Dell Buyers Furious Over Laptop Delays

Dell Inc. customers who ordered its new high-end XPS M1330 notebook shortly after it launched in late June are hopping mad after the computer maker has pushed out delivery dates several times and canceled orders without notification.

A Dell executive said this weekend that the laptop is now shipping in limited quantities, but warned buyers to expect additional delays.

The M1330, which Dell has promoted since the ultralight portable's June 26 debut as "the world's thinnest 13.3-inch notebook," was originally tagged with a ship date seven to ten days after ordering, numerous customers claimed on the Dell2Dell Web site and blog. That quickly changed, however, to one approximately 30 working days out -- in August, apparently -- both for those who had already ordered and for customers currently placing orders.

But as shipping status updates on the Dell site didn't change and follow-on e-mails arrived with even later delivery dates, customers began fuming.

"My delivery date was changed today... they added another 20 days," said Patrick J on July 13 in a posting to Dell2Dell. "i ordered mine the 26th june and will not get it until the 14th of august."

"ordered a XPS M1330 on June 29th," said another customer, identified only as Brian. "The shipping date (July 16th) was modified twice (Aug 7th and then Sept 13th!!!) I sold my old laptop. I'm without a pc since two weeks. I had to wait 5 more. I'm not happy."

Other people who had placed orders reported Dell had canceled them without their approval or notice. "On Friday the 20th I received a call from another person at Dell stating that (all?) orders for XPS M1330 computers had been accidentally canceled due to invalid system configuration errors," said Clinton Begin on July 21. " So what's the deal Dell? Is my machine in the mail set to arrive on Monday? Or is it MIA? How can your systems be screwed up so bad? The left hand clearly doesn't know what the right is doing."

Also on July 20, Lionel Menchaca, Dell's digital media manager and the company's regular blogger on Dell2Dell, said M1330 notebooks had begun shipping, but that "the process to ramp production has taken a bit longer than we expected." He laid the blame on one of more unspecified components. "The reality is that due to the unique nature of some features of the notebook, we've had to work through some additional manufacturing processes." He also claimed then that customers placing new orders would see a ship date approximately four weeks in the future.

That set off more customers, who had been told their new ship dates were further out than four weeks from that date even though they'd ordered weeks before. Customer Paul Kelly on July 29: "i ordered an m1330 on 6th july and was ok with a wait of four weeks. got a late delivery notification on 28th july that the delivery date is now september 7th! ok no worries, i decided to cancel the order and go for a macbook pro instead. to my shock dell have taken the money for laptop on 27th july."

Sunday, Alex Gruzen, a senior vice president in Dell's consumer product group, waded in on Dell2Dell. Like Menchaca, Gruzen did not spell out the assembly or shipping problems with the M1330, but painted the situation in general terms. "What do I mean by issues? Things like part shortages, technical glitches, simple cosmetic issues, and other unanticipated issues that can arise when you start mass production," Gruzen said. "Our teams are doing everything they can to meet the estimated ship dates you were quoted at the time your order was placed. We will contact customers on a case by case basis if their particular orders will experience further delay." Gruzen also acknowledged that large-scale production and shipping of the M1303 would only begin this week.

Too little, too late, buyers said in comments since Sunday, taking Dell to task for ringing up sales before systems were actually available.

"I think the question still remains as to why Dell launched the M1330 without indication of delays," said a user tagged as charlie. "Clearly if the problems involve production issues and large-scale production will not even occur until this coming week, this product was launched with the knowledge that there was actually no product to sell."

"It took a month to get a Sr VP here [at Dell2Dell], how long before Michael Dell has to make amends for the situation?" asked an unidentified user. "We want to see head rolls, and Lionel Manchega's [sic] not the one. How about the Sr VP, Consumer Product Group?"

"Another crap response. No details, no apology, no acceptance of fault," wrote someone calling himself Irate Customer. "You are starting mass production a month after taking orders? Not before releasing ad after ad, rebate after rebate? And you expect those of us that ordered in the first weeks to do what? Pay full price for a product that will not likely ship for another 2 weeks? I don't expect an answer to any of these questions. But you can expect a lot more cancellations next week."

As of Wednesday, the estimated ship date for an XPS M1330 -- which are priced starting at US$1,299 -- was pegged by Dell's online ordering system as August 23.

This story, "Dell Buyers Furious Over Laptop Delays" was originally published by Computerworld.

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