Dell unable to meet demand for Christmas, blames parts suppliers and elves

Join me in a journey down the Dell tech support rabbit hole as I try to find out why the computer I ordered on Thanksgiving won't be ready for Christmas. Apparently I'm not alone.
Written by Ed Burnette, Contributor on

On November 27th I ordered a Dell Studio XPS 8000 computer with an i7-860 processor and 8GB of memory. My old Thinkpad T42 is getting a big long in the tooth so I needed something new for development and writing. The estimated delivery date was 12/16/2009.

Today Dell mailed me to say the order had been delayed until 1/5/2010! I checked the online forums and found several other people in the same situation. On 12/5, dgoobs wrote:

Dell has, so far, delayed my desktop purchase 4 times. ... Makes me think it is time to cancel and order an HP.

On 12/9, snapshot2 wrote:

I too ordered a Dell and had to wait 3 weeks for delivery. Just checked the status and my order has been canceled. Why? waiting for parts to arrive.

Dell uses the "just-in-time" inventory system whereby they have no inventory of parts. They require their vendors to deliver on a specific date. The "just-in-time" inventory system only works if you have reliable vendors. Apparently, they don't.

Using Dell's sales chat, I asked "Brian B" about the problem and he said "It's the holiday season and we're getting a lot of orders". Um, yeah. Before I could ask anything else I got disconnected.

I tried the chat again. "Brian B" answered, but when I told him I was disconnected he asked if I'd like to be transferred to the person who helped me before. Huh? Does everybody there have the same name? Or did Dell do some research and decide that the name "Brian B" somehow gave US customers a warm, fuzzy feeling? In any case, this Brian said he couldn't help me and I should call their order support phone number instead.

So I called that number, and after a few minutes on hold I got connected to a real person. After looking up my order he said it was delayed because it was waiting on a part.

"Which part?" I asked. "It doesn't say," he replied. "Can I swap the part with something else that *is* available?" "Not without canceling and re-ordering the computer." "Well if it's the graphics card you could ship me the computer without the card now," I suggested, "and then ship the card when it arrives." "Our system doesn't work that way. Besides, as you can imagine, we have to deal with a lot of orders at this time." "Is your name Brian?" I wanted to ask.

If you go on the Dell.com web site right now and order a Dell XPS 8000, it says the estimated ship date for a Dell Studio XPS 8000 is 12/24/2009. Sure it is.

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