Friday, December 21, 2007

A Christmas from Dell

I got this wild hair and decided to order my wife a laptop for Christmas, so I called Dell. I bought my last computer from them about 10 years ago (yep, still running Win 98) and it has been a good one.

I placed the order over the telephone with a person who spoke great English and had a great personality. It only took me about 10 minutes to spend $1100 with him. It was December 3, 2:30 pm, and my laptop was to be shipped on December 14. My last bit of Christmas shopping was complete.

As soon as I hung up the telephone, I realized that I could have gotten a larger hard drive for an additional $25, so I called back. I punched all of the required buttons on the automated part of the call and finally got a live person. Unfortunately, there was a language barrier and I eventually had to hang up the phone.

I immediately dialed Dell again, punched the necessary buttons, and got another person. This time, we not only had a language barrier, but there was alot of static on the line. I figured that this must be a very long-distance call...maybe to India. I could understand this person better than the first, but not well enough to discuss upgrades and prices. Out of fear of a misunderstanding that may result in my upgrading the wrong part or accidentally purchasing two laptops, I politely hung up the phone again.

Third time is the charm they say, and on the third attempt at calling Dell, I got someone that spoke better English. He confirmed that my upgrade would only be $25, but my new ship date would be December 19. I asked him how I could have lost 5 days of shipping on an order that was placed less than an hour ago, and then I explained to him that the order would have only been about 5 minutes old had I been connected to America and to someone who could speak English on my first call. My plea fell on deaf ears and in the end, I was assured that my laptop would arrive in time for Christmas. I guess I should have confirmed that we were both refering to Christmas of 2007.

On December 20, I called the toll free line to check my order status and the automated thing said it was still in the build phase. I had to dial a different number to get a live person, but not until I punched all the right buttons on the automated portions of the call. This person said that some parts were on backorder, but the laptop should be shipped by December 31.

I asked him what Dell was going to do about this poor service and he said that he could rush shipping. I told him that I expected that anyway since I had been assured on December 3 that I would receive this by Christmas. I asked him about a rebate or other reparations and he said that there was nothing that he could do, but I could cancel my order if I wanted. I asked him had he rather lose the whole sale instead of just a hundred bucks of it. He said that he could not give me a discount or anything else.

I asked him to guarantee that it would be shipped by the 31st, but he could not. He did say that Dell has an "order control team", or something like that, that would call me if it was not going to be shipped on time. I asked him at what point did this "team" kick in and do their jobs because no one had bothered to call me to tell me it was going to be late the first time. He said that they did this after it was late twice. Awesome team, I thought.

Then, this guy said that he could transfer me to the "build" department and get them to delete the upgrade that I had ordered and that might save me some time. Now, this was the stupidest thing that I have ever heard and I told him so. Here's why: if they are working on my computer, then this would be another change and my date would be delayed even more for the revision. If they are not working on my computer, then I guess it could save me some time, but if they are not working on it, why did this upgrade cost me 5 days in the beginning, less than an hour after I ordered it?

He did not have an answer, we ended our conversation, I did a little shopping, and thought a little about everything that had transpired. If they do not care about my business, then I should not care who I give it to, right?

Well, I called back, this time to cancel, pressed all the buttons, had to stay on hold for 15 minutes due to "heavy call volume", finally got a woman who spoke English poorly, and told her that I wanted to cancel my order.

She told me that I had ordered my computer from the Business division, and that she worked in the Home division and would have to transfer me. I told her that I did not order it from the Business division to my knowledge, and did not route the call to any specific division when I ordered or even now while I am trying to cancel it. Rudely, she told me that I did order it from the Business division.

I finally got someone who sounded like they really cared about my ordeal and was willing to help me cancel my order. Maybe she did not really care and was just ready to go home for the holidays...I do not know. At this point, I do not care.

She sent me a cancellation confirmation email, which reminded me that I never received the confirmation after I ordered it. I was supposed to have received one after the order and then one after the upgrade. I mentioned this to her and she asked for my email address.

The person who took my order had mispelled my email address, so there is no way I would have ever received these confirmations. Which brings me to this: the order confirmation email and the upgrade confirmation email would both have been returned to the senders since the email address was incorrect.

On top of all of the customer disservice that Dell has provided in this process, they did not even check their own email often enough to realize that the confirmation emails were never even sent to me.

