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:
- Call again and see if another representative can help me, and then talk to a manager if that doesn’t help.
- 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.