On October 20 I ordered both my colleague and my wife (for her birthday which has already passed) Dell Studio 17 laptops with the new Intel i7 mobile processors. The laptop is equipped and priced comparably to other 17″ laptops made by Toshiba, Sony and HP. Both my colleague and my wife are accustomed to Dell laptops so the decision was made to order the Studio 17’s from Dell rather than change to other brands.
Note: The only difference between my colleagues Studio 17 and my wife’s Studio 17 is the processor. My colleague opted for the faster Intel Core i7-820QM Quad Core while I got my wife the Intel Core i7-720QM Quad Core Processor. As you read on you’ll find out why this is an important detail.
The Order Process
I ordered the laptops in the late evening of October 20th. When I was in the check out process, the expected “ship” date for the laptops was November 10th. My first frustration came after ordering both laptops and finding that this date was moved back to the 11th on both during the checkout process. Okay, one day, I can deal with that.
The second part of the order that got me frustrated was how the pricing of shipping is calculated. I first ordered my colleagues computer, shipping overnight was going to cost $40, where 2 day was $24 and 3+ day was going to be $16. At the time I ordered the laptop, I figured the laptop would just arrive in time (Thursday, November 12) for the conference we were attending that weekend. With the changed shipping date after checking out, this meant I should have selected the overnight option for $40 rather than the 2 day that I did.
Then when I purchased my wife’s Studio 17, shipping totals were way different, $24 for 1 day, $16 for 2 day and $8 for 3+ day delivery. I then decided to do 1 day since the price difference wasn’t that big. That’s when I started wondering how the shipping total was being calculated. My colleagues order had a mouse added to the order that cost $14. Adding that item nearly doubled the shipping. Had I known that, I would have not ordered the mouse from Dell and just went to Microcenter and got a comparable mouse. It wasn’t till after I placed the second order, then re-assembled the 1st order in their shopping cart that I confirmed that Dell increases the shipping based on each item added. If you don’t watch the shipping line item in your shopping cart, you would never know the factor one other item puts on the total shipping.
Changing Shipping Method of my Order: Not Allowed
What’s more frustrating was calling Dell and trying to change the shipping method on the first order. I will not even talk about how rude the call center folks are but you can definitely tell Dell is still using call centers outside of the United States. I won’t even get into my opinion of that, but lets just say if you want to do business somewhere, put your support staff in the same place please!!!! At the time I was willing to pay more and even expected to have to pay some sort of order modification fee. Instead I got a cold reality that calling for support really meant calling to hear someone tell you no.
Expected Ship Date Came and Went
As November 12th (the date Dell switched the ship date for the order to upon checkout) came and went, no status changed on the dell.com web site for both orders. The next morning, I got separate emails from Dell that both orders have been delayed exactly one week. After passing on the bad news to both my colleague and wife, I decided to just wait till next week.
According to the email from Dell, both computers will now be shipped on or before November 18th.
Conclusion for Studio 17 with the i7-820QM Quad Core Processor
On November 16, my colleagues computer was finally shipped and he received it on November 18th. Sadly, no apology letter or any token of appreciation for waiting was included in the shipment.
Current Status of Studio 17 with the i7-720QM Quad Core Processor
This computer has been delayed another 12 days and is now scheduled to be shipped on or before November 30th.
The emails I’ve received for the shipping delays included a new phone number I can call to talk to customer service for customer satisfaction. This is where the last straw has been pulled by Dell. If you tell me to call a number and wait on hold while being transferred 3 times to find out the person I end up talking to cannot do anything for me, then why waste my time? Where’s my satisfaction coming from with this pointless call? The way the email is worded, I fully expected to call this new number and have someone say sorry with an explanation and give me something, if not something of value, like a token gift by mail such as a mouse pad that says Dell on it or even just a formal snail mail apology letter. If Dell was really on their game they would give me a substantial discount on my orders for the inconvenience. If they have any intention of maintaining a reputation, they should discount the orders to the wholesale value of the parts. Yes, Dell would loose their profit and cost of labor on my order, but I think that would be fair for missing customer expectations and is a common customer service solution in other businesses.
