Dell Hell

I used to be a loyal Dell owner and an enthusiastic cheerleader for their products. They used to make great machines and they backed them up with top-notch customer support.

Those days are gone.

About two months ago, I bought a XPS M1330 laptop because its light, its fast, it was well-reviewed  and it’s a Dell, which I associated with quality. I took it out of the box and before the day was over, the stickers on the back — which say "XPS" — had peeled off. I called Dell and asked for new stickers. But rather than sending me stickers, they sent a service man to my house who had to replace the entire back panel of my machine. Two days later, the stickers fell off again. I should have seen that as a warning sign.

A week or two later, and a day before going to Europe, I turned on my machine and couldn’t access the operating system. I spent three hours on the phone with their support people…but they couldn’t solve the problem nor could they tell me the cause. They only had one solution: reformat the hard-drive and re-load all my software. It took me an entire day to do it and it was a nightmare. 

On the airplane to Germany, the computer crashed (a blue screen "physical memory dump") and rebooted. And every day after that, at some point, the computer would crash and reboot again. I called Dell, spent more hours on the phone, and they couldn’t find a solution. Their best guess was that it was a problem with my Norton 360 software. I called Norton and they said it was clearly a hardware problem.

So,  I lived with it, backing up constantly. This weekend, within hours of arriving in New York on another business trip, my XPS crashed again.  Only this time, I couldn’t access the operating system. I called Dell and after another two hours on the phone, the baffled and frustrated support guy sought advice from a senior supervisor who told him  that this was a common problem
with XPS M1330 motherboards made on the same date as mine. SO WHY THE HELL DON’T
  WHY IS IT SOME BIG FRIGGIN’ SECRET? They could have saved me and
their employees hours and hours on the phone just by sharing this information with all their support people.

Those were lost hours that I didn’t spend with my family or working on my books. It was time flushed down the toilet for no reason except Dell’s ineptitude and disorganization.

I was furious. It was at that moment that they lost me, a loyal customer for ten years, someone who has bought four desktops and six laptops from them (for myself and my family).

I demanded that they replace my computer. They said they couldn’t do that, but that they would send a tech to my house to replace the motherboard and hard-drive on the one that I have …and the back panel with the missing stickers.

The tech came over today and spent a few hours installing my new motherboard and hard-drive…but they gave him the wrong back panel, so he has to come back tomorrow. So that’s two days I have to sit around the house waiting for the tech and being here while he works. More lost time. More lost productivity. All because Dell doesn’t know how to make computers or support their products any more.

I won’t be spending another moment in Dell Hell.

27 thoughts on “Dell Hell”

  1. I’m in a similar situation. My Dell laptop is a couple of years old and there’s a crack in the motherboard, which means it doesn’t turn on reliably. Yes, it’s beyond warranty, but seeing as some googling shows it’s a known issue and base design flaw, a motherboard replacement doesn’t seem unreasonable.
    I’ve been a Dell customer over 10 years, buying 4 desktops and 2 laptops from them for me and my family. My Dell desktop is over 5 years old and showing its age. I upgraded this past weekend to a Mac, even though it’s easily 30-40% more expensive than a comparable PC.

  2. Glad you’re moving away from Dell. I never liked their products. Like I said, HP or Toshiba or Sony is the way to go. Just to save you from aggravation, try to stay clear from Acer, Gateway, Compaq or those laptops that are regularly between $400 and $500. Even a Mac would be better.

  3. I recently made the jump to Macbook Pro with Leopard, and couldn’t be happier. As the ads say (or used to say) “It Just Works”. The only problems I’ve had were ones I caused myself, poking around in system files where I didn’t belong and causing a crash.
    As Bryan says above, it’s a bit more expensive, but taking into account the time NOT spent messing with re-installs, being more productive, spending no time at all on the phone with technical support (I called once, had to wait a whole 90 seconds). Add in Office for Mac, and a slick program called Storyist, and I’m extremely happy with it.

  4. Just speaking for myself, I have used Dell desktops for years and have never had a problem. I have never had a Dell laptop, though, and it sounds like I may need to avoid them.

  5. Dell-Hell. Been there. I have a Dell laptop, only three years old, and have had to replace the hard drive twice. I figure three strikes and it’s out! I’d be curious to see what others replace their Dells with, as I’m considering a Mac next time.
    And Dell’s customer service is inept, bordering on hostile. Though, if you have all day, it might be fun to call them several times with the same problem and see how many variations you can get on the diagnosis. I mean if you’re really, really bored.

