…you know just a regular old computer. I don’t need anything fancy or powerful and I’m afraid that a new one is becoming ever closer to a need than a want. At the beginning of this month I placed an order for a new Dell. Simple enough, right? Nope! My order has been delayed twice and since canceled for an unknown part. If Dell would have just told me what the specific part was and then offered me alternatives we probably could have gone forward. No such luck.
Then we decided to try to buy one locally. I already own a monitor and printer so I don’t need another one of those. I can handle installing software on my own. I thought I’d be able to head into Best Buy (one of the few places to buy one locally), choose one from the handful of options available, pick up the box from the shelf, and check out. Er, nope! First off, even though they advertise a plain old computer (several of them actually), what they really want you to buy is the bundle complete with additional add-ons from the Geek Squad. So, that $640 Gateway is now upwards of $800. Need anti-virus or internet security software for that *one* computer? Price tag says $3.99. Actual cost? More like $40 for the first year in addition to that $3.99. All of a sudden non-Norton products don’t look so cheap. My big issue? None of their price tags tell you that. Asking a salesperson at the store won’t get you much luck either since it seems like each one of them will tell you something different.
An hour later and we left the store in utter frustration. We were literally a few inches away from making the purchase since we were at the cash register when the last shoe dropped. I’m actually tempted to write a letter to our state’s consumer protection department because it all felt a bit deceptive to me. I get that they want to up-sell, but this was out of control.
Want to know what I wish I did in the first place? Buy a Mac. I had the funds a few weeks ago, but felt guilty for spending the few hundred dollars extra so I settled for the Dell. I shouldn’t have – the last time I got a new computer was eight years ago in December and it’s likely I’d keep the new one for another eight years or so. Once you add in the anti-virus/internet security software and its yearly fees the extra cost suddenly doesn’t seem like all that much. So, I’m taking the money and putting it in my savings account. I need roughly another $300-$700 dollars. I think it will take me another 3-6 months or so to put that money away. The moral of the story? When you have the money just get what you want. It’s much easier that way.
Oh, and stop expecting customer service. It doesn’t exist any more. Well, unless you’re a well-known person or your website gets a lot of traffic (ala Dooce or the recent Southwest Airlines incident). Then you can get action. For the rest of us? It’s a crap-shoot really.