Before I get into this, let me just say that I never thought I would actually join the ranks of the masses who have experienced something now commonly referred to as “Dell Hell.” With that said, please allow what’s to follow to serve as a cautionary tale should you currently be considering the purchase of a new Dell machine.

 

I’m going to start with the conclusion for those of you who want the end result up front. Long story short, I’m out $1000 and there’s not a damn thing I’ve been able to do about it through the channels of Dell’s support systems that us mere mortals are left to contend with. So, here I am resorting to writing a post and then sending it to everyone I can until I hopefully get the attention of someone who cares. DO NOT order a Dell system online if you want to split the charges between a Dell preferred account and your own card! If you do, make sure you’ve got enough in the bank just in case Dell decides to charge your card for the full amount PLUS the amount that they should have charged you for in the first place (that’s right; you may initially be out the grand total of the FULL cost of your purchase PLUS the amount you initially intended to go on your card)!

 

To take it back to the beginning, I was interested in purchasing a Dell m11x. They were running a $300-off special, so I decided I would configure one via the Web site, see how much it cost, then apply for a Dell preferred account. Well, I was happy to be instantly approved for a $1000 credit limit on a Dell preferred account! I’m always up for building my credit, so this was a great opportunity — or so I thought. After being ridiculously careful with how I went about paying for the m11x, I selected to put $1000 onto the Dell preferred account and have the remainder charged to my debit card. The VERY last thing I could have happen was to have all $1400+ extracted from my bank account because then I wouldn’t be able to make rent.

 

Well, that was a Saturday night. Low and behold, I check my bank account the following Tuesday and sure as the day is long, Dell charged the full freakin’ amount to my debit card! At this point, I was already furious because I was EXTREMELY careful to see to this very thing not having even the slightest possibility of happening. Now I couldn’t make rent. Thanks, Dell!

 

After calling Dell and discussing the matter with them, they said I would have refund of the full amount, then they would split the charge as it should have been split: $1000 to my Dell preferred account and $400+ to my debit. I had to give what I felt was a really stupid excuse to my renters for being a bit late with my rent (who actually says, “uh, yeah, I need a few days because I bought a laptop but got overcharged by Dell”), but whatever. It is what it is… or so I thought. By the way, the person I initially spoke with at Dell was as helpful as she could be, bless her heart (she still continues to try to be helpful beyond what she has control over).

 

Well, after sending a very long email and requesting it be sent up the appropriate channels to have the Dell site looked at for errors with their payment system, I continued to monitor my bank account. A day or two later, the charge for $1400+ disappeared. Completely gone. Those funds were unlocked and it seemed everything was in good standing. Soon afterwords (within another day or two), I noticed a charge for the correct amount of $400+ out of my account. Great! They dropped the original charged, opened those funds back up, then took out the right amount I had originally provisioned. Everything stayed like this for the next two days and it seemed like a resolution to the matter, so I started using my card as I normally would have.

 

5 days later, I get a letter from my bank. Basically, it states my account has been overdrawn by over $300. I immediately fly through the roof and go running into my office to check my bank account. The NIGHT of the final time I checked my bank account, Dell ONCE AGAIN charged my card for $1400. ON TOP of the $400+ they correctly extracted. So now, Dell had a total of $1800+ drawn out of my account. UNBELIEVABLE. I immediately go to my bank, express my concerns and tell them that I’m looking for someone to blame here, because I used my account in a typical fashion based on the data that was provided for me. My account history shows I’ve been anything *but* reckless as well.

 

Well, the day I received the letter above, I just so happened to get refunded the $1400 that was charged a week prior — but not before the damage had been done. There was now a total ~7 days worth of pre-authorization charges that were charged overdraft fees since my bank makes decisions based on available balance and not currently balance.

 

Now it was REALLY on.

 

I called Dell the next Monday since everything in the last two paragraphs that consisted of “in the now” transpired over the course of a Saturday and Dell’s financial services aren’t opened on the weekend. I got a hold of a woman who Dell decided to name “Alex.” Come to find out, the people who were in charge of this whole thing didn’t even transfer the $1000 balance to my Dell preferred account! Had I known that — as well as the fact that things were going to get to this point — I just wouldn’t have called them and there I would have had the $1000 inadvertently recuperated! Anyway, this was just one more incompetent action (or lack thereof) of Dell’s financial department. If I wasn’t taking notes by this point, I would have certainly started then.

