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,