Friday, 28 May 2010

Dell next business day support - maybe not quite what you expected

We have had this Dell XPS700 since November 2007. It was the 4th Dell we purchased, and only recently we bought our 5th Dell computer, a 15inch Dell Studio laptop.

Why do we buy from Dell?

· Usually the price is fairly good
· You can configure the box exactly as you want
· Delivery 1-2 weeks.
· Pretty reliable.
· On site service/warranty can be extended to 4 or 5 years.

Normally, we will configure the computer with the latest high spec components hoping that we can get around 4 years out of each PC. This works out pretty good all round and minimises the amount of reconfiguration required when you get a new computer.

Unfortunately, the XPS700 just froze up the other evening. We switched it off, waited for 30 seconds, and then switch it back on again. The screen remained black. There were no keyboard lights. The fan came on and stayed on (normally it would just stay on for 2-3 seconds). The power switch remained a solid amber. We could not run any diagnostics as the machine was totally non responsive.

There was nothing we could do to diagnose what was wrong.

Just in case there was a problem with overheating, we left the computer switched off all night. Next morning we tried again. Same response, or lack there of.

Fortunately, we had taken out a four year next business day , on-site, extended warranty.
I am sure that most of you would expect that all you would need to do would be to call Dell and tell them the problem and an engineer would come and diagnose the problem and then fix it.

NO. As they tend to say these days, “it does not work like that”.

This is what it says in the Dell Warranty terms and conditions, yes I am sure that at the time of purchase everyone reads all of the terms and conditions and that everyone is aware that before a Dell engineer is despatched to fix your computer you will spend a couple of hours kneeling over your dead computer removing memory cards, putting them back, swapping them around switching your machine off and on and reporting the colours of various light switches.

“To complete the diagnostics the customer must have convenient access to the faulty system
when calling technical support…

For each call, the Dell technician has been trained to undertake a process to ensure the
fastest possible resolution. To do this the technician will request the customer’s assistance to
help “troubleshoot” the problem in order for the technician to diagnose the fault. The
diagnostic process will enable the Dell technician to identify the system part that has failed, if
any, so that a replacement part can be provided.

Examples of what can be included in the scope of the fault diagnostics are:
• Running diagnostic tests appropriate for the problem reported.
• Installation of service packs, components, supplements, updates and patches for
specifically covered factory-installed operating systems, firmware and BIOS.
• Installation and default configuration of Dell factory-installed operating systems,
application software and drivers.
• Testing a factory-installed network interface card (including wireless) by testing with
manufacturer’s diagnostics & pinging another PC.
• Testing a factory-installed modem by connecting it to an analogue telephone line
(not a PABX line).
The Dell technician will work together with you to ensure that you are properly instructed on
how to proceed.
Accurate problem diagnosis may not be possible without opening the system. Normal
Troubleshooting procedures may also include opening a system to reseat parts. The Dell
Technician will inform you if this is necessary and work with you to do so. Opening the system avoids delays in resolution but must be done only with the guidance of the technician who will advise of all necessary safety precautions.

I just think that opening up the system, by someone who is completely inexperienced and has had no training on how to avoid static problems, touching memory cards, removing them, swapping them around and switching the system on and off with the cover removed is NOT a good idea. After all, why do you think the customer paid for an extended warranty and on-site support?

After all this, I was told that an engineer would be despatched to replace the mother board. Given what was achieved by opening up the system and playing around with the internals for an hour; the only difference it has made is that instead of an engineer being despatched with a couple of tiny memory cards and a mother board he is being despatched with just the mother board.

We will find out if the mother board fixes the problem or if the customer is then required to further diagnose a technical problem for which he or she has had absolutely no training whatsoever.

24-Jan-2011 Update: If you are OK with opening up your PC case and reseating the memory boards, then you may even consider doing away with Dell support all together and building your own PC. There are an excellent set of articles on the UK Shopping blog starting with Build your own computer or buy from Dell? (Part One).


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with you. The service is pathetic. I have purchased an XPS notebook M1330. I have next business day 24 hr. 3yr warranty.

The bluetooth mouse shipped has never worked.

The battery is dead in just over 1 year, where they never tell you that is the life of these batteries and therefore we should be purchasing spare batteries. I have hardly used the battery.

The hard drive has crashed after running my diagnostics. You get bounced around on the service calls for 2 hours with endless "sorry".

I am looking for them to ship me the hard disk with the image of the original purchased system or have a technician to come by. It has been 4 days and I have not yet heard from them.


Minger said...

Can you tell us the result of the new motherboard? I'm in a similar situation with a DELL computer that locks up every few days and I have next day business support service. Thanks.

AmberCat said...

New Motherboard fixed the problem.

AmberCat said...

New Motherboard fixed the problem.