Thursday, April 30, 2009

You Really Can Go Home Again

Well. A month later, I am FINALLY back again. But NOT with a Dell. No, the laptop I received was pretty but sadly lame. Almost from the first, there were a series of problems that resulted in my decision to return the machine to Dell.

And that's where my nightmare began.

I keep promising myself that I'll write a lengthy expose' of the painful five hours spent having a variation of the same conversation with a variety of people in Mumbai, either in tech support or in customer "service," and I may, eventually. I did end up with a new slightly (very slightly) humorous definition, though...sort of a different turn on the Jeff Foxworthy "You might be a redneck" shtick. "If your Indian accent has gotten very good, you might have been on the phone with Dell's Tech Support too long." Yeah, well I did say "slightly humorous."
You have 21 days - not 30; 21 - to return your computer and get a refund. Those 21 days start counting from the "date of invoice." NOT the day you actually sign for your new system, the date of the INVOICE. A friend of mind recently bought a Dell that was already past its 21 day warranty period before he ever laid eyes on it. Fortunately, I still had 10 days by the time I got my box. So, armed with the certain knowledge that I wanted to return the laptop (Dell calls them "portables"), I called Mumbai. After an hour it was completely clear to me that I wasn't going to be able to get my money back. Oh, they'd happily allow me to return it - for a "15% restocking fee." Let's see...15% of $700 is $105. Multiply that by, oh, say one hundred returns - obviously a VERY conservative number - and it adds up to $10,500. Seems to me that Dell has a real scam going, since most people wouldn't have the patience or the time to go through what I had to in order to finally get a return code that allowed me to - almost 30 days later - get my money back.

The entire experience was a stunning and overwhelming nightmare, and left me unwilling to EVER buy another Dell. And when I make that statement, you need to understand that I used to work at Dell in Austin, TX, at the helm of the Usability Department. As appalled as I always was at Dell's shoddy treatment of their personnel has usually been (and remember, this is from inside the belly of the beast), I never wavered in my role as a standard bearer for their product line. Until now.

And so, while I waited for my money to be put back into my bank account ("It can take up to 30 days after we receive and process your return" I was told. And where does the interest on my money go while you hold it, I mused silently. The money's still not there, btw), I examined my options. And one day I mentioned to a dear friend and my business partner, an even deeper nerd and another former Dell employee, that I was thinking about buying a Mac. Knowing the cost was more than double that of the Dell, I mentioned the Mac in a half-joking manner. "Do it!" he said without blinking. And so, I did. I even trusted Apple enough that I purchased a refurbished machine, as the warranty is precisely the same as that of a brand new machine.

The first personal computer I ever used (not including programmable calculators in the early-mid 70s, which were certainly computers, but you know what I mean) was the very first Mac model. Not the Plus, not the SE, the Mac. So I've come home again at last. And folks? There's NO PLACE like home...