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A Dell Warranty is Worth the Paper It Isn’t Printed On

A word of advice: If your Dell device has problems in the return window, take it back. If you have trouble after that, you are better off pitching it in the sea then asking Dell for help.

I am currently in Dell hell. I have a broken laptop which Dell has refused to repair, refused to replace, and refused to refund. Instead, Dell has lied to me, given me the runaround, gaslighted me, and made empty promises.

Do not under any circumstances buy hardware from Dell. Here’s why.

When my last laptop died on 11 January, I saw it as a nuisance rather than a catastrophe. My files were backed up online, Best Buy was opening in a few hours, and I had a credit card, so I figured I would be back online by the end of the day.

And I was right; I was back to work in about 4 hours, and all it took was spending $1600 on a new Dell laptop. I kicked myself for having to pay retail when I could have planned ahead and saved several hundred dollars, but I got back to work quickly, and that was what really mattered.

But then the laptop started to crash – a lot.

I didn’t really notice the high frequency of the blue screens of death until I had owned the laptop for 17 days, when it crashed for the 4th time. This was 2 days past the Best Buy return window, which did not worry me much because it was a brand new laptop and had a next business day warranty. The worst that could happen was that Dell would have to fix it, or replace it.

Or so I thought.

When I got tired of the crashes, I visited Dell’s website and tried to file a support ticket. Much to my dismay, I found that my only options were calling Dell or using the support chat. I have hearing issues and do my best to avoid phone calls, and since the website chat feature didn’t work, I decided to try to solve it myself by running the diagnostic tests recommended by Dell’s site. When that didn’t find anything, I reached out to Dell on Twitter.

My initial suggestion was that they give me a credit, I’d ship them the lemon, and I’d buy a new laptop on their site. This was shot down. Instead they told me to re-run the diagnostics, install software updates, and install more updates.

This did not help. When the laptop crashed less than a week later, I told them they needed to either send someone to fix it, or replace it. They said I had to continue to do their work for them (call their advanced diagnostics dept), which I declined to do. We did after all have a diagnosis; there was a software issue.

After a few rounds of this, I lost my cool and told Dell that my next moves would be to file a BBB complaint and look into filing a lawsuit (I did end up filling the BBB complaint, but the lawsuit was an empty threat).

This was apparently enough to trigger a promise to forward my complaint to an “escalation” team. I was asked for my contact info, and Dell promised someone would contact me in 24 hours. Then, the next day, I was told the escalation team would contact me shortly.

I have yet to make contact with that so-called team; the closest I have come was a garbled voicemail message. Nevertheless, Dell continued to tell me on Twitter that I should work with the escalation team now that I was in contact with them. I was later told that the escalation team had reported I said the problems were fixed. And I was told I should refer to the email the escalation team sent me, that they would take care of everything.

Folks, none of that was true. I still have not made contact with that so-called team, much less communicated with them.

I have given up on working this out, and I am now insisting on a refund. (Given Dell’s track record, I realize that probably isn’t going to happen.)

In fact, I’ve already bought a replacement laptop from Lenovo. It arrived on Tuesday.

TL;DR My experience with Dell tech support consisted of them trying to get me to do their jobs for them, stalling when I complained, and then lying to me and gaslighting me.

P.S. Does anyone want to up a $1600 paperweight?

P.P.S. Now that I think about it, it would be a waste to let such an expensive device collect dust. I should probably find a local computer tech who can take a look, and fix the issue. If Dell’s warranty were worth anything, they would have already done this, but since it’s not I am going to have to pay the cost myself.

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John Phillips March 3, 2021 um 4:48 pm

What a horror story! If you can spare the time, try booting into the Diagnostics (F12 on startup) and let it run through. It if comes up with an error, then you have a hard-error and error code that Dell just cant ignore. Dell should take it seriously as its their diagnostics that has identified a problem. Dell should replace the failed component even if its the entire motherboard. If it passes that test, then download the Win10 install media to a USB and do a complete clean install that wont include all the Dell bloatware. If it still crashes after that, then yeah, you have a lemon. Call Dell and insist on a refund. All of this will take time, and this is probably most of what a local computer tech would do anyway but I understand if you don’t have the time. Good luck!

Mapgie March 4, 2021 um 10:38 am

After my Dell Alienware Aurora R9 decided it didn’t recognise the Registry, I had to do a fresh install of Windows 10 from the diagnostics screen.

I started by feeling thrilled that I could do away with all the Dell bloatware, until, well, I couldn’t. Despite confirming that I was happy to proceed, when presented with messages such as: "Installing this Intel generic graphics driver will overwrite any customized driver from your Computer Manufacturer (OEM)", it just … won’t do it.

The drivers for the wifi to work properly were also necessary. A note to the wise: Avoid 'Killer' too.

In all, I’ve spent over 2 months trying to understand why the Dell website told me my PC (bought June 2020) wasn’t compatible with Windows 10, why it couldn’t find the registry, why it wouldn’t save any shadow copies or make any restore points, etc. Now I’m told that the origin of my fresh install is the problem and that it’s a software issue (not a hardware issue, therefore, not their issue).

Brian March 4, 2021 um 10:21 am

I purchased a new Dell laptop last year – the main board (which is basically the entire computer) has now been replaced 3 times. Average time to having a working computer after submitting a ticket? 45 days (so in total I have had the computer working for less than 9 of the last 12 months).

Absurdly terrible service (and this is with a paid service plan). I experienced many of the same issues you’ve had (claims that service was done or that a tech had visited when nothing was done) and more. This is the last Dell I will own for certain. Thankfully I had an old laptop available as a backup.

