Dude, a Dell?

So… I need a new PC. This one’s reaching the end of it’s usefulness. The CD burner only makes coasters even when slowed down to 4x (down from 52x). The floppy drive is dead. It’s only got 384 megs of RAM pushing a 1.6gHz Celeron. It’s old and fairly decrepit. I’ve spent a while looking around the sites, Dell, HP, Gateway and a few smaller companies I’ve seen mentioned here and there in the computer magazines. Dell so far has had the best configuration for the least money. My biggest problem is I’m poor and I’ve been poor for a long while. Other than bills if I spend $20 a month on non essential things it’s a big deal and I’m looking at putting somewhat over $400 on my credit card. This is scary for me. I need the moment to be ‘right’ and my mindset to be ‘right’ and even then it’s going to be a real bitch to click that last “Place Order” button. With that in mind Dell’s got a current, long term promotion running with a $100 discount on the PC I’m looking at (Athlon 3800+ Dual Core, a gig of RAM, 160 gig HD, DVD burner, 13:1 card reader, etc.). I missed out on their last promotion that would have gotten me a much better machine for only $35 more than the above system so I wanted to find out when this discount expires. I popped into the Dell Chat system to ask. Big freaking mistake:

Me: “I’d like to know when this current promotion ends.”
Dell: “Our specials change weekly, Sir.”
Me: “This isn’t a weekly special as it’s been running for several weeks now”
Dell: “Our specials change weekly, Sir.”
Me: “This isn’t one of your weekly specials. Like your free shipping offer it’s long term.”
Dell: “You’re correct, Sir.”
Me: “Then I’d like to know when this current promotion ends.”
Dell: “Our specials change weekly, Sir.”
Me: “You just agreed with me that this was NOT a weekly special.”
Dell: “That’s correct. Several of out offers have been running for quite a while.”
Me: “Then I’d really like to know when this current promotion ends.”
Dell: “Our specials change weekly, Sir.”

This Abbott and fucking Costello routine went on for TWENTY minutes when the idiot finally told me he had no idea when the promotion would end and gave me the number and extension (the wrong extension number at that) to some department that he assured me would have the answers I wanted. I called them. Big freaking mistake #2. After spending at least 10 minutes getting lost in their automated phone system:

“Press one if your have bought a Dell and are left handed.
Press 2 if you have bought a Dell and it’s currently on fire or speaking in tongues.
Press 3 if you’d like to press 3 again.
Press 4 if pressing 3 didn’t allow you to press 3 again.”

I finally get a human being on the phone, explain the situation and after a minute of silence I’m told she can’t help me and needs to transfer me to someone who can. Amazingly this transfer doesn’t hang up on me, summon Satan or connect me to the power company. I get a sales twit on the phone and once again explain my question. He doesn’t, of course, have any idea and puts me on hold for five minutes while he asks his manager. He gets back on the line and tells me his manager is as clueless as he is “This is a corporate decision, Sir, we have no idea when the promotion may end. It could be tomorrow. Would you like to order your system now to ensure you get the discount?” Nice try at getting a commission, shithead. I just hung up on him.
Dude, I wish Dell didn’t have the best deals. I really do. This seriously made me not want to do business with them.

Hawk (*sigh*)


  1. Azmidiske

    You could build your own. You already have monitor and keyboard and other peripherals. It’s not nearly as complicated as it may sound and you get to make sure that you hand pick every part that goes into it, including your case. I think I spent a grand total of around 500 for mine, and that even included 100 for the case itself. (I’m a girl – I’m particular. Shoot me.) I was able to find really good parts for my money….not top of the line, but good, stable pieces that will last a long time and I didn’t have to spend a fortune. mwave.com is who gets most of my money when I build from scratch or need to upgrade. Nice folks. Quick with customer service, good warranties, fast shipping.

