Dell Tries To Repair $10 Battery, Hoses $150 Video Card

Dell sent a tech to replace the CMOS battery on Richard’s computer. The tech did replace the battery, but he also ripped out the I/O cable to the motherboard, and ruined Richard’s $150 video card. Richard writes:

About a month and a half ago. My desktop computer’s cmos battery died. This is really hardly an issue and the computer can run without a properly running battery (merit, the bios resets from time to time) Now, me being an ex-Syntech computer repair tech, I could have just gone down to the local electronics store, get a replacement battery and be done with the problem.

Stupidly, I didn’t. I called Dell. The computer is a Dell (mistake 1, I know) and is still under warranty. I told them send me a new one. After 2 hours of phone hell. They finally agreed with a professional view and send me it.

I get a tech from a Dell repair subcontractor company called BancTec. Dell does none of its own work, it merely subcontracts all repairs out (like they do for all their services). After exchanging calls, the tech finally comes to my house days later. He gives me a 15 minute phone warning just before his arrival. I shut off my otherwise perfectly working normal computer. Log out of my game and start to disconnect the box, wearing a strap guard and using a static mat. I take the computer off to a hard surface and open it up for him. I used to be a tech, I know these guys are paid terribly and get no benefits. They need to get as many jobs in as possible to make ends meat.

I show him my computer and let him get to work. Here is where things get odd. He has a new motherboard with him. Hmmm.. that’s new… this is just a simple battery fix. He starts removing the parts on my computer and has no strap guard on, despite the fact that I supplied him one that is still attached to the computer. Hmmm… ok. That’s not right.

So he replaces the motherboard, replaces the dead battery and I set the computer back up.

The hard drive spins, lights blink, but no video.

We both blink.

We try a few things, making sure things are set down, IDE controllers are set. While trying a these things, he manages to rip the I/O cable of my motherboard (the switch that turns the computer on.) Oh boy, this tech is looking better and better.

I swap out another video card on another computer and everything is just fine. We try the first card again, and it flashes the monitor for but a second, then nothing. My fear is confirmed. It’s a dead card.

He packs up and starts to leave. Normally, when a computer does not work properly after being serviced, he has to call up the warranty company (in this case, Dell) and tell them the service work failed and they tell him what to do next. He again, this tech disappoints and simply leaves me there with a dead card. I ask him what I should do and get a ‘talk to dell’.

I talk to Dell, but there is a problem. The card is a third party card. I bought from Newegg. Dell doesn’t care about parts that aren’t Dell parts.. But wait? Doesn’t home installation void my warranty to begin with? Well, in this case no. Remember I’m a licensed tech who has run dell calls before.

Needless to say, I have never seen a tech’s work be so terrible. Not only did he seemingly brick an otherwise perfectly working minutes prior video card, rip my I/O cable out of it’s socket, but when I looked over his work after he left, he left cables loose and the battery he was supposed to replace, was half out of it’s socket.

After several hours hours of pain and suffering through foreign accents I can barely understand, I get my tech’s boss. Apparently someone who actually gives a damn. I am told the magical words “We’ll make this right.”

So Ok, So maybe this won’t be too bad.

I spend what little remaining college money I have (I’m a poor college student) to get a replacement card for the time being and am able to do my routine. More Consumerist and Kotaku readings to keep me sane!

Weeks later, I get a claim form. I fill it out, give all the rebate forms I had, all information I give. I give to them

Today I get a fedex certified letter:

“Dear Richard,

This letter serves as BancTec’s response to your claim with regards to the above reference service call.
After thorough investigation and discussions with all the people involved in this matter, BancTec is unable to substantiate your claim and grand your requests for monetary compensation for the video card in question.

Sincerely,
Martha Desrochers”

$150 dollars is not worth a court case, but out of sheer protest, I will never buy another dell product again.

Techs are responsible for fixing your computer, and they should be held accountable if your computer breaks in their care. If Dell isn’t willing to fix the card their agent broke, you should sue them in small claims court. Dell probably won’t show, giving you a default judgment for the cost of a brand new video card.

