Price row sees schools abandon Dell

Price row sees schools abandon Dell

Dell has lost business in the lucrative education market

Several independent schools in Queensland have reportedly torn up purchasing orders with Dell after the direct vendor retracted its offer of government-approved PC pricing. One Acer reseller claims to have won back business as a result.

Dell was awarded a spot on the Queensland Department of Education, Training and the Arts desktop, notebook and server supplier panel (EDPSA103.1) last October. Other suppliers are Acer, HP and Coretech/Lenovo.

Under the arrangement, vendors also offer panel pricing to Queensland's private and independent schools. Following suit, Dell sent an introductory brochure, titled Learning Experience for Your Students, to these institutions advertising its product line-up.

However, the vendor's regional sales manager QLD/NT, Warren Verity, took back the offer in a letter weeks later. In it, he claimed the advertised pricing did not account for recent component price hikes or delivery and would be increased.

"We ... jumped the gun on the release of the pricing to the private and independent schools for those desktop and laptop computers listed on page 4 [of the brochure], as the prices listed did not include delivery nor recent manufacturing price increases which have impacted memory and LCD monitors," the letter read.

Queensland-based Acer reseller, BES, claims to have been given a new lease on life through Dell's price changes. Managing director, Alexa Bowen, said many private schools, including some of its incumbent customers, had been tempted to buy from Dell because it had offered the cheapest pricing.

One BES customer, who asked not to be named, has been an Acer/BES house for seven years but decided to take advantage of Dell's offer.

"The pricing, which was about $200 less than an equivalent box from Acer, was impossible to ignore," he said. "It was about $15,000-$20,000 difference."

After compiling a purchase order, the school was informed the price originally quoted didn't include the $99 delivery fee per unit or take into account increased RAM costs.

"They said they would honour the quote with delivery fee but I wasn't happy with it, so I said 'no thanks'," he said. "We got the letter two days later about the increase."

A Dell spokesperson said the company had apologised to customers for the mistake and inconvenience caused but would not comment further. "This is not the level of customer experience we aim to deliver," he said.

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