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Getting the Best Deal From Dell — Or Not 207

Posted by kdawson
from the consumer-advice-or-proprietary-information dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes "When The Consumerist published 22 tips for getting the best deal from Dell Computers, according to a self-described former Dell sales manager, Dell fired back with a take-down notice. You might want to look quickly, in the event it does get taken down. The Consumerist's lawyer's initial response was to deny the takedown request."
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Getting the Best Deal From Dell — Or Not

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:18PM (#19544575)
    Full text from http://consumerist.com/consumer/insiders/22-confes sions-of-a-former-dell-sales-manager-268831.php [consumerist.com]
    Anon because I'm not a karma whore and because I add nothing to the post. Enjoy :)
    ***
    A former Dell kiosk manager writes us to share helpful tips about doing business with Dell. He has no particular problems with Dell, he just wanted to share some helpful tips for consumers looking to get the best deal. He includes info on getting the best deal from the website, different kinds of promotions the Dell offers, insider details on how the kiosk sales reps are compensated, what coupons and deals they have to offer you to close the deal, the email format for Dell in case you're thinking of launching an EECB, where to take your Dell credit card complaints, which extended warranties to avoid, how to get a domestic tech support rep... and more. It's very comprehensive. Enjoy!

    I am a former Spherion rep that later became a Dell Branded Rep (manager) of a Dell kiosk in the Philadelphia, PA region. To work at one is to work at all, and I worked at four different kiosks in the region. I worked from July 2005 until October 2006, but keep regular contact with some of the guys I trained and brought up. Other than the usual complaints, I have no problem with the company.

    Things most people know already:

    1. Small business is better than home and home office - Small business typically runs a few dollars more than the home office, but you stand a better chance of getting domestic tech support rather than non-native English speakers. As an added perk, small business promotions are occasionally better than home.

    2. Play with the web site - There are many different pricing packages for the same product throughout the various sections, typically three or more per segment. If you're buying a Dell soon, configure a unit from a link off the main page, from the product listing on the drop down and from the "As Advertised-Newspaper" drop down. Configure the same system each way at the home, small business and the Direct (kiosk) site (http://www.dell.com/directstore). It is very likely you will end up with nine different prices.

    3. Extended warranty for laptops - Do it for as long as you feasibly see using your laptop, and include accidental. Two years is typically the lifecycle from "new product" to "no longer produced/no more refurbs" though YMMV. Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop. The standard warranty will not cover any screen defects.

    UPDATE: Current Dell rep says: If a system is no longer shipping a used/refurbished is always sent, though the refurb should be equal or better as far as hardware is concerned. As of this writing if a system is exchanged, via either Complete Care warranty or concession, and the system is still a currently shipping model a new system is to be sent.

    4. Extended warranty for desktops - There is nothing in a low end desktop (non XPS) that is worth the price of the warranty should you have to replace it. Only pick it up if you have absolutely no clue what you're doing once the case is open.

    5. Tech support phone - If you do go with the home/home office/direct route, tech support is outsourced (duh!). The tech support instant messenger typically provides a calmer, more understandable conversation due to the fact that accents are taken out of the equation. Think back to high school Spanish. It was always easier to translate the foreign language you were reading than if you heard it. Same concept applies here.

    6. Tech support web site - If you're having a common problem, hit the product forums (however crippled they may be now). It is very likely your question/problem has been resolved before, and usually a domestic tech rep posted a solution there.

    7. Warranty Repairs - On all but the two lowest warranties (90 day and 1 year limited), warranty repairs wi
  • Re:wtf? (Score:5, Informative)

    by qbwiz (87077) * <john.baumanfamily@com> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:31PM (#19544685) Homepage

    When are these companies going to learn that trying to suppress information on the internet just makes it multiply?


    Yesterday. [direct2dell.com]
  • by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:31PM (#19544687)
    Get the 1 year return to base support when you buy the PC.

