Seems like I was right and a lot of people are interested about the long lead times with the Dell XPS M1330 laptop. I got the impression speaking with the customer sales representatives before my purchase that it’s been very, very popular and I got the same impression when I spoke with a senior manager at Dell corporate. Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been in contact with someone there, who happened to have a previous article on the XPS M1330 forwarded to him. I’ll be the first to say that I was shocked that Dell is taking such a proactive stance to customer service. In retrospect, it is in line with their recent track record of being much more connected with customers. We’ve traded emails back and forth a few times and he was very receptive to the comments and suggestions I had about improving the dialog between Dell and its (potential) customers.
One of the suggestions I made was regarding the post over at Direct2Dell about the XPS M1330’s order status. This was prior to the recent update to that post. Although it was promised that systems would be shipping out and estimated ship dates updated, neither of these seemed to have materialized and customers were getting frustrated. Just like the customer service reps who promised the standard 10-15 day turnaround on the laptop, something was promised but not delivered upon. The estimated ship dates on the customers’ orders became irrelevant – although most of them were still out into the middle of August, that post bumped up everyone’s expectations of an earlier ship date. After all, Dell typically does ship systems ahead of its rather conservative estimates.
Still, I suggested that we be kept in the loop, whether it be on the Direct2Dell blog or by another channel. My comments were forwarded on to Lionel Menchaca, Dell’s Digital Media Manager. A day later (I’m not saying it was due to my nudging; Lionel did say there would be updates when they became available) an amendment was made to the post. The laptops were actually not shipping and most likely would not ship prior to those estimated ship dates, which were typically 30-45 days from the order date.
Update: 7/13: My apologiesâ€”I misinterpreted some of the information I received, so wanted to clarify. We expect existing orders to be delivered by the date given when you ordered. Because we have a backlog of systems to work through, we don’t expect orders to ship ahead of their current scheduled dates. We’ll work to ship systems quickly, and look forward to any feedback you might have on it.
Although the correction was attributed to misinterpretation, it’s difficult to see how it could go from, ‘they’ll start shipping immediately and your ship dates, as a result, will probably improve‘ to, ‘sorry, we’re not shipping them yet and don’t expect them to ship before your estimated date‘. That’s almost a complete 180 degree turn – not exactly a slight misinterpretation. The worst part is that there is still no good explanation behind the long lead times for everyone. If it is indeed due to some parts shortages (the LED backlit display and the 2.0MP camera available with the non-LED backlit display were cited, making up most of the orders) you’d think at least some machines would have shipped before the parts dried up. That is if there were any machines and/or parts available at all. My guess is it was a paper launch, in an attempt to have the XPS M1330 release alongside the Inspiron lineup, clearly garnering a lot of press for Dell.
When I suggested more updates and information regarding the Dell XPS M1330 lead times, this isn’t quite what I meant. A complete about-face and a relative lack of information doesn’t instill in me too much confidence. After all, managing customer expectations is a major part of customer satisfaction. And as of right now, those up and down expectations are not being met.
Update: I wrote a comment over at the Direct2Dell post on the XPS M1330’s order status. I thought I’d share it with you here as well. It’s currently in the moderation queue over there, but will appear later when they approve it.
The M1330 has been one heck of a ride. First, promised the regular 10-15 day wait time for a Dell system, then seeing the 45-50 day estimated ship date on my invoice. Reading this post and getting my hopes up that it’ll get here sooner, and subsequently getting those hopes crushed by the update a few days later. It’s all about setting expectations that can be delivered upon. That certainly has not happened.
Parts shortages are fine and dandy, but how can that be the case when no one has gotten a M1330, aside from pre-production units sent to reviewers? If there is low availability of parts, at least the people who ordered very early should have received them or at least be close to receiving them.
The fact that no one has points strongly to a paper launch (release with no availability). That in itself is fine as well. Just look at the console world – announcements are made with no promise of immediate availability; instead dates are set for a time when production units are available. Pre-orders are popular for high demand products and lots of people are willing to plunk down money to be among the first to get them – but they are advertised as pre-orders. Setting customer expectations.
Instead, the Dell sales representatives we spoke to made no indication that there were long lead times, much less parts shortages (or non-existent parts for that matter). The rep I spoke to even explicity asked me if I was okay with Dell’s 10-15 day estimate from the time or order to delivery. Oh would I ever be. Nothing like the actual 45-50 day lead times if the estimated ship dates are accurate (and would seem to be, considering you now do not expect to ship orders before the estimated date). Setting customer expectations.
Chalk it up to misinterpretation or whatever have you, but a complete about-face on this matter is painful, both for the person delivering the less-than-great news and for the customers. I believe much of the grief could have been avoided if only communications were better, right from the point of purchase. I know the reps are there to sell product, but promising one thing and delivering another is hardly the path to customer satisfaction. Tell us the truth, set the appropriate expectations and far fewer would be complaining.
Update 2: Read the comments over at Direct2Dell’s post. The tone has changed quite quickly from one of acceptance to anger and frustration. Already, several people have either canceled their orders or at least threatened to cancel. One of the big contributors is the recent change to many Europeans’ estimated ship dates. Instead of ship dates in the next few days, they’re getting pushed out up to a month. That’s ticked a lot of people off – overall, less than great execution by Dell on this one. It’s such a waste to mar what should be a spectacular laptop with such issues.