I own a 1st generation XPS laptop (alias “Baby”). I purchased Baby as a refurbished model. This March my 3-year extended warranty will expire. I'm in a quandary about renewing it. Other than a worn audio jack (which I caused by heavy use), my Baby works like a champ. So far I got my money’s worth from Baby’s dependability and sturdiness. I’m a power guy and I need a “portable desktop”. Now three months before my warranty expires my Baby goes “kaput”. Dell Technical Support was called.
Baby (being blessed) has never had an emergency with Dell Technical Support. For 33-months, Baby was never in dire need of repair. Within Baby is my working dissertation. Mind you, just two days work is not replicated on a Seagate portable drive. Those two days of work may be a curse. Here is my story. I call it The Curse of Case Number XXXXXX5979.
It began on Jan 13, 2008. My late evening chat with a Dell Technical Support was quite interesting. They had me pulling out my RAM, Disk Drive, and other parts to do “shot gun” troubleshooting. For those of you not familiar with the term, it’s when you take a WAG (Wild %#@ Guess) by isolating the problem component by removing it. Well, the WAG pointed to the motherboard. Quite understandable it was a “Post” problem. The “idiot lights” lit-up then go off less then a second. I felt comfortable with the Dell Technical Support diagnosis of it being a motherboard problem. A dispatch was created to remove and replace the motherboard.
On Jan 15, the motherboard arrived. However, the local Dell Technical Support could not fit me in his busy schedule. No issues, I’ll just have to wait a day.
On the next day (Jan 16), the local Dell Technical Support technician met me at my work site and proceeded to take apart my poor Baby. I never saw her spread across a table in pieces before. I watch him perform this task in amazement. I believed it was taking a toll on him when he had to remove a part that he previously installed. My Baby was put together. And better yet, with no remaining parts! At the moment of truth, the “Post” problem still persisted. Additional “shot gun” troubleshooting was performed. I was disappointed that problem was not resolved. The Dell Technical Support technician proclaimed that the processor was bad. This technician was really quirky. He actually insulted the on phone Dell Technical Support due his difficulty in understanding the heavy accented female on the other end of the phone. She was only trying to assist him. A new dispatch was created. This Dell Technical Support technician balked at the chance to fix my 33-month old Baby. He referred her to a more cunning technician close to my home location.
Alas, two days have passed (Jan 18). I went online to Dell’s Technical Support website to get a status on my latest dispatch number. I looked at it. Low and behold, I was snow delayed! Funny, how I looked outside then looked at the terminal and repeated this action several times. I just raised my hands and said “It must be snow delayed on the other end”.
That weekend, my Baby sat on the cold floor of my home office as a door stop.
Bright and early Monday (Jan 21), I called the Dell Technical Support to get a status on my latest-latest dispatch. To my disbelief, the dispatch was canceled. It seems that the cunning Dell Technical Support technician was unaware of the worksite and home location switch. The note on the canceled dispatch said “no contact information for customer”. The parts were promptly returned to sender. I quickly gave a piece of my mind with whom ever I could contact via telephone and email. I was rest assured that this does not normally happen. It was written up as a “wrong queuing” issue. There were miscommunication or the lack of communications between the quirky and cunning Dell Technical Support technicians.
The cunning Dell Technical Support technician was very apologetic on Jan 23, No clear explanation was given in why the parts were shipped back. The appointment time was prematurely set for the next day. The replacement processor was not in hand, but he made the extra effort to keep a time slot open for my Baby.
On the morning of Jan 24, the cunning Dell Technical Support technician called me at work and confirmed when my Baby was going to be looked at. I promptly went home to await the Dell Technical Support technician. Twenty minutes into the time slot, he arrived. Again, my Baby was treated like a car wreck. Spread across a well lighted kitchen island in unrecognizable pieces. I watched carefully as my Baby was being rebuilt. One thing that was missing from the Baby’s emergency kit was thermal grease. After the trip to his car, he applied it onto the processor. I remember seeing him tighten the processor lock. Not once, but twice.
The climax of the rebuild fizzled. The “Post” problem shot down the confidence of another Dell Technical Support technician. This cunning technician called the phone Technical Support to get additional advice. Again, the heavy accented support person can be heard giving out mumbled instructions. At one point, the cunning technician became upset. A mumbled voice can be heard telling him to re-tighten the processor. He adamantly proclaimed the processor is hard to access; “I definitely did tighten down the processor”. I agreed with him. I saw it with my own eyes in what he did. Finally, the dreaded words were spoken “Is the customer acceptable with the idea of sending the laptop to depot?” I unquestionable said I have no objections. The cunning technician indicated that Baby will be looked over with a fine tooth comb. It made me feel better that my Baby was going to be looked at by specialists. Laptop and power adapter must be sent to depot. A replacement power adapter will be sent along with a return laptop kit.
The power adapter was received on Jan 25. I as questioning why the return kit was not delivered at the same time. A call was made to the Dell Technical Support. They assured me that it was on its way. Just wait one more day. If it’s not there in the afternoon, call again to correct the issue, if its an issue.
Jan 26, I kept peering outside my porch. At 4 PM I called Dell Technical Support. They looked and looked. No return kit was ever sent. Really? You figured that out a day late? The latest-latest-latest dispatch was created for another return kit.
Its still the Jan 26, thirteen days since my Baby developed a “Post” problem. I casually started to look at my email on Baby’s older brother (Sony Viao). Great, a new email from Dell, maybe a new status! But wait, this time, an order confirmation. I read on. It seems my call to Dell Technical Service generated this. Apparently, this phone Technical Support (one time incident as it says) was for a problem resolution on an expired warranty. That did it. This was no longer a simple case. This case has been cursed since Baby went belly up.
I promptly called Dell Technical Support and issued a formal complaint. Why charge me for a service call when Baby has a valid warranty? No one could explain it to me. I spoke to a Dell Technical Support manager. He was very apologetic. He asked what he can do for me. I told him point blank. Fix your Technical Support processes. The delays have accumulated due to process screw ups. I told him it may be that the people are not being properly trained or following process directives. They surely can’t be semi-intelligent employees, there are just too many of them working at the same company. It’s has to be the process that Dell has in place, No checks and balances. A simple lookup at my express service code will reveal my warranty is still valid. Multiple orders are just that. Item are shipped in more that one box. As the Dell Technical Support manager puts it, “I agree with your frustration. It’s not normal occurrence with your delays”. After that he was very quite on the other end...
Thirteen days and counting, I’m taking bets on when my baby is getting fixed. I figure the good money will be after Feb 6 2008, unless the curse says otherwise. I wonder what is in store for baby at depot and her return trip home. Yes, it not a normal occurrence, it’s the curse of Case Number XXXXXX5979.
To be continued...