Count on Dell to Fail During a Crisis

I’ve got a bone to pick with Dell over quality and technical support issues lately. Instead of seeing the cute tiger-striped kitten that usually greets me with a log in screen this morning, I was harassed by rolling multi-colored horizontal lines on my laptop screen. I was not a happy camper. It is after 2 pm as I write this and I still haven’t been able to check my e-mail. Sure I have webmail access via another computer, but Outlook pops my 31 e-mail addresses (for my various business and personal needs) every 10 minutes making it easy for me to remain on top of things. So far I’ve only hit 2 of the 31 accounts via webmail today – I apologize if your e-mail is one that I haven’t seen and responded to yet, I’m feeling dysfunctional at the moment.

I bought this Dell Latitude D620 laptop, well not THIS one – but the broken one, in January 2007 and paid a pretty penny for it because it was a top-notch business machine at that time. It has not been reliable and seems to “get sick” when I am at the height of stress, like this week in the middle of an intense job search for Michael and researching potential communities to relocate to in case he lands a job in the Center of Israel. Sometimes I wonder if electrical charges are being emitted from my body that send signals through the laptop causing it to fail when I most need it! Perhaps it isn’t happy being owned by a power user?

A little history on this less than 2-1/2 year old machine:

  • The motherboard had to be replaced in June 2008, during the last few frenzied weeks before we made Aliyah – those of you who know me, know that my life’s data is ON MY LAPTOP. Fortunately I’m married to an extremely competent, technical troubleshooter who calmly solves my problems during those moments when I feel like I’m about to have a nervous breakdown! His solution was to quickly slide his laptop over to my desk and have me use it while he removed the hard drive from mine, put it in an enclosure and slaved it via another computer. Dell provided me with 48-hour turn around service because I was a U.S. business customer still IN the U.S.
  • Three months later, in September 2008, the hard drive died (see Crash! There Goes Another Hard Drive and What’s Up with the Quality of Dell Laptops Lately?). Accomplishing the repair was complicated and costly because I am now in Israel without an international warranty.
  • And here we are 8 months later with a fried motherboard and broken CPU fan. In less than 10 minutes, Michael ran through some troubleshooting tasks and made this determination. It took the Dell Tech Support person in India (how do I know she was in India? My suspicion based on the quality of her English skills) an hour and 14 minutes to complete our chat session and reach the same conclusion.Obviously Dell should hire me to provide their tech support people with better scripts and knowledge base to work from.

    Despite the fact that the laptop is still covered by the 3-year business warranty, “Audrey” instructed me “send your system to Depot… you will receive empty box within 2-3 business days. You will use it to send the system to our depot. Don’t forget to include the ac adapter/power cord (charger), but you must keep the battery and the hard drive. Refer to www.support.dell.com for manuals on how to remove battery/hard drive. Once the depot receive your system, turn around time would be 7-10 business days for the whole round trip depot repair process. I will provide you your dispatch number later once I’m finished ordering the part.”

    When I told her that I am in Israel indefinitely, she tried to get me a Dell contact number in Israel and then responded “im sorry but we dont have a Dell phone number in Isarael, the only way we can fix your laptop is, you need to send your system to a family or friend back in the US,and let them call us, so we can schedule the depot dispatch”

    I told her that I had to pay ridiculous customs fees to receive the free warranty replacement hard drive last fall and shipping the laptop back to the U.S. was not a possibility. So what are my other options? Try contacting International Customer Service between 7 am and 7 pm CENTRAL time – how is that helpful to people in other countries? It’s now 2:30 pm and I have to wait another half hour to call them. I’ll will let you know how it turns out in my next post.

Here’s the full transcript for your amusement:
Session ID:27675905

11:09:18 AM System You are now being connected to an agent. Thank you for using Dell Chat
11:09:18 AM System Connected with ALGb_Buendia_195765
11:09:28 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 Hi! Thank you for using Dell Chat for Small and Medium Business. My name is Andrey, how may I help you today?