Why the Delay? Dell Will Not Tell You But I Can
If you search forums, in particular Dell’s forum as well as other PC forums you will find a number of threads of folks complaining about their delayed orders. I’ve found threads for the Studio 17 as well as for the Studio 15 and Studio XPS 16. What they all have in common is the i7 processor. I wasn’t going to blog this as the reason because technically, it’s still not enough evidence. Well thanks to my colleague wanting the slightly faster i7 processor, I’ve now confirmed that the processor is the reason for the delays.
Dell.com Ship Estimates for New Studio 17 Orders with i7 Processor Questionable
What’s the most disturbing is the estimated ship date Dell posts next to their products when you’re customizing your computer. I’ve gone back to Dell.com and observed ship dates that don’t line up with my experience. If my estimate is right, if you order a Dell Studio 17 today with the faster i7 820QM, you may just receive it by Christmas. If you’re ordering the processor with the i7 720QM and you expect to get your laptop on 12/8/2009 as Dell estimates, good luck. I’ll tell you right now you will not get your computer by Christmas unless something seriously changes with Dell. Remember, It is now estimated for orders placed on October 20th that they will be shipped on November 30, so how can an order being placed now with the i7 720QM processor be delivered by Christmas, let alone the date they promise? Dell needs to catch up all their October orders, then all their current November orders before yours is shipped. If you want some advice, take a look at a Toshiba, Sony or HP 17.4″ laptop.
What is Intel Doing About the Shortage of i7 Processors to Dell?
I have no clue if there Intel has a shortage on their processors, but what is obvious is Dell has a shortage of Intel i7 processors. For me, the buck stops at Dell, I blame them completely for offering a computer that they cannot deliver timely. But I am curious, is the issue between Dell not ordering enough for their demand or is Intel having issues producing enough of the processors?
Dell Phone Support Suggestion
Eliminate phone support all together or move it back to North America and empower the support staff. I was upset when I learned that the phone support was outsourced to India many years ago. I’m even more upset when I call and the script they are given to read always ends with “I cannot help you sir”. Why even have a phone support line if they can’t provide support? I say eliminate it completely and pass on the savings to us customers. I honestly believe that after this Holiday season you’re going to need to provide substantial discounts on your products in order to keep what customers you have after this delayed ordered fiasco you’re having.
I wouldn’t have a problem paying $50 more for a computer if I knew I could talk to someone on the other end who lives in the same part of the world I do, who appreciates the same television shows, experiences the same holiday shopping season and just knows the difference between talking to someone from Texas to talking to someone from Ohio (for example Coke/Pepsi is called “pop” in most of the Midwest). There’s a part of the customer service that is personable that is completely lost by Dell. When I call up my cable company for example, sometimes I talk to someone from Toronto, sometimes someone from right here in Columbus. Either way, part of the conversion is defused by talking about hockey or college football.
The other part of the customer service equation is to empower your staff to be able to help the customers. Give them the ability to send apology letters, send small apology tokens like a mouse pad or some other dell corporate swag, or even give them the ability to give customers a discount for their dis-satisfaction. Let them change the orders to some degree. I understand that once an order is placed we shouldn’t be able to change the processor or major components, but it should be easy to change other things within a 3 day window before assembly. Go ahead and charge an order change fee along with that, folks will understand and it gives you a new revenue stream. Lastly, don’t BS folks like me that the shipping method cannot be changed, I’m smart enough to know you don’t print out the shipping labels till the package is ready to be shipped.
Some interesting links on related Delayed Dell Shipments
Are you still waiting on a Dell laptop with an i7 processor? Please leave a comment, tell me about your experience!
UPDATE: November 23, 2009
My colleague’s Studio 17 currently does not work. When he finally got to turning it on Thursday evening, it was beeping an error code. The Studio 17 came DOA (Dead On Arrival). At present he is waiting for Dell to come and replace both the processor and the system board. I will be posting a separate blog post soon with an update on his Studio 17.
I’ve subsequently canceled the Studio 17 on order for my wife and promptly ordered the HP Pavilion dv7-3080us from NewEgg.com. It is comparable 17.3″ notebook computer with the i7 processor. It is nearly identical feature to feature except the HP comes with a twice as large hard drive (500GB), additional 2GB of memory, media remote control, and a blu-ray player/reader. As far as cost, this machine is about $200 more than the Studio 17 I had on order. The only feature it does not come with is the back-lit keyboard. Her computer will be arriving anytime today.