Every time I call Dell (and I do call them quite often) about a problematic laptop I feel like they follow a call flowchart that looks something like this:
If the machine doesn’t boot, they will give you a new mobo. If the HD is not bootable, they will replace that. In any other case, unless their automated diagnostics produce an error code, or you can make a very convincing argument for hardware issue, they will claim it’s a software problem.
And there are two ways that Dell deal with software issues:
- Uninstall Offending Stuff
- Reinstall Windows
They do this little trick where they make you un-check everything in msconfig, and if your issue doesn’t resurface immediately they will claim one of the 3rd party applications is causing it and tell you to uninstall everything – including all your AV software. If you call back after that, they will just suggest choice #2.
Seriously – I can’t tell you just how many times Dell told me to re-install windows. And at least half of the time it turned out to be a hardware issue in the end. The problems ranged from a obviously faulty Wifi card (but of course Dell does not have diagnostics for it), to a failing DIMM socket (which would either cause the diagnostics to pass or freeze while trying). In each case it took a lot of effort on my part, and escalation to 2nd or 3rd tier to actually get the problem fixed.
An average Dell user probably does not have enough know how, time and/or patience to go through all of that. In fact, most users are terrified by the concept of reinstalling the OS, and confused about backing up their data. It’s also not a valid troubleshooting step – it’s a last resort. And yet it’s the very first trick that Dell techs are instructed to use when faced with an odd issue that can’t be easily classified as either hardware or PEBKAC.
Unfortunately reinstalling windows is not really a magical panacea for all problems. It’s a huge pain in the ass, which won’t solve anything and leave the average user with an unpatched, unstable system with missing drivers. Imaging done on the newer Dell machines helps here, but guess what happens if your problem resurfaces after you rolled the OS back from the factory ghost image on your HD? Yep, dell will tell you to format the drive and install Windows from scratch killing the nifty imaging functionality.
How pissed would you be if you had to do all of that, and in the end find out that it was for example a shitty internal Wifi card that you can actually purchase on their website replace yourself bypassing all this bullshit? But hey, that’s Dell for you.
Please post your rants about shitty tech support by major computer vendors in the comments. What are your experiences with Dell, HP, Lenovo and etc? Who has the worst tech support? Who has the best one? Let me know!
[tags]dell, dell tech support, tech support, support, hardware, software[/tags]