Re: laptop recommendations...

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From: Mike Masnick (
Date: Wed Sep 20 2000 - 13:54:17 PDT

At 12:12 PM 9/20/00 -0700, Lisa Dusseault wrote:
<looking for laptops>

My only comment is that despite it's reputation for high quality and good
service, and despite the fact that I personally have purchased a total of 7
Dell computers over the past few years either for myself or relatives, I
will never ever go near another Dell laptop if I can help it. I bought one
in February. In May the screen suddenly died. Calls to Dell gave me all
very different and conflicting reports, but the end result was them telling
me I simply had to send in my computer and wait 6 weeks (probably) for it
to be sent back. They wouldn't send me a "loaner" or give me any other
option other than to lose my main computer for a month and a half. I
explained to them this wasn't possible, and ended up getting passed around
to 8 different Dell representatives over the course of a 2.5 hour phone
call. I even told them I'd be willing to pay whatever it cost to get
someone to me to just fix it on the spot. The call ended with a Dell
representative explaining to me that I was just like a little child asking
for a piece of candy from one parent, and when I was told "no" asking
another parent.

I tried to explain to him that asking a parent for a piece of candy is
slightly different than asking them for a reasonable solution in fixing the
fairly expensive laptop I'd bought from them only 3 months earlier and was
now no longer working. He told me "Sir, it's exactly the same. You're
just a little kid who can't get what he wants. Leave us alone." I tried
to speak to his supervisor but he wouldn't let me.

I eventually wrote them a long letter detailing the conversations with the
9 different representatives, and they wrote back saying that I had to send
in the machine or perhaps they could do a "shell exchange". I went for the
shell exchange, but then they told me that, no, instead, they were going to
ship me the parts for a new screen and then someone would come and fix it
for me (no charge) - why this wasn't an option originally... they never
said. They sent me the parts (and a bill for the parts) but no one ever
called to come by. I kept calling and sending emails and they kept saying
that any day now someone would call. Then, Dell finance started getting
angry because I hadn't returned the parts or paid the $1000 for them. They
started sending nasty letters. Finally, 3 weeks later, someone called on a
Friday evening and said they'd come by Monday morning.

They never showed up.

I wrote yet another nasty email to people at Dell. They wrote back and
said they were going back to the shell exchange idea, and would send me an
empty computer shell, and I should just switch the important stuff out of
mine, into the shell and send back the leftovers.

A week and a half later, still no shell, I'm complaining to Dell every day.
 Finally, out of the blue I get a phone call from someone who says they're
going to come over to put in that screen I got a while back. I almost
(stupidly) told him no, since we were now doing the shell exchange, but
thankfully I had kept those parts (despite the continued letter attack from
Dell finance). I set up an "appointment" for between 1-5 pm the next day.
The next morning someone else calls saying they want to set up an
appointment. Now, I have no idea if this is *another* person and maybe
I'll have two people coming over, but I don't care, so I set up an
appointment for between noon and 3pm. Around 1:30 I get a phone call from
Dell finance telling me that they're very upset with me. They finally
listen, and understand what I've said (that even though I've had the parts
for nearly a month no one's come to fix them) and say if the people don't
come that day they'll get involved somehow (as if that will help).

At 2:55 the guy who said between noon and 3 shows up. Fixes the laptop
(not paricularly well - the screen is no longer flush with the sides of the
casing so a bit of light seeps out, but whatever). I send back the other
parts, tell everyone what a horrible experience it's been (it ended up
taking a total of almost 6 weeks anyway - but at least I could still use
the laptop when hooked up to a monitor).

Then, over a month after the laptop is all fixed up in the beginning of
August, a fully functional Dell laptop shows up at my door. This is now
approximately 6 weeks after the "shell exchange" had been ordered anyway,
but I assume it's the shell exchange. I have no idea why no one thought to
cancel the shell exchange (I had specifically told my contact there to make
sure it was cancelled) and I have no idea why it would take 6 weeks to
actually get me that shell exchange. I also received a bill for the shell
exchange to the tune of $4,000. Immediately upon receiving it I started
getting those nasty phone calls from Dell finance asking why I hadn't
returned the machine or paid the bill. I let 'em sweat for a week or so
and sent it back. I hope to never speak to any of them ever again.

In the end I spoke to something like 14 different Dell representatives over
the course of the 6 weeks it took to get the laptop fixed. There were many
conflicting reports and some outright rude behavior. Even on the long
phone call involved nine Dell representatives (Bob, Juan, Emily, Keith,
Pete, Katherine, Dwayne, and Dwayne) none of those people seemed to have
the information as to who I was and what I wanted in front of them. I had
to repeat my "tag number, name, and problem" and whatever else after each
bit on hold. Sometimes the person couldn't help me for completely
pointless reasons "I only deal in desktops, I can't even turn on a laptop"
or (this was the best) "I'm sorry, your computer was purchased as a home
office computer, and I am in small business".

So, that's my Dell laptop horror story. I'm avoiding them from now on.


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