Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ding Dong Dell

I've had a Dell laptop for a while and I really like it a lot. So when planning for a new desktop at home, I thought of going in for a Dell. They now offer an all-in-one desktop (like the one made famous by Mac) where the CPU is contained in the screen in a single unit, and from the website it seems both powerful and pretty. The 23-inch version, the Inspiron 2310, has an Intel i5 processor and seems to be just what I want.

The Dell India website lists prices for all their products except the all-in-ones, for which it advises the client to call the Dell India toll-free number. Which I did yesterday, and that's when my troubles started. First I got a gent who interrogated me sternly (name? serial number? last three years' tax returns? OK maybe I made up that last bit, but that was the tone of it). Then he asked me to hold, there was a brief spell of bad music and a sultry female voice whispered in my ear "Hello Sunil! This is Meena!!". I'm not making this up. I resisted the temptation to ask her when exactly we got on first-name terms, and got to my point. She didn't note the model number of the PC I was interested in, but simply promised to email me the price list for all Dell laptops and desktops.

When it arrived, the mail did not contain any information about the 2310. So I wrote back to gently point this out. I also gave her the link of the Dell India website where the model is described. This was her reply:

To view the desktops available in india, you need to log on to the website Also the models available with us are mentioned in the excel file.


In other words, she was claiming the machine I was trying to buy did not exist in India! I phoned her and gave her a piece of my mind: my colleague recently bought one of these from Dell India, the website I was consulting was indeed that of Dell India etc. In response to which I got this mail:

Can you please resend the mail containing the desktop details as due to some error in the system, the mail was automatically deleted.

At this point I called Dell again, to ask if I could talk to anyone except Meena. Ended up with a similar interrogation guy who patiently heard my complaint ("I'm trying to buy your product but your employee says it doesn't exist!) and said he would transfer me. Thereafter I got a recorded message saying "Extension 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0" after which it hung up on me. Back to square one.

At the next attempt I got someone who transferred me to Reena. Who transferred me to Shruti. Shruti told me the 2310 is not marketed directly by Dell but only by Dell retailers. When I started to hyperventilate, she passed me on to Deepa. "Deepa" I shrieked on the phone "do you have brains? Because I can't deal with one more Dell Dodo today. Please." Only, I didn't say any of this out loud.

Turned out, not only does Deepa have brains but she knows everything about the Dell 2310 including the rather arcane fact that it is "same thing as Dell 123 only". And that a consignment came in yesterday from Malaysia and I absolutely must buy one as soon as possible. It will be delivered in 5 days (I still remember the last time I heard that one from Dell India).

While I was musing over this conversation, Deepa called back. "I just want to know what you will use it for". I said I use it for music and video editing, music playback, stuff like that. She was relieved. "You're not going to resell it, are you?". I assured her I would not.

But on second thoughts, maybe I should. Wouldn't you pay double the price just to avoid dealing with Meena, Reena, Shruti, Deepa and three nameless male Nazis?


aativas said...

'Go to H(D)ell'.. that is what they seem to be saying. I had similar experience in Pune, The people there actually are paid to discourage you from purchasing their product. Reselling is a good idea I guess!

Amitabha said...

So, what price was it finally?

Sunil Mukhi said...

It comes to Rs 50,600. The configuration is: Intel i5-460M processor, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB SATA hard drive, 23 inch screen, built in TV tuner and wireless LAN card, wireless keyboard and mouse, 3 years warranty plus a load of rubbish software that I won't bother you with.

And though it was Deepa (the brainy one) who quoted me this price, I later received a mail from Meena (the one who had claimed it didn't exist) with the same info. But she simply tried to brazen it out without any admission that she had wrongly claimed it didn't exist, let alone an apology! Which provides another example to support my previous blog posting Sorry seems to be the hardest word...

vbalki said...

I had a very similar experience a couple of years ago trying to order a MacBook Air, believe it or not. Even the names of the ding-a-lings responding to my calls were very similar to the ones you had to deal with. To cut a long story short, I finally got the computer (it took 6 months), but the 'installation engineer' who came to instal it and check it out (since it was an `official' purchase) admitted that he had zero experience with Macs:-) Insult was added to injury when it turned out that the device (shipped from Singapore) did not come with a plug that fitted into the standard Indian socket. So one had to rush to the local campus store (which has, or will undertake to supply expeditiously, just about every object in the universe---very likely even the MacBook Air itself) and buy a 15-rupee adaptor before the computer could even be plugged in. Eventually I got fed up with the obviously ignorant 'installation engineer', and so Suresh Govindarajan kicked him out of my office and took the trouble to get my computer operational, quickly downloading and installing all that was needed.

Dark Legend said...

I believe all of Dell's support staff are in India -- perhaps the more skilled ones are allocated to dealing with customers in North America, such as myself. I had no difficulty in ordering a Dell system online in April this year -- at a good price, it arrived as planned and works fine. When it came to setting it up, I had the inestimable advantage of having access to Anindya! My only grouse is that the system had no installed software to play Blueray discs (which the drive supports).

Rahul Basu said...

Bala: I am truly mystified. The Mac does not need any software to be downloaded and installed before it is used. It's truly plug and play. Are you sure it's a Mac (and not, um, er, SUSY Linux....)