How Dell Could Learn From American Express

I’ve been using American Express for many years now. Their rewards program is one of the best – you can redeem your rewards points for many items, including Dell certificates. I have used these certificates to save a lot of money on purchasing new computers and accessories over the years. I recently redeemed my points for a $100 gift certificate to use on a Radeon X1550 video card. Unfortunately, after spending two entire days trying to get the card to work, I didn’t have much luck.

After calling Dell I was told that I would need to pay a $50 diagnostics fee in order for them to assist, since my system was no longer under warranty. I have purchased several computers from Dell in the last decade, and have never called them for tech support once, but a policy’s a policy I suppose. I opted to return the video card to them instead of paying an extra $50.

Today I checked my credit card statement and saw I was refunded $27. The cost of the video card was originally $127, but I had used a $100 gift certificate toward it. After calling Dell they told me that the gift certificate could not be re-used or re-issued, and that I needed to contact Amex for a new one. I called Amex and they told me the exact opposite – that they purchase these certificates from Dell, and that Dell needs to give me a new one.

At this point I was rather furious. I called Dell a second time, and once again was told the same thing. The gift certificate is gone, and they won’t allow me to re-use it or give me a new one. Now I was steaming. I called Amex again, and talked to another representative. I told him the entire situation, and this time around he told me that they’d issue me a new gift certificate! Even though Dell was passing the buck, American Express went out of their way to uphold their reputation. While it wasn’t Amex’s fault, the fact that they made good really impresses me.

After redeeming this replacement certificate, I do not plan on doing any more business with Dell. It is a shame that they’d rather lose a lifelong customer instead of making good on a gift certificate. If only Dell could take a cue from American Express – and treat their customers with the same respect!