Update: Dell offered Richard a $200 gift card and an apology.

(Photo: Guimo)

Comments

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  1. Mike_ says:

    The cable that connects your motherboard to the power switch is not an “I/O cable”. I’m not sure I’d want either of you working on my computer.

    • Anonymous says:

      hello im jeff i started working for banctec about 4 months ago and i know that some things are phucked up with them but now that we have switched over to qualxserv they are much more strict. The techs are supposed to have there own buisness and tons of experience at least..qualxserv gives you A+ certification after testing ofcourse. And i take good care of my clients. If there is so much as a scratch on the plastics i will make dell send new ones. You could honestly throw your laptop down the stairs and i would have your back with dell to have it repaired or replaced OVERNIGHT. thats right its no longer repaired in 3 days its NEXT DAY SERVICE. Anyways i would just like to say there are a few bad apples but ive been building desktops and laptops since i was 12 so im not one of those lol. anyways dont be afraid of getting a dell, i honestly own an hp myself but its all good.

  2. 3drage says:

    Small claims court is an option. It’s something like $15 to file a complaint.

    I work for a company that buys Dell desktop PCs. They are one of the few tech companies out there who have call centers in the US. Also, I’ve had two CMOS batteries go out recently. A quick Internet chat with Dell with the words “I am a network specialist who does desktop support for my company, please send me a battery and I will replace it myself.” worked smashingly to solve the problem. One day later I had the battery replaced.

  3. jpp123 says:

    Battery $10, Video Card $150, bad publicity for Dell because their repair company hires morons – priceless.

    When will companies learn that when they screw up people tell 2 million of their closest friends ….

  4. I still can’t wrap my brain around calling Dell for a CMOS battery even if it is under warranty. I have a pack of those on hand even though we have 50+ machines under warranty.

    I wouldn’t even go as far as going through an internet chat to get them to send me the battery.

  5. Xerloq says:

    Anyone who purchases a computer from any of the big manufacturers should know that any third-party products should be removed before having the unit serviced. In my opinion, it’s in the same vein as backing up your data and wiping the drive to prevent the Nerd Herd from ripping your sensitive data.

    Nevertheless, they are responsible for replacing anything they break while servicing your computer. Take ‘em to small claims – you’ll win by default if they don’t show up. $15 bucks to recover a $150 video card isn’t much, especially to “make ends meat” (sic).

    Lesson, learn to DIY. Build your own computer; replace your own CMOS batteries. You can experience substantial savings as a DIYer, and you’re not at the mercy of Big Business or offshore call centers.

  6. SenorChach says:

    In Dell PC’s there is usually a small board that houses the power and reset buttons and LED’s for the front of the case. This board connects with the systemboard using a ribbon cable that resembles a small IDE cable. The tech ripped out this ribbon cable, so in essence, it was an I/O cable.

  7. FreemanB says:

    Okay, you have a dead CMOS battery, and you stand there while he takes out your motherboard? You notice that he doesn’t have a wrist strap on, and you don’t say anything then either? At some point, didn’t it occur to you to simply pop the battery out of the new motherboard and put it in the old one? To me, there are too many details in this story that just don’t add up. A new motherboard is likely to cause a lot more problems. I’m not saying the tech didn’t break anything, but I don’t think the submitter is quite as experienced as he wants people to believe.

  8. covaro says:

    Wow, I couldn’t fathom calling on a warranty replacement for a $0.75 part that can be installed in under 2 min. I personally NEVER allow Dell techs to actually do the work, I always make them send me the part and I’ll do the work myself.

    Lesson to be learned, most anyone running those field calls for Dell doesn’t really know what they are doing.

  9. Cowboys_fan says:

    @FreemanB: I’m with you on this one. Anyone who knows how to fix their own computer knows better than to call a tech to do it for them, especially something this simple. The wrist strap isn’t such a big deal if he grounded himself in other ways. If you were a former Dell tech, is that not like the blind leading the blind?
    Dell certainly needs to come through for him however. They have no right in doing most of what they did to change a simple battery. Its not like he’s claiming it was a top notch card either at $150. At least send a comparable video card, or a gift card, something.

