Monday, September 13, 2010

Dell Matches Its Own Prices

It can be frustrating to buy something and see it on sale for a lower price a few days later. Some businesses will rebate the difference to you if you complain. This was our experience with Dell.

I bought a computer for my son before he headed off to university. We were running out of time, and even though he wanted to buy his own components and put it together himself, we opted for convenience and bought from Dell. We also bought a printer/scanner at the same time.

My wife happened to take a look at the Dell web site the day after placing the order, and the printer's price was $40 lower. Even though we waited for a couple of weeks after the computer and printer arrived to complain, Dell cheerfully agreed to give us the $40.

On the down side, the printer didn't come with a USB cable needed to connect it to the computer. Given that people buy from Dell for convenience, it's hard to understand why the Dell web site didn't at least warn us that we'd need a USB cable and give us the option to buy one with our order.

Expert computer users wouldn't be put off by a missing cable, but imagine some grandparents showing up with a shiny new computer for their granddaughter. It matters a great deal to the grandparents that the computer be put in working order quickly instead of seeing all excitement deflate as the child has to wait for a few days for the computer to be put in working order.

The missing cable wouldn't have been a problem if we had opened the printer box at home. I have several old USB cables lying around. But, we didn't open the printer and install it until we were in my son's dorm room. This may have been poor planning on our part, but Dell played their part in causing this problem, too.

So, we've mailed a USB cable to my son along with a few other forgotten treasures. I give Dell full marks for how they handled the rebate, but their web site could do a better job of protecting the unwary from forgetting necessary components.


  1. not too sure you can fault Dell for this, I don't know of any company that provides a USB cable with printers anymore. It is about as annoying as the new teaser cartridges they put in them, with only enough for a couple dozen B&W pages

  2. @Alex: I take your point that this problem is not specific to just Dell, but I'm not really complaining about the absense of the USB cable, but that their web site didn't warn me that either I'd need my own or should add a USB cable to my Dell order.

    I agree that the near-empty cartridges are annoying. Again, Dell could invite someone to add cartridges to their order.

  3. Thanks for the post. It was good of Dell to match their own price ;) not all companies will do this or at least do it without you having to hassle them ;)

    I don't believe any printers come with the USB cable--perhaps an option to add the cable might be a good idea.

  4. The printer that was purchased was called the "Wired Printer". There was a wireless version of the same printer. The word "wired" threw me off since it meant "you need a wire" versus "you need a wire and it is in the box". Maybe if the name was "Printer" and "Wireless ready Printer" I might have clued in to the wire not being part of the package. Again, not a huge problem for us but I'm sure it's disappointing for many.

  5. Price matching after a price drop is always worth a shot. It makes sense that if the price drops, you could simply return the product and repurchase it, so it saves everyone the aggravation of dealing with a return to simply refund the difference. Not every retailer allows this though, so returning a product may be required.

    Dell is in an interesting transition period. The PC market is becoming very commoditized. Dell has more customization than you'd find at a retail store, and their distribution is cheap due to cutting out the middle man, so maybe they'll do okay, but I wouldn't bet on their success with companies like Acer on the scene.

    As far as the USB cable goes, I have a similar experience from when I bought a laptop from Dell 5 years ago. At that time, you could include $10 extra to get CDs of the operating system and software. Either that, or you could burn one copy when you got the computer set up... or so the documentation claimed. Of course, I bought just as they disabled the ability to burn a copy. So, to save $10, I later endured much consternation.