Avoid Dell Hell

Four years ago, I made a terrible mistake. I bought a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop. I wrote about my troubles here and then recently here. Since then (i.e. last month), I have had RAM trouble which was finally replaced this week (courtesy of the extended warranty I have due to a class action settlement).

When I replaced the memory, the hard disk started giving errors. I am still in the process of recovering data from the hard disk. And finally today I discovered that the memory problem is still there, which means that it is most likely a defective motherboard (replaced just last month). After an hour chatting online with Dell Tech Support, my laptop is going back to Dell for a motherboard replacement.

To recap, since April 2003 when I bought this machine, I have had the motherboard replaced 3 times (and it should be replaced again now), memory twice, hard disk once, the processor heat sink a couple of times, the AC adapter twice and the whole computer once (I now have the Inspiron 5150).

Tomorrow, I am off to Fry’s where I’ll get parts for a new desktop and build it myself.

UPDATE: Read my latest post about how Dell gave me a new Inspiron 1501.

Related Reading

The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play
Remember Everything You Want and Manage the Rest: Improve Your Memory and Learning, Organize Your Brain, and Effectively Manage Your Knowledge
Laptops and Tablets For Seniors For Dummies
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12 Comments.

  1. Zack, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years. I found it while researching for a novel I’m writing which has some Pakistani characters. I find your writing clear and approachable. Thanks for sharing. I’m not of Pakistani origin, and I’m not Muslim, but I would like to make my characters as authentic as possible (this is a novel under contract to Zondervan, and will release April 08). Would you be interested in answering a couple of questions about language and religion via email? If so, you can reach me at bethsquill [at] aol.com. If you don’t have time, I understand, but maybe you could direct me to someone who would? Thanks.

  2. Captain_Arrrgh

    Zack, I built a machine back in 2000; we most likely discussed it once upon a time. I found that it cost about as much as buying a PC from a major vendor, but it required a great deal more time to order parts online, assemble the machine and install software. I recommend buying a motherboard with a chipset installed at the factory. Botch the application of thermal paste or heat sink alignment and you might have occasion to exclaim – Arrrgh! The following websites also proved useful during design and assembly of my PC: http://www.anandtech.com/ and http://www.egghead.com (Note: Egghead may not be what it once was). Using Vista or XP should make the software end of things straightforward. Given your reliability problems, you will probably find it well worth your time and effort.

    I retired my PC about 1.5 years ago. During its four+ years of service it never suffered from a hardware problem. The OS became crotchety toward the end, but one must expect such things with a device meant for residential and small commercial use. Happy building!

  3. Should it be said that Laptops are unreliable? I have heard such complaints from some other people also.

  4. Thats Bad! I Just Bought a HP Pavilion DV6500 Series Custom Made With Best Specs. Hope i Dont Have any Problems With It!

  5. As a user of Dell Latitude i would always recommend everyone not to use Dell at all, Laptops are DELL everyone says but i’ve personally used Acer and it really rocks!!! i would suggest everyone to use that and same goes for you;)

  6. salam
    I was about to buy a dell laptop but dell prevented me, they would send me a mail every tuesday telling me that they wud ship my laptop next tuesday so I cancelled my order and now dropped the idea of buyin one until november or feburary.
    I have done terrible things to my desktops in past (3 of them) and now is the time that I buy parts n assemble them myself but the only thing confuses me is, as the mag said, we r suppose to put some glue to fix the chipset (i think captain argh talked abt that) well I dont kno, do write abt this particular thing how u did and take a few snaps if you can

  7. There have been further developments that I should write about.

    Beth: Sent an email to you.

    Captain Arrrgh: I also built my last desktop in 1999. I agree that building a computer is not cheaper and much more of a hassle if one is ordering from different online stores. But I went to Fry’s and got everything in one go.

    Dad: Yes, laptops are less reliable than desktops. Especially those laptops that, like mine, use fast processors that require a lot of cooling.

    Shafee: Good luck.

    Badtameez: I’ll write a post about building a computer.