  10. Ryan Duff says:

    @solareclipse2: That’s exactly what I was thinking. You have a better chance of keeping a working Dell when you repair it yourself vs calling them to fix it. Especially since it was something as simple as a CMOS battery! It’s not like the motherboard went bad and they had to disconnect everything (although he did in this case). I don’t buy Dell and it’s not on my recommendation list when anyone asks.

  11. overbysara says:

    dude. that sucks.

  12. remusrm says:

    i agree… you must be pretty comfortable to do this… i would just fix it… suits you well for not doing it yourself… really…

  13. topgun says:

    Dude. Out of curiosity do tell chicks your a Starship Captain as a pickup line? I mean were you really a tech? A+ certified? The last CMOS battery I purchased cost me $1.25 and took 3 seconds to replace once the case was cracked. That’s not even worth the pain of a phone call to anybodys tech support. Being a poor college student you should be studying (grammar for one) and not playing video games and blowing your money on a high end card. Unless this guy who worked on your ‘puter was poking around with a kitchen fork, it’s hard to believe he friend your card.Is it seated right, CMOS tweaked? How about the warranty on the card manufacturer?

  14. Mike_ says:

    When computer people talk about an “I/O cable”, they don’t mean the bundle of wires that connects the case to the motherboard. I think he saw that the power switch has an “I” and an “O” on it, heard someone say “I/O cable”, and assumed the I/O cable connects to the power switch. It doesn’t.

    One reason to have Dell (or their subcontractor) do this sort of work is that if something goes wrong, you have someone other than yourself to blame. If that’s your expectation, you should let the technician handle everything, starting with shutting down the PC. Instead, the tech was presented with an open case, and neither the customer nor the tech has any way to prove who fried the video card (it may have been dead before the tech arrived on-scene).

    Why replace the motherboard? I dunno. CMOS batteries aren’t supposed to die that quickly. Maybe a defective component was draining the battery. Instead of asking, he stood aside and let the tech tear apart his computer, despite his misgivings.

    Do they owe him a video card? Maybe. Maybe not.

  15. yasth says:

    I let dell techs do motherboard replacements, well notebook motherboard replacements, as well hassle much?

    They have honestly always done the job fine enough. They aren’t the most creative people on the planet generally, but I find it rather surprising that an under warranty desktop computer would have a CMOS battery problem. Of 1000+ dells haven’t had a single one with that particular problem, and not all of them are under warranty either. Indeed a glance on google shows that excluding laptops it seems to be a pretty rare problem.

    Also the front panel I/O card cable (which IIRC what dell calls it so I guess it is an I/O cable) pulling out is not exactly a big deal.

  16. LSonnenhimmer says:

    Seems like you where begging him to break it.
    I smell BS here.

    Shame on you consumerist for just publishing without verifying. If you did, then please explain how you verified this story.

  17. milty45654 says:

    Yeah, you were a tech using your mat and static strap and you called Dell to replace a CMOS battery…..that’s the equivalent of me bringing my car in to refill my windshield washer fluid…cmon…use your head

  18. lemur says:

    Here’s an honest question to those who suggest that the guy should have requested the part from Dell and just installed the part himself.

    Is this something Dell would allow?

    I’ve never owned a Dell desktop but I’ve owned three Dell laptops. I know that Dell will let users service certain parts by themselves. However, it seems to me that some operations would be deemed too difficult by Dell. Changing an entire motherboard, for instance, is not something the average user knows how to do. For sure the operation described in the complaint is something I would consider easy but the line between what service can be done by the user and what has to be done by a tech has to be drawn somewhere.

    (Yeah, I’ve read 3drage’s post but that sounds like the treatment that Dell would give “business users”. I’m not convinced that they would treat “home users” in the same way.)

    Note: I’m not asking about what Dell *should* do. I’m asking whether anybody knows what operations Dell currently allows a home user to perform.

    2nd Note: I’m **not** suggesting that doing the whole repair by himself without calling Dell at all was not the best option.

