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Monday
November 19, 2007 - 8:41 AM

Dell Catalogs

I try to practice "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" in that order. It's much more effective to reduce the number of catalogs I receive than recycle them. I have a tiny apartment complex mailbox, and catalogs fill it up quickly. I've signed up with the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service, which significantly reduced the junk mail I receive. But some persistent companies send me unwanted catalogs anyway. Whenever I receive a catalog, I call them up and ask to be removed from their mailing list. Most of the time it works. Dell just won't stop sending me their frequent catalogs.

I've been trying to get off Dell's mailing list ever since I moved into this apartment nearly two years ago. At my previous apartment I received their catalog, called them up to be removed, and it worked. However, when I moved to my current place, the catalog started again. After all, I had removed my name and address from their database. Now my name was at a new address. Sure, they knew it was the same person because they obtained the forwarding address, but that was enough of an excuse for them to start sending catalogs again.

So I called Dell and had my name and address removed. Some weeks later, the catalog reappeared in my mailbox, addressed to my landlord at my address. This time I went to their web site to be removed. Unfortunately I was forced to supply a name, so I entered the name on the catalog. Sure enough, a couple months later the catalogs returned, now addressed to a former roommate. I called them again, the catalog returned addressed to someone I've never heard of. I called again. I have in my hands the latest incarnation of their catalog, addressed to my girlfriend.

That's the same address with five different names. This can go on forever. I live in an apartment where many different people have lived over the past several years. There's a nearly limitless supply of addressees for Dell to choose from. To make matters worse, there's two different catalogs: home/home office, and business, with apparently separate catalog mailing lists.

So, I called Dell to explain the problem. Their customer service representative offered to remove the current name and address from Dell's mailing list. After I politely insisted for several minutes that this wasn't satisfactory, she concluded she should transfer me to their sales department, because they are responsible for marketing materials like their catalog. The salesperson I spoke with was equally willing to help, and equally unable to help. Rather than transfer me back to customer service, he transferred me to Dell Global Call Center Operations. Apparently, the person I spoke with at Global CCO wasn't prepared to handle customer calls and was even less helpful. She wanted to transfer me back to customer service. By this time I had spent 90 minutes on this call, and I refused to start over again. Finally, recalling some stories from Consumerist.com, I asked for executive customer service. The woman put me on hold, and several minutes later she transferred me back to the main customer service line.

I feel like I'm out of options. I'm sure that all the customer service people have basically the same computerized form available to them that I have available to me, one that requires a name. Whenever I've communicated with Dell I've been polite, patient, and absolutely clear about what I want. I want to remove my address (regardless of the name attached to it) from all Dell mailing lists. I'm not the only person frustrated with Dell's catalog. Just do a Google search for ways to remove yourself from Dell's catalog mailing list and you'll find plenty of sites with similar complaints, and no solutions. So, I'm posting my story here on my web site, and forwarding it to Consumerist.com. Hopefully their audience can offer some advice.