Canceling an order for a laser printer cartridge should be easy. With Amazon and other competent online retailers it is. But with Dell, it's insanely difficult.
This morning I spent well over an hour trying to do something that should have taken me a minute. There's no excuse for this, Dell. Either you're trying to make it extremely hard for customers to cancel an order, or you are a mismanaged company.
I don't use my Dell 3000cn color laser printer very much any more. I've flown the PC coop and use a Mac now. Dell doesn't offer a Macintosh driver for the 3000cn, so I have to hook my old ThinkPad laptop up when I want to use the printer.
Which I did today, having a bunch of color Christmas letters to print. A message popped up, saying the yellow cartridge was low. I figured I should order a replacement for future laser printing needs.
That was easy. Dell's online ordering system works well. But Dell's unordering system is one of the worst I've ever encountered.
Soon after I pushed the submit button on my order I remembered a box sitting in the back of my office closet that had a Dell logo on it. Digging it out, I saw that it contained a yellow laser printer cartridge.
"Good," I thought. "Now I can save myself $70. Just need to cancel the order."
A whole lot easier said than done. The Dell order confirmation email contained no info about how to cancel an order. I checked the Dell "help" link on its web site. It told me to phone the Home & Home Office number to cancel an order: 1-800-624-9897
OK. Sounded simple enough. Except I ended up on hold after navigating through several automated options.
After fifteen minutes of being told my call was important to Dell and someone would be with be shortly, I put my phone on speaker, remembering that an offer to chat online with a sales person had popped up when I was ordering the yellow cartridge.
I clicked on a "chat" link. And found that I was #7 in line. Didn't sound too bad, since my phone was still playing annoying recorded music and announcements from Dell, assuring me that my call was important, blah, blah, blah.
In five minutes or so I was chatting with a Dell guy. I typed in that I needed to cancel an order I'd made not long ago and gave him the purchase number. He wrote back: "You need to call 1-800-624-9897."
I got testy.
I responded that at this very moment I was on hold with that number, it looked like I'd be on hold for a lot longer, and I had better things to do with my day than spend an hour or more trying to cancel a simple order.
He typed back: "Call our Customer Adjustment Service, 1-800-247-2076." I thanked him, though I didn't feel very thankful.
Dialing that number, I reached another guy who had a distinct Indian accent. I told him I needed to cancel an order. "I can help you with that," he told me. Oh praise Krishna, I thought, finally!
He asked for my order number. I gave it to him. Then he said, "I'll transfer you to someone who will complete the order cancellation."
And I swear to God, holy crap!, I heard the exact same recorded messages I'd been listening to before. Except I figured I now was at the end of the on-hold waiting line that I'd just spent twenty plus minutes on.
I went upstairs to my MacBook, put the phone on speaker again, and tried to figure out another way to cancel my order before the irritating music and repeated "a representative will be with you shortly" messages drove me more insane than I already was.
I tried to reply to the Dell email message confirming the order. I said that I wanted to cancel and was going to refuse to pay a restocking fee if the order was shipped before I could cancel it and I had to return the cartridge.
As I expected, my reply bounced back, since the Dell email had come from an automated system.
Then I tried the "Email customer support" link on the Dell web site. At first the "order support email form" looked promising. I dutifully filled in all the information requested, including my Dell Purchase ID.
Except, that ID wasn't recognized as a valid order number. Also, several entries (zip code, phone) on the Dell email support form were garbled on my Safari browser, probably because Dell figures that it isn't important to make their web site fully usable by Macintosh users.
I recall clicking around and finding another web page that had a "cancel order" listed on a pull down menu. When I selected that, another Oh fuck me!!! passed through my ever-more-frustrated psyche, since I was told to phone the number I was still on hold for.
I fixed lunch. Passed the time by Googling Dell customer support horror stories. Found quite a few (here's an example).
Eventually, after being on hold for about an hour, a human being came on the line. By that time I just wanted to be done with Dell. Plus, I figured it wouldn't do any good to yell at a worker bee who wasn't responsible for the messed-up Dell management.
She quickly canceled my order. Asked if there was anything else she could do for me. I said "No."
Though I was thinking, If you could find the Dell CEO, tie him up, and make him listen to his company's recorded music/messages for a couple of hours, that'd make me feel better.
This being impossible, my next-best goal is to never buy anything from Dell again.