Last night, I spent several hours shopping on ebay. There, I purchased a Dell laptop, one model above the one I originally ordered from Dell, new and in the box, for $350 less than the one I was trying to buy straight from Dell. In addition, it shipped today (received a tracking number) and should be here Monday.

Nothing like a Christmas from Dell.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Been Awhile.....

With football season all but over, and a very busy last three weeks, I have not had a chance to post any football stuff. After a very busy Thanksgiving week, I spent the next week in Dallas on business, and now I have just returned from a hunting trip in Tennessee.

Dallas was busy, but enjoyable. I saw a part of town that I have not seen in my previous visits. I was hoping to find some cheap tickets and see the Cowboys and Packers while I was there, but couldn't swing the $500 for "cheap" seats. I am not a fan of either of them as I do not watch much professional football, but I do like the quarterbacks of both teams. I think Romo is the next big star as he continues to play well and to build on last year's performances. He is also a very well-mannered person who is very greatful for the opportunity.

Most of the pro athletes have forgotten about their good fortune, are not good role models, and do not give it their all. Why should they? They were paid well for last week's game, win or lose, playing with or without heart. This is why I do not care much for professional sports.

Brett Favre may be getting close to retirement and may not be as sharp or as quick as he once was, but he still the fierce competitor that he has always been. A future Hall of Famer, and probably a commentator for a network within the next few years, he remains tough, competitive, and plays with alot of heart. It is hard not to like someone like this.

I picked a bad time to spend a long weekend 7 hours from home hunting. If it was not raining, the wind was blowing very hard and, except for the first morning, it was just too hot to hunt. I found myself thinking about fishing alot of the time I was hugging the limb hunting. The 70 degree temperatures were more likely to help someone catch the big one than help me to hunt the big one. Deer do not stir around too much in hot, windy weather.

Yesterday morning, I sat in the tree until just after 12-noon. As the wind blew the old oak tree back and forth, I almost unscrewed my head from my neck looking back and forth and all around for the "monster" buck. On a low limb about 20 feet in front of me, I noticed an owl sitting there watching the grass below. He, too, twisted his head back and forth searching for movement in the tall grass as the wind tried to rock him to sleep by waving his tree from side to side.

As I watched the owl, it struck me that we were both there -- in almost the same tree when you consider the acreage in which we hunted, the number of trees that either of us could have chosen, and the proximity of the ones that we did -- with almost the same agenda and he was just a scaled down replica of myself. One wearing nature's own camouflage and the other wearing store-bought, we were both there, almost as mirror images of each other, trying to catch an unsuspecting prey. Just as I battled the wind to catch movement in between the trees and brush, he was looking for the same in between the blades of grass. As the wind moved my hair, head net, and blind fabric, it also moved his feathers.

Obviously, the primary contrast between the two of us was that I was hunting as a hobby and, although I eat every animal that take from the field, my survival does not depend on my success. It does not take many trips to the field to realize how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful land, and to have every opportunity as the next person to do whatever it is of which we dream. The only blessing greater than this is to see Mother Nature at work, in person, from 20 feet away.

The owl gave me the old mean-eye as only an owl can do and, as if he understood that I was not hunting him nor going poaching on his land (which, in reality I was poaching his land), he was content to sit there with me for about an hour. Neither of us had any luck and as I climbed from my perch, he flew from his. I almost expected him to be waiting on me at the truck.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Jumping to the Other Side

I just finished reading a few articles about the death of Evel Knievel, and it brought back a few memories of my childhood. My brothers and I had Evel Knievel toys all over our house, and often immitated him by jumping 5-gallon buckets with our bicycles. As we got a little older, we jumped buckets and small things with our motorcycles.

We watched several of his jumps on the Wide World of Sports (ABC), which was the only Saturday sport's program in those days. Although it seemed that he crashed every time we ever saw him jump, he was still exciting; fearless, and tough as nails. He was interesting to listen to during interviews.

One expects a daredevil to live a short life and more times than not, they do. Despite the serious accidents, Knievel kept making returns until his retirement in 1980. Perhaps it was his knowing when to quit that kept him alive, which is interesting because it was his not knowing when to quit with alcohol and other shady endeavors that led to the negatives that were often printed about him.

At any rate, we enjoyed watching him as kids and enjoyed immitating him with our bicycles and motorcycles. He made his last jump yesterday, the jump of his life, and I hope that he landed right side up on the other side.