Dell Sucks

Dell Inspiron 1150
In November 2004 I purchased a new notebook computer. I had always used desktop computers in the past, but figured that it was time to get a nice, portable computer. I didn’t even contemplate where to get the computer — I immediately went to the Dell site and bought a Dell Inspiron 1150 (note the review on that page — not by me — about how it died within four months… I should’ve researched more).

For the first couple of months the computer was great. I got to watch Sex and the City on my airplane trip back to Minnesota. While at home, I was able to sit in the living room, watch cable TV, and do some work without having to sit behind a huge case and an even huger monitor. I loved having a notebook.

Then sometime in March or so my notebook started having problems. If I had a bunch of applications open (Photoshop, Trillian, Internet explorer — not a lot of applications, but whatever…), the computer would automatically shut itself off, causing me to lose my work.

When I rebooted I got error message #M1004 saying that my computer had overheated, and that I should check to make sure that there isn’t dust in the fan or something blocking the flow of air. Check. No problem with that. I even used some condensed air to clean the fan. No help.

Prior to buying the Dell, I had known that Dell was pretty notorious for bad service, but I guess I had no idea.

I called tech support to let them know about the problem I was having. They, of course, told me to check the fan and the flow of air. Then they had me check my BIOS version (of course I had the latest — I’m neurotic about having up-to-date software). After trying a few other things, they concluded that I needed a new motherboard. The guy on the phone started taking my information so I could send it back. I was excited. My computer would finally work! Then he said, “Actually, let me put you on hold.”

He came back a few minutes later to inform me that my warranty had expired last month and that he was sorry and had to transfer me to the out-of-warranty service department. Oh, and this was on a Saturday.

The out-of-warranty service department, of course, was closed.

Being that I am a pretty resourceful guy, I figured that I could try to solve this problem myself. I went to get thermal paste (you put it between the CPU and the cooling unit/fan in order to help the CPU stay cooler). I also raised my computer up using a slinky so that the bottom wasn’t touching my desk and so the fan was totally clear. This helped for a while.

Then the last few days Seattle got a little warmer. And now my computer is dying more frequently than ever.

I just called the out-of-warranty service department to see how much a new motherboard would cost. They said $499. I said for that price I could get a new computer. She said, “Yes, but it wouldn’t be Dell quality.” And I said (and trust me, I’m usually not an angry customer…), “I hope it’s not Dell quality. This is ridiculous. I’ve had it for less than a year and it’s basically unusable!”

I tried to somehow get them to work out a deal, but had no luck. The best she could offer was for me to send it in to “the depot” for $199 and they could maybe determine that it is a problem with the fan or adapter — which, I feel confident to say, is not the problem.

I explained to her that I purchased a Dell because of their reputation for good quality and whatnot. I never would’ve expected that a new computer would go bad so quickly. That didn’t help.

She, again, offered the “depot” option for $200, to which I said, no, that is half of a new computer, so what is the point. At that point she said there was nothing else she could do and we got off the phone.

I think I have two options to pursue:

  1. Call again and see if another representative can help me, and then talk to a manager if that doesn’t help.
  2. Write a letter explaining, more thoroughly and eloquently that I buy new computers once every two years or so and that many people ask me advice when purchasing new computers. I will never recommend a Dell — and, in fact, advise not to buy Dells — when people ask my thoughts on computers. (As a side note: when I went home for xmas last December, my mom wanted a new computer. I tried to talk her into a Dell, but she wanted it immediately and went with a Compaq. Also, my aunt recently purchased a Dell desktop on my advice. And finally, my sister is looking to purchase a new computer soon.)

What I really want out of the deal is a new notebook — this one, clearly, sucks. But if that isn’t possible, at least replacing the motherboard would be reasonable, I think.

I’m not very good with customer service stuff, so if anyone has advice on what I should say/do that would be awesome.

6 thoughts on “Dell Sucks

  1. It’s interesting to hear you say that Dell is notorious for bad customer service. Back in the day, when computer companies were a dime a dozen, Dell distinguished themselves by having customer service that actually worked. Of course, as the growth in PC sales dried up, they destroyed their customer service department in the search for additional profits. I too ran into a quality problem with them as this transition was taking place in the form of metal screen hinges that snapped in half.

    I’m seriously not trying to be a snarky bastard with this reply, but buy a mac. If you’re looking for a company with the highest quality computer manufacturing and lowest rate of returns and repairs, Apple is the company to give your money too. I don’t base this on any sort of zealotry, but the fact that Apple is rated by Consumer Reports to not just be a little better in repairs and returns, but dramatically better. I’d be happy to dig out one of the issues for you if you’re interested. PC Magazine found similar results as well.

    I also have a first hand story that’s applicable. I bought my 15″ Powerbook and realized about a year later there was a serious spotting problem with the screen. All Apple computers come with a year of warranty where you can just walk your machine up to the genius bar. (You can buy a couple more years if you’re interested.) The problem was that I was a couple months past my warranty. I walked it in anyway, they admitted it was a manufacturing defect and replaced it for free. I had it back a week later with a brand new screen.

  2. I seriously have considered a Mac, but I’m not quite ready to take that dive. I’ve been using PCs forever and I’m so used to them that I cannot quit cold turkey.

    I do, however, plan to get a Mac mini within the next few months (after getting the new notebook) and using that to get used to Macs more until I am ready to switch over.

  3. After reading the reviews from many people about power supply problems of Dell computers, I believe these problems happens so frequently on Dell Dimension desktops. I have a Dimension 4600 for two years. I usually turned it off if I did not use it for hours. This could save power and also save the lifespan of the power supply, but my power supply was still burnt. I ordered a regular ATX power supply from newegg, it’s only $8 including shipping and it works! Hopefully this power supply can last for five years.

    I will never buy a Dell computer in the future since the quality is really bad. My friend’s Dell notebook burnt the motherboard several month ago. I used to think Dell desktop was reliable, but I was wrong. Just by doing some research, I know that Dimension 4600 may also easily get motherboard burnt–if you don’t believe me, just take a look at eBay to see how many 4600 motherboard auctions there. It’s much more expensive to fix that problem… So the experience to using a Dell computer is like
    SPEND $100 LESS; CROSS FINGERS FOREVER.

    PS., If anybody got the same problem and want to change the power supply, just lift and remove the green cover of the CPU fan first. That’s gonna be easier.

  4. Lamentably I am usuary of dell inspiron 1150, I finish finding out in this site the error # M1004.
    Single I must save money to buy another computer and this time dell of that will not buy one I am safe

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