  6. Lee,
    I gave up on Dell three computers ago. I had purchased a PC and right from the get-go the thing was hinky. Their phone geeks had me jumping through hoops for four weeks. No solution, just valuable work time lost. The final straw came when some idiot in their service department instructed me to take the back of the CPU apart and do this that and whatever. After an hour of this, on my hands and knees with a flashlight, I was near tears. The asshole said to me: “What’s wrong with you? My 75-year-old grandmother can do this.”
    I called customer service and told them I wanted a new CPU. They said it wasn’t possible, that they would send someone out. I demanded a NEW COMPUTER. No can do, Dell said, but if you ship your CPU back to us we will see what we can do. THEY WANTED ME TO PAY SHIPPING!
    I told them I wanted a refund and if they didn’t give me one I was going to take the computer back to the store and throw it through their window.
    I got my money back. I have been with Sony ever since.
    If someone gives me bad service, I never back. It’s the Scorpio in me.

  7. I’ve been a Dell guy ever since my second computer. So, let’s see, 2 laptops and a desktop. But I finally got frustrated with what seems to be a short shelf-life and even more frustrated with Windows, so this time I invested in a Mac. I’m pleased so far, although they’re pricey. I plan on picking up a Macbook sometimes this year. Very pricey (in comparison to an off-the-shelf laptop), but I’m hoping I’ll get more than 3 years of of it.
    All said, though, I bought an Acer laptop a couple years ago for about $500 and it’s been doing quite well, overall. I’d consider going with them if the Macs don’t work out. But I do think I’m probably done with Dell.

  8. I have a 1405 that has operated flawlessly. Same with my Inspiron 53os. I tossed a Compaq desktop recently. Well by selling it aftertwo months. It may be those XPS gaming ones that are the problem. Lenovo’s have a lot of trouble too.

  9. Dell sounds like it’s gotten worse.
    I switched to Mac five years ago and haven’t looked back.
    My family has had very good luck with HP.

  10. First, I completely agree that Dell’s performance–or more appropriately, lack thereof–is unacceptable.
    However, I’d like to note that I’ve found their online support forum very helpful in the past. (For the record, I have an Inspiron 8100.) Granted, if you only have one computer, and it’s down, there’s no way for you to access their online forums. And even if that’s not the case, there’s no reason to put the burden of researching the problem on the customer. But, I’m just sharing what’s worked for me before.
    Also, IMO Norton/Symantec sucks as much or more than Dell. Just get yourself a basic (free) virus scanner (like Avast or AVG) and some good backup software (like Acronis). Then, when you first but a computer, repartition the harddrive so you have (at least two partitions) one partition for the OS and applications, and another for your data. (Re-)Install the OS (and appropriate updates) and all your applications, set everything up the way you want (desktop background, etc.), and create your own “system restore disc”. Now, if the OS ever gets hosed, just wipe the OS partition and restore it from the backup.
    All of that being said, now that you can use Boot Camp to run Windows (XP SP2) on a Mac, there’s no reason not to buy a Mac Book Pro. That’s what I’ll be doing. (I would’ve already done so if the 17″ screens were LED. I’m hoping this will change with the next release, which should be relatively soon.)
    HTH – Mark

  11. Recently, a number of my PC using friends finally took my advice and invested in a Mac. Like ex-smokers who bore everyone by going on about what a foul habit it is, they now insist on telling me how wonderful the Mac is, as if I didn’t know. In case in anyone out there still isn’t aware of the fact, they really do ‘just work’. Also bear in mind that there are something like a thousand viruses that affect the PC for every one that affects the Mac. In 18 years of using them (Macs) I’ve still to be infected by one.

  12. Actually John, there appears to be well over 100,000 viruses that affect PCs. Supposedly the Mac operating system is more resistant to viruses because it’s built on a Unix kernel, although there seems to be some question as to whether or not part of the lack of viruses for Macs might just be due to the fact that fewer virus writers aim at the Mac.

  13. Even as I write this, a new “Dell Support Center” is downloading into my computer, although I don’t want it and tried to prevent it. I suspect it will largely be used to track my Internet preferences so they can tailor sales pitches to me. all they’ve done by denying me the option of refusing the download is to drive me elsewhere. My next computer will not be a Dell.

