I've worked with Dell systems since 1997. Over these years, my general experience with Dell has been a positive one, with an occasional hiccup here and there with bad support, faulty hardware, etc. I've been especially impressed over the years with their server line though. The quality has been sufficient and support good.
Recently I posted a blog regarding the Windows Tax, and how Dell is a victim of this horrible problem, strongly urging Linux users to contact Dell for a Windows refund if they are forced to purchase a new system with Windows.
But over the past year or two, other things seemed to have disintegrated at Dell. I've noticed a few things, some very recently:
- The Dell Premier site for businesses is extremely slow, and seems to have a lot of problems (miscellaneous errors or pages that do not load, etc.). I noticed that they use Microsoft ASP.NET technology on their servers, I don't know if this has anything to do with it.
- Production times have greatly increased over the past year, and are very unreliable for new systems. Recently with a couple of orders, the initial ship date was set to 2 weeks, then got moved back 2 weeks twice, making it a total wait time of about 6 weeks. I was told that there was a problem at one of the facilities in China, and they may have experienced a shortage of parts so they couldn't fulfill the order. 6 weeks wait time for a new PC seemed a little extreme to me. It seems that wait times on almost all new orders are taking at least 2 weeks, often times closer to 3-4 weeks.
- In a recent attempt at contacting Dell support, I went to use the Dell Chat Support, however when viewing it in Firefox it errored out saying I needed the Quicktime plugin in order to display properly. I also tried Internet Exploder and it said "page cannot be displayed". I was forced to use the phone and in the end the tech said that they would send a technician out to fix the PC, but it would take up to 3 business days. I immediately looked at my receipt which says we have "Next Business Day" support. The tech explained that there could be unexpected delays. He also said he would provide further details on the service call in an email later, as he could not over the phone because their "database was down for maintenance".
- I also experienced another recent problem with Dell Latitude e4300 machines where the original motherboard was causing Windows to "lock up" at random. Replacing the motherboard fixed the issue in 5 separate machines. There are also posts all over Google on this very same issue, yet Dell has not acknowledged any problem whatsoever, or offered a recall to the problem.
At times, I have considered looking at other vendors like HP which is #1 worldwide at the moment. Acer seems to be up in the ranks too. I know it's impossible to find the perfect vendor, however Dell gives many reasons to look at competitors.