Robbed by a Dell Employee

So, I admit it. It was indeed inevitable. If you order enough things enough times from enough vendors, someone is eventually going to try to pull one over on you. So this past week, I (read as my wife) got robbed by an employee of Dell, in conjunction with probably at least one other person though I admit the accomplice part is pure conjecture, but seems reasonable.

We hired two new doctors at Bear Creek, which means I have to order my wife two new laptops. The field doctor gets the new Panasonic Toughbook for ruggedized outdoor work. I ordered that on 6/26 from Panasonic. The in-clinic doctor got a fancy new Dell XPS15 quad core business grade laptop without all the ruggedized features. Both were ordered the same day.

Bottom of the receipt. This is a $2,000 laptop someone has lost or stolen!

I’ve ordered custom Dells in the past so I’m familiar with the wait time that sometimes accompanies a high-end purchase. If you buy a Dell special those fly off the shelves as fast as they can get them out the door. Custom builds take longer. Sometimes they take two or three weeks to get here. So maybe you’d understand why on July 8th, I was only mildly curious as to the status of the order. I had been hoping it would arrive that week while my wife was away on vacation so I could have it all setup for the new doctor before she got back and had to stress over it.

I logged into my email, pulled up my Dell order number and managed to get logged into the ordering website. After finding my tracking number I clicked the UPS link to track the package.

Wait. What?

According to this, it was delivered on 6/30. That was a Friday and we had friends over. I proceed to call UPS and speak to a guy that tells me that absolutely it was delivered. It was delivered to my address he confirms.

“It was shipped with a signature required. Who signed for it?” I asked him.

“Someone named Jordan” he replied.

“Really?” I ask. “Because that’s the name on the box. Anyone that saw the box would know to sign that name. What was the actual SIGNATURE of the person that signed for it?”

“It just says Jordan.”

“Ok, can you send me that signature confirmation via email?”

“Sure thing,” he tells me. I’ll send it to you now.

Something seemed fishy in Denmark so I told him I’d get back in touch with UPS support later on when I had more information.

Begin Sleuthing

Beard and I were sitting here talking over possible scenarios when I remembered I have security cameras. Specifically I have one camera that watches the entire side of the property including the driveway. There’s no way to get to my house via vehicle without passing that camera’s field of view. We spend a few minutes going back and checking camera footage and sure enough there’s the UPS truck. Wait a minute. It’s 3:59 PM. The Dell delivery said it was delivered at 6:15 PM according to the guy from UPS. Hmm…

I checked my records and guess what else arrived that day? The Panasonic Toughbook arrived on a UPS truck that very same day. So I do a little more super-sleuthing, download some time-stamped video footage, and then call UPS back the next day and get an entirely different person. This conversation went TOTALLY differently.

So I tell her I had TWO packages from UPS that were supposedly delivered on June 30th. I give her both tracking numbers and wait for her to verify everything. After she does I asked her if it made sense that two different UPS trucks would go to the Salisbury pickup location get loaded with two separate packages for my house, and then deliver at two different times on the same day. She agrees that it doesn’t make any sense at all, especially considering the size of the packages.

I explain to her that I have footage of the truck arriving, ONE package coming off the truck, that package being signed for, and then me opening that package on the kitchen table. I also have that truck time-stamped at my house at 3:59 PM EST local time.  All of this is caught on camera and you can see without a doubt that I opened a Panasonic laptop. It looks nothing like a Dell. For one, Panasonic is the only manufacturer besides Getax that makes a laptop with a carrying handle. No Dell has a carrying handle (a fact I lament often.) I also explained to her that I downloaded the entire hour between 5:30 and 6:30 local time, which corresponds to when the guy from UPS I spoke to earlier told me it was delivered. There is no truck arriving any time the remainder of the afternoon. I offered to make the footage viewable to UPS via public link if necessary.

I also explain that I deal with UPS every day of the week. They basically are invited to dinner at this point. That’s how often they’re here at my home office.

I asked her to explain the tracking information to me, specifically the part where it says “Signature Required.” Notice there’s no signature information provided in the image below?

I explained to her it also says last destination was Salisbury, NC. If it was delivered and signed for I’d see a “proof of delivery” link I could click on to see who signed for it and what exact time it was delivered and signed for, etc. None of that information exists on this tracking manifest.

Let’s also examine some of the other things about this shipping progress.

This image below is a normal shipping label showing progress from the shipper to the receiver. This is actually the tracking info for the Panasonic laptop that actually arrived like it was supposed to on the same day.