  19. mrjimbo19 says:

    Actually the fact that your a “Dell tech” had nothing to do with them still honoring the warranty. Most warranties will still be honored on the factory equipment just not the items you installed. I disagree though about people stating that you should have just installed it yourself as if Dell was willing to cover it under warranty they should cover it under warranty no games attached.

    There are a few things that seem odd about this story though
    - If you had a video card installed aftermarket why not install the video card that came with the machine for the time being instead of installing another new card?
    - Being a tech you know that most wriststraps are not going to do much, an ounce of prevention and all that…

    Overall I would probably still be raising a stink and trying to get a resolution out of this, dont give up so quickly

  20. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @topgun: Oh, I bet he’s totally got an A+ certification. My cat has one too.

    Funny thing: this is why phone support people won’t listen to you when you tell them “I know all about computers, I’m a tech, I’m a sysadmin, I’m certified.” They know you’re probably ignorant AND arrogant, and that’s a combination that leads to accidental hardware destruction. At least the folks who start off with “I’m computer-illiterate” know they don’t know anything and will be scared to mess around with stuff they don’t understand.

  21. Anonymous says:

    So I’m confused. You saw the shoddy work he did on your system, you saw how he was going to replace the entire motherboard for just a CMOS battery, you saw how he killed your video card while he was STILL there, and you let him leave without getting his name, employee number, and supervisor’s contact info? You could have avoided all that stuff with talking to Dell (and come on, did you seriously expect their warranty to cover a third party card?) by just getting that info before he left.

    Maybe I read this wrong, but I don’t understand how you were surprised at Dell’s contracting for tech services. It would cost them (and you) a LOT more money if they had actual Dell-badged employees waiting all across the country to do service calls.

    Granted, this tech screwed up and most definitely should be held accountable for his poor workmanship. However, you can’t put all the blame on him, as it seems you were too lazy to do some things in the very beginning: take out the third party card, supply (or at least offer) him a wrist guard when you saw he didn’t have one, or get his info when you realized he borked your computer.

    Take it to small claims, pay the $15 and get your money back. Live and learn.

  22. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    Weiner..ha ha..i said weiner.

  23. The story is either totally BS, or he’s the dumbest “smart guy” ever.

    Also, who ever uses a static strap? In my 18 years of computer work, I’ve never damaged a computer/electronic component via static electricity. It’s a bit overkill.

    My Blog: [www.pdsys.org]

  24. Nicholai says:

    I don’t let anyone touch the guts of my computer. I do all hardware mods/repairs myself.

  25. falconree says:

    I like this part:

    “They need to get as many jobs in as possible to make ends meat.”

    And,
    I agree with others. . . . why, o why call about a battery, even under warranty that you know you could have fixed yourself.

    I simply see a pricey lesson for a starving student. Dang dude, tough “break”

  26. Mike_ says:

    @yasth: I was envisioning two wires running from the power button to a pair of pins on the motherboard. That’s not an I/O cable, but I can understand how someone with limited experience might think it is — the power icon is an “I” and an “O”, after all.

    If Dell bundles all of the case LEDs and buttons into one ribbon cable, I suppose it is reasonable to call it the “front panel I/O cable”. This sounds like a nice feature. Last time I opened my eMac, re-attaching the case to the logic board was a guessing game.

  27. CapitalC says:

    Only in a Dell machine would the battery die within a year.

  28. rawsteak says:

    the fault lies with the tech and the company that hired him, but you should get smacked upside the head for letting someone else touch your computer for such an easy part. if i had a warranty on my Dell computer, the only thing i would call tech support for is some hardware failure that i might have incorrectly diagnosed, or to at least show another tech that it wasn’t my fault. maybe i would feel bad if you you didn’t know anything about computers, but you’re a so-called “fellow tech” and you were just lazy. granted, if i was the tech, i’d pay for the card out of my own pocket, but that would just be me trying to help out someone that knows nothing about computers. if i was the tech and then found out you were just lazy, i’d tell you to call Dell just like that kid told you.

  29. Hanke says:

    @Mike_: Dell does indeed call this the “Front panel I/O cable”. It is labeled as such inside the machine, in most cases.

