I ordered an advertised Black Friday (11/23/12) special for an Inspiron 14z Ultrabook for $299.99 (retail 599.99). I ordered it exactly at midnight EST and it took about 30 minutes to check out. I realize the Dell website was slammed and they must have sold a lot of these laptops, but what transpired afterwards was fraud.
Apparently 4 days later, on Monday (11/26/2012), Dell finally realized that they did not have enough laptops to fulfill all their orders (it really takes 4 days to do basic subtraction?). It seems like Dell really wanted everyone to stop shopping for laptops during the Black Friday weekend, so they wait until Monday to tell everyone that they are cancelling their orders for the 14z.
So Dell cancelled my order for the Inspiron 14z (although they still sold them on their website) due to being "oversold". Dell then proceeded to create a new order under my account for an inferior 15-inch Inspiron 15 (larger, heavier, older USB ports, not the same included software, didn't have the HD graphics--basically a budget 15-inch laptop I could buy some place else for $200).
They did not ask me if I wanted the Inspiron 15, nor did they ask permission to use my credit card to purchase one. They just stated they were creating an order for me for that laptop since they had oversold the 14z (even though they were still for sale on their website for next day delivery) and that the only way I could stop them from using my card fraudulently to pay for the Inspiron 15 (an inferior laptop that I did NOT order) was to call them. Well, they conveniently sent me the email that they ordered that other laptop for me about 30 minutes before their customer service department closes. I called and was on hold for 30 minutes; when a representative finally answered, he told me that they were closed and could not cancel my order and to try again the next day. So the next day, I was on hold for an hour and transferred once until I could finally get the 2nd order (the one that Dell created for me without my permission) cancelled.
Essentially, it is bait-and-switch. They make you think you made an order for the Inspiron 14z, but then they cancel that order and try to send you a completely differently laptop. If they would have just told me on Friday or Saturday it was sold out and cancelled my order, I would have been a little annoyed but I would have understood. Instead, Dell seems to have purposely oversold the 14z just so they could try to offload a poor-selling 15-inch laptop onto customers. Then, they made it incredibly hard to cancel the 15-inch that I didn't even order!
And quite honestly, it is credit card fraud too. I do not know how Dell is allowed to create orders for customers without the customer's consent and to use the customer's credit card to pay for it.
Now, Dell states they reserve the right to substitute an item with an equivalent item in cases where the item has been discontinued or become unavailable. That would be OK maybe if:
(1) they were truly out of 14z's (they weren't) and
(2) they honestly tried to offer an "equivalent" item--not an older, bulkier, cheaper, inferior item. The two items weren't even in the same class.
I have since purchased a 14-inch Asus ultrabook. Let this be a warning though, Dell has proven to use very shady business practices. I can't believe how quickly they create orders for you and how hard they make it to cancel the orders that you didn't even place.