I’m a corporate Dell customer.  That is to say, my employer is a corporate Dell customer.  We’re a Dell shop, which has many pluses and just a few minuses.

Way back when the Dell Mini series was announced, I decided to order one to check out.  We also ordered a few Asus EEE-books.  Oddly enough, the EEE’s were in and in-service months before the Dell.  Why?  Because I had to order the Dell through Dell.

To be fair, there was a bizarre process for ordering.  The Mini 9 is a consumer product and as such, does not appear anywhere on my corporate Dell page.  If you search for it, you’ll find some carrying pouches and a few other completely unrelated laptops, as well as other odd items.

This is because Dell’s web team is in charge of pharmaceutical distribution for the entire corporation.

I do not mean by the above statement to imply that there is anything wrong personally with any member of the web team.  It’s just that they’re really visual, tactile people and wind up playing with all the colorful pills and whatnot, ingesting the best stuff and passing the remainder onto the rest of the corporation.

This is not a conclusion I have arrived at lightly.  It has taken years of purchasing Dell equipment from the web site to bring me to where I am today.  Ever use an online shopping cart, load it up, then go to checkout, only to discover that your cart developed a hole in the bottom and there is nothing in it anymore?  Par for the course at Dell.

One day I got so frustrated with their search function that I started inputting random queries, like CPU.  No results.  Keyboard.  No results.  Anything.  No results.

So I asked my corporate rep how to get a Mini 9.  She had to check.  When she got back to me, it was to explain that she would have to have me generate a spec, email it to her, she would email it to a colleague on the Consumer side, who would price it and send me back a quotation for purchase.

Hmmmm……

Ok, I figured I’d play their game.  They were always honest, if nothing else.  So I spec’d out a Mini 9 and emailed it to the rep.  A week later, when I had heard nothing, I emailed the rep again.  She hadn’t heard back from Consumer and would try again.

Another period of time went by and I emailed again.  Still no response from Consumer.  I politely asked what was required to get a response from Consumer but she declined to answer.  Probably a good thing.

Finally, weeks later, I received my quote from Dell for the Mini 9.  It was to the wrong customer number and included tax, which non-profits don’t pay.  This took another day or three to correct and finally a Mini 9 was actually ordered.

A month later I still had no Mini 9.  I called the rep, who was going to expedite the order for me.  They were certainly showing as available.  Others who ordered way after me got theirs (apparently they had a friend in Consumer).

About three months after I started attempting to order this stupid little netbook, it finally arrived.  I vowed I’d never order Dell Consumer again.   After playing with the Mini 9,  I vowed I’d never order another one – the keyboard was weird.  And for $100 less, I got an Asus with a larger screen.  Why bother?

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Flash forward to a few weeks ago.  The owner and his wife both want new laptops of the small and light variety.  As the Commercial laptops had two candidates that were both over $1500 and overweight, I thought maybe a Mini 12 would do the trick.

My coworkers told me I could find Acer netbooks on the Dell site now, so I went looking for Mini 12’s.  Of course there was no Mini 12 to be found on our Corporate page.  The Acers will too small anyway.

So I bit the bullet and contacted our rep (this is the third or fourth rep since the above issue).  I joked to my coworkers that it would probably be a rerun of last time.  Ha ha.

Rep told me to spec one, email her, and she’d send it to a colleague in Consumer to price quote.

A week later, no quote.

I emailed.  She apologized.

Another week later, no quote.

I emailed a different supplier who can get Dells.  Not a word was heard.

Three weeks into this, I again asked if there was any chance I could give Dell money.  An hour later I had a price quote in my inbox.

With tax.

It’s been two days since I asked him to requote it without tax.  If I did drugs, I’d move to Austin and get a job with Dell.