 

After finding this out, Alex was very quick to apologize that my $1000 hadn’t been activated on my Dell preferred account (which, I couldn’t have cared less about since my concern was the $1000 in overdraft fees incurred by someone’s recklessness with my debit card). Once I finally got her to understand what my *real* concern was, she gave me a fax number (512-283-0029) and told me to fax specific details to the attention of “Payment Research.” I created a very detailed cover letter with adequate credentials to get a hold of me. Following the cover letter I faxed them was a second page; a letter that I had my bank draw up when I went to see them about this on Saturday. The letter expressed the overdraft charges that were incurred due to Dell’s recklessness and contained more than enough ways to engage my bank.

 

I was told I would hear back from someone within 48 hours. I needed something done THEN but I realized I would just have to cool my jets and give them at least 24 hours. Well, fast-forward to now (one week later after submitting my fax and trying to follow up with them numerous times) and I’ve spoken with up to 8 people — first- and second-tier support as well as managers — and where have I ended up? I’ve ended up with having to explain to each of these people the SAME PROBLEM over and over and over and over and over and over again an NONE OF THEM UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. If they don’t think I’m referring to the $1000 credit limit (which they were VERY quick to see to getting thrown on my Dell preferred account), then I have someone condescendingly telling me that all Dell would owe at the most would be $60 in overdraft charges for the two items I ordered (laptop + case).

 

Oh, and to top things off? I asked the last person I spoke to who the heck “Payment Research” is and THEY HAD NO IDEA. So, here, I’ve been waiting this WHOLE TIME for absolutely NOTHING; all the while, calling and being told over-and-over again that I just have to continue to wait until they hear something back about the investigation into my account. So, here I have been completely left out-to-dry because of Dell’s faulty online system to accurately split Dell preferred account amounts with credit/debit card purchases, followed by their making damn sure they had their $400+ before giving me a refund, but only AFTER the original pre-authorization charges disappeared!

 

The only option I was given from the last guy I could barely understand was to dispute the charges for the laptop. You know where that would leave me? Still $1000 in the hole with overdraft charges because any amount refunded would be what I’ve already paid anyway. Not being understood is INCREDIBLY frustrating and a COMPLETE waste of my time as a consumer. I’ve tried as hard as I can to get my bank and Dell interfacing with these issues but to no avail. I’m a pretty proactive person, so if *I’ve* had this much trouble, I can only imagine how frustrating a situation like this has been for a non-technical, non-aggressive person.

 

My feeling is that Dell just doesn’t give a crap when things like this happen. I’m sorry, but a company with the reputation of Dell should have systems in place to quickly alleviate a situation like this. If “Payment Research” is investigating anything, it’s probably any and every way to cover up the tracks of whoever the imbecile was that decided to have a field day with my card!

 

If I had even the slightest inclination that this would happen, I would have nixed my overdraft protection so that the second wave of charges wouldn’t have gone through. Wow, imagine how inconvenient that might have been for Dell! What would Dell have done if they were unable to take $1800 out of a little peon’s bank account? Who knows, but I’m sure it would have been something along the lines of a threat. Is that really how you operate, Dell?

 

I absolutely refuse to sit idly by while this situation stands as-is. Dell, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to make as much noise as I can and trust me; it’s going to take a lot more than the prospect of a free laptop to shut me up and make this better. You’ve affected my livelihood and caused a whirlwind of financial troubles for me. All I want is a resolution to the matter and to be covered for the amount of money I was charged in overdraft fees thanks to Dell’s inadequate system. As I write this, I still sit in disbelief that I’m having to do this with Dell. I hope my speaking out costs you even just a fraction of the financial woes you’ve stuck me with. I know it won’t matter to you because you’re Dell and you can afford it. It’s just a shame that a business would actually take the liberty to charge someone the total of the full amount of a product when not supposed to, then take the amount they *were* supposed to *on top of that* before having refunded the initial erroneously charged amount in the first place! Dell, you may have the money to operate in that manner, but those of us who are applying for Dell preferred accounts in the first place, don’t.

 

Disgusted with Dell,
Stephen Chapman

20 Comments

  1. I just went through the dell financing crap… ready to pull the string on a new machine… chose dell financing…but applying means you have to wait several days to get in the mail the information to make the purchase, what was six days ago. Then I get it, configure the machine and wala the new account information doesn’t work despite going through dell.com/dfs. Needless to say no Dell ordered and request to cancel the newly initialized Preferred account (aka high percentage vendor specific credit) was sent because you can’t do that online either.