  30. FreemanB says:

    @CapitalC: A CMOS battery isn’t any different from other batteries. Some last longer than others, and some die in a very short amount of time. I’m not a big fan of Dell, but I don’t think you can really blame them for a dead battery.

  31. Mike_ says:

    @Hanke: Well, in that case, I take it back. When he said the tech ripped the I/O cable out of its motherboard socket, and then described it as the cable that connects to the power switch, he sounded like an idiot to me.

  32. pete says:

    @SenorChach:
    Seconded.
    I’ve done that myself. If you try to disconnect that I/O cable from the mobo by pulling on the cable, it just rips out of its connector.
    /sucks

  33. Hawk07 says:

    Yay, another bad Dell PR story that they can botch. We’ll see how long it takes for consumerist to be contacted by Dell legal.

  34. KIRZEN2007 says:

    CMOS Battery …………………. $3.49
    Half Hour Call to Dell ………… $10.00
    (I’m presuming if you’re a good tech, you’re making $20+ an hour)
    Video Card ………………….. $150.00
    Getting Screwed ……………… FREE!
    BBB Complaint …………………. FREE!
    Small Claims …………………….. TBA

    It depends on the laws in your perticular municipal court, which usually drops right down to the state level, in some cases you can come after them for your filing fees. Don’t go after Dell, go after the servicer, because Dell’s liability is limited to their own technology, but the servicer fucked up your hardware and is obviously incompetant, so take -them- to small claims, throw the book at them in BBB, once BBB finds in your favor (they will), then file the lawsuit, the BBB case will help prove your point, and if the BBB lands on the store when they get the summons to appear, they may just roll over and give you a new card.

    Lesson?

    There really isn’t one, as much as I’d like to tell you that it was stupid not to walk to your local store, throw $3.50 down on the counter and pull a new battery off the shelf…

    As a consumer, I can’t blame you, because you should be entitled to competant technical staff to work on your product under warranty…

    As a technician, I can laugh at you, its -mean- to laugh at you, and unfair, but I’m going to do it anyhow, because the first rule we learned as technicians, is to -never- let anyone put their hands on your junk… Which is to say, if you wouldn’t trust them to stick their hands down your pants… don’t trust them to stick their hands in your case.

  35. Phuturephunk says:

    I work in an office that has Dell as it’s primary computer supplier.
    I’ve probably gone through about a thousand of them in the last 5 years
    (normal replacement cycles as well as spectacular explosions).

    Usually, you can get on the phone with them and just ask them to mail
    you a CMOS battery, I have no idea why they didn’t go for the cheapie
    option first and just give you one. Then again, I’ve got premier
    support and I’m a B2B client, so things are different.

    Rule of thumb: Never get the tech unless its something that’s
    completely over your head. I don’t want to do any unecessary finger
    wagging, but as a tech you should have stopped that guy dead in his
    tracks when he started trying to remove any of the expansion cards from
    the slots. A simple “Lets just try flipping the battery out first and
    see what happens, it’ll save you a lot of time” in a cheery, friendly
    tone would have worked wonders. Never let them do work above and beyond
    what is required, because as you said, most of these guys usually work
    on local ATM machines.

    Several years ago when I actually worked for Dell in their support arm
    (outsourced to my company) all the techs they sent out were all Diebold
    and NCR technicians. These are not the guys you want handling expansion
    cards and, god forbid, a processor or mobo replacement.

    Live and learn, but I doubt Dell is going to pay for this.

  36. Iron_Dragon_2.0 says:

    “Now, me being an ex-Syntech computer repair tech”

    1) Why do you own a dell? You installed your own video card and you seem to know some things about your system. Build a custom rig next time.

    2) You called in a dell tech to replace a $5 battery? Why?

    3) You just needed a CMOS battery and you let him rebuild the entire computer? Why???

    4) You’re standing over him while he’s not using the wrist band and you say nothing? WHY???

    At this point you’re just asking to be hit by a shit storm. You’re a really poor tech if you let him do all this to your system in front of you.