  14. I actually paid a freelance geek to recommend a new system and he said, DELL (was he nuts?). I only needed a new tower and so all the money was put into that.
    From Day 1 the bloody thing did not work. Blue screens repeatedly. I spent time on the phone with the techs to no avail. Then they sent a tech with a not a new but refurbished hard drive which crashed two hours after it was installed. then they offered me a “new” computer-not exactly new mind you as it was very possible I would be sent a refurbished tower. So let me get this straight, I buy new and its replaced with refurbished? That is called bait and switch.
    I sent the piece of junk back to Dell yesterday and have been assured that my credit card will be refunded for the full amount charged.
    I have tried to reach a Dell Customer advocate to no avail to confirm that I will be reimbursed in full.
    We’ll see-I have a feeling I’ll have another Dell Hell battle before me.

  15. I am in Dell Hell too after buying a nice Inspiron 1521 for my daughter in August ’07. As of today, it won’t turn on after freezing up and basically will not work. I boutht eight (8) service & warranty coverages but Dell claims my issue is software and I did not buy coverage for that. Bull. Two hardware coverages are specified as such, the remaining 6 do not specify, therefore software is covered by exclusion but Indians don’t understand that kind of reasoning. Everything on my P.O. and Packing Slip are all clear and in black & white but Dell Indians keep wanting to add words to the coverage as written.
    This company is a mess, their “customer careless” doesn’t care or help and there is no way to get this computer to work again without help I paid for and can’t get from them. They actually insisted on selling me a $300 for “software coverage”. Now that’s pathetic and I cannot understand how we can be so stupid as to make this company so successful.
    Don’t do it. Buy a Mac where they know how to service what they sell. The rest of the PCs are all junk without support. It’s called “OEM” software, and just gives Mike Dell another income stream on the backs of otherwise reliable software.
    I hate Dell and will never, never do it again.

  16. hi if anyone reads this i was on call with a tech support guy in bombay india the guy was extremely tech geek and after troubleshooting with him for 30 mins the issue was resolved it was really good experience ,then he recommended me to buy some memory upgrade i said i would buy it from a local store the tech was bit sad and from his tone i was getting the feeling that dell has now degraded to such an extent that they re making the tech support guy sell dell products….i brought the memories the tech was escalated it is a shame that dell is doing such things with some underpaid tech to sell their products …i am going to write about this to the senate trade committee and the house committee onforeign trade on how dell is using poor support guys to sell their products,i got a detailed email fromthe tech describing what they are made to do an support calls to sell goods and the target they need to meet

  17. At the end of the article, it says, “Dell doesn’t know how to make computers or support their products any more.” – how apt a summary. Why are there thousands of unhappy customers of a company who is thriving!

  18. I used to love Dell but now I hate them. I don’t believe they test their hardware correctly with the OS whihc in my case is Vista 32 and 64 bit.
    I had the top of the range XPS M1330 and received 6 motherboard replacements, one LCD, one harddrive, heatsyc, fan, Ram and wifi wire. The laptop has a MAJOR NVIDIA overheating issue and 3 of my friends have encountered the same issues as me. The engineers who worked on my laptop informed me that they have had major failures with the XPS M1330.
    Dell subsequently compensated me and provided a free upgrade to the Studio 13. I asked for Vista 64-bit and there now appears to be major driver conflicts with the laptop and I am extremely annoyed as I’ve had to re-install Vista twice with no success! The studio also has a very bad design fault as the air vents are covered when the lcd is open at 90 degrees on your lap.
    From a design build point of view, the left rear air vents are obstructed when you use it on your lap causing it to get very hot
    The Ethernet connection if faulty and works intermittently
    I have been unable to update the Audigy Advanced MB Sound Blaster
    The touch-panel for “Media, Wireless and Power Controls” does not always respond
    The laptop sometimes freezes whilst going into hibernation and it is not possible to get it to turn on or off without force shutting it down
    The laptop sometimes shuts down on its own after giving a Stop error
    I sometimes get a black screen when starting and have to force shut down
    I receive various Blue Screen “Stop” errors
    The Studio is a very fast machine though and would possibly work better with a 32-bit OS. Due to the issues I cannot recommend it.
    I have now asked Dell for a full refund and have contacted a lawyer to enquire if I would be able to claim for time wasted on all these computer issues over the past 15 months. I have been contacting them for the past month via phone and email yet they have not resolved my issues.
    I should mention that Dell XPS support have always tried their best to resolve my issues and I cannot fault their service until now.

  19. If you are frustrated like me about getting nowhere with the overseas customer service department of Dell try contacting someone higher up the chain. In Australia call 13 33 55, choose option 4 and put in 5553. A lovely man named Charles should be able to help.


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