Dell used to be a fast company

What has happened to Dell? Earlier this week, I learned that Dell is now #3 behind HP and Acer. Yikes! Unsolicited conversations provided additional insight into Dell’s execution problems.

  • My brother tells me he became an Apple convert after trying to buy a new system through Dell Financial Services using a Dell credit card. He wanted to buy a new system that would have exceeded the credit limit on his Dell credit card. He offered to pay off current balance with a different credit card which Dell said would be fine. While the charge posted immediately on his credit card, it took Dell over a week to reflect the transaction. By the time DFS acknowledged credit was available, the "deal" was gone—the net would be about $600 additional cost. Nothing could be done about that "deal" as DFS is separate from Dell. While they may be separate legal entities, in the mind of the customer, DFS is an extension of Dell—it’s all one company.


  • My best friend, a value-added reseller here in Silicon Valley with a relationship with Dell, tells me that when Dell deployed a new enterprise application, his reseller status was somehow dropped from the new system. When he asked for an explanation, they sent a letter where the reason for being dropped was completely blank. He’s been trying to buy servers and several hundred net books for a school here in Silicon Valley and he can’t get Dell to work with him after he solidified a relationship many months ago. Dell’s response to him is largely that it will take 5-7 days to answer questions and assist him. I said, "Why isn’t that 5-7 hours? Doesn’t Dell realize that end users have a choice?"


  • In mid-Feb, the same VAR ordered a red Dell 4300 laptop for a customer. He received word that the delivery date had been pushed out. Mouse and neoprene sleeve for Dell 4300 were received in one week. Dell asked to push out order yet again. They provided 24 hours to get customer confirmation. When it took more than 24 hours, Dell cancelled the order. It is going to take more than 2 months for customer to get the red Dell 4300 laptop.


  • The lease-purchase on one of my Dell computers ends in a few months. A woman from Dell called to say that I needed to make arrangements to purchase the unit at the end of the lease and, if I didn’t do it 3 months before the end of the lease, my lease would automatically be renewed in 3-month intervals until I made the necessary arrangements. So, I called. The man who answered my call had no idea why I would have been called; the $1 purchase is already factored into my lease and, as it turns out, I don’t need to do anything.

There are, of course, many, many stories about people frustrated with Dell technical services, call centers in India, etc. Perhaps this is why Dell is now #3 and in danger of falling further.

I happen to be a pretty devout Dell customer. The last 2 laptops I ordered were delivered in less time than Dell committed. It made me wonder if they were quoting longer lead times just so they could "exceed my expectations." I’ve been quite happy with my Dell products.

Dell needs to become the fast company and execution engine that it once was. The 2010 Dell is looking a bit like a plow horse, not the race horse that I’ve know it to be. I hope Dell hasn’t entered a death spiral that I wrote about recently.


For over 30 years, Dave Gardner has helped companies discover that the royal road to the ultimate customer relationship is letting customers order "a la carte."  He assists clients with strategies for "The a la carte customerTM," and in dramatic improvements in efficiencies and profits. Dave, a management consultant and speaker residing in Silicon Valley, can be reached at +1 888 488-4976 or through his website at

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  • David Gardner

    Adrian...Dell hasn't been the same since Michael Dell left and returned.

    Jennifer...I have followed you on Twitter as you asked; please follow me so I can direct message info to you. While I fact-checked the information in this post before publishing, the thing that is astonishing for me is the information came as a result of casual conversations with friends and family and my own experience, not as a result of any concerted research effort. And, interestingly, my VAR has been working with Greg Davis--Greg is aware of these issues. If nothing else, Greg may be seeing what a small world this is. I am still a fan of Dell. Dell needs to pro-actively head off these issues so the issues never occur, not react to them after the damage is done. Dell needs to look at everything through the eyes of the customer and understand that all customer experiences determine whether customers come back for more.

  • Jennifer Davis

    Dave - I'm really sorry about your brother and friend's experience and regret the inconvenience caused. One new Consumer initiative we have underway that may be of interest to your readers is Team Blackhawk -- a team of agents actively using social media to assist customers in any Dell purchase, post purchase support, and product education. You can find them on Facebook by searching Dell USA Team Blackhawk or going to As for your friend's experience, I have shared the feedback directly with Greg Davis who runs our Global Commercial Channel business. If you send me his information, Greg's team will contact him directly. You can find me on Twitter at JJDavisatDell. Specific to product delays, we have experienced some industry-wide constraints and extended delivery times on some components, particularly those relating to our laptop lines. These delays are coming down and getting back to normal. For customers who don't require configure-to-order capabilities and need product within a couple of days, our Fast Track program is a good option. I hope this information is useful. Again, I apologize to customers who have experienced product delays or other issues and assure you we are committed to delivering the technology and experience you need to succeed.

  • Adrian Ott


    A very informative article. My gut tells me that this is an example of Dell becoming trapped by their own success. A business can be a high-flying industry favorite one year, and then they become blinded to their shortcomings by the bright glare emanating from their success. Thanks for sharing.

    Adrian Ott