Dell made an unwelcome phone call to one of my clients about the order for his new home computer. I’d hate to think Dell is going to make a habit of it.

I’ve been involved in ordering hundreds of computers from Dell over the years.

Orders placed online with a credit card have always gone through correctly. That’s just remarkable! I can’t think of a single time that there was an error in the computer configuration or in the billing.

Orders placed by phone have frequently gone sideways. Dell employs salespeople to answer the phones and they’re no better or worse than salespeople at any big company. My clients have gotten hard pitches to upgrade this or that, and the salespeople have made errors writing up the order so the wrong things arrived a week later. Even phone calls intended only to change or clarify an online order wind up getting rewritten by the salesperson, presumably to earn the commission on the sale.

I help people buy computers all the time. I feel confident putting something in an online Dell shopping cart, knowing that I’ve made the right choices and the order will be processed correctly. That spares my clients from having to go through the details.

On Sunday I placed an order with a friend’s credit card through Dell’s home division for an XPS 420, a nice medium-priced system suitable for gaming. (With that system it’s possible to get Nvidia’s great new GeForce 8800GT video card. Cool!)

On Monday morning at 7:45 a.m., my friend’s phone rang. “Hi! This is a friendly Dell salesperson! I’d like to go over your order with you!”

For fifteen long minutes, too early on a holiday morning, he had to acknowledge that apparently he did want a quad core processor and did not want Trend Micro’s security suite and a dozen other details that he saw on the printout I had given him the day before.

And then came the hard sell on the extended warranty. “Are you SURE you don’t want an extended warranty? Are you SURE? Are you SURE? We’re having a sale! Today only! $299 for three years of protection! ARE YOU SURE?”

This is not a good idea. There was nothing helpful about the call. It wasn’t a skilled technician trying to help make the computer better. This was a salesperson trying to make a commission. I don’t want my clients to go through that. I don’t want you to go through that.

If Dell is going to make followup calls, perhaps it’s only for orders through its home division. Most of my orders go through the Small Business division where I can hope Dell won’t stoop to such foolishness.

7:45 a.m.? A pushy sales call is bad enough but – 7:45 a.m.?