    Aside from the stupidity of standing by and doing nothing Dell dropped the ball here. They should be responsible for the damage. It’s no different than a plumber messing with your wiring. If it wasn’t under warranty then he shouldn’t have touched it and in this case he didn’t need to.

  37. Phildawg says:

    OMG you called techsupport, spent 2 hours on the phone, then had to spend time waiting on a tech to come to your home…. for a $3 CR2032 cell battery…. This is not a $10 battery, it sells for $2-$3. You deserve to lose your video card.

    P.S. you can actually rip the I/O cable off a motherboard while a PC is running and it will not affect the PC… lol. All they do is act like switches. They make a connection between the 2 pins to tell the PC to startup, reset. The LED and Speaker also have no bearing. Only a USB/Firewire header would, and those are always a different set of connectors.

  38. MrEvil says:

    Banctec doesn’t pay well at all. I work for one of their “Competitors” (Another company that does Dell warranty work) I’m paid better, have a better call volume and my company has a bit higher standard. I also do IBM and Sony warranty work.

    I have yet to break any customer system. I ALWAYS make sure they have either a working computer, or parts on the way before I leave the premises. If only I could get 600 clones of myself, I’d have the market cornered.

    Richard, don’t church yourself up, I know of no licencing for techs. Only certifications that anyone who can memorize the answers out of a book can take. However, I might not be in your state (I’m in TX) and I don’t have to have any sort of licence to work on computer systems.

    Unfortunately, here’s another problem, the good technicians such as myself are presently looking for better work because Dell punishes all the techs at company X if their survey scores drop off. I’m kind of tired of having to eat Ramen because some nutsack in PA can’t do his job.

  39. f3rg says:

    I find it extremely amusing that the guy can purchase a $150 video card and install it himself, yet doesn’t spend a couple bucks on a battery and pop it in. It’s like replacing your tranny, but then taking your car in to have the tires rotated.

    The only fingerprints inside my PC case belong to me and I plan on keeping it that way.

  40. swalve says:

    @Mike_: Dell calls it an I/O cable in their technical manuals. It’s got nothing to do with the one zero marking on the power switch.

    This is fishy. First of all, real field technicians don’t wear wrist straps- grounding oneself while working around high voltages is not a good idea. There’s no need for it if proper procedures are followed. Secondly, this guy should have just put the battery in himself. Thirdly, Richard needs to learn the english language.

    Is it just me, do these customer letters seem to be getting sillier and sillier?

  41. stevekal says:

    When placing a warranty repair call to Dell, if you want to do the repair yourself, all you need to do is request a “parts-only” dispatch.

    Dell LOVES this type of warranty call. All they pay for is the part, plus the overnight shipping charges.

    This way Dell doesn’t have to pay for a housecall.

    But of course, as a former third-party Dell tech, you already know this.

    If you know you need a new CMOS battery (really just a watch battery), and the dude arrives with a new motherboard, just pluck out the battery from the new motherboard, and pop it in your PC. Voila!

  42. BankTechie says:

    I work for Banctec and I can tell you a few things you probably don’t want to know.

    First of all we are paid $23 per service call – that’s it just $23 bucks and it gets better. Replace a motherboard, take maybe 1.5 hours to do it right and .5 hours to the next call. That’s $12.50 an hour. But it gets better – we have to pay our own mileage (10-15 miles per service call) AND have to pay for our own cell phone. Banctec requires that we make roughly 6 calls per customer (including 3 calls to the voice response system to update our enroute status). So basically, with milage and cell phone time, we’re only making maybe 9 or 10 bucks an hour TOPS.

    Banctec sucks.

    The ONLY way to make any money at all with Banctec is to try to run 6-8 calls a day and THAT means cutting every possible corner and making EVRY possible shortcut (including making YOU call the India guys) and guess who gets screwed when that happens?? Yup.

    I don’t want to work for these guys but I have had a LOT of trouble in finding work (I’m over 40) in the current market.

    Dell knows this is happening – they don’t care about you or about me. Banctec doesn’t care. If either did then they would pay a decent livable wage to their technicians so they honestly could afford to treat your computer right.

