Dell Offers To Repair Your Broken Monitor Over The Internet For $40

Reader Robin is wondering what sort of new technology Dell has invented that will let them physically repair a broken monitor over the internet. Must be some serious science.

So my friend was complaining to me about how her Dell monitor finally died at the 2-year, 2-day mark (you know, right after the warranty runs out?) and so she called Dell to see if they would help her out. Of course, they are under no obligation to honor an expired warranty, but they did helpfully offer to perform an online service call. My friend (and I) questioned how they would be able to remotely repair a computer MONITOR, but the CSR assured her that they could just “boost the card.” Since that meant nothing to my friend, and she didn’t want to pay the $40 for them to attempt to repair what is essentially now a piece of office furniture and not a functioning computer, she declined. But not before checking to see if that $40 would be refunded of Dell wasn’t able to actually reach through the phone lines or the broadband connection and fix the monitor. Of course not.

Have you ever heard of such a thing? What kind of wormhole does Dell have set up that they can repair a monitor over the phone or Internet? Can they also do a lobotomy? Is it even legal to offer this kind of service when it is clearly impossible?

Thanks,
Robin

We’re going to toss this one out to the crowd because “boost the card” doesn’t mean anything to us, either. Any explanations?

(Photo: Ben Popken )

Comments

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  1. friendlynerd says:

    “Card” represents “Dell’s profit margin.”

  2. acknight says:

    The only prospect I can think of is some form of troubleshooting tool on the video card over the internet is what they intended to deploy.

  3. JadoJodo says:

    To “Boost the card” is an internal Dell term meaning they tweak a setting in the device inside that causes dead pixels, makes the monitor die just outside warranty, and a handful of other problems. The device can be reset, but not after paying a fee. Internally, I believe they refer to it as “low-da-crop”.

  4. darkrose says:

    “Boost the card” means “Stealing the customer’s credit card number”. Just like someone would “boost a car” or “boost a TV”.

  5. Cool story bro says:

    They were probably going to fiddle around with the graphics card to ‘boost’ its performance (or at least lower the demand the monitor was making on it). It probably wouldn’t have worked, though, if the monitor was functioning fine for two years with those settings. Good call declining that ‘service’.

  6. pineappletattoo says:

    I called Dell because of a non-functioning power cord problem, and they pulled the same bull with me. They said that for $35 they would run a diagnostic with me over the phone and provide information to fix the problem. I insisted that it was a problem with the cord, they said “well, ma’am, it could be a motherboard problem.” Right! I paid, it wasn’t. Bought a new power cord and couldn’t get the freakin’ $35 refunded. Love you Dell

  7. @pineappletattoo: If you were sure it was the cord, why did you pay the $35?

  8. Please stop joking about stealing money, this is a useful service. It’s just like paying for a regular service call, but this way you don’t have to take off work to let the guy in so he can do absolutely nothing.

  9. vladthepaler says:

    Boost is slang for steal. Dell wanted to steal the customer’s (credit) card (number).

  10. bleh says:

    Dell customer service reps are told to push the pay-per-call help line. They get in trouble if they don’t. This rep is an idiot, though. I never had a super get mad at me because I didn’t encourage a customer with a hardware problem to call the software help line. But it is possible that Dell has gone that far down hill.

  11. weakdome says:

    Not to be picky, but I’ve had users call me and say their monitors were “broken” or “Dead’ for any number of reasons:
    - wrong screen resolution
    - standard resolution on a WXGA monitor (stretched looking)
    - blank screen (wrong input selected)
    - incorrect refresh rate set
    etc, etc.
    We have no details on what level of competency this person was, why should we believe that her monitor couldn’t be fixed over the phone? I’d give her the benefit of the doubt, too, but at least Dell offered to TRY and help her, and informed her that there would be a fee to do it (since she was, in fact, outside warranty).
    Sorry, not a story.

  12. gqcarrick says:

    Wow thats some technology that dell has there, let me go trade in my monitor and go buy a dell right now, lol.

  13. freejazz38 says:

    The fun thing is. Most moron computer users actually are DUMB enough to think that you can fix a monitor over the phone. Or any other computer problem, for that matter. I think I’ll call Midas and see if they can replace my muffler over the phone

  14. darkryd says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Dude, are you a Dell shill or something?

