Dell delays spread to Inspiron, Latitude laptops

Customers cancel orders, swear off Dell for life

Dell customers in the U.S. continue to wait for laptops ordered weeks, and in some cases, months before, comments left on a recent company blog posting revealed.

Last week, Dell's digital media manager, Lionel Menchaca, used the Direct2Dell blog to once again reach out to people who had placed orders for laptops, telling them that one reason their purchases had been canceled was because of federal rules involving mail order sales.

"One of the laws that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) enforces is the Mail Order Rule, which requires us to obtain your permission to proceed with processing your order when it has been delayed more than once," Menchaca said. "If we do not obtain your permission to proceed, we must cancel the order to be in compliance with the law."

That brought out would-be buyers who claimed that their orders had been canceled without any prior notification. "No one contacted me regarding the delayed shipping, I had to contact Dell," said a user identified as Diana.

For the first time, Dell acknowledged that the delays were not limited to the troubled XPS M1330 that went on sale in late June.

"Understandably, I'm getting lots of comments and direct e-mails related to delays of XPS M1330 notebooks, Inspiron and Latitude notebooks, and some of our Vostro products," Menchaca said. "I want to apologize to all of you for the frustration these delays are causing. I also want to assure you that we're doing everything we can to ship your orders."

That opened the floor to another round of complaints by customers who are still waiting for laptops ordered as long ago as early July.

One buyer named Dave posted an 18-point description of each communication he has had with Dell over an Inspiron 1721 notebook and printer ordered July 4 that have not yet shipped. Several others said that they were college students and had placed orders in what they believed had been plenty of time, only to have their shipments postponed to dates after they were to report to school. "Another unhappy customer. I too have started college WITHOUT my laptop," said Tonya.

Another user, tagged as Rascal, was scathing. "I see that Dell is still marketing 'back to school specials.' Perhaps they should make it clear that they really mean it to be a Christmas special for school in January."

Many noted that the new delivery date they'd been given was the same date, Aug. 28. "There is NO WAY Dell can ship thousands of these on August 28th," wrote a buyer calling himself "Cancel Your Order."

As in previous cases when Dell officials have blogged on Direct2Dell about notebook delivery delays, customers blasted the Round Rock, Texas, company for continuing to advertise the very computers that were unavailable. "How is it you have people who have ordered their laptops since June and July and still have yet to see them but they are still taking orders as if nothing is wrong?" asked the self-proclaimed "Confused Dell Customer."

Scores of those leaving comments on Menchaca's latest post said the snafu had permanently soured them on Dell. A user named Mark was among the most thorough in his damning of Dell. "The whole M1330 debacle, delays, supply chain failures, communication confusion, badly educated CSRs (customer service representatives) with no authority to help, more delays, even more delays, blogs that Dell doesn't seem to read or respond to ... all of it ... it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion."

Dell did not respond to a request for comment today.

Earlier this month, a Dell senior vice president acknowledged on the Direct2Dell blog that the company had managed to ship only 10 percent of the XPS M1330 systems ordered to that point, and blamed the delays on problems painting the notebooks.

As of today, the estimated ship date for an XPS M1330 was pegged by Dell's online ordering system as Sept. 12. Pricing for the laptop starts at US$1,299 (AU$1,624). Of the other models that customers said they were still waiting to receive, the Inspiron 1721 showed an estimated ship date of Sept. 4.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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