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12 April 2005

Dell: Not Quite As Advertised

Congratulations to Dell Computers for leaping unashamedly onto The Antagonist's corporate scams radar with their superb coffer-boosting efforts of hijacking a few extra pounds from unwitting consumers at the point of sale.

It would be very difficult not to spot at least some of the glut of advertising that Dell fills the world with these days, and a reader ('H', here-on in) of the Antagonist's musings, who happened to be in the market for a new PC, was no different. Inspired by a glossy, colour photograph of a fully-fledged, multimedia Dell PC, flatscreen and speaker combo, 'H' telephoned Dell to place an order.

During the conversation that ensued, the Dell representative advised that the system did not contain a sound card and that one could be fitted at an additional cost of UKP34. According to the representative, the extra expenditure would allow 'H' to "make full use of the system" and, of course, full use of the speakers that were so prominently displayed in the glossy advert that inspired 'H' to order.

So, Dell advertises what appears to be a multimedia PC, along with the price for that multimedia PC, and then tells anyone that tries to order it that they need to spend more money to get the multimedia functionality that is implied by the glossy marketing literature.

Rather unsubtly, the idea here is to exploit the fact that anyone spending the best part of UKP1000 on a PC isn't going to balk at the marginal cost of an extra UKP40 to get the implied functionality. The deal is, if you want to actually listen to the CDs and DVDs that a new Dell system will allow you to play through the speakers shown in their adverts, you have to pay more than the advertised price of that implied functionality.

The Antagonist believes that this is a highly spurious business practice and constitutes entirely misleading advertising.

Further, if you were to take this practice to its logical extension, Dell would be selling empty computer cases, screens and speakers, as shown in the glossy adverts, and then getting customers who call up to order to fill these redundant boxes with other random component parts - like motherboards, CPUs, and graphics cards, all at extra cost - so 'H' and other consumers can then "make full use of the system" displayed.

Researchers at the Antagonist Twin Towers are very interested to know how many other people have experienced this sort of unscrupulous practice at the hands of Dell...

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