28
Feb
13

Should I Buy A Dell?

The short answer is no. No way. Sure, there will be those of you that say, “Oh, but I’ve never had a problem with them,” but you are few and far between. And as for the rest of us that have had problems, we’ve likely had enough that we could give some to you and still have plenty of our own.

The long answer is found below.

This documents my last four and a half years dealing with Dell, and why I will never ever ever ever ever buy another Dell product. And if you don’t believe me, or think what I have to say is of no merit, or need more evidence, here ya go:

http://www.thisistrue.com/dellhell.html

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/computers/dell_svc.html

http://www.ihatedell.net/forum/phpBB3/index.php

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/your-money/running-in-circles-for-a-dell-refund-the-haggler.html

http://dell.pissedconsumer.com/

and on and on and on – just do a search (although, if you own a Dell, you might not be able to since your computer probably isn’t properly functioning). It’s true that there may be problems with hp, mac, or any computer company. However, when I tell my story to people that have non-Dell computers, they do not have similar stories. Even if I have problems with my next computer, at least I’ll be off the Dell treadmill.

I probably should have started recording everything when I purchased the computer, though I had no idea what the future held. After the 3rd or 4th problem, I began keeping all of the “chat session” logs and a record of everything. However, I wasn’t backing everything up as much as I should (which is about every 1.5 seconds with a Dell), and much of it is gone. Thus, I’ve had to piece a lot of things together, but I do still have records to prove that these things occurred. In short, I paid 3000 bux for a hunk of junk, and I can’t do a f’ing thing about it. I promise I was always nice to whomever was on the receiving end at customer service the first few times, though that ended when I was told I couldn’t use my warranty in Australia. At that point, I lost it; but eventually I could use the warranty again. Additionally, I always asked a lot of questions because I wanted to know why the computer was screwing up all the time, if it was something that I was responsible for. It’s so frustrating regardless of whether it was the person’s fault on the other end or not. Additionally, my computer was physically damaged from being taken apart and put back together so many times.

 I have pieced this “saga” together using my account “history” on the Dell website, and most of the problems are recorded there, though some have been “archived.” It says those records can be made available upon request. When I requested them, I was told that they are gone and cannot be retrieved. I suggested that perhaps they should review the definition of “archive.” I know the problems that the computer has had throughout the years, but I may confuse some of the earlier dates since I cannot access the archives. Also, sometimes in the product history, the details are not given, so again, I can’t be as thorough as I would like. The first few problems that occurred were with the video card and/or hard drive, then just the motherboard and/or power supply, then the power supply and/or motherboard and/or hard drive. After the first few incidents, I very politely asked Dell if I could return this model (I read many things online about the particular model being faulty) for one of equal or lesser value. They told me no. And here we are. Perhaps this could have been solved from the beginning.

 Twice I have reported Dell to the BBB, which has been completely and utterly useless. Also, they have an A+ rating there, which is absolutely ludicrous. I’ve also made complaints with California Consumer Affairs and I believe this is the only reason I got my computer serviced “one last time.”

Many of the problems/complaints that I see on message boards/blogs/websites have to do with customer service. Anything from just trying to get through to someone to losing computers sent to the “depot.” There are definitely some of those issues in here, but this primarily highlights the faultiness of an expensive product (three grand is a lot for a grad student – which I was at the time, and any money is a lot for a mostly unemployed person, which I am now), and how no one is willing to admit they made a mistake. Instead, they acted as though it was my fault, accused me of lying, or acted as though they were bending over backwards for me, when in reality they are barely lifting a finger. It’s a good example of a big corporation against a not so big individual – where my recourse is almost nil.

I purchased an extended warranty with Dell when I purchased the computer, which may have been the smartest thing I’ve ever done in my life. As the date approached when that warranty would expire, I grew very anxious. I knew that the laptop would continue to have the same problems it always had. I should also mention that I had previously owned a Dell Inspiron laptop, and didn’t have many problems with it. One day it died, but it was quite old and well-used, so it was expected. As it had lasted so long without problem, I decide to purchase another Dell. This may have been the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

 17 June 2008

 Ordered Dell XPS M1330 for ~3000$.

 

21 June 2008

 Laptop arrives.

 

10 September 2008

Yes, my first problem occurred less than three months after purchase.  I think this was a problem with the video card. The M1330 came with an NVIDIA GPU, which didn’t work well with the motherboard in certain models. Eventually, this was settled in a class action lawsuit against NVIDIA.

