Big Companies Getting in Their Own Way
How Large Companies Function is Overly Complex


Published on by nick

Tags: IT, dell, big companies, outsourcing

In the last few months, I've caught myself boggling at the complexity of some large companies with which I've interacted. I've previously written about CenturyLink and how it has, by far, the worst customer support department I've dealt with. Of the more than 2 dozen times I called "gunk," on any one time I get a bright, motivated representative, and on any number of other times I get someone who seems like s/he received training from a completely different company.

Recently, however, I encountered an entirely different beast... I purchased a server from a noted hardware company, Dell. I work for a small software company myself, so when I went to purchase my PowerEdge T430, I was offered a business line of credit to make the purchase. The offer came with 90 days of zero interest, if you pay the balance. We had intentions of paying the balance right away, so this seemed like a win win.

I was required to call a fraud department to verify the company's authenticity (and presumably to prevent fraud), so I did, and a few days later, without paying a single dime, I received a nice, new, shinny server.

I set it up, and I've been using it ever since. I'm writing another article about that adventure, so stay tuned...

What was strange, though, was that I received a notice saying the account had been flagged by Dell's fraud department. At this time, my online access to my account was locked. This meant I couldn't actually make that payment I was eager to make. So I set aside some time to call Dell and get this sorted out. The letter specifically informed me that "I" had filed a claim of fraud, and that they were investigating this. Here's the scoop: I never filed a claim!

So I call Dell and get transfered to someone I hoped could help me... Firstly, right out of the gate, they had no idea what I was talking about, so they escalated the call to an upper tier. I spoke to some representatives and eventually was let go with the promise they would call me back before my due date.

I finally heard back from Dell fraud department. They were a bit late in getting back to me (they left a message), nearly to the due date for my first payment. I returned the representative's call, and he tells me how sorry he is, and that he'll prevent any late fees from accruing, etc. OK, fine, that sounds good. But then I ask him whether he understands that all this was just a grand waste of time, since I didn't actually file the claim. He tells me that in my area there have been many fraudulent claims, and this was probably an automatic flag alert that caused all this.

Remember how I mentioned that I confirmed our company's identity with their accounts and fraud department? Well, shouldn't this have caught any attempts at fraud? Isn't it too late to be locking my account and throwing the alarm bells? I mean, they already sent me the server. I have it in my possession, and I've been using it for weeks. Now I'm locked out of my account and I can't even make a payment if I wanted to.

Let me put it another way. All I needed was the tax ID of the firm with which I work, and I ordered a $3000 server and set up a $7500 line of credit. If I were a thief, I just got around the very mechanism they set up to stop theft... without even trying! Now, the genuine user, me, who actually wants to log in, make payments, etc, is locked out. This boggles my mind.

In conclusion, nowadays, with these large companies, they are just too big and complex to do their jobs correctly. They are getting in their own way. The Dell story is just one example of this, and as the infrastructure gets more complex, and the companies skimp on IT (Dell outsources its front line support, as far as I can tell), and outsource more and more of their duties, I expect to see more of this "getting in their own way" in the near future.

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