Eating My Words: Never Tasty, But Necessary

I think self-awareness is probably one of the most critical human traits when it comes to personal growth and issues of integrity. It’s amazingly easy to think you’re right all the time – most people do, myself included – it’s much harder to look at yourself and admit that you might be wrong. Some people live their entire lives in self-denial. Self-awareness is something I strive very hard for, never trying to shield myself from the mistakes I make or parts of my persona that are ugly.

Take this morning for instance: I called Dell because I wanted to know what was going on with two of my orders. Dell has been doing their “Dell Day of Deals” event where they have computer hardware and accessories on for deep discounts, and I typically order at least a few things. Early in the deals (about a week ago) I ordered a set of two 5.2 Ghz cordless phones for the house, because our older phones were only lasting 15 minutes on a charge, and I ordered a stand-alone Asus GPS unit because I’ve always wanted a small GPS I could leave in my car and not have to worry about the hassle of configuring and using a Bluetooth GPS.

This week, there were two things I ordered: a black hard-shell MP3 player carrying case (two of them in fact) and two universal travel adaptors from Belkin. At the end of the ordering process I printed out my receipt. Strangely enough though, I never received the usual email messages from Dell with the order number and whatnot. Print-outs in hand, today I called Dell, and wasn’t surprised by what I was told: without an order number, the customer service agent couldn’t do much of anything for me. I explained patiently that I never received the order number email, but I had my receipts showing the time and date I placed the order. They transferred me to Dell online sales, which I immediately cringed at.

Dell online sales, in case you haven’t already heard, is based out of India. In my experience with dealing with the salespeople there, I’ve found them to be fairly pushy, rude (they talk over you), and quite frustrating to deal with. It’s not a language issues (usually their English is quite good), it’s a cultural or perhaps even sales training issue. One of the worst things they’ve done to me over and over is when I’m talking to them and I finish my sentence, they don’t respond – it’s just silence. Today was no different – I spoke to a salesperson and explained the situation. He explained that they had no record of the sales I was talking about, and that perhaps my orders were never placed because I forgot to click on the SUBMIT button. “That’s completely ridiculous,” I said, “I’m not some kind of idiot that would forget to click on the final button to place my order – besides, I have a receipt with the order date and time!”. He explained that it was possible to print out the receipt without actually clicking the SUBMIT button – I said that was a ridiculous system, one where a customer could print out a receipt without actually ordering the product, and that maybe there was a chance that’s what confused me. We argued back and forth for a bit, but when I asked if he could place my orders again for me, he flat-out said no because the sales promotion was over.

At this point I was getting frustrated – I told him that I thought it was ridiculous that he wouldn’t even consider the possibility that perhaps there was a problem with the online ordering system and it was insulting to me as a customer that he was placing the blame on me. The call was finished and I hung up the phone, still fuming.  I went back to the site because I wanted to order a new Logitech keyboard (the Wave) that was $50 off. This time I paid very close attention to what I was doing – sure enough, after you enter in your credit card information, at the very final stage, there’s a “Print Receipt” link but down below that there’s a final SUBMIT button to click, or your order isn’t placed.

I can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly possible that I printed out the receipt, closed my browser window, and thought I had placed my order. I can think Dell’s system is idiotic all I want, but I’m the idiot that didn’t click the SUBMIT button one last time…and I have to own that. So, Mr. Dell Salesperson, looks like you were right – it was customer error. Mea culpa.