Tag Archives: dell

The Thrilling Conclusion of Goerzen vs. Dell: Sweet, Sweet Victory

When United Airlines recently broke some expensive guitars but refused to pay for their negligence, the owner of the guitars made a Youtube video. United corporate HQ noticed, and were so embarrassed that they fixed things.

I’ve had some trouble with Dell breaking the law, and their corporate HQ noticed, were embarrassed, but didn’t bother fixing things.

However, I have discovered something that Dell does care about: FEDERAL PROSECUTORS.

I Hate Junk Mail

Before continuing, I need to answer a FAQ: why I hate junk mail. It’s bad for the environment, takes time to process, and fills up my recycling bins. We only get our recycling picked up once a month (we’re lucky to get that where we live), and I hate filling them up with catalogs for things I’ll never use. Also junk mail has a way of multiplying like rabbits. Get on one list, and pretty soon you’re on dozens.

Normally when I get junk mail, I’ll find the website or call the company that sent it to me and ask to be removed. And then they will stop sending me junk mail.

That approach has worked with every single company that I’ve tried it on. With one exception: Dell. Even though ignoring my requests puts them in violation of their own privacy policy.

The Story So Far

It’s been a little while since I’ve written about this, so here’s the condensed version. Click the links for more details.

Back in early 2007 — yes, more than 2 years ago — I had a lapse of judgement and tried to get a Dell monitor serviced under warranty. After a frustrating evening of trying to explain to them that I have a Dell monitor but not a Dell PC, they finally agreed to fix it. And put me on their “flamingo pink Inspiron catalog” mailing list.

I went to their website trying to get off the list. They have many different list removal forms, and I tried them all. I called them. I even got a comment from Debbie at Dell HQ in Texas, offering to try to help. Despite repeated attempts, she didn’t (or couldn’t).

So, in December of 2007, I decided to let Jacob rip apart my junk mail (with associated cute photos).

By August 2008, I still wasn’t off their list. I tried everything, and Dell customer service replied to my request to be REMOVED from their snail mail list by saying they would ADD me to their email list. Lovely.

So I finally obtained a prohibitory order (see scanned copy on that link) in July 2008, which enforces federal law (39 USC 3008) prohibiting Dell from mailing me any more of those catalogs. From August 25, 2008 on, it was a federal offense for Dell to send me any more catalogs.

Guess how successful that was. By September 2008, they were back at their old tricks, sending me catalogs.

The New Bits

So — I sent in a couple these catalogs to the USPS as evidence of violation. By February, I received this letter, which made me Very Happy:


(see also larger version)

Yes, that’s right. The United States Postal Service went to court to obtain a court order against Dell, prohibiting them from sending me more catalogs.

And — it was successful! It’s been several months since I’ve received any more catalogs from Dell.

It took two years (it wouldn’t have had to, but I didn’t push things along very fast from my end, giving them lots of time to comply each step of the way), but I am finally free of Dell mailings.

I suspect some federal attorneys in some remote office somewhere owe their jobs to Dell’s noncompliance of postal and privacy regulations.

Now if only I can get Rep. Tiahrt to stop sending me junk mail… He keeps sending me literature, and I don’t even live in his district.

From Dell, a Uniquely Terrible Experience

Ah, Dell. Seeming inventors of the tech support pit of bureaucratic indifferences, inventors of the flamingo pink Inspiron, perpetrators of fraud in New York…

I have, for over a year now, been on a crusade trying to get them to stop sending me their Dell Home and Home Office catalog to my mailbox. It has been a bundle of fun, let me tell you.

They have a nice-sounding privacy policy. It says you can opt out of all their mailings by filling out a form online. Yeah, good luck with that. First of all, there are different forms for different departments at Dell. I’ve filled out them all, multiple times. They do nothing whatsoever. Perhaps they use them as lists of known-good addresses to send new advertisements to, rather than lists of people to remove. Oh well.

Now, unfortunately I feel compelled to bore you with the saga so far, involving telephone hang-ups, broken privacy policies, and the like. But there is a silver lining at the end, in which I submitted a request to the postal service asking them to block Dell from sending me any more mail, and it appears that they are very likely to violate Federal Law any day now.