11:10:07 AM Teresa Hessler My Latitude D620 service tag ABC1234 is not functioning.
When I turned it on this morning, I got rolling, multi-colored horizontal lines on the display.
The CPU fan is also not working – our tech support guy placed a piece of plastic wrap over the input and output to determine whether or not it is sucking/blowing. It’s not. Please note that all of our laptops are already sitting on laptop coolers to supplement the cooling process.
You can see what I see when I turn it on by clicking on this link (I took a video of it)
http://www.improvingworld.com/MOV02881.MPG
11:11:03 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 thank you for those information..Please give me 2-3 minutes to pull up and check your account.
11:11:14 AM Teresa Hessler Certainly, thank you.
11:11:29 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 you’re welcome
11:14:08 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 Thank you for waiting…Now let’s go back to the issue. Is there any troubleshooting steps that you already tried to correct the problem? Kindly explain what happened in detail. We need it for documentation purposes.

11:16:53 AM Teresa Hessler We first observed this problem a few hours ago. We powered off and the problem returned when we powered up. We used the plastic wrap to confirm that the fan was not functioning, as I mentioned previously. If we let the laptop sit for a while and become completely cold, we can get to the log in screen, although quite distorted looking. When I log in, the screen immediately begins rolling both horizontal and vertical stripes and gets hot. Since we can’t see anything on the screen, we’re not sure what else to do. This appears to be a case of heat damage, from a failed fan, to the onboard video section of the motherboard.
11:20:39 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 thank you for those information…just to clarify, your system is turning off by itself because of overheating, right?
11:21:45 AM Teresa Hessler No. When the screen is scrolling I can’t shut it down using the software, so I power it down by holding the on/off button in until it shuts down. The system has not shut down on its own, I shut it down because I can feel the keyboard getting hot.
11:26:45 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 oh i see..so the prolem of your system is not shuttingdown using the shutdown option on your desktop,right?……. your system is hanging up when your trying to shut it down using the shutdown menu on desktop,right?
11:28:24 AM Teresa Hessler No there is no problem shutting down or turning on. The problem is what happens when I do turn it on. I can’t see the desktop, the display is distorted and showing only scrolling, multi-colored lines – both vertically and horizontally. The laptop is completely dysfunctional because the fan isn’t working and has obviously caused at least the video section of motherboard to overheat and become damaged.
11:30:55 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 do you have the system with?
11:31:08 AM Teresa Hessler The system “with” what?
11:31:15 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 you
11:31:18 AM Teresa Hessler Yes
11:33:00 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 lets check pls if the fan is not really working…i will send you link that we can use to check if the fan is not working
11:34:52 AM Teresa Hessler I don’t see how you will accomplish that since I am typing on a different machine and when I turn that machine on I can’t see anything on the desktop. Our engineer has already checked that the fan is NOT blowing or turning. If you can access the machine without me clicking on a link that I can’t see, I guess you could try it. It’s not turned on right now because it gets hot when I turn it on. I will wait until you tell me you are ready to try it before I power it up.
11:37:31 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 the link that i will send you..is the diagnostics for fan.. it will teach you how to run diagnostics for the fan..
11:37:48 AM Teresa Hessler Okay, I just turned the machine on
11:38:06 AM Teresa Hessler And I can’t get a login screen, just rolling lines
11:38:36 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 dont turn on the system yet pls..restart system and keep on tapping f12
11:39:22 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 and choose diagnostics pls

11:39:49 AM Teresa Hessler Okay, I turned it on and tapped F12 and I get nothing but a black screen with scrolling multi-colored horizontal lines – I can’t see any words so there is no way for me to choose diagnostics
11:41:11 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 restart again your system pls and tap f12 for 20x pls
11:41:29 AM Teresa Hessler Okay, I already tapped it 36 times.
11:42:08 AM Teresa Hessler I did it again, 30x and with the same results, I can’t read anything on the screen
11:44:46 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 ok..lets run PSA diagnostics pls.turn off your system pls.then press and hold the Fn key and press the power button and release both buttons at the same time, and pls listen for any beep codes and check the LED lights.
11:45:21 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 pls tell me how many beeps you will hear