  2. Crazy, JKav. Yeah, the sky-high interest was applied to this as well, but the machine I bought also had a 12-month no interest special running, so it seemed like a win-win, you know? I could have never imagined that I would encounter this nightmare. And I’m sorry, but when I have to tell 5 different obviously outsourced people the exact same freakin’ story over and over just for all of them to misunderstand me in exactly the same way, it’s mind-boggling to think that my finances are being handled by a department like that. I mean, it’s like the people responsible for this error just don’t understand that their actions could greatly affect someone’s livelihood in a tremendously negative way. Does Dell care about that? Obviously not.

    I’m truly disheartened by this and unbelievably frustrated. I will absolutely *not* be dealing with Dell in any capacity ever again.

  3. A year ago we decided to extend our daughter’s notebook warranty to get her through college. The Dell person said that because we had bought numerous machines from them, we wouldn’t have to use our debit card up front, Dell would “put it on our account” and send us the bill. Low and behold, Dell created a consumer loan account carrying an interest rate in excess of 20%.

    As soon as we got the first statement, we paid off the full amount (which is what we were planning on doing in the first place).

    If we had followed their minimum payment plan, we would not have finished paying for the warranty until 18-24 months after it had expired.

    Maybe the banking industry should take some lessons from Dell?

  4. Thank you for going into so much detail about your experience with Dell. I am responsible for purchasing new systems for our dev team (total: 8 desktops, 6 laptops, 1 server) and was leaning towards Dell until today. Your story prompted me to Google other bad Dell experiences and some of the stories are truly shocking. Worse still, many seem to take as much as 6 months to get resolved and require the input of mediating parties.

    HP it is.

  5. sorry to hear about your bad dell experience.
    its so much cheaper and easier to build your own computers from scratch these days.
    i mean who wants the crap that OEM’s install on these machines anyway, all it does is bog the machine down.
    countless times people bring their NEW computer to me just to have me remove the Dell, Compaq, or HP software that it comes with. The trial versions of Office and Norton and replace those with full version of Office and AVG antivirus.
    i wont buy anything from an OEM and for years ive told people. dont go out and buy a computer at a normal store because you WILL be ripped off.

  6. Dell has the WORST customer service I’ve ever dealt with, from any company. I’ve always had issues with them in the past, but for some reason always went back. Not again…not after hearing your story and reminding myself that good customer service should be at the top of a company’s priorities. Its a shame that they have not tried to work this out with you directly and that you’ve had to resort to your blog to get a response.

  7. I’ve worked in consumer retail finance, and I can attest to the multitude of frustrations inherent in outsourced departments. ‘Resolution services’ and ‘fraud investigation’ are just industry code words for passing the buck. Speaking from experience, these departments and call centers alike, are viewed by execs as ‘cost’ centers so why give employees the resources and authority to resolve complaints? That would take too much time. In other words, it is just too costly to research and resolve complaints. So, when you do call with an issue, you can be certain that it is the rep’s job to get you off the phone. The greatest problem with all of this is: who wants to deal with a company that’s only concerns are cutting costs and increasing profits? Fact is, these measures are working hard to destroy Dell’s reputation as evidenced by this horrific account. Now just imagine how much time and money it will take to restore that credibility! I think the biggest mistake a business could make is to ‘fix’ inefficiency by (either directly or indirectly) breeding more inefficiency. Good luck to you good Sir!

  8. We need a computer company that acts like Zappos.com … offers excellent customer service and respects (*truly* respects) their customers.

  9. I was actually considering buy a few Dell’s recently for my business, but after our issues with Dell (and their lack of adequate customer service)and reading these posts, there is no way i would allow my business to hinge on a Dell computer or dealing with Dell tech support or customer service. Thanks for the heads up and good luck with the outcome!

  10. What on EARTH?!?

    Stephen, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. Nothing makes me more angry than my finances being screwed up by other people, since I (like you) try to be really careful with them.

    I will most certainly be forwarding your blog post to everybody I know.

  11. Oh my FKING GOD! Dell sucks *(S#*!!!! I have also had many problems with Dell and I am not surprised that others such as yourself are running into the same situations.

    I sent my computer in for repairs over the summer since I use my computer for school and I was off for summer recess. I have had to send it in during school a couple times and I simply prefer to send it in over the summer where I do not depend on my computer as bad. I called them up and they sent in a box for me to ship my computer to them. Dell sent my box to MY HOUSE in Greensboro, NC.

    Three weeks go by and I did not receive any confirmation emails about my computer so I decided to give them a call. The agent said that my computer had been shipped to Tennessee because it was not possible to repair my computer and that I would instead be upgraded to a Dell Studio Laptop.

    About a week went by and I called again to see where my computer was. They said it was still being made and so I should just wait a little longer. By this time it had been over a month so I was getting a bit uneasy. I asked them to give me a call next time they had any information.