    How exactly is this service useful?

  15. NF-Wolf Pryde says:

    As a computer engineering graduate, I can tell you with all certainty that there’s no technical proceedure that allows you to “boost” the card. Maybe I could give you a better idea of what Dell MIGHT’VE meant if I can get more info on how she described her problem to Dell.

    If the problems are anything like weakdome suggested, those are problems with the computer, not the monitor, and so I’d ask if the computer was still in warranty.

  16. Mr_Human says:

    @freejazz38: Geek.

  17. rrrebo says:

    Yeah, umm, “monitor died” is really vague. As a tech support person (who actually used to do Dell HSB support for COnvergys many many moons ago), I’d need to know more. How did it “die?” Did the magic smoke escape? Is it wavy? Flashing? Shaky? Dead-pixely? Stripey? Completely-dark-with-no-power-LED? Squashed? Stretched? Tilted? Blurry? Is it an LED or CRT?

    Some of these can be fixed on the phone. Some can’t. I withhold judgement until some actual damned facts are presented.

    That being said, “boost the card?” WTF? “Bullshit the customer” is closer to reality.

  18. Snowblind says:

    @darkryd:
    Your sarcasm detector has failed. Dell can fix it by Boosting The Card.

  19. tc4b says:

    @weakdome:
    So, you’re saying you would have paid the $40?

  20. @darkryd: Would a Dell shill joke about how if you’re going to pay for someone to do absolutely nothing, you might as well let them do it over the Internet so you don’t have to let a guy into your house?

  21. Hawk07 says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O:

    Care to go undercover in Dell’s HQ’s AWESOM-O?

    “MICHAEL DELL, TELL AWESOME-O EVERYTHING”

  22. xnihilx says:

    We have Dell computers in the school corporation for which I do computer tech work. The newer ones are all pieces of crap and so is their tech support. We’re replacing all the computers in five elementaries and two middle schools are we are not going with Dell. I’m surprised no one has a suit against them for their known motherboard problems.

    Maybe one day I’ll send in my three week long saga trying to get a replacement monitor.

  23. @Snowblind: Snowblind wins…FATALITY

  24. @weakdome:

    In addition for many Dell monitors there are software updates and fixes that are installed via downloads through the CPU that alter the graphics settings for proper operation of the monitor. Verifying the proper installation of those software codes could be done via the remote desktop operation (and an internet connection) that is part of the modern OS.

    It is possible one the software updates also gives feedback as to the operation and settings of the monitor. Again, that could be read during the remote desktop operation.

    So…. the $40 could actually be a legit service. Or the $40 could be a waste of time and $. Need more information to make an informed decision.

  25. sgodun says:

    It’s DELL. What other explanation do you need?

  26. @Hawk07: Yeah, someone’s going to be getting their suppository via broomstick.

    That’s for never shipping me the 8800GT I ordered, Dell!

  27. MaytagRepairman says:

    “Boosting the card” sounds like jacking up the gamma on the video card to compensate for a monitor going dim. That’s a duct tape repair I made several years ago on a bad monitor while waiting for the warranty replacement.

  28. MaelstromRider says:

    @pineappletattoo: If you knew it was a power cord then why didn’t you just go buy a power cord instead of calling Dell?

  29. MaelstromRider says:

    @weakdome: You forgot my favorite reasons users call and say their monitor is broken — it’s not turned on. :)

  30. mike says:

    Wow…Just so you know, I can fix most car problems over the internet. $40.

    Message me if you’re interested.

    j/k

  31. a_brown-eyed_grrl says:

    Dude, I’m not gettin’ a DELL.

  32. eelmonger says:

    @weakdome: This is very true, and the reason why Dell makes you do all that troubleshooting, even if you know exactly what the problem is. I’m sure they get people calling in all the time saying that various components are “dead,” when in reality they can be fixed simply. If you have an item that you are sure is broken and is out of warranty, just replace it.

  33. sinrtb says:

    I think weakdome is right in this case. Would I or anyone that is at all tech savvy need this $40 service? Probably not however there have been many many times I have been asked to look at someones computer and found it was something stupid like powercord, power button, or switch on the powersupply etc… Although I do not believe if dell thought it was something as simple as that they should be charging $40 for what could be diagnosed over the phone in a matter of minutes.

