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Following our story yesterday about the way Dell handled the sale of a discounted PowerEdge server we've been inundated with emails from readers completely lacking in any seasonal festive spirit or goodwill for the mega computer corp.

Take this for example:

We probably spend over £200k a year with Dell and projected to spend double that in 2005. We saw the Dell £99 server while looking to buy a few other bits and bobs. Stuck an order in for two, both with a gig of RAM, upgraded processor etc. These would have been useful servers to train our junior guys on.

Less than an hour later our account manager came back saying they had sold them all, but offering us a different model server for nearly four times the cost. To say we are not impressed with Dell is an understatement. Shame on Dell.

Or this:

I was actually on the phone to Dell as they sold out. Our account manager told me that they had 2400 odd servers and they'd sold out within two hours. I was at the time going through a big order which included two of the servers before the price drop so ended up being told 'it's a discontinued model' and I'd have to price up a different server even though I'd had a quote put together for the 1600 at a much higher price. Oh well I'm sure about 1,000 of them will pop up on eBay.

We've had a look on eBay and they're not there just yet...maybe once they start shipping?. Some of the correspondence we've had has been short and not-so-sweet. Like this missive sent to Dell and cc'd to us:

So how many 1000s of unhappy customers have you managed to generate with this little stunt? Did you just ship computers to people who upgraded a lot then?

Or this, longer email which captures the frustration and angst of the people battling to get any sort of meaningful response.

Regarding the Dell UK discounted servers sting, I was also one of the unlucky ones. I placed my order on Thursday lunchtime, and contacted Dell yesterday morning as I had heard nothing. However, the trouble with contacting Dell was probably what annoyed me more than not getting my "too good to be true" servers.

I called their Customer Services line, and after selecting the appropriate options, their phone system put me into a loop and eventually hung up my call. I called again, this time I reached a call centre in India, answered by somebody with absolutely no grasp of the English language whatsoever. Had to hang up on them!

So I found another number on Dell's website and called again this time reaching a Dell operator, apparently in the UK. This person told me they couldn't help me and put me through to a colleague. This next person also told me they couldn't help me, and told me they'd put me through to somebody else. When I asked who they were putting me through to, he said "I don't know" and immediately put me on hold. I assume it was the hanging up department.

So I called again. Again, I was passed from pillar to post to get to the Internet Sales team, and when the operator said they couldn't reinstate the order, I asked to speak to a manager. I was told that managers don't speak to customers. So I asked to speak to the manager's manager, since that was clearly unacceptable that I cannot complain to anybody. I was told that their weren't any, the managers simply report to Personnel. Following this, I called my credit card company and asked them to stop my card, as I was a bit concerned that I (amongst many other people) had offered their credit card details to Dell in good faith expecting to receive these servers. I am certain Dell should not be asking for these details until they know they can fulfil the order - it is almost as if it is a phishing scam!

The result? Dell have lost a customer in me, and probably many other customers. I have found their customer services to be entirely unacceptable in the past, and have now vowed to never ever buy from Dell again. However, I am responsible for hardware purchasing decisions - my company is an ISP with hundreds of servers, and also an IT consultancy which supplies hardware to clients. Dell will never again be selected to provide hardware.

Dear reader, you certainly have the right to not spend your cash with whoever you choose. Or, like this chap, you could opt for something altogether more deliciously satisfying.

I am still awaiting my confirmation. I phoned up Tuesday and was told my order was accepted and I would receive a confirmation today. As far as I am concerned a verbal contract now exists. If I don't get these I think I will pay the £30 for Dell to come and discuss it at my local County Court. It will cost them at least the cost of the servers just to turn up.

The more astute readers among you will now have perhaps to begin to spot a pattern here. Items sell out - that's a fact of commercial life - but failing to communicate with your punters will not win any awards for customer care. Talking of communication, El Reg is still waiting to hear back from Dell for an official comment on this episode.

In the absence of anything from the Dell UK press office, here's a different take on the whole experience.

On your story about the Dell servers for 99 pounds. Sheez. OK so Dell may have goofed up in not keeping folks informed and updated. But then again, you get what you're paying for. Please tell these folks to get over it and quit crying over spilt milk.

And a Merry Christmas to you too. ®

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