    I WANT to treat you and your computer right. Up until now I have always thought of myself as a professional. I can no longer afford to be professional – not at 8 lousy bucks an hour if I do it all the way it SHOULD be done. I can barely afford to live on the $12 an hour that I’ll get when I don;t put back half the internal screws to your laptop (for example) because it takes too damn long to make sure it gets done right.

    And that SUCKS. I feel crappy about it but I need to eat. Call me an ass – go ahead – I already feel like one.

    As soon as a find ANY other I.T. job I’m gone from Banctec but right now I have to make my rent.

    And that’s why your computer got screwed by Banctec or the Geek Squad or any number of other companies who’s CEOs make hundreds of millions while they pay their service techs 8 bucks an hour.

  43. Rusted says:

    Extremely easy to replace the battery. Fishy story. I’ve never bought off the shelf. Kinda like not having weird proprietary parts and configured full of garbage.

  44. create says:

    rofl, soooo many things, where to start?

    a $2-3 item… call dell? pffff, screw that

    and then, replace an entire motherboard for a battery?!? not that i would complain about a free mb… hell, if the card hadn’t died, you might have actually made it worth while for all that farting around

    i used to work at a local repair shop (for like 2 years) those guys dell sends are out a friggin’ joke, we used to get calls offering to pay $7 an hour (no gas money/mileage) if we went and handled a repair for them, with the promise of more work in the future if it went well (LOL)

    i always politely informed them our in-shop rate was $70 an hour, and our on-site rate was $90 an hour… your skills must really suck if you are willing to drive out (and some of the places were 30+ min away) and go fix a computer for $7 an hour… tbh i’d rather sit on my ass and be poor than be subjected to going into other people’s homes and fixing god knows what for $7/hr

  45. scooby2 says:

    @swalve: I have to agree. Been a sysadmin for 13 years now and not once have I ever used a silly wrist-strap. Touch a piece of grounded metal first and then go at it. Not once have I ever fried anything.


    As for the OP, i feel sorry for him. He must be slow or handicapped to call Dell to replace a stupid CMOS battery. I maintain 43 Dell servers and have never done anything besides the parts-only dispatch. I figure out what is wrong, call up Dell, get my part delivered within 4 hours, and install. No bubbles no troubles.

  46. jmschn says:

    I’m with everyone else on here who thinks this story is highly dubious…everyone made great points like if you knew how to install a gfx card, you know how to install a battery; likewise, if you know to use all the precautionary steps, static strap guard etc and you don’t do the job yourself? OP said it best:

    Stupidly, I didn’t. I called Dell. The computer is a Dell (mistake 1, I know) and is still under warranty. I told them send me a new one. After 2 hours of phone hell. They finally agreed with a professional view and send me it.

    What in the right mind would you waste so much time on the phone to replace a battery? I think you were trying to score a new system because you broke it yourself doing who knows what…admit your own mistake buddy and stop playing the blame game.

  47. Amea says:

    This has to be my favorite part:

    “So he replaces the motherboard, replaces the dead battery and I set the computer back up.”

    So, umm, wasn’t the dead battery removed with the motherboard?

    Followed closely by:

    “…and start to disconnect the box, wearing a strap gaurd and using a static mat. I take the computer off to a hard surface and open it up for him.”

    So you used a strap gaurd and static map before even opening the computer? Wow, you are this paranoid and still let someone else work inside your system?

    Also, how long since you were a Dell Tech? Curious since you didn’t even comment on the status of their diag lights which have been around for years (and judging by the pic, this is a newer BTX based model so they were there). Could have easily been some loose component since you said there were so many.

    Some other tidbits to chew on:
    - Adding 3rd Party components only voids the warranty if it causes covered components to fail. Such as a 3rd party memory stick hosing the MB because it is the wrong type.
    - Dell does allow anyone to request Parts-Only for desktops, but typically hesitates for core parts (MB, CPU).If you still opt for it, you can call up and have them sit on the phone with you/walk you through it and any work/damage will likely be covered under warranty. Portables is another matter for those not Dell Certified to work on them (for parts not deemed customer replaceable).
    - Don’t believe any on-site tech would be responsible for reinstalling 3rd party components – only for getting the Dell system working. The fact that he even tried to install the card was an extra on his part. Just like they aren’t responsible for starting the reinstall following HDD replacement but a lot do.

