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Dell UK stung by bungled server sale

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Dell UK is facing stinging criticism from customers after they accused the giant PC maker of bungling the sale of a heavily discounted server last week. Punters are angry that the giant PC outfit failed to keep them informed about the sale even when it was clear that it had been over-subscribed.

Some buyers have told The Register that customer care told them repeatedly that their order was being processed - only to be informed later that the sale would not go ahead. Others are angry that Dell took almost a week to tell them that their orders had been rejected while some claim that Dell's ordering system and customer support was in chaos.

Last week, the giant PC maker offered a Dell PowerEdge 1600 SC server for £99 and was flooded with orders. Unconfirmed reports suggest as many as 4000 orders were placed in just a few hours as punters latched on to the discount offer. While many received "Internet receipts" acknowledging their orders, people became concerned when they failed to receive order confirmations.

Said one enraged customer: "Last week a number of us placed an order on an offer that appeared on the Dell web site. This offer was valid until the 15th or when stocks ran out, and limited to two servers per order. Orders were placed and we received emails from Dell giving us our internet receipt numbers.

"Unfortunately, after a few days of our Internet receipt numbers not working we got impatient and so rang Dell. The reply on this was that there was a pricing error and that all the orders made have been cancelled, although some people are being told that there is no problem and they should receive their confirmation soon.

"No one at Dell seems to know what's going on, and after handing over card details and receiving official Dell emails with no true answer to what is going on, our confidence in Dell's online ordering system is very rocky. We all seem to have been left in the dark by Dell, without even an email to say 'sorry there was an error and the orders have been cancelled, and that the card details that I provided will not be charged to'."

The story is the same elsewhere. Another disgruntled customer told us that a lot of people have been "let down" by the company: "Dell got great publicity last week for having a stock of servers which they sold off very cheap. Our orders got cancelled as they were out of stock. We had to contact them before we discovered our order was cancelled - it wasn't them who had the decency to contact us."

Another said: "I am one of the 'lucky' people who managed to place an order for the £99 Dell servers last Thursday - for which I received an Internet receipt. This morning [Tuesday, 15 December], after being given the run-around by Dell it transpires that my order has either been cancelled/never existed/refused by my credit card. This has left me feeling very cross.

"If Dell had just written to me saying 'We oversold - sorry' I would have [accepted it was] just luck of the draw, but they didn't contact me at all and then actively lied to me when I finally got in touch with them."

Today, in an email to would-be buyers, Dell finally explained that "due to unprecedented demand on the day the offer was launched we have sold out of this product and will not be accepting or further processing your request to purchase this product. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused".

However, this explanation and apology came too late for many. And The Register is still waiting to hear back from Dell to find out how many orders were placed, how many PowerEdge servers were on offer, how many people have been let down - and why it took Dell so long to resolve this cock-up. ®

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Consumers shun PCs for gizmos
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