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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Culture

Dell handheld delays irk buyers

Customers are up in arms over wait times for delivery of Dell's new Axim X5 handheld--the PC seller's competitively priced entry into the Pocket PC device market.

A number of customers who ordered Dell Computer's new Axim X5 handheld are complaining it is taking too long to get their hands on the devices.

Dell launched the competitively priced Axim X5 in November in a move that marked the direct PC seller's entry into the handheld computer market. But now message boards on Dell's Web sites are filled with complaints from buyers upset that they don't yet have the gadgets they ordered weeks ago.

Dell spokesman Cody Pinkston said the company is aware that the wait time for the Axim X5 is longer than normal. He said Dell is "working real hard to fill orders as expediently as possible."

The typical wait time for Dell gear is three to five days, though Axim orders are taking around two weeks to fill, Pinkston said. He added that waits could be even longer in some cases if customers order accessories, such as a wireless card or folding keyboard, at the same time.

"The popularity of Axim and...the availability of some new accessories...has resulted in longer-than-normal lead times," Pinkston said.

Some people who put in an order in December say they still have not received their device. Postings on the company's Web site included messages from past Dell customers who wondered why an entire PC system ships faster than a handheld, and complaints that the company keeps changing the expected ship date for their orders. There was also a posting by someone with the user name "keepingMyPalmVx" who wanted to cancel an order.

The direct PC seller broke new pricing ground when it introduced the Axim X5 in November, offering devices for as little as $199 after rebate, roughly $100 cheaper than the nearest competitor among color devices running Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system.

Dell won't say how many of the devices have sold, but Pinkston said that "it's a popular product."

Jared Heller, a civil engineering student at North Dakota State University, said he ordered his device Jan. 8 and is being told that it won't ship until Feb. 3.

"The fact of the story is that I ordered mine online, and there was nothing on (Dell's) Web site about back-ordering of the handhelds, so I figured I would get mine in a week or so, and that is not the case," Heller said in an e-mail interview.