  34. aka Cat says:

    A coworker of mine thought her monitor was broken. “It’s just dead! The power light is on, the computer’s power light is on, but there’s nothing on the screen!”

    She bribed me to come to her house and check it out. Turns out that somehow, she or her husband had managed to switch the monitor’s input from ‘auto’ to ‘digital’. Since the computer was connected to the monitor with the VGA input: “dead monitor”. Except, not really.

    A phone tech (with a *lot* of patience) probably could have walked her through making that fix over the phone.

  35. @weakdome: This is the first thing I thought. The general population knows/understands startling little about computers, how they work and why/how some things are/are not possible. I get batshit insane questions all day, everyday, forever and always.

    That being said, this should really be a free diagnostic, and if it turns out that they are in fact able to fix it, then do so at a fee.

  36. With regards to the Dell hate. I have to say, I have never had an issue with my machine, it was shipped quickly, they shipped what I ordered and I got it as a scratch/dent so I got a nice deal.

  37. baristabrawl says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: FOS. Nothing they can do over the phone or online is useful. However, since I’ve had Screen Sharing on my Mac I’m able to do lots of remote fixes that really dumb people just can’t do.

  38. Yeah, a cry of “my monitor is broke!” could mean anything.

    In my department at work, I’m constantly met with cries of “the LCD projector is broken!” and when I ask what about it is not working, they just reply “I don’t know, it’s just broken!”

    Well, is it physically broken? Or is it simply not functioning in the way you need it to?

    95% of the time when I’m told that a projector is “broken”, the user either A) Doesn’t have the projector on the right input, B) Hasn’t toggled their computer to activate the VGA port, C) Has a bad VGA cable or D) Sometimes, just sometimes, it means that one of the connector nuts has detached from the wall plate.

    Yes, D happens a LOT more than you’d think. A missing, non-essential nut = OMG TEH PROJECTOR IS BROKEN~!!!111 in their minds.

  39. bunch.of.wackos says:

    is common practice that once your warranty expires the tech will
    charge you per issue for phone only support (they have to eat too you
    know) what the Phone agent offered (but seems failed to get through) is
    phone support to make sure the damage in on the monitor, many times I
    hear people calling supoport saying their monitor is broken and what
    they had is a busted Video card or corrupted drivers. the agent was
    merely trying to be helpful, even if s/he got a F in communication
    skills

  40. brh99a says:

    Something’s off here. ALL Dell monitors come with a minimum 3yr warranty (you can go up to 5yr, which would be crazy). But default is 3yr. So if it’s 2yr and 2days since she bought it, should still be under warranty.

  41. TangDrinker says:

    @edicius: Maybe they’ve realized that you hold the key to understanding how the LCD works and so let you worry about that part of the presentation while they work on the actual presentation.

    Not everyone is good at technology, and you shouldn’t lord it over them. I don’t call people idiots for not knowing where to find something online or in print. I get paid to answer questions, and no matter how easily they are answered, I try to treat the questioner with respect.

    I’m glad this site posts these items. It might make people take a long look at how they treat others in their own tech jobs.

  42. Stormslanding says:

    @ NF-Wolf Pryde

    Perhaps you should go back to school or get some practical experience. “Boosting” the card means increasing the gamma to check if the CRT is dead.

    I am sure when you put in your app to geek squad you can now “wow” the interviewer with your card boosting knowledge.

  43. Hawkins says:

    I did some research on this, and found that there’s a little-known method by which a Tier III Dell tech can, indeed, fix some physically dead monitors remotely. “Remotely,” of course, means by remote control, over the Internet, and not over the phone, which would be silly.

    It works like this: most Dell CRT monitors manufactured since about 2005 contain a set of photons that are “entangled,” as the quantum-mechanics boys put it, with a corresponding set of photons at Dell HQ in Round Rock. If you’re using a Dell video card, the tech can send a “boost” signal to the card that opens a tiny wormhole between the entangled photons, which can be boosted to create a physical connection between Round Rock and the inside of your monitor. It’s not stable for long, but allows the tech to remotely replace certain inexpensive likely-to-die components, such as the flyback transformer.