    I began calling them once a week for the next month and it was always the same shit. Your computer is still being made, please have some patience, you are getting upgraded, things take time, you are going to be very pleased at the end.

    I finally called, pissed as hell asking where my computer was. An agent informed me at this time that the computer had actually been shipped two months prior.

    As you can understand, I was a bit puzzled as to how my computer could have been sent out over two months ago when I had repeatedly been told that it was actually being made.

    After now calling Fedex and hunting down where that computer was at, I was really pissed to find out that my computer had been sent to CHAPEL HILL!!!! The same place where I had sent my computer out of repairs a year prior to this incident.

    How could dell be so irresponsible as to send out a shipping box to Greensboro, NC and then, without asking me, send a computer back to Chapel Hill, a city that is one hour away from Greensboro?

    I tried calling Dell again with this information and the representative even had the AUDACITY to ask ME if I could drive down there and figure out what had happened to the computer!!!

    By this time, three months had gone by, summer break was over and I was going back to school in one week. I got my dad to call Dell to try and get the issue resolved immediately.

    My dad called and was not as nice as I was. Every other word that came out of his mouth started with an F. After about three months of waiting on a computer, it was more than understandable….

    During that phone call, my dad talked to a supervisor who promised to send out a new computer, delete the old case and just simply start a new case.

    Three months and some weeks later, I finally received my new computer.

    I wish I could end the story there. About two weeks after receiving my computer, my dad got a call from Dell. They were demanding to know where their computer was! They were a bit puzzled as to why we had received two computers. They were somehow incinuating that we had that first computer and had not given it back. They were asking us to track down that computer for them and do their dirty work.

    So, it all boils down to this.

    *Dell does not give follow up or tracking emails to notify you when your computer is being repaired
    *They send computers to addresses that have been outdated by more than a year; They assume what you, the customer wants instead of asking you what you actually need.
    *When they realize they have F’d up, they make up wild stories about computers being in production to give themselves more time to locate your computer.
    *When they don’t locate your computer, they ask you to drive one hour away to see if you can locate it
    *They call you incinuating them that you have conned them and that you have a computer which they themselves lost

    They lie, they take their sweet ass time, and they are simply a mess. My family and I have bought three dell computers. Over the last year, we have seen a tremendous decline from a company we once loved and were able to trust.

    Dell blows and I am never going to buy a computer again from them.

    Sorry for the language but hopefully you can understand frustrating this latest experience has become.

  12. Stephen, I am so sorry you have had to deal with all this. I know what a hard-working, fiscally responsible person you are. You should not be suffering in any way due to someone’s (or multiple someone’s) careless and reckless mistakes.

    Fortunately, I have never purchased a Dell product in my life (because I happen to dislike their operating system), but, mark my words, I will NEVER purchase a Dell product in the future, thanks to your cautionary tale.

    Dell should be embarrassed and appalled over the way they’ve handled this situation thus far, and should do everything in their power to rectify it immediately.

  13. Stephen: Really sorry to see we’ve made this situation so difficult for you. You have my e-mail address. Feel free send me an e-mail with your order number. Or you can DM me on Twitter (I’m @LionelatDell and am following you now).

    Happy to connect you with someone who can help.

    Other customers who need help, let me know.

    Sincerely,

    LionelatDell
    Dell’s Chief Blogger

  14. To be fair, I have not experienced issues with the hardware *ugggh probably just jinxed myself*, and was not aware of them using their own operating system (assuming you meant Windows vs Apple @Elyssa) and I used to build my own hardware but when you get to laptops, homebrews are no longer cheap enough to deal with the hassle. In the last few years I have bought machines from Lenovo and HP as well and quite frankly I didn’t try their “preferred financing options”. Lenovo took forever to get my ThinkPad through Customs… they have been doing this for how long and still don’t have that worked out. HP I just stopped caring because their only answer ever is “you installed the OS on your own? we can’t help you”. My best experience funny enough has been with ecost.com One funny irony, I had a brain fart a few years ago and thought about a Macbook Pro, and I tried to use their financing; same experience (build a system, go to checkout, fill out the credit stuff, and wait) and never bought the equipment, but I have used the approved credit account (some iTunes reward HSBC account) to purchase 4 Wintel laptops.

  15. Dell’s customer service staff is in the CASH-GRAB business, so much so that they’d make the mafia blush! My poor wife has been hustled by them with a “service plan” ($239) that promises assistance with up to FOUR instances. At NO time during this pitch did they mention the plan expires in 12 months. So…wait for it…12 months and a day after her last instance (and $239 shake-down) her computer takes a dive and – guess what they want to fix it?…Cha-ching!…and another gun-shot goes off as a Dell-Mafia-Customer-Service-Rep earns its wings. Any class action law suits out there…we’ll sign the petition!