  2. hawk (Post author)

    I could build my own. I’ve got the skills and the knowledge. I just don’t really want to. On top of the parts I’d also have to shell out another $100+ for an OS. The only one I’ve got now is 98SE and as much as I love it’s small footprint and the fact that I know it so well it’s just not cutting it in this day and age. I really want someone else to gather the parts, do the work and provide the warranty service in case something goes wrong. Thanks for the response! YAY! Visitors!

  3. John

    Mac Mini?

  4. hawk (Post author)

    Sorry, John, I know you’re a Mac fan and I did go look at the Mini and other Apple machines. They’re overpriced, under equipped and underpowered.

    Cheapest Mini is $600:
    No keyboard or mouse
    Small 80 gig HD
    NO option for a DVD burner
    Max 64 megs shared video RAM
    Only running 667MHz bus speed

    To get a DVD burner you need to buy the $800 Mini. And that still doesn’t come with keyboard or mouse or modem and doesn’t come close to the 800 or 1333 front side bus speed of comparable PCs. For $800 bucks you’d think they’d at least throw in 2 gigs of ram but they don’t. Macs just aren’t worth the price. For $30 more than the top end Mini you can get a Dell with 2 gigs of ram, 17″ LCD monitor, keyboard, mouse, 320 gig HD, 16x DVD burner and a 128 meg video card. Drop the monitor and it’s only $60 more than the cheap Mini. I’m not happy with Dell’s customer service but then again there’s not many companies who’s phone service I am happy with. I do like the prices of their machines though. So far they’re the best that I’ve been able to find.

  5. doug

    I’d agree with the 1st girl about building if you had access to a PC parts “flea market” like Peter Trapp and a few others. There you can get *really* cheap new stuff and also ridiculously cheap reconditioned stuff if you wanna assemble it yourself or you can have them do it and get a warranty and an OS with it for less than online prices.

    Barring that, shop around online and find a good price that comes from a company with a good rating at resellerratings.com.

  6. hawk (Post author)

    We don’t have computer ‘shows’ around here any more. Haven’t seen one in years. The last time I bought parts at one I had to go to two different sellers, one was 65 miles away, to prove their parts caused the damage to my system. I’ve priced locally and even the hungry mom and pop shops can’t come close to Dell’s prices. Hell, no one online can come close either. I honestly doubt I could get a case, motherboard, CPU, DVD burner, GIG of memory, 160 gig HD, card reader, mouse, keyboard, modem and a copy of Vista Basic and a year’s on-site warranty for the $379 Dell wants at any computer show. Dell’s got a lot of bad rep at ResellerRatings but much of that seems to be laptop related. Then again I’m not too sure of the accuracy of the reviews there. They rate a couple sites ibuypower and velocitymicro FAR higher than any other ratings site I’ve seen. After looking at both sites I wouldn’t, based on 1st opinion, do business with either. Unless someone throws an amazing sale in the next couple weeks it’s going to be a Dell for me…

  7. doug

    I can’t argue with much that you say, I put up a good rating for XtremeGear based on their quick response to a shipping shortage. Then I discovered I had no doohickeys necessary to install a second HDD and emailed them months ago, saying I’d even *pay* for the damn things. So far, after 3 or 4 follow-ups I got nothing. Right now the 2nd drive is just sitting there inside the case, held in place by my force of will.

  8. hawk (Post author)

    If I had a retail copy of XP or even Win2K I’d consider building my own or having one built locally but that’s an extra $100 expense I don’t need buying my own OS.

  9. Matt

    Keep an eye on slickdeals.net. Once or twice a week they’ll post a deal on a machine. Here’s an example of one they posted today:

    HP Pavillion [sic] Media Center for $650 + tax, free shipping
    Vista Home Premium (32-bit)
    Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4GHz
    2 GB DDR2-667 dual channel RAM (2x1GB)
    64GB GeForce 7500LE with TV-out
    250GB SATA HD
    16x DVD burner
    TV tuner with DVR capability
    Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme sound card
    15-in-1 card reader, keyboard, mouse, NO monitor.

    Alternately, you could knock the processor down to a 2.33GHz Core2Duo (E6550), and get a 19″ screen for the same price.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *