I was reading a dealer moan in a mobile phone trade mag this week about the fact that most of his customers think his sales staff lie to get a sale. Well, they do. And for good reason. Dell sales staff lie.
And they can do this because they are in India and not subject to the regulatory compliance rules that UK vendors have to comply with. Take my Dell XPS1330. I was told in no uncertain terms that Windows XP was not available on it last summer.
Yet what do I find on a fellow traveller's machine - who bought his laptop on the same pre-launch deal as I did? Windows XP. He told the sales people the deal was off unless it came with XP. He got XP.
And my friend Gareth, a former computer editor of the Sydney Morning Herald who, after hearing me wax lyrical about my Dell laptop, ordered an XPS over the phone the other week after seeing an online ad offering the machine free of VAT and delivery charges.
He got the VAT waived. "But delivery is mandatory on all Dell machines sir," said the sales droid.
An hour of chatting later (Gareth is very stubborn) the sales droid offered to refund the £60.00-odd delivery fee "as a gesture of goodwill, sir." I should hope so, as Gareth's dinner had gone cold.
Gareth got his cheque last week and he's a happy bunny with his new Dell, even if he did have to fight tooth and nail to get something that Dell advertised.
And who do you complain to about a Dell advert and a sales rep's lack of willingness to fulfil the terms of said advert? The Advertising Standards Agency in India?
And all of this is before you work out the price difference between Dell's normal sales site - which sells computers all-inclusive - and the corporate site, which sells computers on a nett basis, and then adds the VAT plus delivery on when you click through.
The result of this tedious clicking is that the Dell corporate site produces computer prices that are around three per cent less than the mainstream Dell site.
"That isn't possible," says the sales droid. Until you realise that the mainstream site has different phone numbers to the corporate site, so you're dealing with different Dell sales droid offices.
Sometimes I despair of dealing with Dell. But hey, they are sooo cheap when it comes to selling hardware...