Marketing 101: How to Piss Off Web Customers
Last updated: 8/18/2002; 7:51:20 AM
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Marketing 101: How to Piss Off Web Customers

Ok.  This will be a short, brutal angry rant.  I'll even admit it.


Current Offender: Dell Computer, Refurbished Systems Page
Level of Stupidity: 10+
Waste of My Time: 10 - 20 seconds

I'm in the market for two pieces of hardware:

  • New Notebook, considering the Dell Latitude C400
  • LCD Display capable of 1600 x 1200

So I surfed over to Dell's main site.  Now I'm a big believer in refurbished hardware.  Rarely do I need the latest processor (heck – rarely does anyone need the lastest frothy fastness from Intel) and refurbished hardware, i.e. guaranteed returns or slightly out of stock models, is generally a source of great deals.  And then the mistakes started to happen.  Sigh. 

Even though Dell sells refurbished hardware, they do their absolute best to hide it from you (and their best is actually pretty good in this case).  Here's what you have to do to get to it:

  1. From Home Page, click on the TYPE of customer you are (small business, government, etc).
  2. Click on Refurbished Systems.

That wasn't so hard … But, what if you said to yourself "I'm buying a laptop" and then you did this:

  1. From Home Page, click on Notebooks and Desktops.
  2. Click on Notebooks.
  3. Click on the type of notebook you want.

Still No link to Refurbished Systems

  1. Click on TYPE of customer you are.
  2. Click on Refurbished Systems

Sigh.  Why oh why do I have to tell you who I am?  Does this change my pricing?  Do you cookie my machine to invade my privacy?  This just plain feels wrong.  It's like you are hiding a store front.

Mistake the Second: A Popup

Now when I finally did arrive at the Dell Refurbished systems, my browser simply stopped responding for about 10 to 20 seconds.  I was clicking on links.  Nothing was happening and I honestly thought "&^*&^#(**$#)($# Windows 2000 and *$#*($*#)($# Internet Explorer – crashed again".  And then I realized … "I bet a blasted popup is coming.  Fire that web strategist please".  Here's what I got:


Now let's think about this for a second:

  • This popped up in a context of the Refurbished Systems Home Page.
  • At this point I haven't really shown any interest in buying a computer yet – it's the real world equivalent of strolling down the street and peeking, from afar, into a store window.
  • And then Dell, in a display of brilliant and amazing stupidity, sent a salesman outside the store to stand in front of me and take up my time while shoving a sign in my face.  That's not only a waste of my time, it's stupid and it's rude.
  • A much, much better approach would be to feature this information when I go to PRICE a system.  That's when it really matters.
  • Also, while I may not have noticed it closely, Dell has already shown me this information one time – before I came to the Refurbished Systems page.  Here's the text
QuickLease Details
For qualified applicants on new Dell systems. Apply Online Now!  

So not only have I already seen the text one time (at least partially) but Dell was rude and wasted my time, so:

Here's how to piss off a web customer:


NOTE: And if you think I am being silly with my comments about waiting 10 to 20 seconds being an issue, here's a quote from Dix's site:

Did you know…

most people will wait about 8 seconds for a page to load before leaving?

Thanks Dix!

NOTE: &*(&$#(*$#)($$# indicates a number of expletives all with 2^2 characters although sometimes a gerund ending of "ing" is applied. 

NOTE: There's two reasons for the delay in the popup coming down:

  • Dell either has an intentional delay while the popup comes down – which says to me "50 Lashes with a Cat O' Nine Tails for the Webmaster or web strategist responsible for this" (webmasters often know better but clue free marketing or web strategists don't – delaying me doesn't force me to read your home – it just PISSES me off)
  • It takes this long to send the page down due to network load and hardware.  A few words then: BUY SUN SERVERS.


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