Apparently many people had the problem, and according to this:

“From what we’ve been told the revised stock of motherboards / video cards that are being used to resolve the issue were manufactured using a different process and don’t suffer from the same fault.”

 Perhaps not, but they surely suffer from some fault. He goes on to say that once it’s out of warranty, it’s out of warranty, even though Dell sold a faulty product. But supposedly that was NVIDIAs doing, hence the lawsuit. However, as mentioned above, there is obviously some sort of problem that remains. I don’t remember how this problem was resolved, though I don’t think I received a new motherboard at this time.

 

6-8 December 2008

At this point, I was living in Australia. The computer began to have problems, so I contacted customer service. They told me I would need to contact customer service in Australia, but that my warranty would not cover any of the problems, because I was no longer living in the US (even though my move was temporary). There were several back and forths, which sadly are now gone, and finally Dell agreed that I would be covered. I dealt with Australian Dell customer service, who were always very helpful, very nice and very quick to send someone out. So, that’s what happened. A contractor came out to my apartment and put in a new motherboard. All was well, moving forward.

 

4-21 April 2009

Again, I’ve lost these transcripts, but believe this was drawn out because I first contacted tech support via chat and ran diagnostic tests with them. The internet in WA dropped a lot, so it took several tries just to stay connected. I began having problems with my power supply. Working with Dell service techs online, we ran tests, they did some updating, and that should have been that. However, a few days later the problem with the power supply and computer not turning on or the screen remaining blank continued. So, they sent out another person to put in another motherboard. This was my second motherboard. The computer was not yet a year old. I began searching around online and saw the thing about NVIDIA GPU and the M1330, and since I felt that this would be a recurring problem, I asked if it would be possible to exchange this computer for one of equal or lesser value – as maybe the individual product itself (not necessarily the model) was bad. I was told that was not possible.

 

15-18 September 2009

Now I’d moved back to California, and the computer began to have problems again.  This time it was the hard drive. I was sent a hard drive subassembly package, and a contractor came to the house and installed it. As an aside, I suppose Dell hires contractors because it is cheaper for them, and they don’t have to pay benefits or things like that, which seems to be another crappy thing about them as a company. All of the contractors were always very nice and polite and knew what they were doing. Once again, I tried to get Dell to exchange my computer for one of equal or lesser value. I mean, it wasn’t even a year since the purchase date and I’d had 2 new motherboards and a new hard drive.

 

16-19 October 2009

I’m not sure what happened this time, and there is no evidence of any parts being sent out. So, it was apparently something that was able to be resolved with tech support over the phone.

 

30 May 2010

Surprise! I need a new motherboard – AGAIN! I was pretty fed up at this point. I mean, as a customer service or tech person, does it not come as a bit of a surprise that there have been three motherboards, a HD, and various other issues in less than two years since purchase? No one mentions it…as if it’s normal and I should just expect it and accept it. According to other customers, this unfortunately seems to be the case. I suppose I should have reported it as the same problem over and over, as an outstanding issue, but after three months it is considered a new issue even if it is the same old issue.

 

2, 7 June 2010

Apparently another problem, probably with the newly installed parts, that was able to be resolved over the phone. Twice.

 

3 April 2011

Well, I almost made it an entire year without a problem. That would be a first. However, this time it may not be Dell’s fault. But it may be. Somehow, according to the tech, my operating system was corrupted. The tech support person had me run tests that I already ran and then I re-installed the operating system. I wasn’t able to use the internet at the time as the computer had not been able to connect, so I am unsure as to how the OS became corrupted.

 

27 December 2011- 2 January 2012

And here we are again. A similar problem as before with the AC adapter. Tech support thought that they could solve the problem by updating BIOS. It appeared to do the trick, but the computer malfunctioned again a few days later. And so, I got another new motherboard and another new AC adapter. This is my fourth motherboard, and my third AC adapter. I was nearing my wit’s end, especially because the computer wasn’t paid off (and sadly still isn’t). It’s one thing to hardly have any money and pay for something that actually works, but it’s a totally different story when you pay for something that doesn’t work and hasn’t really ever worked. I began to worry because I knew that my warranty would be running out soon. I also knew that I didn’t have much money, but that I need a computer to do things like look for a job and do crappy contract work. I tried to get a warranty extension, but was told that I can only do so if I pay 268$. They wanted me to pay on top of what I’ve already paid, for an extended warranty, and a piece of shit computer. I tried to make a formal customer complaint and quickly realized that is nearly impossible. Additionally, because the Australian history of problems doesn’t show up to the American customer service, I was accused of lying about how much shit I’ve had done to my computer, which was a bit infuriating. When I attempted to explain all of the problems, the customer service rep said that he “can see no record of those problems,” and I explained that it was in Australia and he could access those records. He just said that there was no record. So I blatantly asked if he thought I was lying to which he did not reply and just repeated warranty extension info. I was told I could “escalate” the matter. I did escalate the matter, and was told over the phone that it would be covered if it was the same problem. I asked if I could get that in writing, but was told it would go into the history online. It never appeared. Additionally, in the history it says that to get more info about the cases or archived cases to contact tech support. When I requested the archived info, I was told that it was not possible to retrieve it.

