This article in the New York Times hit particularly hard for me because I’ve just recently decided to stop purchasing from Dell all together.  At one point, many years ago, I bought everything from them.  But the company’s chaotic internal workings have made it impossible to do business with them.

The final straw was a billing dispute that came up a month ago.  I got a call from a billing person at Dell saying there were unpaid invoices on our account.  I called him back and we discussed the matter and found some irregularities (I had checks saying we paid where as he had those invoices marked as partially paid for some reason).  He said he would investigate.

A few days later I started getting automated calls about the same bills.  I called the number given and after waiting on hold for 30 minutes the system simply hung up on me.  Assuming there must be some clerical error I e-mailed the gentleman I’d spoken to before telling him about the calls and waited.

Then I found out our Dell Credit account had been frozen.  At this point it had been weeks after the initial phone call about the billing dispute and I had not heard back from the original billing person.  My Dell Sales rep e-mailed several billing people asking what had happened on the matter to which he was told that we owed the $2,000 and that they were unaware of any investigation.

As of now it’s a month later and I still have no resolution on the matter (to the best of my knowledge the investigation promised a month ago has never taken place).  After discussing it with the CEO of the company it was decided that our attorney should handle things from this point and that we’d no longer do business with Dell (this isn’t the first incident where Dell’s crazy internal system has led to a massive time drain)

Which means they lost an account worth several hundred thousand dollars a year over rough $2,000 (which they'd already been paid if they'd just bother to investigate). 

That’s the reality behind Dell’s problems.  For all the pontification on product lines, direct distribution, etc… the truth remains this: Dell is an extremely disorganized company.  Buying from them is 10 times harder than buying from a company like CDW.  Yet, except for the rare retail deal, they won’t allow others to sell their products. 

So if I like HP systems and have a problem with CDW I can go to another vendor but if I have a problem with Dell’s backwards sales and billing teams I have to stop buying Dell completely.  Which is what I’ve done.  

More to the point, I’m one of the last to hold on.  All the other purchasing people I know have given up on Dell for much the same reason (though usually the backwardness they’ve had trouble with is on the warranty side).  So while the pundits talk about acquisitions and product plans I know the truth.  It’s the so-called “Dell Hell” that’s really going to put them out of business.