A Note to Dell Sellers (and Buyers)

Dell sells tens of millions of dollars worth of equipment every day on their Website. That must mean they’re doing something right. Sadly, it’s not usability research. The site’s “configurator” has always had some annoying little quirks.

Consider this printer option form (shown at 90%):

Dell.com choice of printers

First, assuming you want a Dell-branded Lexmark printer (which you probably don’t, given how expensive the proprietary cartridges are), you can pick it. But then, wait, what’s this next thing? “Remember to choose a pre-loaded printer driver”? Huh? What the hell kind of dumb statement is that? Why must I “remember”? What is “pre-loaded,” anyway? Is that like “loaded”?

It’s not just the way it’s asked (though much better approaches do exist) but the fact that they ask at all. When would anyone ever choose not to install a driver? Why doesn’t Dell ship all their computers with both drivers? It all reeks of something used to trigger an item on an installer’s list. If they’re going to pre-install MusicMatch without a “None” option, they can damn sure put some drivers on. They won’t hurt anything.

The same can’t be said for the annoying way they’re pushing USB cables. A cable is certainly required to connect a printer, but twenty bucks for a Dell house brand? I think not.

Update [02:48]: While we’re on the subject of clarity, I think B puts it best: “what the fuck is advanced exchange?” (The Help text doesn’t.)

Update [02:57]: Ahh, it’s a stupid marketing term for “ship you a replacement.” (Have to read the footnotes.) And how nice it sounds: “Replacement system or replacement part will be dispatched, if necessary, following phone-based troubleshooting, in advance of receipt of returned defective part or system. Replacements may be refurbished. Defective unit must be returned. Availability varies. Other conditions apply.” So, to sum up: your replacement — if available — may be used and subject to other conditions. What a warranty! This is sounding almost as good as paying for shorter hold times.

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