Dell, Building an Apple or a Lemon? - Dude, You're Getting Boned
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Dude, You're Getting Boned
There are many things that seem a bit dubious about Dell trying to appeal to high end buyers. Quality has never been at the forefront of the Dell marketing thrust. Take a look at any magazine Dell ad. You’ll see a price is highlighted in 24 point font, followed by a vague little blurb about the actual computer. Then comes the fine print.
Recently, Dell made a change to their entry level boxes. You can buy the cheap computer for $299, but be sure to read the fine print before you put it on your credit card. It’s a complete PC, no doubt: Windows XP, 256 MB memory, 80 GB HDD, and 17” monitor. But that’s really about all you get. If you want it delivered to your house, add another $99 for shipping. That must be some really good shipping, since other PC dealers online charge $20-$25 to deliver. Just to get the budget PC out of the factory, it has already jumped to $398.
Let’s not forget that the cheapo doesn’t have a floppy drive, operating system (or recovery) discs, DVD drive, USB cable to connect the free printer, and its total warranty (more fittingly called a “satisfaction guarantee”) lasts for 21 days. And by the time you receive the box, you’ll probably have 5 days left. Of course, it’s not as if a real warranty assures that your troubles will be handled. As I mentioned, the stories of Dell customer service giving people headaches and runarounds or not helping at all fill blogs and discussion forums. Just for a good start, check out the trials of blogger Jeff Jarvis.
Dell is renowned for this trickery: “buy our cheap computer, but don’t forget to pay extra for things you probably take for granted.”
This is hardly a company that builds confidence in its products.
In fact, this reminds me of car dealer games. Sure, you’re looking at a $17,000 Toyota Corolla. The price is fine. But wait, what is that $1,899 “market adjustment” charge? Who added this $499 delivery on top of the MSRP, and why are you asking me about a $3,500 extended warranty? Thank you anyway.
Some writers have been comparing Dell and its luxury XPS to Honda and its Accord or to Toyota and its luxury Lexus line. This is being way too generous. If Dell was really a car manufacturer, more people would see how hysterical this is. Imagine Kia selling Escalade SUVs or seeing Hyundai trying desperately to sell a Lamborghini for $200,000. Who would buy them? Who hates their money and self respect that much?
This works for car companies on some level. Plenty of high cost cars, such as some BMW and Jaguar models, totally fail Consumer Reports reliability tests while discount cars get reliability recommendations. People still buy luxury because they have the money to do so. Dell must be hoping this translates to the world of computers, and that the small market of premium computer buyers trust them more than Alienware, Apple, or DIY projects.
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