Why is it so hard to buy a computer from Dell?

This week, on a whim, I decided to look at the Dell website to see what they offer. I'm looking at getting a new Mac laptop sometime soon-ish when the funds allow, but it's always good to keep an eye on what else is out there. 

After looking at the Dell site, I don't understand how they manage to sell anything.

I'm reasonably up-to-date with what is going on in the technology sphere but Dell's computers just mean nothing to me.

I was looking to get a home laptop so started at the obviously place on their site: I clicked on "home" at the top and then clicked on "laptops and 2-in-1 PCs".

That's the first problem. What the hell is a "2-in-1 PC"? Get rid of the clutter and just use terms that people know and what. I expect that 95% of customers are going to come to the site looking for a "desktop" or a "laptop". Any other terms ("2-in-1 PC", "All-in-1", "UltraBook™", etc) are just marketing and are there for the benefit of Dell or their suppliers. The web site should exist solely for customers. 

The list of laptops I'm then shown is pretty non-descript. I'm shown the Inspiron, XPS and Alienware lines, all with wishy-washy descriptions on what they are for. 

Stay connected with computing that’s easy and inspiring. With this versatile family of laptops, you can count on Inspiron to deliver exactly what you need.
— Dell Inspiron laptops

So, if the Inspiron can "deliver exactly what you need", what is the point of the other products?

I don't even know where to start! I'm given three different product lines, each having three different variants, and I don't even know what these products mean. Looking at the pictures, it looks like the different products could be described as "boring" (Inspiron), "pretty", (XPS), "ugly" (Alienware), but there must be more to it than that.

Then, I look at the Inspiron, and decide that maybe I want it with a 15" screen, that doesn't really narrow it down because I still need to choose from the 3000 series, 5000 series and 7000 series. 

So, at the top of the screen are a few drop-down menus that let me choose specs. I decide that I want a 15-inch screen. And I guess I want an Intel i5 or i7. I guess. I choose my options and am shown the search results: 14 computers that almost all look the same, priced between $599 and $2399. 

So if I look through these computers, what is the difference between them? 


Shown here are two of the 14 variations. They are both the same price and appear to have the same specs, but one of them has "Touch" (what does that even mean?). But then scroll down further and you'll see this: 


They are both the same final price but one has a larger discount. Where does this discount come from? Is it on clearance? Is it just a standard discount? Who knows!

So, along with a computer for every budget, they've also got a discount for every budget. Do I want an expensive computer with a small discount? Or a cheap computer with a bigger discount? Who knows!

This really is getting tiresome. 

So, then I click through to the computer that I have chosen by random that sort of matches the price that I want to pay. I'm then presented with more options.


Details of the processor and operating system with the handy "Help Me Choose" button. Clicking on the link pops up a window that tells me some useful information but doesn't actually let me choose anything. Those choices were all locked in when I chose the model at an earlier point in the process. 

I think I've written enough here abut Dell. Their whole sales process is a disaster but it obviously works for them because they are still in business and are one of the top 5 computer sellers worldwide. 

Part of the reason that Dell is still in business is that the sales process at every other major PC vendor is just as bad.

I looked at Lenovo and I needed to choose between "Professional", "Entertainment & Gaming" and "Student". I don't think I fit into any of those. 

I also looked at HP. Their web site seemed a bit better but it still gave me 73 different laptops to choose from. Did I want "Performance" or "Thin & Light"? I don't really know, but I really want more information to be able to decide. What about if I wanted "Performance and thin and light"? Not an option it seems. 

These companies have been selling PCs for years. A computer has become something that a lot of people own yet PC companies don't seem to have any idea how to sell PCs to normal people.