Dell Inc. / false advertising
On May 18, 2008, I placed an online order for a Dell XPS 630i. Having read numerous reviews both from Dell's 630i sales webpage, and third-party review sites, I believed I was investing in a high-quality gaming PC, backed by what I then understood to be Dell's reputation for quality that I had experienced in the past with a used Dimension 4700 desktop system obtained from eBay.
What I received looked good and at first seemed to perform well, until I began to discover that underneath the hood (and even outside it) Dell has been anything but honest with myself and their 630i customer base. For months now, Dell's own Community Forums have been inundated with frustration, complaints and questions from users who are finding out from their own experience--and research from fellow customers--that Dell not only misled them in what they saw in ads and understood the 630i offered, but were blatantly lied to. Repeatedly.
How did this happen? On the surface, customers are shown ads that tout the 630i as an "epic gaming rig" with two PCI-E 2.0 x16 (16 lane) slots, capable of certified Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA) control over case fans, LEDs, and overclocking by the user, and allowing either Nvidia's SLI-Ready memory in dual graphics mode, or ATI's CrossFire dual graphics mode. Added to this, LightFX 2.0 was proudly promised as user-definable "lightshow software" which would allow the user to further enhance and enjoy the externally mounted multi-colored LEDs existing in four places on the 630i's case, syncing with action in games and the tunes of their favorite music.
What many customers have learned after the fact, is that none of this is as it was advertised. The motherboard, an Nvidia nForce 650i SLI, has been modified by Dell, irreversibly limiting both PCI-E 2.0 x16 (16 lane) slots to 8 lanes instead of giving the user the choice of leaving one at the full 16 lanes; ESA control support is problematic due to the fact that the motherboard is not ESA-certified and an input/output circuit board has been added in an attempt to provide this certification, and SLI-Ready memory is not supported, despite an extensive option for it appearing in the 630i system BIOS. They discover that ATI CrossFire support is tied to Dell's 32-bit Vista driver software, preventing them from using Windows XP in this mode, or even 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. They are also toldâ��after the fact--by Anne Camden of Dell Corporate Communications that a cut-down version of LightFX 2.0 will be released in the summer of 2008, then a little later that it couldn't possibly run on the 630i's hardware, to the truth that LightFX 2.0 simply does not exist and has been discontinued altogether, with no apology offered or attempt whatsoever to deliver any form of these promised capabilities.
Despite ongoing customer frustration at having been both misled and lied to through false advertising, case fans and LEDs that cannot be controlled accurately, and multiple beta versions of ESA software that fail to address these problems that shouldn't have existed to begin with, Dell refuses to admit any wrongdoing, and insists that customers should have "read the service manual" before buying to get the real facts about what the 630i contained. Dell continues to advertise what it doesn't deliver, shipping systems that often end up failing on arrival, and being added to a growing list of unwanted systems turned around and â��recycled' back on their website for sale. Dell openly tells customers that they will "change the sales page to reflect the data in the manual", after their actions are called into question. Hardware problems such as the ever-blinking hard disk drive LED are identified and acknowledged by Dell, but remain unresolved, with no commitment as to whenâ��or if-- it will ever be corrected. To add insult to injury, poorly trained XPS Desktop staff (publicized as being well-trained and capable in the technical aspects of the 630i), have given irrelevant and technically incorrect advice to customers, and/or simply read back sections of the user manual to customers.
It has quickly become apparent that the ongoing issues with the 630i are clear indications of much deeper and insidious business practices taking place within Dell's walls. Indeed, customers of the XPS 700 model desktop system became aware of this when they ran into similar issues with their system. However, instead of simply turning a blind eye to Dell's deceit, they insisted that Dell make amends for it, which after a year of wrangling, Dell finally did by providing a replacement motherboard capable of the very features Dell so proudly advertised from day one.
Despite Dell's minimal attempts at placating a slew of angry customers, what has remained is their failure to address the root of their business practices, making it all too easy to call into question the concern that upper management (including Michael Dell himself) chooses to continue ignoringâ��or finally addressâ��what is, and will continue to be, a growing problem for Dell.
The only way Dell can resolve the problems with the 630i and make amends to their customers, is to provide all three of the following resolutions to all 630i owners:
â�¢ At Dell's full expense (and with no expense to the customer, including on-site service by a qualified technician), replace the 650i SLI motherboard with a new, unmodified and 100% genuineâ��and fully ESA certified--Nvidia nForce SLI motherboard, such as offered by the 680i SLI on up into the nForce 7xx series. These motherboards offer the features that Dell has clearly advertised, yet failed to deliver in their false and misleading ads for the 630i systems.
â�¢ Include LightFX software already present in the original LightFX/QuickSet software (already in use by other Dell XPS systems running on ESA-certified boards) as part of the reparations.
â�¢ If no software fix for the constantly blinking hard disk drive light is found, then Dell should provide and install on-site (again, without charge to the customer) a hardware-fixed front control panel board as described by Dell engineer Patrick Desbois.
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