It’s fairly mundane and easy to follow. Arrive. Depart. Arrive. Depart. Repeat until delivered to user. Notice how it says “Out for Delivery?” That’s the moment it was scanned and put onto the UPS truck. They know what truck it was on, what driver was operating the vehicle, and where the vehicle went on a GPS map.

Now, explore the tracking label from the Dell shipment in detail.

The package left Anchorage Alaska at 4:12 local time on a UPS plane bound for Kentucky. It arrived at it’s destination for offload to another plane at 2:27 AM. Somehow someone managed to call Dell with the tracking number and my name, and redirect the package at this time to a different location. I even know they number they called from – 610-566-5946. That’s a Pennsylvania area code. I don’t live in Pennsylvania.

I ask her to explain all this to me because the last guy I talked to swears up and down that it was delivered to my house. Well, if it was delivered to my house, the last thing you’d see on the scanner is “delivered.” That’s the last thing that appears on EVERY UPS label if it’s delivered to the customer. I asked him if it was delivered, how the hell did it have ANOTHER scan 2 minutes later at 6:17 PM. He tells me the driver just scanned it in the truck.

Dude, you’re missing my point. If I had already received the package and he’d scanned it as delivered at 6:15 PM as your label shows, there isn’t anything for him to possibly scan at 6:17 PM. He can’t physically scan something he doesn’t have in-hand. He tells me “Oh, I didn’t mean physically scan. He just entered information into the computer in his truck.”

Bullshit. That’s total bullshit and I know it, but OK.

I explained all this to the second lady and she agreed this is totally bogus. Since it was the weekend, she had to have the Salisbury UPS center call me on Monday morning to discuss it. Fair enough. OK.

Monday arrives

So today I get a call from Crystal at the Salisbury UPS office. I explained the entire scenario to her and she was the one that gave me the phone number of the person that called. She’d already called that number herself and a guy named Roy answered and said he had no idea what she was talking about.

Ok. My point is – I have a surgeon with no laptop. I’ve paid for a laptop. You had my laptop. I need another one. Let’s get that ball rolling. Crystal proceeds to tell me that I can’t get a refund through UPS because the shipper didn’t insure the package. While I agree that MIGHT be an issue to stand on, she had already confirmed that the machine was picked up in person, which I didn’t do. I asked if she had cameras in that facility. She confirmed she did but she couldn’t access the footage and UPS fraud prevention would have to be in touch.

When I asked about reimbursement, UPS said their policy up to refund up to $100 on the purchase.

I’m sorry, did you miss the part where I said $2,000 laptop?

After getting TOTALLY pissed off, I decided to sit back, think things through a little bit more and then figure out my next step while I wait on UPS fraud prevention to decide if they want to call me back or not.

What’s in a name?

So what about that signature? I called UPS four times and twice got someone to say they would forward the signature panel to me for verification. The last phone call finally worked. Take a look at this image below:

What’s wrong with this?

  1. UPS swore to me that it was delivered to my house. They have a signature saying so.
  2. Another UPS person swears it was picked up in the Salisbury office. One of you is lying and you can’t possibly think I’m stupid enough not to figure it out eventually.
  3. The address “S Dogwatch Trl” doesn’t exist. I know that for a fact. I’m the one that named the street! Its the only Dogwatch-anything in the entire state. I couldn’t have entered that address on a shipping manifest because Dell cross-references addresses and so does UPS so they would BOTH know that’s an invalid address.
  4. Funny thing – it says here the package was delivered to our address and left at residential. This HAS to be an intentional obfuscation by someone at UPS. You simply don’t make that kind of mistake. Either it was on a truck or it was picked up. Which is it? Pick one!
  5. What the hell is that signature? The’s the most obvious instance of “hope you buttheads can’t read this” I’ve ever seen!

The “Ah-ha” moment.

So, it should have hit me earlier, but I wasn’t thinking it through. I was more concerned with the fact that it happened then HOW it happened.

What are the two pieces of information required to change a package’s destination via UPS? To alter a package’s destination you have to be able to tell UPS two distinct things. First you need the name of the recipient that’s getting the package. Secondly you need the tracking number of the package you want to alter.

I go back through all the Dell emails to start tracking that information down. Guess what I found out?

  1.  Dell doesn’t email the tracking number to you. At all. You can only get it from the Dell website if you have the order number information. No one besides myself and Dell had access to that information.
  2. There is also no correlation on the dell website between the Dell Order ID, the Dell Order Number, and your personally identifiable information.