 

21 June 2012

My 4 year limited warranty expired.

 

22, 23 July 2012

I’m time travelling. Not really, but my computer clock would move forward a few hours, then back again. The computer also tells me that it is a different date than it is, and sometimes that also moves forwards and backwards. I looked into this and it appears to be a CMOS issue and an issue with the motherboard (SHOCKER!), or maybe not, as one customer got his replaced and it did the same thing two weeks later.

So, I tried to go on chat, but once out of warranty you cannot go on chat. You can only call to extend your warranty. You can’t even email tech support! So, because it appeared that my problems with my computer were all related, I went the “unresolved issues” route. I was told that it was not an unresolved issue because it had been more than three months since the last screw up, but then it was escalated. The person wanted to speak to me over the phone, but I was not willing to do that because I need records of everything. I’ve learned that lesson. It’s a back and forth of emails and but I refused to be contacted over the phone. I was finally told that they will make an exception for me and allow me to send my computer to the “depot.” In the meantime I’d filed complaints with the BBB and California Dept of Consumer affairs. The
BBB is pretty much useless. I don’t know the outcome of CA Dept of Consumer Affairs, but I know they have really good laws regarding cars and that soon after my complaint I was offered the “amazing” deal by Dell to fix their shitty product one last time. It may seem like I was being a pain in the ass, but I wasn’t  I’m the type of person that if brought the wrong thing at a restaurant, as long as it isn’t completely disgusting, I’ll still eat it and still tip. Basically, for me to go to so much trouble, something really has to be messed up. I don’t want to talk over the phone because I don’t have a recording device, and having all of this in writing is valuable. I wanted to know what the problem is with my computer instead of just sending it off. I’m curious. In the past, I haven’t had to send it off, but they would check remotely and then send a part/contractor. That would be so much easier for me, especially because I was doing contract work that required the use of a computer, and I hadn’t had much of a job for nearly three years, so being computerless for one or two weeks was going to be difficult. It was never explained to me why this couldn’t happen, why I had to send it off. Additionally, the logic is flawed – Dell said that they’ll deal with it because it’s a continuing issue, even though it is past three months since the last issue, but then I’m told it might be “something else.” Well, if so, then it isn’t a continuing issue and I was worried that they would keep the computer and tell me, “Oh, it was something else, so if you want your computer back, pay this much money,” or that even if it wasn’t something else they’d tell me that it was.

I mean, at this point, it’s obvious that they sold me a lemon of a computer that was messed up from day one and they should have done something about it then. It’s difficult to know what I wanted from them at this point. Yes, I wanted the current problem solved, but I also didn’t want it to mess up again in two months. How do I know whether it is because the computer is aging or it was just crappy to begin with? I don’t want my money back; I mean, it would be nice, but it’s been so long that it seems silly now, though maybe a quarter of it or something…I mean, I’ve paid for parts over and over again that don’t work . An unlimited warranty for certain parts, like the motherboard and AC adapter? I guess that is somewhat reasonable. A time machine would be best so I could go back in time and buy a non-Dell.

 Anyway, I sent it to the depot.

 

28 Feb 2013

I received the computer from the depot a few weeks later. Just the computer. A note was enclosed that a hard drive would arrive at a later date. Why it was like this was unclear, but eventually a “new” hard drive arrived. I was never told what the problem with the computer was exactly. Just that they would never ever fix it again unless I paid.

About two weeks ago my computer wouldn’t start when I turned it on. It would just hang on the “starting windows” screen. I tried to restart from a point when it worked previously, but received errors that this could not happen because my HD was corrupted. And I searched around and ran some tests and a windows repair boot disc and found that my HD has 2 blocks that are screwed. Because I don’t know if they sent me a refurbished HD or a new one or dropped it or whatever, I have no idea why it is screwed up, but I know that they won’t fix it. I immediately backed everything up and now F8 it every day to get it going. I’ve been doing this for almost 2 weeks – backing up things every day – just waiting for it to die completely. I REALLY wanted to get it all paid off before it dies completely…just 200$ bux left. A race against time.

