Dell has partnered with Best Buy to sell some of its desktop and laptop computers in stores and through the Best Buy web site, following deals with Wal-Mart and Staples as well as other retailers around the world. Dell claims its products are now in more than 10,000 stores worldwide.
The Dell computers sold through Best Buy will be pre-configured – no customizing the OS, applications, or hardware. Prices so far appear to be comparable to computers sold through the Dell web site, with a mix of low-end cheap systems and a handful of stylish or high-end systems aimed at gamers. This post has the model numbers, and here’s a page from Dell with a few more details. The operating system is Vista Home Premium – businesses still have nowhere local to purchase a computer with Vista Business, the required choice for virtually any office computer.
The interesting wrinkle is that Best Buy will be handling returns (a 14-day return policy and a possible 15% restocking fee) and most of the warranty support, both for the basic one-year warranty and any extended warranty sold by Best Buy. The Geek Squad and Best Buy are clearly intended to do most of the troubleshooting and support, but Dell’s explanation of the support arrangement for Best Buy systems includes an unclear addendum: “Customers who buy Dell systems through Best Buy can still contact Dell for basic troubleshooting and support.”
Personally, I shudder at the thought of dealing with Best Buy for returns or support – but then, Dell has been no great shakes lately either. I’d still rather place an online order with Dell and configure a computer with the right features.