Customer Disservice : Bill Singer's online shopping saga with Dell. (

November 13, 2009


Sometimes bigger isn't better.

By Bill Singer, Attorney and publisher of and

Forbes Intelligent Investing columnist Bill Singer strikes a blow for all consumers who have found themselves cursing at those patronizing, pre-recorded messages on so-called customer service numbers.  

Who among us has not gone ballistic when transferred to the umpteenth service rep and, yet again, asked to give our last name first, address, zip code, and mother's maiden name, and to begin, from the beginning, the same sad tale of woe about our wayward order -- and please make sure to have our order number, customer ID, and special service promotional code ready when our call is answered.  

Due to unusually heavy call volume we are experiencing delays.  Your call is important to us.  We apologize for the inconvenience. Average call waiting time is at least ...[insert insincere computer-generated voice here]...ten minutes. At the end of your call you may be asked to participate in a special consumer satisfaction survey.

BILL SINGER: Then things got even more absurd. Nigel confirmed that Dell had not merely delayed the production of my laptop but had canceled my order. Of course, this is the same un-built and unshipped laptop that Dell thinks was stolen. Nigel then added that Dell had also re-entered a new order for the Studio XPS 16 laptop. A new order for what? I impatiently asked. For the XPS 16 with the new wi-fi, Nigel answered. And when will that be shipped? I asked. Unfortunately, Nigel could not give me a firm shipment date. Nigel then transferred me to another department. Trust me, at this point I was in no mood for the "please hold while I connect you to ..."

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