Why Amazon is Awesome (and Dell Sucks)

Last year I wrote a gushing review of Amazon’s support, fully disclosing that this site is supported by any purchases you, dear reader, make after following a link from this site. In that post I alluded to why Amazon is much better than smarthome.com (I’m still pissed I ended up with 2 crap Dropcams that SmartHome wouldn’t take back!), but I want to take another moment to thank you all for supporting this site, and promote Amazon by completely bashing my new arch-nemesis Dell. Read on if you’re interested in a story about loss, confusion, betrayal, heartbreak, frustration, abandonment, joy, confusement, then finally resignation (there is no happy ending to this story).

Or just skip today’s post and stay tuned for our regularly scheduled installments of Home Automation tips, tricks and reviews that you’re actually here for!

OR, if you’re feeling generous, get today’s Amazon shopping out of the way and tell them Matt sent ya!

8/23/2015. Loss.. The day started like any other. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I was plugging away at my day job. Of course, I didn’t see the sun or hear the birds, because I was too busy plugging away inside with my trusty 10-month-old Dell Latitude E7440. Within an hour my battery was dead so I was forced to find an electric umbilical cord. My battery had given up the ghost, and like all dogs it went to heaven. I, on the other hand, spent the next half hour in Dell Hell™ trying to figure out how to file a warranty claim since Dell claims even “power users” should expect around 18 months of decent battery performance.

8/24/2015. Confusion. It’s been 24 hours since my loss, and I’m moving past my grief (and my desire to actually get a warranty claim submitted in Dell’s labyrinth of a web site). It’s time to move on. So I search Amazon for a latitude e7440 battery. WHAT!? How can this be possible? Sure, the first link is for the battery I’m looking for, but how can it not be eligible for Amazon Prime (although, in hindsight, it does include free shipping)? Oh, the humanity! What do I do now???

8/24/2015. Betrayal. What happens next isn’t pretty. I made a decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life: I turned my back on Amazon and ran into the arms of another web site: Dell.com. This sweet mistress lured me in with the promise of helping me find anything:
But alas, it was not to be. Using the same “trick” I have used countless times before to coax Amazon to give up her goods by entering exactly what I was looking for, I was greeting with these “playful” results by my new goddess:
That’s right; the BATTERY was not only NOT the top result, it wasn’t in the results at all! (Bizarrely, as I’ve written this article I’ve tried that search link 3 times over a couple days, and once the battery did actually show up as #14 in the results. It seems their site isn’t just consistently bad, it’s inconsistently inconsistent and awful). So I started spelunking through the site, following a search results to a laptop (which I swear was mine), then went through to accessories and finally to a battery. At this point I was just happy to find the stupid battery no matter how convoluted the process is, and ordered away.

8/25/2015. Heartbreak. Disappointed as I was with the terrible search engine of my new mistress, our union produced great joy when I found she was offering free overnight shipping! Sadly, this unholy union produced a bastard love-child that I had no use for: somehow, I had ordered the wrong battery! At least I happened to be home when it got there, because while Dell sent the package overnight, the delivery stupidly required a signature.

8/27/2015. Frustration. Days later, as I looked at the battery that was clearly not the right fit for my laptop, I went back into the arms of my new mistress to return it and get the right one. After again wading through the labyrinth of a site – having given up on the search tool again – I STILL couldn’t find the right battery and ultimately had to start a chat session with a REAL PERSON (gasp!) to find it. Sanjay was very helpful, although for THIS battery for some reason there was no free overnight shipping. In fact, my $120 battery was now going to cost 7 bucks for me to get it in 4-6 days. I guess bastard love children come cheap, but to get what you want is gonna cost ya. Satisfied that I had now purchased the right battery, I went back to the labyrinth to ask my mistress to take back the original battery. Amazon in her gracious glory would have simply let me print a return shipping label, but this wench was not as kind – my “case” to just return a stupid battery was now UNDER INVESTIGATION:

8/31/2015. Abandonment. It’s been days now, and I’m hurt. I feel abandoned by my new mistress; my “case” is still being “investigated”. I try to reach out, but all I get is silence. Well, that’s not completely true. I reach out at 4:02PM and am told that she’ll get back to me in an hour and 20 minutes. It seems she’s busy ripping off other hapless customers by leaving them in Return Purgatory™:
How 80 minute hold times are excusable under any circumstance is beyond me, but I wait and go about my day, setting an alarm to make sure I don’t miss “first contact”.

An hour and twenty minutes comes and goes, and I get distracted chasing butterflies and contemplating calling the cops on what’s starting to look like an outright scam. I check back periodically but can’t follow this thing forever. I check in around 7PM and am greeted with this:
That’s right – a full 2 hours and 5 minutes later, Gopalam suddenly showed up, only to bail on my session 5 minutes later! And of course, despite my cruel heartless new wench knowing exactly who I was and how to contact me, and even my exact question including the order number, there is never any effort again for them to reach out or resolve the issue that was clearly stated in the chat window.

9/1/2015. Joy. My new battery has arrived, just like UPS said it would. Casting a scorned look to the old one, I promptly inserted, charged, and cut the electric umbilical cord. Like a champ, my “old” laptop is running like new again!

9/2/2015. Confusement. Like an expectant mother getting notice from her doctor that she gave birth the day before, my new mistress notifies me that my order has now shipped – one day AFTER it has arrived! Naturally, it comes from an email address I’m told I can’t reply to with further questions. I can’t even think of the word for this so let’s make one up…

9/9/2015. Resignation. I’ve abandoned all hope that this vile wench will every take back this damn battery. It’s been TWO WEEKS and my case is still “under investigation”. I suppose that some day after all of humanity is gone, some future digital race (running, of course on Amazon Web Services) will find this case and struggle to contemplate why a simple return like this needed an “investigation” in the first place. Their conclusion will likely be the same I’ve reached: it’s a scam designed to prevent people from simply returning goods they have erroneously purchased, an affront to the first commandment of this future Amazonian digital realm: Though shalt offer your customers a great buying experience.

9/17/2015 Update
Well, turns out it didn’t take until the “end of time” for the “investigation” into my return to be approved – turns out it was finally approved on 9/11/2015. At 12:40, I got an email with the return shipping label. 12:42, an email from Victor, a “Resolution Specialist”, with a form letter starting off with: “Although we apologize you were not totally satisfied with your original purchase, we appreciate you giving us the opportunity to make things right.” (I guess me saying I ordered the wrong battery counts as me not being “totally satisfied”). At 12:51 I got an email again from Victor, saying “We are experiencing high email volume these days that might have delayed the response to your request for assistance. Please accept our sincere apology for the same.” (well better late than never I guess). After dropping off the return package that day, I got 3 MORE emails from Dell at 5:34PM, 5:34PM, and 8:25PM (wow, they’re TOTALLY on the case now!). Finally, on 9/15/2015, I get the confirmation that the battery was received. Phew – glad that ordeal is over!

Well, not totally. On 9/16/2015, this post was published and tweeted to @Dell. Within minutes, I had a response from @DellCares:

So… Good on them – at least it seems someone cares at Dell. They were very nice to follow up and promise to make things right (despite even my snarky reply). So, for future reference, if you screw up an order on Dell, forget about trying to email, chat, or blog about your terrible experience. Tweet @DellCares and maybe it won’t take over two weeks for the “investigation” of your simple return. For me, though, it’s back to @Amazon.

Posted by Matt Chiste
September 16
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