"Dell Laptop Burned Down My House"

Dan writes is to let us know that a Dell Laptop was the most probable cause of a fire that destroyed his home. We must say he seems in good spirits about it, all things considered:

On Monday morning I was heading to work like any other day.. little did I know that my home was being consumed by a raging fire. I arrived my desk to find that the phone was ringing – I needed to come home immediately was the message.

When I arrived home the entire street was blocked with fire and rescue crews. My 130 year old former farm house was engulfed in flames, with thick dark smoke pouring out of the windows and roof. Over 60 firefighters from 4 departments fought the blaze and battled equipment failures due to the near zero degree weather.

Hours later, after investigation the fire Marshall investigator took me aside asked me if I had a laptop computer. Yes — I told him I had a Dell Inspiron 1200…

It was determined that the laptop, battery, or cord malfunctioned around 15 minutes after I left for work, and quickly spread through the living room, the nearby dining room, and then up a stairwell into the bedrooms. Virtually the entire house suffered extensive fire, smoke, or water damage. The cold weather ensured that water quickly turned to ice which has further burdened and damaged the structure. All of our possessions have been lost – photos, keepsakes, clothes –everything. It looks like the house will be a total loss.

Dan is asking for our help contacting Dell, as they’ve been unresponsive to his queries:

” I have tried to call Dell to at least notify them of my problems, but each time I have called I get transferred into an endless loop of “Joe” or “Alan” all speaking a delectable version of English I presume emanates from Bangalore. I have been outright hung up on each time I get someone who speaks a reasonable version of English, or sounds like they might be in charge of something. Promises of call backs have gone, of course, unreturned.

Maybe you can help notify them. Or maybe pass along my new motto for Dell–

“Dude, you’re getting a burned down house!”

Ouch, this is so horrible. We suppose you could try emailing Dell’s Customer Advocate, Marie at:
Email: Customer_Advocate [at] dell [dot] com. Any suggestions from the rest of you? —MEGHANN MARCO

Dan Writes:
Dear Consumerist:

I’ve been a reader of your site for sometime. When the recent
problems began with laptop batteries I read about it at
consumerist.com. I own two Dell laptops — one for my wife and one
for myself — so I immediately checked out the model numbers and
batteries against dells website designed for the purpose.

On Monday morning I was heading to work like any other day.. little
did I know that my home was being consumed by a raging fire. I
arrived my desk to find that the phone was ringing – I needed to come
home immediately was the message.

When I arrived home the entire street was blocked with fire and rescue
crews. My 130 year old former farm house was engulfed in flames, with
thick dark smoke pouring out of the windows and roof. Over 60
firefighters from 4 departments fought the blaze and battled equipment
failures due to the near zero degree weather.

Hours later, after investigation the fire Marshall investigator took
me aside asked me if I had a laptop computer. Yes — I told him I had
a Dell Inspiron 1200. I had used it briefly while waiting for my car
to warm up. My wife had also used it to check her email and news
before she left for work and to drop our 18-month old daughter off to
work. I had left the laptop in sleep mode with the lid closed on the
edge of the sofa in the living room.

It was determined that the laptop, battery, or cord malfunctioned
around 15 minutes after I left for work, and quickly spread through
the living room, the nearby dining room, and then up a stairwell into
the bedrooms. Virtually the entire house suffered extensive fire,
smoke, or water damage. The cold weather ensured that water quickly
turned to ice which has further burdened and damaged the structure.
All of our possessions have been lost – photos, keepsakes, clothes –
everything. It looks like the house will be a total loss.

Since the incident my homeowners company has been very interested in
the information about the laptop. I have tried to call Dell to at
least notify them of my problems, but each time I have called I get
transferred into an endless loop of “Joe” or “Alan” all speaking a
delectable version of English I presume emanates from Bangalore. I
have been outright hung up on each time I get someone who speaks a
reasonable version of English, or sounds like they might be in charge
of something. Promises of call backs have gone, of course, un
returned.

Maybe you can help notify them. Or maybe pass along my new motto for Dell–

“Dude, you’re getting a burned down house!”

–dan

RELATED:
Another Dell Laptop Ablaze
House Burns; Dell Laptop Blamed

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Coder4Life says:

    Michael Dells in charge, no need to worry… He’ll take care of it, NOTTT..

    But who knows you might want to give that a try, he’s suppose to change teh image of the company and its morals..

  2. NeoteriX says:

    Technically, the battery fiasco is Sony’s fault.

  3. critical_matt says:

    Just file your insurance claim. They will worry about pursuing Dell for you. Believe me, they will find out if the computer was the true cause of the fire. Don’t rely overly much on the fire marshall. Wait for the actual C&O to be done by an engineering firm. This is the easy part. The hard part is remembering all your stuff. I keep photos and a videotape of the house in a safe deposit box. If I have a catastrophic loss, I can pull the tape and do a ‘walk through’ of the house. Makes it easier to remember all your knick knacks. If you can’t tell, I’m an adjuster. If you do tape your stuff, tape everything. If you just tape the expensive things and don’t show the whole house, it’s a fraud indicator.