I have called them about it. Dealt with the old “let me transfer you to the correct department” then hang up on me ploy. Spoken to people that have promised up and down that I’ll be off their list in 30-60 days. It’s always 30-60 days, isn’t it? Very convenient that I can’t tell for 2 months whether or not they’ve processed my request.

I’ve tried their online chat. One of my attempts went like this:

Session Started with Agent (Sneha Ranga)

Agent (Sneha Ranga): “Due to circumstances that have affected Dell Communications I am temporarily unable to pull up any information. The down time is temporary. We apologize for the inconvenience, as we value your time as a customer. Please contact us back after an hour.”

Session Ended

Ah Dell, only you could reach such a pinnacle of customer service. /kicking someone out of a chat room before they have a chance to say a word.

Finally, last fall, I blogged about the situation (that’s the link above). Debbie from Dell read the post and emailed me. Great, I thought. She asked for my address information and catalog information and sent me a removal confirmation:

From: Debbie@Dell.com
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2007 13:08:18 -0500
To: jgoerzen@complete.org
Subject: RE: Dell mailing list

Thank you, Mr. Goerzen, your request to have the below address
information removed from our marketing lists has been received:

[ my address here ]

We will process your request promptly. However, it may take several
weeks for some changes to take effect. If you are still receiving
catalogs after thirty (30) days feel free to email me. Sorry for any
inconvenience you may have experienced.

Thank you,

So that was October. In December, I replied to that message, saying: “I received another mailing today, and it’s been nearly 2 months since your initial message. If there’s anything further you can do, I’d appreciate it.” Debbie said, “I am very sorry Mr. Goerzen, I will resubmit your request.” Guess how successful that was.

So in February, I manage to figure out a way to send in a support ticket without having a Dell system serial number. I wrote:

I keep getting your Dell Home and Home Office catalog. I have tried for months to get off your mailing list. I have called in, talked to people in multiple departments, who have promised to remove me from the list. I have contacted you online. NOTHING IS HELPING. This has gone on for MONTHS.


My address is above.

The code on the mailing I received is: [ snipped ]

The form letter I got back said:

If you are currently receiving our catalog or mailings and would like to be removed, please visit the following web page and select the appropriate link under the “Opt-out of direct mail, phone or fax communications” heading: http://www.dell.com/OptOut

I replied, saying that form didn’t work. Guess what I got back?

Thank you for signing up for Dell Email Subscriptions. Please save this email for your records.

Yes, that’s right. Asking them to take me off their postal mailing lists got them to PUT ME ON their email lists. ARGH.

So they eventually manage to correctly take me off the email list, and of course promise to do the same with the postal list. This back in February.

I contacted them again in March and July, only to have a similar stupidity-laced run-in with clueless form-answer-laden Dell support reps. Each one claimed to have now, finally, and permanently removed me from the list. It never happened, and none of them lifted a finger to find out way, and no amount of begging could make them.

So, here’s the good part.

Junkbusters has spent years educating people on how to get rid of unwanted mail, and documents getting a prohibitory order against the sender. It was originally designed for people that didn’t want to receive obscene advertising mailings, but thanks to the happy fact that one non-adult-mailer challenged a prohibitory order all the way to the Supreme Court, you can now get prohibitory order against anyone. Yes, even Dell. (The supreme court’s ruling even gave an example: you can prohibit a clothing catalog if you want.)

And last month, that’s exactly what I did. The USPS sent me back a copy of the letter they sent to Dell, as well as a second page with instructions on reporting violations. Here’s the letter they sent to Dell:


Somehow I get a chuckle over some Dell mail clerk trying to figure out how an 11-pound laptop is sexually provocative.

From August 25 on, it is a federal offense for Dell to send me another Home and Home Office catalog. This is a branch of criminal law, not civil law. That is, it’s the maybe-go-to-jail branch of law.

How disappointed I was to receive yet another catalog from them today. If only they had waited 5 more days, I could have turned them in now.

Oh well. There’s always next month’s catalog. Let’s just hope the clerk that received the USPS letter removed my name with a better system than everyone else at Dell uses, eh?