  48. Victorlazlo says:

    Working on a computer without a static stap will not brick your video card. Come on folks, we have all done it a million times without a problem.

    I think this gent put a bad video card into his own computer right before the tech came over, and now he is trying to blame it on the tech. Notice how the computer was not running when the tech got there; it was already laid out on a table.

    That explains why an experienced tech would call dell to replace a simple battery: he needed a patsy.

  49. soulman901 says:

    Seems a little odd that the OP would allow the dude to rip out all the parts just to replace a CMOS Battery.
    I call Shenanigans!!!!
    I wish that whoever is reviewing these to really read and question the guy.
    Shame on Consumerist for posting this faux story.

  50. surgesilk says:

    Yummmm….’ends meat’….

  51. swalve says:

    victorlazlo- I think you’ve figured it out. “How can I be screwing you- I’m using a static mat!”

  52. anyone with half a brain will use dell’s online chat support. Tell them your problem, tell them the solution, tell them how you came to that conclusion and what parts you need to fix it and they mail it right out to you. I’ve never had an instance when I got a part that took more than 15 minutes. This includes a mobo, hard disk, and video card in 1 shot, as well as various other sticks of ram, mobos, etc at other times. There are too many things in this story that just plain make no sense for me to take it seriously.

  53. MarvinMar says:

    Besides all the other stuff mentioned here, How well did you really test that Video card?
    Send it to me. I will take it.

    New motherboard means new default settings.
    If the motherboard has onboard video, you are not goint to see anything on the monitor connected to your addin card untill you first connect the monitor to the onboard video, enter the bios, and setup the agp card.

    So go ahead and send me that “DEAD” card, I got lots of computers lying around waiting for a nice video upgrade.

  54. StevieD says:

    I own many Dells (small business).

    Never had bad service by their outsource techs.

    Most service technician knows that the outsourced CSR’s seldom know the difference between a monitor and an ink-jet printer, and when given a specific job to perform it is often best to confirm that task with the computer owner. As such every one of the service techs that has visited my business has reconfirmed the tasks to be performed.

    If there had been any decent communication between this particular tech and the computer owner, this entire problem could have been avoided.

    Sorry the video card got fried, but it seems the computer owner is far more responsible for the loss of the card than any service tech.

  55. Nilt says:

    Remember I’m a licensed tech who has run dell calls before.

    Licensed by whom? If you’ve “run Dell calls before” then why’d you call them for a stupid thing like this?

    Sorry, Consumerist. I’m calling BS on this one. This guy’s either full of crap or just plain agitating for a free video card.

  56. JohnP at Dell says:

    I’m on the digital media team at Dell and we’ve been trying to get more info on this situation. We’ve passed on resolution contact info to the Consumerist, asking them to provide us contact details for this customer — or to pass along our contact details to him. So far we’ve heard from neither.

  57. Sys Admn says:

    The biggest lesson here is, if you are not satisfied with the quality of the work or the outcome, do not sign the invoice. Politely refuse. Let HIM call the supervisor to ask what to do. If he leaves without a signature, ask for a copy of the work order – there is a chance he’ll fake a sig before turning it in.

  58. WageSlave2007 says:

    I am currently a Banctec field tech for a very short time.

    There is no financial incentive to do a job properly or exhibit exceptional customer service.

    Like many outfits today, you are only paid if you replace hardware; that’s why techs will replace a motherboard rather than troubleshoot or really fix a computer.

    Dell talks the end user through a troubleshooting process that may include dismantling parts of the computer. An elderly customer yesterday had her laptop half apart before I arrived.

    I can barely understand the 800 number folks we talk to for updating call information.

    They want you who to run your personal vehicle into the ground for pennies.

    The only reason I can imagine someone would work for this outfit or others like it is because they can’t get work elsewhere.