I've had good and bad experiences with Dell outlet. In some cases everything was flawless, while in others there were errors and problems. If what you receive is damaged or not exactly what you ordered, you can call and either return the item and have your money returned, or have an exchange sent to you along with a return slip. In both scenarios the process is free to you.
In my case I ordered a Mini 1012 from the outlet. what arrived had a broken hanging key, a filthy chassis, and a lid that was scratched to hell.
I called and they offered me the options listed above. I chose the exchange. they told me it would take up to 16 days to process the exchange, which was ridiculous since the 1012 is an off the shelf unit and they had literally hundreds with my configuration available online. I spoke to a manger and the exchange was expedited. I got the replacement 2 days later. here is where the surprises started. First the original order was for a 1012 with a 160gb HD. the replacement came with a 325GB HD (I've heard of Dell enhancing the specs on replacements in order to appease customers who have experienced problems. Nice surprise. However, when I opened the machine to upgrade the ram, I found that one of the main corner chassis screws was never installed, they forgot to put the Ram compartment door back in, and they never bolted the hard drive down. Getting them to send me the Ram door and the missing screws took a fair number of phone calls, getting passed form person to person and from department to department, ultimately talking to a department head, and some cursing and raised voices. you would think sending a customer 3 screws and a 5 cent door would be an easy thing, but trust me, it is not - at least not at dell. eventually the missing parts were sent and to their credit they sent extras of every screw I needed. The machine is now up to spec - though I have since upgraded the screen and will be upgrading the WLAN card and adding a bluetooth module in the next few days.
Despite the headaches, I am very pleased with the outlet 1012. The catch here is that I know enough to fix the deficiencies myself, so the large price savings where worth it even if the machine had some short comings (which it no longer does). If I would have had to rely on Dell to fix things, I don't know that I would have bought from the outlet.