This is for those of you who are replacing their old monitors with new ones, but with their same old motherboards in place. Please read this carefully to avoid wasting your hard earned money. My 14" Samtron 40BN CRT monitor (yeah, the same age old stuff we used at college about 10 years ago) gave way and it refused to switch on for atleast a good 30 minutes. It flickered to glory before it decided to go on and until then it was a feeling of having cataract or glaucoma in your eye. That’s the amount of blur it showed up.
This is when I decided that I would go in for a new monitor. I was content with having a newer 17" CRT in place. I checked out at my favorite hardware upgrade store in Bangalore, the Computer Warehouse and their pricelist indicated about Rs.4000+ (~ 100$) for a monitor of that type.Although I did not want an LCD at this point in time, I could not resist an offer from Dell, which provided a 19" flat panel LCD at just Rs.8000+ (~ $200). I tried adding 4% VAT to that to be on the safe side of calculations, and it worked out to Rs.8400/- so I thought I was getting a great deal. I even compared monitors of the same kind from Acer, HP, Zenith, and HCL, Viewsonic and even Lenovo. But only DELL had a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and along with other monitors had a brightness level of 300 cd/m2 which made it the best among the lot w.r.t features. Also it claimed to support the infamous 1440×900 resolution as well.
So ditching computer warehouse this time, I was pleased with the prospect of being associated with the famous Michael Dell once during my lifetime and I ordered the 19" monitor "ONLINE". You may be wondering why that last word is in quotes. Let me tell you in detail. The definition of online for Dell is limited to putting across your interest in their product onto a service rep after which he takes it ’’FORWARD" for you. If you are wondering again about the the word in quotes, FORWARD means a service rep calls you, takes your credit card number including the 3 digit code, expiry date, full name and places the online order for you from his side!
I might have been foolish enough to provide these credit card details to him knowing pretty well that this is enough for him to enjoy my money the way he likes shopping online for himself, but a tiny bit of consideration that he is a DELL employee and the assurance that Michael Dell would have taken care of his salary and perks, prompted me to go on with this step. Our friendly neighbourhood salesman finally places the order to Chennai unit for the monitor in question. But surprise of surprises - Dell chennai is on an extended Diwali break from 6th of November to 12th of November! Which means my monitor is not going to be at my home on time.
The sequence is like this
October 30,Tuesday : I express interest to place an order
October 30, Tuesday: I get an email saying the request for invoice has been forwarded to a rep and "someone" will contact me "shortly"
October 31, Wednesday: I get an SMS on my mobile saying Mr.A has been assigned to me as my "account manager"- Smile on my face with the efficiency of Dell
[The Dell Hell begins here]
October 31, Wednesday : I call Dell toll free, toll paid numbers to talk to Mr.A, and it so happens he tells me he is not handling my order at all (after about 20 calls to DELL). He puts me onto Mr.AB who is incharge of my order. Mr.AB is polite takes my credit card details and vanishes into thin air.
November 1, Thursday : I call Dell numbers to be greeted by - "Thank you for contacting Dell, it is a state holiday today, please call on a working day again. "
November 2, Friday : I call DELL again, speak to Miss.P whom I Yell at, fume at and sound furious at for not providing me an order number by email even after taking my credit card details. She says she will talk to "someone" and find out about the order. I even ask her if she were to buy her own company’s monitor, is this the service level she expects? I send forward her the email on my service enquiry that Dell sent me. She promises action - then its lights camera - poooof - she vanishes into thin air again. I call DELL (perhaps the call serial number has now crossed a few hundreds, i dont remember) and speak to Miss.L, repeating the same ruckus. She too vanishes into thin air again.
November 2, Friday : I call Mr.A,B, C and D only to find out that they are on long leave and will return when they please. A says B will take his calls during his absense, B says C will do it and its a damn vicious cyclic loop of proxies to take calls. Finally the answering machine takes my call and bangs the receiver on my face and snubs be out. After repeated calling I get back to Mr.AB who is handling my call. I ask him where he escaped with my card details and he assures me the order is being placed. The "order" is finally placed thanks to his goodwill and it goes into a "QUEUE"!!!!! The queue remains like that for 1 day. I beg and plead with him for the order number mail and he says he has sent it long back. Little does he realize that the email id used was a wrong one and the mail bounced back to him. And he vanishes into thin air again. By the time I get him again I have lost hope about the order, but he "helps" me get back the order mail to my inbox.
November 3, Saturday : armed with the order number I decide to fire DELL at WILL on the toll free number - only to be greeted by - "We at DELL work only 5 days and enjoy the same 2 days as you, so shut up and hang up"
November 5, Monday: Feeling sick, tired and in thirsty - I call up DELL and tell my order number. The kind lady on the other side, tells me the order is placed and even procured, but due to an extended Diwali at Chennai for one week, it cannot be shipped to my home.
November 6, Tuesday: Its one whole week withotu updates, I am dejected, totally low and decide to forget about the monitor once and for all till it comes on 12th and go home with a more calm mind and what do I find there? - A big fat box labelled DELL in blue. The monitor finally reaches its destination. The bill shows another 4% of some freight charges, some 8% of customs duty for importing parts from Singapore for manufacture of the monitor and associated taxes !!! So I end up paying 11.5 grand for a 8 grand monitor that DELL intended to give me at a special price! Wow!
To top it all each DELL sales rep email contains a link at the bottom of the mail that says:
How Am I doing? Let my manager know at email@example.com
I am sure the managers’ mail boxes at DELL would be full by now for all the wrong reasons!
Did you think this was the end? Well hold on, its only the beginning of the DELL Hell ! Read Part 2 of this article for more details!
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