    About 2 weeks after you receive the system, you'll get a phone call and an offer to upgrade to the full 3 year on-site support for around £30 ($60). That worked out at about a third of the price than if I'd bought it.
  • by Spazholio (314843) <slashdot@lOOOexal.net minus threevowels> on Sunday June 17, 2007 @06:43PM (#19544779) Homepage
    Just in case, coral cache of the article here [nyud.net].
  • Re:wtf? (Score:2, Informative)

    by JanneM (7445) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:07PM (#19545253) Homepage
    Nope. Logarithmic growth generally means it's growing slower and slower, though never actually stopping.
  • Re:wtf? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:07PM (#19545259)
    You misunderstand. The logarithmic function is being used in that case to scale the huge range of energy in earthquakes (everything from the effect of dropping a sledgehammer on the ground to exploding hundreds of atomic bombs in one spot) to a convenient "linear" Richter scale (it's actually based on something more complicated than "energy", but it's related). People's eyes usually glaze over when you talk about 9 or 10 orders of magnitude with the raw numbers.

    Think of applying a logarithm (base 10) to some numbers:
    input 10 is transformed to 1, 100 to 2, 1000 to 3, 10000 to 4
    Clearly the logarithmic function is *diminishing* the otherwise exponential growth of this trend so that the output is linear.

    By contrast, if something is actually growing at a logarithmic pace [wikipedia.org] then its rate of growth is declining. Put a linear input into a logarithmic function and see what happens.
  • #6 in the kiosks... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @08:38PM (#19545423)
    #6 in the kiosks section is my favorite: "Don't be surprised if the salesman asks really base/borderline-insulting questions if you act interested. They think you're a secret shopper."

    Nothing like pissing off legit customers so you can score a little higher on a phony performance score. A store I worked at dropped the mystery shopper crap while I worked there, but never explained the reason. I strongly suspect it was because the test isn't grounded in reality, but in the random chance of a single shopper once a month. They replaced it with a survey system, which is probably almost as bad... Surveys only get the best and the worst answer... Why would someone take the time to fill out a 'I got pretty normal service' answer? They don't, even if you offer $$$ prizes randomly.
  • Re:wtf? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hatta (162192) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @09:32PM (#19545753) Journal
    I think what they meant to say was exponentially. Logarithmic growth means it is slowing down really fast.

    Actually that's exponential decay. Logarithmic growth is growth, but very slow growth. Slower than linear growth.
  • A Few More Points (Score:5, Informative)

    by chill (34294) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @10:02PM (#19545923) Journal
    Dell's business sales reps work on quarterly quotas. The closer you get to the end of the quarter, the more they're willing to give you. The trick is, their quarters are shifted by one month. Instead of Jan-Feb-Mar, their quarter is Feb-Mar-Apr. So if you can get quotes in the first week of April, then hold off until the last week, they'll call you and offer all sorts of incentives to close the deal.

    Same goes for July, Oct and Jan.

    * * *

    ALWAYS check the website for deals. Probably 1 in every 5 times I've gotten quotes from our Small Business Sales rep I've found better deals online. Tell them and they'll match or beat it.

    * * *

    Get your Small Business Sales Rep to set you up a custom page with the equipment you normally order, INCLUDING ADD-ONS. For over a year I was able to purchase 15K RPM SCSI drives off of the custom page for 1/3 the price quoted on the normal site. Ditto for rack rails, RAID kits and extra CPUs.
  • obligatory IAALIA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Travoltus (110240) on Sunday June 17, 2007 @11:24PM (#19546497) Journal
    (I am a licensed insurance agent)

    You're right. It's called a moral hazard.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_hazard#Moral_Ha zard_in_Insurance [wikipedia.org]

    The writer of this article needs to apologize publicly for encouraging this.
  • by dugn (890551) on Monday June 18, 2007 @01:09AM (#19547073) Homepage
    Dell rescinded. They say they blew it by threatening a takedown. http://consumerist.com/consumer/takedowns/dell-adm its-error-in-asking-consumerist-to-remove-post-269 653.php [consumerist.com]
  • Text of Dell Apology (Score:2, Informative)

    by tcrown007 (473444) on Monday June 18, 2007 @02:08AM (#19547345)
    Dell's 23 Confessions

    Now's not the time to mince words, so let me just say it... we blew it.

