM from a third party source is usually the best option.

      • notserpmh says:

        While that is true, I often find that generic batteries are about a third the price, so if they last even half as long, I come out ahead. If they last 1/3 as long, then it breaks even, but I am not buying a battery to last 3 years on a laptop I might only have 2 more.

  7. Cliff_Donner says:

    Econsultancy.com article: “Why you shouldn’t make users register before checkout.”


    • DrMcFacekick says:

      I love that article *so much*, and want to EECB every single company that makes me do that with a copy of it. Thanks for posting.

    • Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

      This happened to me just today when I clicked an interesting looking ad on Facebook- took me right to a “please create a profile” page with no other options before I could even SEE THE PRODUCT. I hope that works out for them. I’ve already forgotten what the ad was for.

  8. kella says:

    Maybe they determine the price based on the average income of households in your zip code

  9. Greg Ohio says:

    I got an aftermarket replacement for one of mine on Amazon for less than 1/4 of Dell’s price. Works perfectly. ‘Just look at the feedback before ordering.

  10. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    I came across a sporting goods online retailer recently that made you register/login before even being able to see their prices or being able to add anything to a cart. And they didn’t sell anything special, you could buy the same stuff at amazon or academy or many other places. I wondered how much business they lose every day because of that.

    • bluline says:

      I encountered the same from a tire company when trying to get a tire quote. No other company did that. The nosey one did not get my business.

  11. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    I think the real problem here is the fact that you are considering purchasing a computer from Dell. What the hell, did we just time warp to 1993 ?

    • Misha says:

      Reading comprehension fail – he’s looking to buy a replacement battery for a computer they already own.

  12. samonela says:

    Area Code three-one-oh, eight-six-seven, five-three-oh-niyeeyine

  13. samonela says:

    She asked for me name, phone number, billing address and e-mail address.

    Apparently Popeye doesn’t enjoy giving out his personal info.

  14. maruadventurer says:

    MB Quirk,

    There are two reasons Dell does this —

    1/ To get around the telemarketing laws. You provide them all the data, chat and all that and now you have a `relationship`. Under the rules they are now permitted to contact you at their leisure.

    2/ Dell has multiple prices for most of its products. The same laptop model can have a price for individuals, small business, enterprise. Each customer type with its own pricing profile.

    • Rachacha says:

      We Have a WINNER! The type and level of service they provide is based on who you are. Business and corporations typically pay more than consumers, but they also receive a higher level of support, although, if you are ordering for a business and you recently placed a large order, they might be willing to give you a nice price break. They need to know who you are to provide you with the best price. If you ordered the laptop directly from Dell they already have your information, so why are you so hesitant to provide it. If you are contacting Dell for the first time about a computer you purchased directly from a retail outlet they simply want your contact information so they can offer marketing to you.

      The end result is you talked with 3 CSRs at Dell and you still don’t know how much a replacement battery will be, although looking at prices for other batteries it will probably be $130-150.

  15. PHRoG says:

    Being a previous employee I can tell you that unless the rep has created their own profile to pull up and give price quotes (which we were not supposed to do, but did it anyway), they have no choice but to create one or pull up someone else’s to get you a quote. Not saying it’s right…but, for record the rep doesn’t have a choice. :(

    • incident_man says:

      I call BS on that. I, too, used to work for D(H)ell and we could quote a price just by searching the web site or putting the customer on hold while we contacted the spare parts department. D(H)ell just wanted us to create a profile first so we could harass the customer and pass the 3rd-party quality audits.

      • PHRoG says:

        Right, the website doesn’t have the majority of spare parts. Also, we’re talking chat reps handling several customers at once…they don’t exactly have the time or ability to call over to spare parts and get a quote.

        Also, you might have forgotten that in order to, you know, KEEP your job, you had to pass those audits. So yeah, the rep has no choice. ;)

  16. jeni1122 says:

    Yes, they do have to take your profile because it is part of their job. Part of being able to use free customer service chat is having to deal with some marketing crap you might get in the mail or your email junk folder. Dell has to justify the cost for the free chat somewhere.

    The reason your profile info can effect cost is if you are a government employee or a teacher or employed by certain companies. Also, they need an address to give you a correct freight amount for your quote.

    I am a reseller for Dell and even I have to have one of these marketing profiles before they will give me a quote.