  8. I always use and recommend Dell. Have literally installed 10s myself to several clients. By and large they are great PCs/Laptops/Servers. I normally put a three years limit on the useful life of a PC and a Dell machines almost never let down on that end. I suggest getting a new machine every three years if at all possible especially if the machine is used heavily.

  9. Dell and Blogging

    Dell came through, thanks to my blogging, and replaced my laptop with a brand new Inspiron 1501.

  10. How Zack Buys a New PC

    I decided to build my own desktop again after my Dell laptop troubles. Finding everything at Fry’s was easy and assembling it was fun.

  11. Cynthia Bailey

    I just bought an Inspirion 1721. The power cord does not connect to the adapter. I have spent almost three hours talking with techs I can not understand and have been shipped a replacement that was the same as what I had in the first place. What is wrong with Dell?
    I bought a new power cord from Overstock.com which works with my Inspirion but why could Dell not resolve the issue. And the language problem is an issue when talking to techs.

  12. I have worked in customer service call centers for over 18 years, including positions at leadership levels. My contacts with Dell are always the same. The power supply of my computer was damaged by hurricane Ike in Houston. I called Dell tech support. I made the first call at 9am and paid with my credit card. People continued to tell me they would call back. I called back and after seven calls to Dell at 5 pm that day, many hours after they processed my credit card pymt, I reached a tech support person, he told me that he was transferring me to a sale rep that could tell me how I could get the computer repaired. When he transferred me, the sales rep said he had to process my order and would call me back. He never did. Three days later I made eight calls to Dell trying to complete the service I was supposed to get to find out where to repair my computer. In the eight calls, six people trf me back to the automated system that I had called in on and two hung up on me. Dell pays people to not work and that is very strange. At every call center I have ever worked at csr’s who trf customers back into the vru system so they won’t have to work are fired when caught doing it with any regularity, like a couple of time. Csr’s who hang up on customers rather than work are fired immeditelay. It’s easy to catch both of these, I have never worked in a call center that didn’t have reports that could be done to show when csr’s hang up on someone or didn’t show where calls are trf to. On the ninth call, I was trf to a supervisor who told me my money would not be refunded and that as far as not being told how I could get my computer fixed I could just go to Best Buy. I told her that we had just had a hurricane, many stores and most homes did not have electricity, and the roads were dangerous to drive. She made an ugly sound (meaning she didn’t care that the roads were filled with trees to drive around and live electric wires lying across and other hazards – not to mention – there is very little gas – you can’t waste gas – without electricity it can’t be pumped) – I asked if she knew what best buys were open, her answer, “I don’t know, I’m in India.” This is a supervisor who thought it was fine for a sales rep to handled sales by telling people he will call them back and not doing it. Most companies not only expect their employees to work but have quotas for their sales rep. And every call center I’ve ever worked in or heard of other than Dell has their reps put in orders with customers on the phone, not tell customers they will put in the order and call the customer back and the customer doesn’t even know what they’re ordering nor have approved it. But then he never meant to call back. All of these employees are refusing to work day in and out on every call. The supervisor that I spoke with fully approves of that. Tech support csr trf calls right back to the tech support vru or they simply hang up or some say they will call back with no intention to do so. Dell pays them money, a pay check, to not work. It is so strange. No other company does that, that I know of. Why does Dell hate their customers so much they pay people to do nothing but abuse their customers They do not require them to do anything else but that. I think for Dell to charge tech support trouble shooting fees and never deliver anything but trfs, hang up, and call backs that never occur is theft. The customers are paying for tech support services, we shouldn’t have to pay to be hung up on. I think this is actually illegal. After three days one supervisor helped me get my computer fixed by telling me to go to Best Buy. That cost me 10 hours of my time making calls to Dell and 53.00 dollars on my Master Card. I think it’s theft. Its definitely not customer service. Customer service reps that won’t talk to customers, tech support reps that won’t talk to customers, sales reps that won’t talk to customers, supervisors that answer legitimate customers concerns with “I don’t know, I’m in India.” No one else but Dell. I think Dell would be better off giving these people weekly checks as charity rather than the farce that it’s’a pay check for not working.