Well, today was a good day us at the office, but a bad day for Dell. To summarize the story, I volunteered the efforts of Third & Wayne to help the Pitt County Boys and Girls Club get their computer systems worked on. They've been hamstrung with five and six year old computers for quite awhile and they have been looking for volunteers help to get their systems upgraded. I ran into the President of the organization at the Sam's Club ribbon cutting ceremony last month, one of the Chamber of Commerce events I try to attend when I can. I pulled him aside and told him that we've always wanted to help out with some organizations like this but quite frankly my company is too small to make a significant impact financially, but we would love to have the opportunity to donate time and labor if they needed it.
Last week I get a call that they can use our help; they've received a new grant for some computers and want to know how best to spend it on replacing and upgrading PCs, and they also wanted to meet to have us evaluate their computer networks and see what advice we could give and how we could help out with keeping these kids up to speed on their educational efforts. We spent a little time throwing around figures, trying to determine if we could get them a better deal than they were looking at elsewhere and were surprised to find that Dell had a pretty awesome deal on a 1.8GHz Intel dual-core desktop PC that would meet their needs. $399.00 isn't a bad price for a computer when the hardware is actually not bottom-line.
Assuming we couldn't beat Dell even if we tried, we encouraged them to purchase the Dells direct and then to call us to come set them up in the computer labs. Today, I get the bombshell dropped on me. When they called Dell, they were informed that they could only purchase five computers through this special. The IT director carefully explained that the PCBGC is a non-profit educational facility... these machines are used to educate children for God's sake. Surely they could honor the deal for a mere 30 computers? Nope. Numerous phone calls were made back and forth with Dell to try to get something worked out and a week goes by. Eventually they find out that the $399.00 computer would be over $500.00 shipped to their door. Rather than pay that and only be able to afford 30 computers, they called me back to see if we could help.
Now, don't believe for a second that I'm the most benevolent person in the world. Everyone in business has to make money somewhere, but I know very well that Dell is selling over 100,000 of these units this week alone. Surely they could spare 50 for an organization that donates its time and money to help the children of Pitt County have a better education??? Uh, no. I told them to give me a couple of days and let me see if I could beat up some manufacturer's and get some help from our side of the IT world. After spending a couple of days beating up Intel, Corsair, Seagate, and others, I am proud to say that our company (with the help of some others who shall remain nameless but indebted with my gratitude [Paige] managed to get the Boys and Girls Club 50 computers for less than Dell could get them 30! And we're getting better parts, better warranties, etc!
So, did I make a dime? No. Not one. But one of these days it'll come back... it always does. An evil deed never goes unpunished, but the inverse is also true: a good deed always gets rewarded in the end! So, sometime next week I'll be calling my local friends to see who wants to help us deliver fifty brand new computers to the Boys and Girls Club!!! Did we do it for charitable reasons? I hope so. I won't make anything monetarily from the deal, but being an active supporter of the community and helping where you can always seems to pan out in the end. Somewhere, someone will know we care about these kids and that will give us the foot in the door with another school, another organization, or another business who will help us grow like we are helping these kids. Wish me luck!
PS: And answer your phone, you local folks, when I call to get you to help me unpackage and deliver all these new computers!