In the grand scheme of things, three months is a but a drop in the bucket over the average person's lifetime. It's decidedly longer in dog years, and when it comes to the rapid pace of technology, three months represents an eternity. Yet that's exactly how long I will have waited for Dell to complete my order for a BFG GTX 295 videocard if the OEM comes through with its latest estimated delivery date (it won't). But I'm getting ahead of myself and this deserves a backstory.
BackstoryThrough the wonder of Techbargains and other daily updated deal sites, I came across a coupon code for 30 percent off select Dell accessories. Dell often tosses discount codes into the wild, and this particular one offered the flexibility of choosing from one of several products rather than being tied to, say, a specific notebook model or desktop system.
For me (and many others, as a cursory glance around the web reveals), that item turned out to be a BFG GTX 295 videocard, Nvidia's flagship graphics card and currently the fastest consumer desktop graphics solution on the planet. I placed the order on March 24, 2009 which, at the time, was out of stock with an "Estimated Delivery Date" of 4/15/2009. With the coupon code, the total came to $370.99 after tax and shipping, an absolute steal even it meant waiting three weeks. Three weeks? Heh. I can't help but be amused at how naive I was in my younger days three months ago.
Come April 8, 2009, I receive an email from Dell:
Based on the latest available information, we are confident we will deliver your order on or before this new date. We apologize for the delay and appreciate your patience.
ACTION REQUIRED: please contact us today (by 9pm CST tonight) to continue with your order that has a new Revised Estimated Delivery Date (May 1, 2009).
Conspiracy Theory?The notion has been raised (not by me) that Dell, aware that its coupon code probably should have came with a provision exempting high-dollar videocards like the BFG GTX 295, is intentionally delaying orders in hopes that customers will cancel their orders, a practice I've heard some allege has been done in the past.
I'm not buying it, although I do have to hold Dell accountable for its piss-poor delivery estimates which, at this point, appear to be completely arbitrary placeholders rather than any kind of indication of when a product might actually ship. I'm content to wait it out -- mostly because I placed a bet with a colleague that my card will eventually ship, and I hate losing bets -- but what about those who may have been planning a new build (Core i7, perhaps) only to have to put the project while Dell d__ks them around with meaningless delivery estimates? 'Don't plan a build around a backordered part,' would be a response, and a fair one at that. But are we really to believe that Dell, the biggest OEM in the universe, is incapable of semi-accurately estimating a delivery date? I don't buy it.
My Solution (Continually Updated)
This is awkward, but on 3/24/09, I purchased a BFG GTX 295 videocard from Dell.com for a super groovy price thanks to a coupon code (order number 688607484). Unfortunately, the card has been on backorder ever since and the estimated delivery date keeps getting pushed back. It now says 6/23/09, which, if history is any indication, is an arbitrary placeholder until that date approaches, at such time it will be pushed back yet another two weeks.
I notice that you recently received a boatload of BFG GTX 295 videocards in stock, and this brings me to my awkward request. Would you be willing to send and/or sell one of those videocards to Dell with a note attached that reads, “For Paul Lilly”? I fear this may be the only way I’ll ever receive my purchased card from Dell.
Thank you for any and all assistance you might be able to provide, and rest assured, my next online order will be back with you folks.