    • MMD says:

      They could always quote an approximate price with the caveat that a price more specific to your personal situation will be quoted when you create a profile. But that would be far less invasive, wouldnt it?

      • BBBB says:

        Quoting an approximate price is a great way to have an angry customer if the price ends up higher – they will be convinced that you intentionally quoted low to bait them.

        Better to get a zip code only to estimate shipping, quote the highest price, THEN say that they might qualify for a discount. Then you can explain how they might qualify and get the extra info while trying to get them a lower price.

        Some tactics that lead to happy repeat customers is to convince them you are helping them get the best deal and never increase a price after quoting. The last part is the most important in a customer interaction – you want them to be happy with you at the end even if they were upset earlier. If you give them great service and end it with a bumped up fee or extra charge, they will remember that and forget the rest of the call.

        Unfortunately, in most industries, the best companies are just the least obnoxious and the least mendacious [wow – I’ve never had a good place to use that word before!].

  17. hahatanka says:

    I once called the gas company for their mailing address to send in payment and got all that nonsense. WHAT?? your bank PO Box is secret?? Left the damn envelope at home and was at work. Reminds me, they did come out Christmas night for a gas leak. Poor guys spent 2 hours finding it.

  18. MyTQuinn says:

    I had a similar experience at Sears recently. The guy at the register insisted that he could not proceed with the sale (to the guy in front of me) without entering a phone number in the system. The guy in front of me and I walked out, leaving our intended purchases on the counter.

    • MMD says:

      I had someone at Sears ask my phone number recently, but when I said I don’t give that out, she just shrugged and continued. So I guess YMMV…

  19. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    A lot of the posts on this topic REALLY miss the point. The guy just wanted to know:

    1. Do they sell the battery?
    2. If they do, what is the price of the battery?

    If they said yes to those questions, then Dell could ask other questions they feel are pertinent. No need for address (shipping? he hasn’t even decided he would buy from Dell). Government employee, business, or teacher? They could ASK him of he qualified. Trying to get all that personal information is silly and wrong. Ugh.

    • MMD says:


      • areed67 says:

        Dell isn’t in the business of giving out free information over the phone – that’s what the website is for. To start doing anything with the sales system (which includes prices), the sales agents have to enter a customer account or create a new one. If their calls or chats -> customer creation number is low, they get canned.

        Sales people get paid for … sales. If they get your information they at least have a chance of selling you the thing you’re asking about. It’s called a close rate.

        If you want something from them, you have to give them something for it. If you don’t want to give the information, use a free service.

  20. quail says:

    There’s lots of reasons why it’s a good idea companies shouldn’t force people to register to see their prices. But it doesn’t trump the fact that the consumer is more likely to buy once registered. Plus, some company’s offer different pricing structures depending on who you are, where you live, etc. Register as a small company and you can see better pricing much of the time.

    But yea. OP should have used search engine ninja skills to find good pricing.

  21. DariusC says:

    This is a common practice. As a contracts specialist, companies ask us to create profiles sometimes for a quote. I assume it allows them to categorize you so they can give you a price depending on your needs (individual, business, government, nonprofit, etc). It also lets them send you promotional crap. Not bad if you’re doing it for your workplace/company, but if you’re just an individual I don’t see why they would need to set up a profile. Just Google Product search like everyone else said.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Just tell the rep that you know they are doing this so that Dell can spam by email, and get around the Do Not Call list to do telemarketing by phone, and send tons of paper to the street address.

      Of course the rep will NEVER pass customer concerns on to Michael.

      Get the battery part number and google. And don’t ever buy anything from Dell ever again. Buy other brands from retailers like bhphotovideo.com or newegg.com.

  22. minjche says:

    I had a different experience with Dell Chat a week or two ago. I needed to find out about a PCI right-angle riser card for an old, crappy computer at work, and I was able to get a part number and price without giving them any info.

    It was surprisingly easy actually.

    • Rachacha says:

      But I believe in order to start the chat you had to provide them with your E-mail, or be logged in to your account.

  23. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    Sadly, the rep was doing this to send you a free battery on the sly by saying you were covered by a warranty as a gift during this holiday season. You lost out.

  24. Geotis says:

    I refuse to give out my phone number or email address to cashiers when trying to make a purchase.

    I ran into one teller who refuse to sell me the product I wanted unless I provided my phone number.

