@ Supply Chain Management


Do not buy a Dell?

Do not buy a Dell! So says, Ernesto DiGiambattista at his site in an article that he pens. If you remember (or worse – had a Dell battery fire up on you – pun intended), Dell has caught quite a bit of flak in recent years – the golden boy of supply chain management has had its share of snafus – some of them captured on YouTube too. No longer do I have to only imagine what this era of populist digital journalism has in for us:

As you can see, the sort of publicity that the internet age creates, distributes and recycles at light speed cannot but produce severe shocks in any organization (Dell is but one organization that has been taken to the woodshed). However, Ernesto’s experience with Dell was not as smooth as it could have been:

In conclusion: Dell may have policies and procedures within their organizations but no one knows what they are!!!!! I was told by Dell Financial Services to call Dell Customer Service to call Dell Financial Services. This was the worst experience in my life in buying any product!

And neither was mine – I had a problem with my laptop keyboard (which just typed a few random letters on its own here and there – a runaway keyboard, so to speak). So I called Dell and asked them to replace it. 1 week later, my keyboard has proven itself in creating unexpected conversations and gibberish code but no replacement. I called Dell again and reminded them that my keyboard was communicating to the chat specialist at a furious pace and not I (Empirical evidence?) but managed to call them and speak to them too.

One week later, no keyboard. So, I called them again – as you can already imagine that my faith in my keyboard being an agent of transcribing faithfully my intent, thoughts and emotions to Dell personnel had waned considerably. Not my voice though – which was on the order a hundred times more exasperated as my right index finger in diligently pressing the delete key whenever my keyboard went into a digital exaration. The end result is that I got Dell to expedite another keyboard to me which arrived 2 days later. Lo and behold! – the first keyboard wound up at my company’s headquarters (despite my repeated instructions to the customer service personnel asking them to send it to my home office) and then was rerouted to me, arriving the following week.

So I can understand it full well when someone says that Dell’s customer service is beating to a different tune – I distinctly remember the erstwhile Dell ads about the clueless interns who toured various Dell stations. Perhaps, the clueless interns became fulltime employees?

The more interesting story about Dell is the return of Michael Dell to the helm, how another poster child for supply chain effectiveness and the pull model of meeting customer demand is now talking (and doing already?) about retailing through Walmart – a hybrid push-pull model? That’s a rather long article that I’ve begun working on and I hope to have that up soon enough.

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Category: Personal Observations, Supply Chain Management


2 Responses

  1. JohnP@Dell says:

    As a Dell employee, first let me apologize for the negative experience you had with the replacement keyboard. If you have any other issues with our products, please shoot an e-mail to customer_advocate@dell.com. You’ll be contacted by some of our most seasoned resolution specialists.

    I work on the digital media team at Dell and can say first-hand that our integration of Web 2.0 technologies like blogs are changing our corporate culture for the better. It helps us to listen and communicate with our customers much more effectively. And while we certainly aren’t perfect, we have made good progress on the customer experience front by not only deploying a variety of digital media properties, but improving our service capabilities, developing the best products in our history, and to date setting up sales through almost 10,000 retail locations worldwide to reach customers who prefer to buy via that channel.

    I’d also like to set the record straight on the notebook battery recall. There were only a handful of Sony batteries out of 20 million or shipped by Dell that actually caught fire. We were in the process of pinpointing the problem when the photos you mentioned hit the Web. We were the first company to recall these batteries in what became an industry-wide problem for Dell, Apple, Lenovo, Acer, Toshiba and others. In fact, the national association of fire marshals (I forget the formal name) praised Dell for quickly working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission — which also commended us for our use of blogs and vlogs to proactively communicate with our customers.

  2. Chris J Abraham says:

    I accept your apology on behalf of Dell – curiously though, I don’t recall getting an apology from Dell after the snafu. Could you direct that to someone who ought to know?
    However, Ernesto’s experience that I linked to in the above post – is not an old one, it is recent. Ernesto’s description of his experience is nothing out of the ordinary and I should think that resolving it should have been rather straightforward.
    I recollect that Ernesto made his order through the phone (i.e. within Dell’s direct to customer business model) – his unpleasant experience is in the realm of an existing (and what should be – tried and tested) business model. Then,
    and to date setting up sales through almost 10,000 retail locations worldwide to reach customers who prefer to buy via that channel.
    this doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Regardless of the business model that Dell chooses to pursue, customer service will be a common denominator – and dare I say, a determinant of perceptions. I’d think that if Ernesto’s experience (and mine too) are a frequent occurrence, Dell is about to make a known problem much worse.


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December 2007