11:45:50 AM Teresa Hessler We don’t hear any beeps
11:46:16 AM Teresa Hessler The colored lines were scolling again and now the screen has gone completely black
11:46:21 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 how about the led lights, it is blinking or solid?
11:46:57 AM Teresa Hessler Wait, now we got new colors rolling and a double-beep sound, kind of like deedle-leep
11:47:40 AM Teresa Hessler Now we’re getting long beeps and the colors are changing. 8 long beeps and then a musical sound. Then 1-2-3beeps , repeated 3 times
11:48:21 AM Teresa Hessler While the beeps are going on the screen is either solid black, solid white or a solid primary color. When the 3 rounds of 3 beeps completes we’re getting a musical sound and then it starts again.
11:48:47 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 thank you for those information
11:49:33 AM Teresa Hessler The musical sound consists of 5 beeps x 3
11:50:22 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 how about the LED lights is it blinking or solid, How many LED are lit?
11:51:40 AM Teresa Hessler All 3 were blinking with the beeps, they were not lit up when the beeps were ringing. If you want I can do it again and record it on video
11:54:52 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 Teresa, as per of the beeps and led codes that your system gave us, we need to replace your motherboard..
11:55:20 AM Teresa Hessler Okay, that’s what I suggested at the beginning of this session.
11:57:12 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 we need to send your system to Depot… you will receive empty box within 2-3 business days. You will use it to send the system to our depot. Don’t forget to include the ac adapter/power cord (charger), but you must keep the battery and the hard drive. Refer to www.support.dell.com for manuals on how to remove battery/hard drive. Once the depot receive your system, turn around time would be 7-10 business days for the whole round trip depot repair process. I will provide you your dispatch number later once I’m finished ordering the part.
11:59:56 AM ALGb_Buendia_195765 for security purposes, we need to verify ownership for this system. Can you provide me with any of the ff information at time of purchase?: Company Name, Account Name (Billing Contact),”Ship To” Address

11:59:56 AM Teresa Hessler Audrey, I appreciate your service, however, I am currently working in ISRAEL and am not in the US to receive the box. When I was here working last fall and my hard drive failed, I had Dell ship the new hard drive to a NY mailing address when they refused to ship it here. Customs charged me 180 to receive a free warranty replacement hard drive. To have my computer shipped to the US and back, they could conceivably charge me over $1000! I need to receive warranty service via Dell Israel. Please tell me how I can accomplish this because I am working here on a project indefinitely
12:01:24 PM Teresa Hessler Ship to address was 2463 Milton Road, University Heights Ohio 44118.
12:04:08 PM ALGb_Buendia_195765 oh i see, Teresa pls stay on line so i can get the number of Dell Israel
12:08:06 PM Teresa Hessler Okay, thank you.
12:12:54 PM ALGb_Buendia_195765 Thank you for waiting Teresa.. im sorry but we dont have a Dell phone number in Isarael, the only way we can fix your laptop is, you need to send your system to a family or friend back in the US,and let them call us, so we can schedule the depot dispatch
12:14:04 PM Teresa Hessler That is not acceptable as I don’t have family or friends who can do that for me. And I don’t know anyone who is going to the US. What do I need to do to obtain international warranty service? Can you send me the mother board? My tech guy knows how to change them out. We will also need a fan, not just the motherboard
12:19:25 PM ALGb_Buendia_195765 Teresa, If you want to have a international warranty you need to call our customer care department, number is 18004563355 they are open 7am to 7pm central
12:20:17 PM Teresa Hessler Thank you. After I’ve worked that out with them, how do I reference this case so I don’t have to start all over again with a tech support person wanting me to run diagnostics again?
12:21:40 PM ALGb_Buendia_195765 i will put a note on your account, every steps that we did…. i will give you a case number..give 2 minutes pls
12:21:53 PM Teresa Hessler Thank you.
12:25:05 PM ALGb_Buendia_195765 Teresa, thank you for waiting..your case number is 12345678B

The session ended and a Dell Survey popped up and after completing the multiple choice questions, I provided the following response to their “9. How can we improve the chat experience for you?” question:
Hire competent people who don’t have to depend on a script. We already went through the troubleshooting options and knew the motherboard and fan needed to be replaced – this person wasted an hour and 15 minutes of my work day and didn’t resolve the issue. We need international warranty service during international business hours. What good is international customer service if they’re not open 24/7? I work in Israel and it costs me a fortune in customs fees to receive free warranty parts. Why can’t I receive service HERE when I’m working here indefinitely. This is the THIRD time my laptop has failed in less than a year, this is not acceptable.

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