    I'm referring to a recent blog post from an ex-Dell kiosk employee that received more attention after the Consumerist blogged about it, and even more still after we asked them to remove it.

    In this case, I agree with what Jeff Jarvis had to say: instead of trying to control information that was made public, we should have simply corrected anything that was inaccurate. We didn't do that, and now we're paying for it.

    I believe in the customer voice--that's why I signed up for this job in the first place. There's simply no cheating the system. When we're on the right track, folks tend to say some good things about us (or at least give us a second chance). When we mess up, they let us know quickly and vocally. Then everyone watches our reaction like a hawk.

    Now, if you'll allow me to shift gears just a bit, here's our own 22 23 Confessions list:

    1) Ok, we goofed. We shouldn't have sent a notice. To my earlier point, we appreciate the reminder from the community. Point taken. Yesterday, we also responded to a related IdeaStorm idea from user jmxz. To see more, take a look for comments from our own dell_admin1 and my good pal richard_b.

    2) An easy way to scope out deals is to go to the Home and Home Office section of Dell.com and click "As Advertised." In other words, click here. You can see what we're currently offering and then chat live with a rep if you like.

    3) We have simplified our pricing and promos. We have reduced the number of promotions per product line and the number for a single product. We've also simplified our rebates.

    4) Small Business will be different than Home and Home Office soon. There will be a real difference between systems we offer to consumers vs. small business users that goes beyond price. Since these details depend on upcoming changes in both our Inspiron line and our small business systems, I can't share more details just yet, but you will hear more in a few weeks.

    5) We are committed to being the greenest technology company on the planet. It's the right thing to do for ourselves, our environment and our customers. See details in the Programs section of this page for more information.

    6) When your computer's effective life has ended, we still care about it as much as you do, so we provide free recycling for all consumers worldwide. We can't wait for our competitors to catch up, since we all benefit from improving our environment. Please remind them.

    7) We don't think many people get excited when they have to call the Geek Squad, wait around at their house and then fork over cash when you can do the same thing in the comfort of your home on your own schedule for free. Maybe we're crazy, but we think this is more effective. Turns out our customers seem to agree. DellConnect has helped over 5 million consumers for free and has a 93% satisfaction rate in a little over one year of service. Other tools like PC-Tune-Up help automate confusing aspects of system maintenance And new tools like Dell Support Center centralize system-specific information and provide several options for reaching support to make troubleshooting easier.

    8) What if you only had to make one click to make a difference in the environment? Well, we do this everyday via our Plant a Tree for Me program. Through it, we empower our consumers to offset their system's carbon footprint by making a small contribution to purchase a tree at the time of purchase or whenever you want. And, Michael Dell is personally matching any contribution you make in June, July and August.

    9) We normally wouldn't have said this in the past, but we have some very cool PCs being introduced later this month. Stay tuned and you'll see what we mean. Matter of fact, I've seen some pictures here and here.

    10) We have a very great way for all of our customers to share ideas with us at www.ideastorm.
  • by TClevenger (252206) on Monday June 18, 2007 @02:41AM (#19547485)
    There are lots of sites; I use hot-deals.org [hot-deals.org]. They come up with deals that are hard to find on the site. (For instance, a slim C521 with an Athlon 3600 dual core, 1GB of RAM, 160GB, DVD burner and a fax modem for $219 with free shipping.) They also come up with great ideas I didn't think of (for instance, about a year ago, they configured a normally $2,100 dual-processor mirrored-RAID dual-power-supply server by buying two $600 servers and cannibalizing one for parts.)
  • Re:wtf? (Score:2, Informative)

    by JanneM (7445) on Monday June 18, 2007 @04:25AM (#19548017) Homepage
    logarithms functions approach a asymptote

    No they don't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 18, 2007 @08:06AM (#19549145)
    I want a good Linux laptop so bad - one preloaded with all the internet, office, music and video acquisition apps, and so forth, designed from the get-go to run fast and efficient.

    Have you looked at System76 [system76.com]?

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