Nate Hoffelder March 4, 2021 um 12:44 pm

Wow, really? You had a next-business day warranty and it took 45 days to get a repair?

And here I thought I was a special case!

Ralph March 4, 2021 um 3:25 pm

Welcome to the Dell World. My XPS 15 was a nightmare. Dells BIOS and drivers are usually crap. Some errors are fixed a year later if at all.
My bluescreens stopped when I installed official drivers for the graphics. This is not possible the usual way as Dell laptops do not allow to install non Dell versions.
In the end I just cant recommend Dell anymore

Dustin March 4, 2021 um 1:41 pm

There is areason why I buy my computer hardware from Costco. Generally speaking, anytime I have had computer failures it has been during the first 6 months. I can always just take it back to Costco and get a new one if the company doesn’t want to deal with me.

William March 5, 2021 um 12:26 pm

File a formal complaint with your State’s Attorney General’s office for warranty fraud. I have filed several complaints with them and I have gotten responses from the companies in getting the issue straighten out.

20+ years ago I had an issue with Dell, have not and will not ever buy a computer from them.

Nate Hoffelder March 5, 2021 um 8:26 pm

I had not thought of that. Thank you.

Chris March 5, 2021 um 1:57 pm

Wow, what a horrible story.

Since you paid with your credit card, you should call your CC company and raise a complaint with them. You’re pretty likely to get 100% of your money back.

MKS March 5, 2021 um 5:07 pm

Contact your credit card issuer about doing a chargeback. The State Attorney General office advice is also solid.

You have two issues here: 1. Dell not honoring the warranty, and 2. Dell not offering assistance that is functional for someone with your hearing disability.

Nate Hoffelder March 5, 2021 um 8:15 pm

I tried. This is not something they cover, darnit.

Robert Nagle March 6, 2021 um 11:52 pm

Sorry, I had a hard time getting past the line " and since the website chat feature didn’t work." Wait, do you mean, Dell couldn’t manage a simple chat? Jeez.. This level of service is highly unusual. Compare to a lenovo desktop I had a few years ago. I had major hardware issues, and they had a service technician at my house within a day or two.

Nate Hoffelder March 7, 2021 um 11:55 am

I know, right?

Nikita May 1, 2021 um 6:08 am

Unfortunately this kind of service is no longer unusual. The chat feature exists but more often than not it is disabled, leaving customers with calling customer support which simply keeps transferring you to various departments until it gets disconnected.

I’ve had problems from the moment I purchased the XPS 15 9500. The sales representative ignored my emails and calls for weeks, the supposed escalation to his manager was also ignored.

Once the laptop was delivered and I notified them of the defect a new set of problems began. They would make me run tests and disappear for days to "make a decision" only to come back and make me run more tests. They then claimed nothing was wrong but changed their story when I asked them to give it in writing. This took a month.

Later they wanted to repair rather than replace the unit and I’ve had a similar experience where it only makes things worse so there was more arguing about that. Once the replacement was approved there were many delays. Tech support and customer care don’t want to access the case history to see what’s going on. When I refused to go away they checked with someone else and found out Dell had forgotten to ask me for some information.

Repeating this two more times brings us to today, 7 months since the first laptop was delivered. Still waiting on them to approve another replacement and extend warranty. Dell very conveniently keeps the customer firewalled from people who actually have any information. The only way to contact these people is by email and we all know how that goes.

Reader March 7, 2021 um 8:53 pm

I bought a Dell in 2005, and kept it until 2012. No problems, though it was noisy. I upgraded my hard drive from 300 MEG to 1 TB. Can’t call that a Dell problem- it was an upgrade.

I bought another Dell in 2012. The fan crashed after 2 years- outside of warranty. I purchased a fan from another manufacturer, and haven’t had any problems in the 7 years since. My hard drive crashed after 5 years of use.

While I have had some problems with my Dell, they pale before yours.

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Olivier March 9, 2021 um 10:00 am

At least in Germany Lenovo has a network of partner computer shops that are licensed to perform repairs and replacements. The one time I had a problem with my ThinkPad I took it to the nearest such shop and they swapped the failed component (internal battery) in their shop. Worst case is that they would have had to order it.

In the US, too, apparently:

Marilynn Byerly March 9, 2021 um 11:36 am

Insert sympathetic noises here. That stinks.

I’ve heard bad things about Apple’s iPhone service, but I’ve never had the first problem with their desktop and laptop real-life and online in almost forty years. Sometimes, the extra money is worth it.

Robert Nagle March 10, 2021 um 1:56 pm

Did Dell told you to wipe everything clean and reinstall the original image of the OS from the hidden partition. If so, was it done successfully? If yes, that would be fixing the problem — or if it keeps happening, would be enough to convince Dell that the problem is hardware based. I’m guessing that the problem may be bad RAM or flaky motherboard.

The other thing I’d like to know is if you shared your screen with a Dell tech support personnel. They can do this to inspect error logs and rule out other causes.

From Dell’s perspective, telephone support is very inefficient (even if you are dealing with nonnative speakers who earn little money). There comes a point where it’s cheaper just to service the device or swap devices….. When I worked at Dell in 2000-1, we really worked hard to reduce service calls, but when a service call is required, then there' no reason to delay.

If all else fails, I would write a long email.

Jeffrey Johnson April 20, 2021 um 12:55 pm

Only desktop company ok is Lenovo. For labtop I go Lenovo or Toshibia.

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