    I hate to be “that guy,” but a quick chat with the manager seemed to remedy the situation as well as educate the teller.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Urban Outfitters recently implemented a *really* tricky way to get people’s email addresses. When you check out in the B&M stores now, they ask you if you’d like your receipt emailed to you (instead of printed). They make it seem like it’s giving you convenience, which for some people it is, but at the same time it gets you on their marketing list.

      Tricky, but I must say, a good idea on their part – especially considering their target demographic.

      • JiminyChristmas says:

        I wish I had realized this a couple of weeks ago when I was in an Apple store, they asked me if I wanted my receipt emailed to me, and I said “Yeah, sure…”

        No spam yet though. We’ll see how long it takes the crap to start arriving in my inbox.

  25. oldwiz65 says:

    Simple solution…tell them no and hang up. Go buy what you need on Amazon.

  26. ancientone567 says:

    People are dumb and will give their info. Guess your not that dumb. Gratz!

  27. SunsetKid says:

    Slightly off track but I have another example of Dell’s support. I transferred a TV show from my new TIVO to my Dell PC. I tried to watch it and got the dreaded blue screen of death. After some detective work, I found that it was the video card driver. I went to Dell and downloaded the driver from their web site.. I was rewarded with another blue screen. I then went to the video card’s manufacturer (Nvidia). They found my card and pointed to the right driver – FOUR YEARS MORE RECENT THAN WHAT DELL OFFERED!! Shouldn’t Dell keep up with drivers instead of offering ancient ones? The new driver fixed my problem – no thanks to Dell.

  28. Nunov Yerbizness says:

    Although sure, the OP coulda gone a lot of other places on this magical Intarnetz to look for a battery pack, I feel his pain. I’m tired of attempts to add me to customer databases I don’t want to be a member of.

    I’ve lost track of the heavy sighs, nasty looks, and long, icy pauses I’ve received from salespeople when I just want to pay for something and GTFO of their store, without being entered into their database or having any of my personal identity or contact information tracked by them. All it takes is a simple, quiet, “No” when they ask “Can you give me your address, phone number, and ZIP code?” and I get the slump, or the eyeroll, or the “well, I need to put something in here,” or the “why don’t you want us to send you our coupons and junk mail, troublemaker?” face.

    The only brick-and-mortar store I’ll buy computer parts/peripherals from is Fry’s, because all of the other ones give me a raft of sh*t if I just want to pay for an item without providing my name, address, phone number, and email address. They’ll snot, “You can’t return the item here unless we have you in our database.” Wanna bet, pencilneck? If I have a valid receipt and the item I want to return, in its original packaging, you’d better give me back my money, or we will have a nice chat with the state Attorney General’s office.

    Ugh. When I want a business relationship with you, I’ll be sure to beat one out of you, corporate whores.

  29. HollzStars says:

    I bet they use the same system we use…in order to get a price, or even to see if an item is available, I have to act like I’m actually ordering it (Meaning I need a name, phone number, address…We don’t NEED an email, but we have to ask for it anyway.)

  30. rwsinflorida says:

    While Dell customer service moved to another planet several years ago, this has become
    an outrageous and obnoxious marketing ploy by major companies who now train their
    so-called “customer service” people to demand we answer their questions before they will answer ANY of ours. I now routinely refuse to provide any information and advise I will shop elsewhere and abruptly hang up. I hope others will do the same as this troublesome trend has to be stopped.

  31. Skyhawk says:

    When did Radio Shack buy Dell?

  32. maruawe says:

    Google Batteries with the battery information AS “dell186tyf34 ” identifying code for battery.
    you may be able to find it that way .. I have found replacement batteries that way half a dozen times —- they were cheaper than original replacement batteries from the manufacturer

  33. centurion says:


  34. scheering says:

    that’s because they sell through the channel as well as direct to consumers. So, if a reseller were to come to them with your name and info (if you had later approached a reseller), then that dell rep would get the credit for the sale because they had registered your quote. In the end it screws over anyone else but that person so all the commission, etc, goes to them.

  35. DELLChrisM says:

    My apologies that this occured. If a customer asked me this question on or Forum, I would have just searched the database for the part number (M297J) and then helped you search for it on our sales site or outside Dell. I will engage with Sales management to find out what policies they use in these cases.

  36. DELLChrisM says:

    I just found out through email that we do not require customer information in order to send out a quote. We have already began messaging to our agents to be aware of this policy.