December 03, 2012

The $100 Brand

Every time I get a Dell brochure in the mail I am reminded of how a $100 failure can ruin a brands reputation. Failure to deliver, in this case quite literally, has lost that company tens of thousands of dollars worth of business. It was avoidable.

Three years ago I bought $100 worth of printer and paper online. Dell had a special offer. Only problem was they didn't have any printers. So they took the money and promised to sort out delivery some time later. That never happened. It took several goes to track down the problem, but after many months I had to ask for a refund.

As is often the case, a large company with inflexible systems stumbles on small matters of detail. Soon after the purchase of a phantom printer my credit card experienced fraudulent activity, and was hence cancelled. Unable to refund to my credit card, Dell said they would send me a cheque. Seems simple enough, only they didn't do this. Someone made a mistake and attempted to refund a dead card anyway.

Two years pass and I raise the problem with someone important in branding based in the USA. They make squeaky noises of shame and email important people in Australia to seek action and get it sorted. After 6 more months those important people in Australia have kicked the can down the road until a nit-wit repeats the original error but in more spectacular style.

At no point has anyone simply said,. "Oh yes, we've made an error, lets see if we can fix that."

What does it cost Dell to ignore the problem? In this case quite a bit. Due to my personal experience with failure to deliver goods, similar problems from friends of mine who failed to receive far more expensive items, and the failure to manage a simple mistake I now avoid their products totally.

That means in my office and in my editorial. I never recommend them to anyone because frankly how can I? You judge a brand by how they respond when things go wrong. Airlines that put you up in a nice hotel room and get you on the first plane to Sydney rate very highly with me. Airlines that send you a text message three hours before a flight to say "Please don't turn up to the airport until 3pm tomorrow, good luck getting a room while Bangkok floods." do not rate so well.

Dell failed every single test.

My business, and those I offer direct recommendations to, have hence not purchased any Dell items either. In the three years past that adds up to about $35,000 worth of goods we bought elsewhere. And do you think I'd miss a chance to click on their paid ads when online? I know where that money comes from, and I'm pretty sure we've spent that $100 they robbed from me by now.

I know I'm not the only one who got the short end of Dell Australia's tendency to sell products they don't actually have in stock. Perhaps you'll have more luck than me getting your refund, but if not then just spend your money elsewhere and let your friends know why.

And every month when that brochure arrives in the mail I am reminded of how big companies overlook the little people, and how much it costs them. If only they knew.

There are plenty of brands with better service than Dell. Plenty.

Extra giggles?

 Misleading information from Holland Winfield ( who was the nit-wit in question who turned a small error into a spectacular one. Sending an unusable printer was icing on the cake and he still seems to be confused about cheques and credit card refunds. That's why the mistake was never rectified.

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