In other words nowhere in Dell’s communications do they put the words Amy Jordan and the tracking number on the same page. They don’t even put the tracking info in email at all. You have to login to Dell to pull the order number to then access the tracking number and then finally you are able to track the package.

Occam’s Razor

There are only TWO possible scenarios under which this could possibly have happened.

  1. My email was hacked by someone who decided the ONLY thing worth stealing with all my account access was one Dell computer. Forget for a moment that we have access to hundreds of client’s networks and systems and LOTS more interesting stuff to play with than that.
  2. A Dell employee with access to order records was able to get both the customer name and the tracking number, call UPS, and divert the package to a place they could either pick it up themselves or have someone pick it up for them.

Scenario 1 didn’t happen. Believe me. People have tried to hack my email for a long time. Thankfully we have an awesome email provider with incredible security and great access to records to see who’s accessed what. So that wasn’t it. Everything in or out of the network is held for seven years, whether we try to delete it or not. Our security is rock solid. And we don’t fall for exploits and spear-phishing crap.

The only place that had a copy of the tracking number was Dell’s internal computers, accessible by Dell employees. That’s the only logical person that could have gained access to the order. Ergo – someone at Dell, possibly with the help of a UPS employee now has a VERY nice laptop.

PS: I will find you.

Time to call Dell

I still have the problem of a great surgeon asking me “Hi, me again. Any idea when my laptop will be in?” To this I can only reply “Umm, someone stole it from UPS and they won’t cover the cost, so we might have to buy it again.” Just for the record, that’s not something I’m ever telling a customer. I’d rather burn down the house of the UPS manager with her inside it than I would ever let a customer think they just tossed away 2k on nothing. Not happening.

I prepared for hold-music-hell and called Dell. I got a representative within two or three minutes. To his credit, and this is where I believe Dell deserves a great round of applause, he didn’t bat an eye when I started the conversation with “Hi, this is Tommy Jordan. One of your employees stole my laptop and I need you to replace it. You want to hear the whole story?”

He listened to me tell the story, asked a few questions on how I came to my deductions, asked to put me on hold while he conferred with a supervisor, and within 3 minutes he was back and said something to the effect of “I understand it’s for a doctor and I can see that would be very inconvenient for them not to be able to work. I’ve gotten approval to replace your laptop. Unfortunately I can’t get approval to expedite shipping. Can you hold for another 2-3 minutes?” I sat there amazed, agreed to wait, and within 2 minutes he was back again saying he did finally manage to expedite the approval for increased shipping speed and I should have the new laptop complete with the same warranties I had on the other machine, and that it should be here by the end of the week.

So, I’d like to offer  major Kudos to Dell for their support, compassion, and incredibly fast customer service.

UPS, on the other hand, isn’t finished hearing from me. While Dell was kind enough to remedy the situation and clarify things on their end, I’m still pissed that UPS could drop the ball this badly. I probably order somewhere between 30-60K of equipment a year through UPS and pay for probably 200 deliveries and another 100 shipments a year. That’s a nice chunk of change I spend with them. The mere fact that their are either inept enough to not know whether the laptop was delivered or picked up, and after three days still can’t seem to find out how to start figuring it out, leaves me a little miffed.

And oh yeah, I fixed the lawnmower today…

How was your day?


7 thoughts on “Robbed by a Dell Employee

  1. The headline leaves Dell bruised and UPS in the clear! You should change it to say “Robbed by a Dell Employee but screwed by an unsympathetic UPS!

    • Well, while I agree UPS left me totally ticked off on this one, that’s mainly due to the lack of their ability to tell their butt from a hole in the ground.
      Dell corporate handled it great. No issues there with them as a company, except for the fact that something in their ordering chain left my purchase vulnerable to being stolen by an employee. Since Dell replaced it, I can’t legally argue that I’ve been robbed at this point. They covered it. They’ve been robbed, so I feel 100% certain I’ll never know the details from their internal investigation if they even choose to bother to have one. But at the end of the day, someone stole from me. That’s not cool and that won’t be easily forgotten and THAT rests with Dell as well.

  2. I can’t argue with that but you, as a business owner, know that sometimes bad people get hired no matter what you do. Sometimes they start out great but circumstances change and so do they. In an organization as big as Dell, a lot of potentially bad people are likely hired.

    Personally, the most I expect from companies is up front due diligence and “making it right” if something get messed up. Reading this story, sounds like Dell met that expectation and UPS fell short, reading the headline, I would have thought Dell was the bad guy.

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