Dell On Call Scam: No Service at Any Price

By , December 11, 2008

(December 11, 2008) — I’ve spent the past two weeks trying to obtain support from Dell for my Dimension 5150 (e510) computer. I’ve finally concluded that Dell will not provide support, for any price.

It all started, apparently, with a failed hard disk. I’m not really sure — it took many months to diagnose the problem, and several failed attempts to re-install the operating system. Finally, late this summer, Dell sent a replacement hard drive, which I was able to install (it was pre-installed with the operating system configured exactly the same way my system was shipped from the factory, so I didn’t need to re-install the operating system again at that time).

Since I had purchased the computer in September 2006, the warranty expired in September 2008.

In early December, I experienced a series of problems which ultimately forced me to re-format my hard disk and re-install Windows XP (in fact, the first attempt to re-install did not work, so I had to re-format and re-install Windows twice in one day).

Since then, I have been unable to maintain a reliable “wi-fi” wireless internet connection. I am able to access the internet, but the connection is “intermittent,” and is interrupted at random times (sometimes several times within a few minutes, and sometimes only two or three times per day). In order to continue, I must right-click on the Windows Wireless Network icon in the system tray, and select “Repair,” and then wait 20-30 seconds while the connection is disabled, reset, and then re-enabled and re-connected (sometimes this doesn’t work, so I must repeat the “Repair”). Of course, this makes it almost impossible to accomplish meaningful online work.

I’ve spent many hours on the phone with Comcast, McAfee, and Dell, and finally determined that the problem is some sort of conflict between the wireless device drivers installed in the computer. Unfortunately, Windows XP has an amazing “memory” (probably a cache of device-driver data) — there is simply no way to delete or remove the wireless drivers in order to re-install them.

After spending about 15 hours trying to get my intermittent connection fixed — and after having Dell, Comcast, and McAfee each point the finger at each other — I finally determined that the problem was in the configuration of the wireless drivers in the computer. Re-installing the operating system yet again is certainly an option, but since I don’t know what (if anything) was done wrong during the last re-installation, I doubt that this would actually fix the problem.

But now I’m stuck: Dell won’t provide support, at any price. Each time I call Dell, I am told that because my warranty is expired, I must call “Dell On Call” for paid support. However, the Dell On Call service description (the closest thing to a “contract” that they offer) expressly excludes problems with software configuration from coverage. (It says, “Dell On Call HelpDesk Service Does Not Include: * * * Support when compatibility of the system to the software is in question or configuration is invalid.”

The result, now, is that I can no longer use this computer with a wireless connection. My choices are to either drill a hole to run an unsightly long ethernet cable, or else buy another computer. — Mark J. Welch

One Response to “Dell On Call Scam: No Service at Any Price”

  1. James says:

    I’ve spent the last year fighting with the Dell Escaltion team and have conclude that once you purchase their crap, you are on your own. I have never delat with such an ass backward company. I suggest Toshiba or HP to all clients and will not fill a purchase order or provide service for Dell products (including Alienware). I have even sent emails to Michael Dell and Icharon but was consistantly referred back to the Escalation Team that insisted that a client pay for damaged incurred in shipping on a product under warranty with accident insurance coverage that covers everything but accidental damage, lol. I have made it my Don Quixote mission in life to tell the world not to purchase DELL product. I may only be able yo reach a few thousand people in and around Ohio and some GAO contracts but it is a start

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