  4. critical_matt says:

    Oh, and a freebie tip. When you get your claim settlement, it’s going to be initially at actual cash value. Once items are replaced, you’ll make a holdback claim to recover the depreciated amount (you do have replacement cost coverage I hope). Here’s the tip: Depreciation cannot be made due to age as the only cause. It must include some other factor, ie. condition. Insist your stuff is in immaculate condition to get the highest ACV amount possible. electronics are usually 10% a year, computers 15-20% a year, furniture 10%, etc. Fight for that high ACV so your not coming out of pocket to replace things.

  5. lore says:

    Wow, what a bummer. Thanks for your comments, critical_matt! That’s very helpful stuff. Always good to have people in the “know” give us regular Joes a few hints!

  6. dohtem says:

    How will this work out? Will he have a hard time because the batteries were recalled and he didn’t get his replaced?

    I wish Dan the best of luck, I hope it works out.

  7. superbmtsub says:

    It’s hard to make a good case out of this using Dell as a direct defendent against you. The most Dell can do is to provide him a new laptop but then that would be overreachin as well. If you could include your insurance in on the deal, that would be a great way to gettin around to it.

    Dell took steps against this issue so the onus is on you unfortunately.

  8. Kornkob says:

    dohtem and superbmtsub: RTFA

    Since the guy states very clearly that he checked his serials agaisnt Dell’s lists, it’s safe to assume that your ‘you didn’t get your battery serviced’ scenario is not the case.

  9. humphrmi says:

    I agree with critical_matt. You buy insurance for this reason: you don’t worry about Dell. They do. They have as many fancy lawyers as Dell has, and you don’t. Get your life back, and let the insurance company worry about contacting Dell.

    BTW it would be their Legal department that you contact.

  10. Yeah let the insurance company handle it. For future reference, the best way to talk to dell is by going to support.dell.com and clicking the big CHAT WITH A CSR NOW! link on the right side. No automated phone menus, short wait times. With the exception of the week after Christmas when I waited for 14 minutes, I’ve never had to wait more than 5. No trying to understand an accent. The best part is that you can do this while you’re eating, or even watching a movie.

  11. geschmidtt says:

    Just because the computer was plugged in there does not necessarily make it the fault of the computer, battery or power supply. There could have been some random piece of paper or lint that got into the wiring by the outlet. Sure, Dell has the deepest pockets, but it still could have been user error, or the gremlins of everyday entropy. Something like that happened to my dad, he had an electrical alarm clock hooked up behind a night stand with the plug pushed 95% or so against the wall. Some metallic schmutz fell in there and caused a short, which started the carpet on fire. He was fortunately sitting across the room working on his computer and put it out. It could have been a bad thing very quickly…..

  12. ipinkus says:

    I totally believe this. Twice now my Dell Inspiron 6400 power adapter tried to burn down my house… The label bubbled and burned off it the first time I noticed it overheating… I write this comment right now wondering when the hell I’ll get the recall notice. Hope you get a good lawyer bud.

  13. yusufyusuf says:

    Unfortunately, Dell has explicitely made the consumer aware of the Battery recall for a year now. E-mails were sent, contacts were made, it was all over the news and a website is set-up to tell you if your battery is affected.

  14. superbmtsub says:

    STFU KornKob. Where did you get the notion that I was talking about the ‘you didn’t get your battery serviced’ scenario? RMCAYFPSB (read my comments again you f piece of s bag)!

    All I’m sayin is that Dell is known to make solid products (aside from Sony batteries) so it’s hard to make a clear case out of this because as Geschmidtt stated above, anything couldve been the cause of the fire.

  15. aqueen500 says:

    My dell 6400 was on my lap (why it’s called lap-top) I fell asleep…About 30 min later…Oh my god, I was burned on my left leg about 3 inches up from my knee. Had the blankets been between me and the computer I might have had a blaze in my bed. Label should read: Warning this laptop should not be used as a laptop. Severe burn may result!!!
    My boyfriend gave me this little stand for my laptop. It is silver (metal) with two small fans that run as an extra cooling device.
    Seem to me there should be some kind of pop-up-stands on the bottom of a laptop. This would allow more air to flow under. Note: Using the stand w/ fans has not only kept the laptop cool, but my laptop now runs 10xs faster. This may be a clue in preventing burns or fires in the future. If your system seems to be getting stuck or running slow with no apparent reason…It might just need some fresh air.

  16. swalve says:

    They are called notebooks, not laptops. What sort of burn was it- 1st, 2nd or 3rd?

  17. shdwsclan says:

    Im not sure whats with these dells and their burning…..

    Ive got an ibm, and when i work on it in bed and it never gets hot.

    On powersaver, its completely cold. On high performance mode, it just get moderately warm and the fan get loud. Probably because ibm spaced out the componts that generate the most heat….processor, ram, hard drive and vcard instead of clumping them in one corner……

    True, it is a notebook, but its works great as a laptop….

  18. L1feless says:

    There seems to be some confusion by many people who read this article. The gentleman clearly states that he checked his laptop against Dell’s battery recall site. So long as his battery was not on the list he has a pretty solid case to take to court.

    I to work in the insurance industry and agree with those who responded before me when it comes to the replacement costs and making claims. That being said before you make the claim please speak to a lawyer and see what they think the odds of winning in court are and if you making a claim will affect the ability to take Dell to court after making a claim. All contracts are different so be careful which route you take.

    I do hope that you and your family have a place to stay while all of this gets cleared up.

    Best Wishes,

    L1feless