Something’s horribly wrong with Dell (and HP)

Maybe it’s not the most interesting content I’ve ever published, but I’d like to share something with my readers, secretly hoping that maybe some Dell or HP employee would ever get to see this. My aunt, who lives in far-away London, asked me for help choosing her new computer. Her requirements from the new computer are dead simple: it should have dual screen support (she’s a translator and prefers the original and translated text open side-by-side) and preferably the chassis should have something purple on it. That’s it. I reckon if she wasn’t in London I’d pop by one of the small computer shops on the street near my home and pick up a brandless computer to fit her needs. I reckon I could do fine with the equivalent of something around 250GBP.

Since she’s far away and since my mom has a surprisingly long-lived Dell OptiPlex GX260 (Pentium 4!) and since I have a friend whose been badgering me for years that bitsie computers are bullocks and that going with a brand, preferably Dell (in his opinion) is the only sensible option, I asked my aunt if she’d like to shell the extra money for a brand name and she agreed. So I went to Dell UK’s stupid website, which keeps shoving deals I don’t want in my face while not letting me understand really what is it that I’m going to buy and for what price. Admittedly, I haven’t really bought a computer I cared much about in years, but still I thought that I knew my way around computers, and for the life of me I couldn’t be certain what’s the cheapest Dell with to which you can connect two monitors, and that’s all the dude ever wanted anyway.

I clicked the banner which was flying on the screen (you think I’m kidding, but there was a banner and it was flying) which read “Chat with a sales representative now”. As I expected I was taken to a chat with some poor sap who seemed intent on failing the Turing test. Honestly, I think Dr. Sbaitso would have helped me better than this person did1. After specifying my extremely simple requirements and after receiving several links that didn’t work because the Dell website was built by faceless and nameless gnomes who obviously never heard of beautiful URLs, I literally had to force the sales rep to give me just the name of the model they recommended and Google it. Namely, turns out I was looking for an Dell Inspiron 560 MT (model number: D005619, if the link won’t work for you guys either), priced at a whooping 500GBP. The computer was an obvious overkill for my needs, and still I couldn’t find a proper specification sheet saying simply that it had dual monitor support. I didn’t feel like I could trust the sales rep anyway, I felt our interests were horribly misaligned and he really couldn’t care. Every other sentence the sales rep uttered was “I hope I helped you today sir, would you like to proceed with me to checkout?” or something to that effect.

So I tried figuring things out myself, going backwards, first choosing the cheapest Dell with an ATI GPU (a Radeon 3000), and then searching about the Radeon 3000, and the AMD 760G chipset, and other (non-Dell) manufacturers that make boards with the 760G – all in order to find a picture of the board where I could see what will I be receiving, to no avail. There are many specs lying around the Internet and many boards and some had both DVI/VGA and some didn’t and I couldn’t come up with a simple, definite answer for my aunt, who’se a really kind person but would really rather not donate 500GBP to Dell needlessly. Amazingly, Dell thinks it makes sense to add a sentence like NOTE: Offerings may vary by region. For more information regarding the configuration of your computer, click Start -> Help and Support and select the option to view information about your computer. to a spec sheet. Good thing RFC791 didn’t read [the Identification field is] an identifying value assigned by the sender to aid in assembling the fragments of a datagram, but it may vary by region and be something completely different, or may not. We’ll see, or else the friggin’ Internet probably wouldn’t have existed as we know it.

Visiting HP’s website yielded frighteningly similar results. I’m pretty sure I’d tell her to go Apple by now, but she’s far away and OSX is a whole new interface and I don’t have much time these days for support calls and she needs good Hebrew support (for the translations), which I’m afraid Apple lacks. Besides, Apple scares me, and that’s a reason for another post but not now. So I’m stuck. Ya hear that, fatso Dell and HP boneheaded executives? I’m stuck! There’s a guy here who literally grew up with computers and probably bought more than a hundred of them over the years, he wants to give you money to finance your unjustified bonuses, and he’s unable to, because you couldn’t keep your product lines reasonably small, your model names and submodel number sensible (and sub-sub-model number, and sub-sub-sub-model number, repeat at stupidum), your specifications sheets straight, your website functional and your sales representatives earning more than the equivalent of 10 pennies an hour! What the heck is wrong with you guys? How hard do you think it is to sell me a computer?

Screw this dude, let’s go bowling. But what will I tell my aunt?!

1 <evil>Suddenly I’m thinking that was I tasked with covert development of software that would pass the Turing test, I’d probably either train it against these ‘sales reps’ or try to get it a job as such a sales rep. Hmm.</evil>


4 responses to “Something’s horribly wrong with Dell (and HP)”

  1. Nick Coghlan Avatar
    Nick Coghlan

    One of the many screwy things about Dell? How *different* the websites are, based on the country you say you’re from.

    The Australian site, for example, has a tabbed interface down the bottom with “Tech Specs” as one of the tabs. I didn’t see that anywhere on the UK site.

  2. I used to be a Dell fan also, but their recent hardware makes me vomit, and I have personally witnessed three cases recently in which Dell laptops were extremely buggy and faulty right after they were picked up from the store. Their support is intolerable, and the website is indeed shitty.

  3. I helped my parents buy a computer from last December. The website was functional but fairly distracting and uninformative. From what you say, it’s good thing my parents didn’t need dual monitors.

    Now, to be fair, their new computer has worked out well. And I’m typing this on my five-year old Dell machine which just keeps on ticking. Other people I know seem happy with their Dell desktops, too. Too bad Dell can’t create a better purchasing experience.

  4. I haven’t laughed so much in a while.
    Good post Paoorto 🙂