  16. Old post, but I just wanted to through in some advice for what it’s worth. 1. Never max out a credit line even if it has 12-Month no interest; maxing out a line of credit actually hurts your credit rating on top of taking out the line of credit in the first place (I’m talking drop in 5-20 points). 2. Never buy anything online with a debit card, once the funds are gone you have little recourse to get them back (banks are not obligated by any laws to help get your money back), if you had used a credit card, then you could have simply called the issuer or bank and they would have quickly pulled the money back from Dell and issued an investigation. You see, with a credit card its not really YOUR money your using, its the banks, and they are required by law and for their own interest to fight fraud or non-approved charges to your account. Plus you wouldn’t had to worry about not making rent.

    What Dell did was wrong and they should correct it, however, I’ve read too often about people’s issues that could have gone a different way if they had invested a bit more time in research and understanding of what they’re doing and how the system works.

  17. Thank you so much for posting this, for people doing a search on Dell credit, as I was! Most people just get rushed, understandbly, and can’t warn the rest of us.

    I have had so many incidents re: many online issues and “monthly” charges, that no one “told” me about. One was $206.00 per MONTH for some lousy vitamins. York! But, I went so far on to get it taken off, finally the credit card person stated (on one of the bullets on complaints for overcharging.) Was this “unauthorized? charge. Hell Yes! So, this means they cannot charge you for over drafts etc, when the mistake was made by them. Essentially, they have “stolen” that money, since I was not Authorized.

    However, I have to say, a lot depends on both your bank; and or credit card person. I have one credit card, they are VERY helpful, and just automatically refute it, so the funds are available, until it is refused. I call for a “fraudulent charge.” Boy, that shuts them up. And, of course IT IS! My bank was also very good, and gave me credit for it within 24 hrs. However, I had another credit card company (Best Buy) that gave me every line of S%^$@# about how to get my money back. They wanted fax letters, copies of emails, any and all attempts to contact them. And they wouldnt help Me AT ALL; but rather took the Chargers side. I said “I’m the customer here; you act like THEY are your customer. Its even worse when your bank, or credit card will not take your side.

    I understand about we are not protected by debit; however, what DOES protect us, is that the Debit card is under sourced by The Bank; and therefore, when reported as an unauthorized charge, and probably “fraudulent” the magic words make them sit up. Honestly, I think some of these companies enjoy hearing you scream tearing your hair out.

    So, I just say that I will be suing them for fraudent charges, am in touch with my bank, and will be filling out a police report. They also can’t keep the money w/in 24 hrs of the report of an unathorized and “fraudulent” charge. But, I truly feel your pain! I, like you, have endured this garbage throughout many of large companies, etc.

    good luck, and THX for the Warning! I wont take out the account after all!

  18. Sorry for all your trouble but at least, you have the product. By brother’s identity was stolen, someone fraudulently opened an account with Dell and purchased $800. worth of computer equip. He found out about it 3 mos. later, when Dell called to find out why he hadn’t made a payment. The thief had given their address, so he never got a bill! Long story short, countless frustrating phonecalls, numerous trips to 2 local police depts. and the state police and 3 submitted police reports later, the case is still not resolved, and it happened in May 2012!!!!

    Even with the facts AND law enforcement on the case, I do not see this being resolved anytime soon.

    They are absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to deal with!

    Welcome to my DELLHELL!!!

  19. I wonder what the outcome was with the original poster. I hope it was eventually resolved. I have purchased three systems over the years from Dell and have never had any problems, although I do agree that the interest is ridiculous.

    As for the overdraft fees being reimbursed by Dell…that’s not going to happen. It would also cost the OP more for a lawyer to fight this than it would be worth.

    One thing I hope the OP has learned…NEVER do a complicated transaction online. Complicated as in splitting the cost between a credit/debit card and an in house credit account. Call them and do it over the phone. Better yet, choose a system that will be completely covered by the account, or even better yet, save the money and buy it outright. I’m not saying that the OP deserved to have any of this happen. He certainly did not, and any transaction type that is allowed should have no problem being completed. With that said, though, I find it crazy that he would do this. Perhaps it’s just me, but when it comes to money, if it is complicated and something could go wrong, I simply don’t do it.

    When it comes to safeguarding your money and transactions, if it’s not simple, simply don’t do it.

    Again, I hope in the end, it got resolved, though I’m sure he didn’t recover everything.

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