Was I fair?

I read with amusement some of the comments that people made with regards to the chat I had with the Dell Rep about acquiring a N-series machine. The chat is posted here.

Most of the comments were about how they DID NOT KNOW of this option being available which was the intent of my post, but there was a subset of comments that were clearly annoyed with their perception that I was “rude”, “an ass”, “a douchebag”, makes “us computer scientists look bad” and so on.

Perhaps I am guilty of all of the above and I would apologize to both the Dell Rep and those who voiced their objections.

I bought my very first laptop from Dell in 1996. Although it came with Windows 95, I think, I loaded up either Slackware or Yggdrasil. That machine is long gone – the LCD started peeling off and the motherboard went bad.  But the harddisk (I think it was a 500MB drive) survived and I’ve long since given it away. I then went through about 6 more Dell laptops (and oodles and oodles of Dell tower and pizza-box servers) and my current pride of place is reserved for a N-series Dell Vostro V-13 running Fedora 14. I am, indeed, a long time loyal customer of Dell’s.

With that in mind, and the nature of that engagement with Dell was about a committed customer who wanted to continue to recommend yet another Dell but with Linux on it. Having being frustrated in not finding the N-series offerings on Dell’s site, I entered the chat with an annoyed frame of mind.  No, it is not an excuse for any perceived bad behaviour, but I am a knowledgeable customer who knows about the N-series offering and getting riled about not finding it.

In any case, the intent of my post has been achieved.  Now people are better aware that they can, if they want to, acquire a piece of hardware from a reputable vendor but with their choice of software.  When you empower and engage with your customers, both you and your customer win.  Doing business is not a zero-sum game. I would encourage those reading this post to listen to Prof Michael Porter’s interview on BBC that aired earlier this week on the nature of shared value/value shared.

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