I needed a Firewire adapter for my laptop, but, after reading stories online of incompatibility issues others had with their cards, I decided to give Dell a call to ensure that I got the right card for my system. I called Dell Sales and was referred to the Parts Department. I explained what I needed to the sales representative. I told him my laptop model, Service Tag Number, name, and other miscellaneous information. I figured that the miscellaneous information was to confirm my identity while the Service Tag Number would allow him to pull up my system's configuration (which would in turn allow him to suggest the correct part). He put me on hold for quite a while and then suggested two cards. I chose one. I double-checked with him that it would work with my model of laptop. He assured me it would. I asked him if it would work with Vista. He assured me it would. He took my credit card information and the card was on my doorstep the next day. I opened up the package and what do I see? I see a Cardbus Firewire adapter when I expressly told the guy I needed an ExpressCard adapter.
I called Dell Support up again to get a return authorization and get the right part. The sales representative I got this time tried her best to make up for her colleague's mistake. She started out asking me all the same information about my computer, Service Tag Number, and other miscellaneous information. Then she asked me the billing address for my credit card. I was a little bit wary, because I'm currently at school 700 miles from my home and I was afraid of introducing another element that might lead to an error. I first stressed to her that I was at school and my school address differed from my billing address. She asked, rather unnecessarily of course, whether I wanted it sent to me at school. I replied in the affirmative and she said that it would be no problem to have it sent to an address different than my billing address. She then went on to suggest possible products for me. She took a different tack than her colleague, though. She had me look at the parts online before deciding what I wanted. After she suggested 3 Cardbus adapters (with maybe one of them being a Firewire card), I decided to show her what an ExpressCard LOOKED like. After she saw what it looked like, I could practically imagine the fog clearing slightly from her eyes. While she putzed around looking for a card to suit my needs, I managed to find the part myself and told her I wanted it. I placed the order again specifying that the card should be delivered to my address at school (the same address where I got my laptop and the previous card). Guess where my card got delivered? Yep, 700 miles away.
The moral of the story: Do your research and avoid dealing with the sales representatives at Dell. If you know what you want, there's no reason they should get a commission. Place the order yourself online and minimize the risk of some bonehead at Dell messing up your order.
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