And in case you haven’t dealt with Dell customer service before, below are some examples. Now imagine about 20 of these interactions with every problem that I experienced above. If that still doesn’t help you imagine what it was like, find a wall and repeatedly strike it with your head/face.

Dear Dell Customer,

Thank you for contacting Dell Technical Support.

My name is _____________ and I would be glad to help you with your Dell XPS M1330 system (Service Tag: _______) with Windows Vista Home Premium operating system installed on it.

I have reviewed your e-mail and I understand that you are facing issues with the motherboard however, the system warranty has expired

I sincerely apologize for all the inconvenience caused to you. Please be assured I will personally look into the matter and will do my best to resolve it to the best of your satisfaction.

 

Dear customer, I reviewed the previous case note and found that you have contacted us for an issue with the AC adapter and in order to fix that issue, the motherboard and the AC adapter were replaced with in warranty for you.

Therefore, since the required parts were replaced within the warranty regarding the AC adapter and motherboard issue and  the warranty on your system has expired on 2012-06-21. I will need to direct you to one of the several options available as my tools would not allow me to process any dispatches in case any part needs to be replaced.

There are free online resources available to assist you at www.support.dell.com, including the One Stop Troubleshooting Tool and Drivers and Downloads.

 We also have fee-based phone support available from Dell’s Expired Warranty Support team.  You can get in touch with them at 1-800-624-9896, please use your express service code when prompted. This will route you to the correct support team and will avoid the need to be transferred and further delays in service.

We value your patronage and wish to continue serving you in the best possible way.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you.

The Service Request number for this interaction is ____________.

The case has been documented and the contents of this case are available to all Dell Support representatives. If you need additional assistance with this issue and you utilize our phone or chat support channels, please provide them with this Service Request number. For additional assistance via e-mail, simply reply to this e-mail.

Please feel free to ask me for any clarification or further information.

We value your time and response. For any further assistance, please feel free to visit our Online Technical Support Center at: http://support.dell.com or call our 24×7 Technical Support Center at 1-800-624-9896.

Thank you for choosing Dell. 

Regards,

Dell Technical Support

Timings: 7:00 AM to 04:00 PM CST

Weekly Offs: Saturday and Sunday

 When responding to me, please use the *REPLY* function of your e-mail program. This will ensure that the subject line does not change. Otherwise, your message may be delayed or lost. If I am not available, one of my colleagues will reply in order to ensure a timely resolution.

DISCLAIMER

The information in this document has been reviewed and is believed to be accurate. However, neither Dell nor its affiliates assume any responsibility for inaccuracies, errors, or omissions that may be contained herein. In no event will Dell or its affiliates be liable for direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages resulting from any defect or omission in this document, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

Dell reserves the right to make improvements or changes to this document and the products and services described at any time, without notice or obligation. This information applies to the continental United States and Canada only, unless specifically stated otherwise.

 

I understand how difficult this must be for you, I would do my best to resolve the problem that you are experiencing.

 

I understand that you’re frustrated and I apologies for the inconvenience caused.

I tried to find out where I could send a complaint letter and was told that there was no address to send it to. I asked again and ended up “talking” to a manager. And this was when they told me that I was lying because the Australia info doesn’t show up for them:

Sarah, I see here that the system was purchased on 06/21/2008, and since then we have replaced only the motherboard and hard drive once and this will be the 3rd replacement

Me: In Australia I had a new motherboard and a new AC adapter and I’ve had a new video card.

Sarah, I am having the information with me.

Me: So, are you saying that I’m lying?

It is not possible for us to extend the warranty for you. Okay, Sarah I have checked the case history. I see only two dispatches created for your system in the last 4 years. One was in 2009 and the other in 2010.

Me: So what exactly are you saying? Even if I was lying, that three new motherboards are ok? Like you think that is normal? Because it isn’t.

Sarah I can understand issues with computers can be troublesome. However they are electronic components and can go bad hence we have warranties on systems.

Me: That doesn’t make any sense. I know people with computers for 4-5 years, never have to get anything replaced. Of course, they weren’t made by Dell. Plus, the warranty wasn’t free. It was extra to begin with. So, it’s like you’re saying you know the machines will mess up, but you allow people to buy them without warranty. That seems like pretty lucrative business practice.

In summary, I bought a really expensive computer five years ago that had its first problem after only a few months and never went an entire year without needing some new part.

No, I don’t recommend buying a Dell.

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