Dell Made Me ‘Famous’

Well, let me qualify ‘famous’. One of my comments at the Direct2Dell was published by ComputerWorld in an article on Dell’s XPS M1330 delays. If you’re interested in inflating my ego, go take a look – it’s near the middle of the second page. I was quite surprised when I read it. I happened to follow a link to that ComputerWorld article earlier today and lo-and-behold, my words were imprinted there.

Despite the frustration I’ve felt throughout the process of ordering and waiting for the M1330, I can’t neglect mentioning that I’ve received wonderful service and support from some Dell employees. I can say confidently that without their help and reassurance, I would have canceled my order long ago. The fact that they put so much effort into helping a single customer, not even a business customer, is quite commendable. I’m sure the blog had something to do with it though. 😉

I’ve been told that my system is in the final stages of production, getting the final touches completed before it ships out. It shouldn’t be long now. The excitement builds… It’d better be worth the wait.

Another Delay

As I suspected would be the case, Dell did not even ship my XPS M1330 this past week, much less get it into my hands by the end of the week as they said would happen. Here’s to hoping next week will be different.

What is Dell’s Priority? FIRO?

First In Random Out. I’ll get to that later.

Up to this point, every one of the posts made at Direct2Dell regarding the Dell XPS M1330 has been bombarded by comments from disgruntled customers and ex-customers. However, in the latest post, there’s also a growing trend of commentators who are throwing out personal insults at the ‘whiners and complainers’. Their thought process is that everyone should know about the delays and as a result have nothing to complain about. But that’s the thing. Many, many people ordered the laptop without knowing of massive delays. In fact, many sales representatives made promises that were ridiculous in retrospect – for example the rep I spoke with said that I would only need to wait 10 to 15 days for my new laptop. It has now been 28 days and my laptop has not even shipped yet. So much for 10 to 15 days. That is why we’re upset. No one told us of delays. And most certainly, no one who ordered early on expected delays to be this extended.

And now Dell’s done more to ‘grind my gears’ as Peter from Family Guy would say. People in Canada who ordered their M1330s up to two weeks after me with exactly the same specifications and add-ons as myself have had their laptops shipped to them already. And this isn’t just limited to Canadian orders. I’m hearing it from all around – there seems to be no order as to what orders get shipped first. Many who ordered on the first day of release (June 26th) haven’t received their laptops but others who ordered much later, some as late as last week, have received theirs already. Others who ordered a month ago and were expecting their laptops any day now have had their estimated ship dates pushed out to the end of August. Perhaps their systems were shipped out for orders that were made later… What is the point or ordering early if it doesn’t make a difference as to when you’ll get the laptop? There’s already a term being coined for Dell’s order system – FIRO First In Random Out. That’s what seems to be happening and I am not pleased one bit.

I finally get Dell’s new catch-phrase. ‘Yours Is Here‘. You’re right, it’s still over there with you, cause I sure don’t have it, yet.

Dell XPS M1330 Delay Part 3 – Lack of Information

I’ve already posted several times about the delays and issues surrounding the Dell XPS M1330 laptop. I spent a good chunk of money of a new XPS M1330 and as a result would like to be kept informed of developments. My initial estimated ship date of August 22nd hasn’t come yet, so in that regard, I’m not worried. However, what I am worried about is the fact that numerous people who had estimated ship dates much earlier than I, have seen those dates come and go, without any sign of their laptop. What’s worse is that no one’s saying why. I am also worried about customer sales representatives at Dell who were, and some still are, promising 10-15 day estimates for the new system. Many people based their purchases around this information, which has since been proven completely, utterly inaccurate. There is no good, reliable information about what is really going on and what has caused all the issues.

Direct2Dell, Dell’s official blog was started to create open dialog between Dell and its (potential) customers. It allowed more transparency into the inner workings of Dell and allowed readers to get a sense of how Dell operates and various initiatives they’ve been undertaking. However, in the case of the XPS M1330, it has failed horribly. At this point, we can’t get legitimate information from sales representatives, we can’t get it from customer care, and we can’t even get it from Dell’s official blog.

Just take a look at the most recent post on the issue at Direct2Dell.

XPS 1330 Update Tomorrow

I know several of you are expecting an update on the status of the XPS M1330. Truth is that I still need a bit more time to finalize the details. I should have a brief update by sometime tomorrow.

My apologies for the delay.

Update 7/27: We’re still working through some details and hope to share more soon. My apologies for the delay in communication.

Published Wednesday, July 25, 2007 11:50 PM

It’s bad enough that the brief update promised for ‘tomorrow’, which meant July 26th at the time, didn’t materialize until July 27th, it also ended being this priceless little nugget of information – “We’re still working through some details and hope to share more soon. My apologies for the delay in communication.

Ironically, just like the M1330 itself, Dell cannot deliver on its promise of even a situation update. It is really disappointing and for many customers, it is infuriating. Writing things like that is just a tease and for customers like myself, it provides absolutely no comfort to see this level of disorganization.

Since it doesn’t look likely that anything new will be posted before the weekend, I’m going to take it upon myself to collect as much non-misinformation as I’ve either been told directly by Dell or others have been told by Dell. I’ve sent this list of issues on to a contact at Dell for verification, but since I have not heard back in a few days and no new information has come out of the Direct2Dell blog, I’m going to post it here. I’ll be sure to update this if I do hear anything back.

  1. There are issues with panel availability. This does not seem to be only affecting the M1330 as other Dell laptops now also have delay times for certain panels. LED panels may be worse of.
  2. The 8400M GS dedicated graphics card is also facing parts shortages
  3. The Core 2 Duo T7700 was initially available as a processor option but was pulled in many locales and orders placed with the T7700 were either automatically canceled or downgraded to the T7300. Initially the cause was thought to be thermal or power consumption issues; however, I have a feeling it was due to the improperly configured order system that resulted in the T7700 being listed at the same price as the T7300. This would also explain why some places (such as Canada) now have the T7700 option back, as well as why the processors were downgraded to the T7300 as opposed to the T7500.
  4. Canada was hit with some major order system problems that resulted in the wrong part number being assigned to the LED display. Consequently, numerous (I heard a thousand or more) orders were canceled without notification, and subsequent re-orders were placed at the back of the queue, meaning in some cases, an additional month tacked onto the estimated ship date. These issues are apparently now sorted out and orders that were canceled and replaced have been rushed to get them in on time. There was also indication that the Bluetooth module was also suffering from this problem, but other sources say the Bluetooth problem was a compatibility issue with the system mainboard.
  5. When production of the M1330 started in earnest, it was noted that some manufacturing processes were not working. As a result, those processes had to be modified, which delayed and slowed down manufacturing of the systems.

I’ve decided to leave out of that list numerous things that I’ve heard but discarded as being either misinformation or customer service saying things to get people off the phone. For example, combining all the ‘parts shortages’, I believe just about every component has been accounted for. That includes the fingerprint reader, the chassis itself, the lid, the Bluetooth module, certain CPUs, the DVD drive, and so on.

Come on Dell, I just want to hear the truth. I’m tired of getting the run-around and having that information delayed for one reason or another, just like your laptop. Inform the CSRs about the problem so that people aren’t calling in constantly to find out a little more. Post the information on your site in a timely manner so that we may decide how to plan our purchases. The silent treatment will not prevent people from canceling en masse as the comments to the Direct2Dell posts have shown.

Not Quite What I Meant: Dell XPS M1330 Delay Part 2

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 apologies—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.