    At least, that’s what I heard.

  44. bilge says:

    From my online chat yesterday with someone in Dell tech support. Keep in mind that this is the much-ballyhooed workstation support which is supposed to be better than whatever passes for standard support. I was asking for assistance in installing a fifth hard drive into a Precision 690–the fifth drive is installed away from the other four and needs a drive carrier to hold it in a 5.25″ bay–and nobody could tell me exactly what part I needed to order:

    06/05/2008 05:29:27PM Agent (GTSR $Dell_Tech): “If you go to support.dell.com and choose the option for Technical Support, then enter in your service tag, it should give you the option for the online manual.”
    06/05/2008 05:30:37PM Bilge: “Can you link me?”
    06/05/2008 05:31:32PM Agent (GTSR $Dell_Tech): “I am having technical opportunities on my end right now. I would, but can’t right now.”

    Her technical opportunities were so great that she abruptly disconnected me a few minutes later.

  45. Tzepish says:

    What a circus.

  46. Optimus says:

    Please, Dell performs remote lobotomies all the time. After all, how did you feel after talking to the CSR?

  47. Clumber says:

    Ok, i am not going to bash Dell here no matter how deserved or tempting (wait.. i think i just bashed them anyway, dammit!) as on a near daily basis at work I have to translate user-talk into something resembling useful information. “My monitor won’t work” – as others have said – often doesn’t mean the monitor at all. Many of our users refer to monitor, computer, pc, and email completely interchangeably. Just yesterday a work order for “my email won’t work” turned out to be a loose mouse connection, and they weren’t even using the email at the time – it was Word.

    Ya’ don’t have to work in desktop support for more than a couple hours to realize that 75% of the fix is always figuring out WTF the customer/user is actually talking about.

    Could have been a smurfed vid card setting (users always always lie about whether they changed something right before it “broke”) which could be fixed remotely. So not entirely out of the realm of them fixing it. I’d feel like an idiot, though, offering it.

    ~tracy

  48. jfischer says:

    At risk of seeming harsh, one should read this article and note that if 95% of returned electronics have nothing wrong with them, that 95% of the time, the
    “fix” would be either education or a minor configuration issue.

    I also agree that more often than not the symptoms described by the user are misleading to the goal of solving the problem. Even my own saintly grey-haired Mother has been guilty of this with her computer.

  49. Mr. Gunn says:

    I’ll boost her whole computer, and I won’t charge anything. She doesn’t even have to be there!

  50. ageshin says:

    Ge, all those explanations take all the fun out of the thing. Imagine the vast new worlds that seem to open up. Car repair over the internet, the repair of small electrical things over the internet, the vast posabilites of verious surgeries over the internet, perhaps even the repair of the internet over the internet!!

  51. charodon says:

    @Hawkins: Nice.

  52. SienaRegillus says:

    @NF-Wolf Pryde:
    While I certainly do think that Dell tech was making stuff up, there is, in fact, ways to boost video card performance. I used to overclock an nVidia card I had. (Using a program called ATITool oddly enough). You don’t generally get too much of an increase in performance, and it certainly wouldn’t fix a problem with either your monitor or video card, (and as another poster mentioned, overclocking can cause graphical glitches that look very much like dead pixels, so it could actually cause problems), but it IS possible to “boost” a video card.

  53. Overheal says:

    When I read Boost The Card the first thought that came to my mind was that of a Pay-As-You-Go Cellphone: like top-up credit. “Oh yes sir, let me just reprogram your monitor’s operating card for another 6 months of functionality…”

  54. res1i3js says:

    This is just an Indian not knowing what they just said. Boost the card is meaningless in dell.

    The $40 charge is because the warranty for the phone support on the system expired and that it’s not to repair the unit, it’s just to talk to the tech to see if the issue can be resolved over the phone or if you’ll need to replace it.

    Dell has a handle in place policy that the indians don’t seem to understand that allows them to take 10-15 minutes to try and do a quickfix to avoid the charge.

    If something seems simple to you like this, don’t accept the charge. Just call again and get someone who knows policy or knows english enough to realize what they’re saying.

    This applies to Dell for sure, not sure if it applies to the other companies who have phone support contracts that have a service fee after expiration such as HP, etc.