Online Retailers (Dell and Mesh) - The High Street Rip Off
Posted on 25 Sep 2009 at 15:15
Barry Collins visits Dell's and Mesh's online chat facility to find out if sales people are any more reliable behind a monitor
The beauty of the internet is that you don't have to troop down the high street and risk catching swine flu off the Saturday boy in your local store. You can benefit from the same "expert advice" by using the online chat facilities provided by direct-selling PC manufacturers such as Dell and Mesh. Here's how I got on.
You might be able to buy a Dell laptop alongside the Crunchy Nut cornflakes in Tesco these days, but Dell hasn't totally abandoned its direct sales model. In fact, direct would be the perfect word to describe the first online chat advisor I encountered. Pushy and dishonest wouldn't be far from the mark, either.
No fewer than four times during a 13-minute conversation did our salesman implore me to buy his recommended PC, displaying the kind of hunger to close a deal that would make him odds-on favourite to be named Sir Alan's next Apprentice.
Sadly, he might fall foul of Mr Sugar's distaste for chancers, because this chap was willing to say practically anything to close a deal. After being told my wife wanted a laptop for basic surfing, digital photos and watching the odd iPlayer show, he asked how much I was willing to spend.
"No more than £600," came my reply. Quick as a flash, he sent me a link to a page displaying four different Studio 15 laptops. Which one did he recommend? "The one priced at £599". Obviously.
Would my wife need a good graphics card to download her photos? Yes
Keen to find out why I needed such an expensive PC, I asked him what this model had over its cheaper brethren. "Better graphics card," came the reply. Would my wife need a "good graphics card" to download her photos? "Yes," he shot back, blatantly misleadingly. "Please go for the one [sic]. Prices [sic] at £599".
Hold on sunshine. What about these cheap netbook devices I've seen Dell advertise in my daily newspaper? Are these not good enough? "They are netbooks and not laptops," he snapped back. What's the difference? "The netbooks comes [sic] with a slower processor, lesser memory, lesser hard drive, no optical drive and it would not be possible to have any software loaded on this netbook," he stated, once again playing hard and fast with the truth.
"So my wife couldn't download her photos?" I asked. "I would recommend you to go for a Studio 15 laptop," he replied brusquely. I recommended he went back to charm school and left it at that.
Second stab at Dell
My second stab at dealing with Dell's online chat advisor was equally bewildering. She opted for a more modestly priced Studio 17 laptop (£419 inc VAT), but straight away she was recommending I upgrade the processor to a Core 2 Duo and up the hard disk from 160GB to 250GB.
How many photos can I store on a 250GB drive? On 2MB then 1024 MB * 2
"Okay. How many photos can I store on a 250GB drive?" I asked, playing ball. "It depends on the photo capacity, for instance if its[sic] on average 2 MB then 1024 MB * 2," came the absolutely incomprehensible reply. However, that was merely an entree for the four-course meal of confusion that was heading our way when we asked her to clarify what she meant. "In other words is it [sic] around 10 lakh. 1000*250."
By this point, quite a crowd had gathered around my office PC, enjoying the spectacle. Our well-travelled deputy editor, David Fearon, at this point sussed that the woman was using the Indian word "lakh", which means one hundred thousand. I pled ignorance once more, asking what lakh meant. "It is 100,000 photos," she explained, contradicting her earlier answer, before deciding this was all too much like hard work and pulling the plug on the chat session.
I just love the irony of the advertise with dell in the background of the webpage. The ad is telling me buying this is "a sweet deal".
Well spent money Dell!
By fenixbrood on 28 Sep 2009
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