Dell Sends Tech To Break My Alienware Computer, Puts Off Fixing It

John has an Alienware computer. Dell owns Alienware. So Dell sent a technician to his home to fix his computer when one of the USB ports quit working. This tech proceeded to break his computer, and was possibly part of Dell’s elite computer-breaking tech team that we’ve written about before.

Alienware computers are not cheap, and John also has a “Complete Care” warranty package. He’s had the computer for less than a year. One would think they would do something other than make up “expedited” tickets and not fix his computer.

In June of 2012, I bought an Alienware Aurora R4. I bought it for the power and also because I was tired of building my own computers. I decided I wanted something powerful and stable with a warranty so that someone else can fix it if it breaks. With this in mind, I bought the Complete Care warranty package.

Until recently, it’s been fine. It needed a water cooler replacement early on, but Dell tech support was on that and I only had to wait two days.

Things seem to have changed.

A few weeks ago my USB 3.0 port on the front stopped working. All other USB slots worked fine. I put it off calling it in until last week.

Last week I finally carved out some time to get this issue resolved. I called up Dell Support. The technician remotely connected to my system, did all the typical routines when checking to see if there is a software problem (I’ve done the same thing time and again), and figured out it was a hardware problem. They were able to ship the needed part out immediately.

Friday: The tech called and made an appointment for Saturday.

Saturday: The tech showed up, installed the new board (after being here for almost four hours), and left. During the process, the tech broke the water cooling system for the CPU during the fix. This is, of course, a vital part of the system.

I discovered this about an hour after he left when I noticed a noise coming from the computer, which is usually completely quiet. At the same time, I noticed the CPU temperature was rising. I popped open the case and located the noise over the CPU and cooling unit. That was when the system shut down and the case lights flashed orange… obvious overheating.

I immediately called Dell Support. They said, in essence, “oops! Our bad!” The tech told me to turn off the computer immediately (it was already down), and said had to they had to wait until Monday to ship the needed part to the technician. The part would ship same-day so the tech could probably call me on Monday and fix the system on Tuesday. I felt really disappointed that my system would be down for three or four days, but there really wasn’t anything I could do about it.

In the meantime I was assured that they would keep an eye on this case and would call me on Monday if there was any change. Since this was Dell’s fault, the tech said, they would escalate the ticket. Either way, I should hear from SOMEONE on Monday; either the tech, or the department saying that there was a delay.

Monday: no call

Tuesday: I call up and find out that the part was on “back order”. I was told by a tech that this case has been “expedited”, though, so it should ship quickly. I asked at that point to talk to a supervisor since I never received a notice that there would be a delay.

The supervisor said that he would look over the case and that the part will arrive on Wednesday, with a possible fix on Thursday or Friday. He reiterated that the problem was indeed “expedited”. In the meantime, if there was any change they would call me on Wednesday. However, the part MIGHT not arrive until later, making the fix date possibly as late as Friday. In either case I was assured that someone would contact me on Wednesday with an update.

I decided to lodge a complaint – not about any specific person, but about how no one seems to know exactly when Dell was going to fix their own mistake. I asked the tech I was talking to if there was any place I could lodge a complaint and he said yes. So he transferred me. I got transferred four times from department to department and was hung up on once.

When I got to what was presumably the complaints section the person who answered the phone said “Please Hold”, then transferred me back to the tech department from where I originally called. I asked the tech to just write the complaint in the notes. He did so and said things should go quickly because my case was “expedited”. Anyway, they would call to let me know if there was any change in the dates. In any case, I should hear from someone on Wednesday; either from the tech, or the department saying that there was a delay.

Wednesday: No call

Today: I called up to find out that the part didn’t arrive on Wednesday, yet MIGHT arrive today or maybe tomorrow, but maybe not until Monday. Therefore, the part will get shipped out either this afternoon OR maybe get shipped out in Friday OR maybe Monday. There was no solid idea as to when or if anything would happen. I asked to talk to a supervisor again.

Imagine my surprise when this supervisor said that this case was never “expedited.” They can’t do that. There was nothing pushing this case along. I have no idea why the other people were telling me it was.

If the part is shipped to the tech on Friday, the possible fix date goes to next Tuesday OR Wednesday. If not, then later in the week at some unspecified time. Of course I am told that if there was any change in the fix date they might call me on Friday. I was also told that at this point I should use http://support.dell.com to track this myself since it wasn’t likely that anyone would call me.

I went to view my case on http://support.dell.com. From what I can tell, the information on the case hasn’t been updated since the Saturday I called. There is no indication of any part being ordered or shipped.

In essence I was promised that it might be fixed on Saturday or Monday, but maybe Tuesday, or Wednesday, or maybe not until later.

And there it stands.

At every point the information I was given was bad or just plain wrong. All of this started because I wanted a minor problem on my computer to fixed. Dell has left my computer completely unusable. Yet there seems to be no real hurry to correct the problem they caused.

There seems to be no concern from anyone about the fact that I will be over a week without my computer. I have no access to my Outlook, my budget, my calendar, my tax information, or any other important data that I need on a daily basis. And all of this is due to Dell’s own technician creating this problem. All I get are delays and excuses.

I have tried the usual route and at best I get half-hearted assurances that are never followed through. The only phrase in common throughout this whole ordeal is “I’m sorry. There’s nothing we can do.” It seems to be true. At this point I feel like there is nothing they can do.

I had the greatest hope in buying this computer. It looked to be a solid powerhouse of a computer. And it is – when it isn’t broken. I am immensely disappointed in how this problem has been handled by Dell. All I wanted was for a USB 3.0 port to work. Now it’s blossomed into this interminable process that leaves me without access to my data.

I don’t like being the guy who complains. I hate that I have to write this. But as of now, Dell Support has pushed the fix date back so often that I don’t really know when this problem will be fixed, and I have to rely on faith that it will.

Calm down with your cries of “tl;dr.” This is a well-written letter that makes John’s case persuasively, but it has a problem. 1,300 of them, actually. It’s too long, and lacks an executive summary that tells the busy staff person exactly what his complaint is about.

What’s an executive summary? It’s a condensed version of the information you want to share. Imagine that Michael Dell himself has opened your message, and he has thirty seconds to look at it on his smartphone. What do you want him to know?

We’ll let you know if Michael Dell’s staff gets back to John.