Heartwarming: Dell Re-Replaces Faulty 5150

Sometimes, even though a product sucks, the producer sorta kinda maybe comes through to fix the problem. Not fix the product, mind you, but at least make amends with the buyer.

Reader Will is one such buyer. He bought a Dell Inspiron 5150 Inspiron, and like seemingly every other such computer, it was defective. It was replaced, the warranty extended, failed again, and finally replaced with a completely different model. Sounds like they didn’t make any money on the transaction. But if you ask us, that’s actually a decent resolution.

5150 owners out there should heed Will’s advice, and make sure Dell replaces your computer, preferably with a different model. Just do it soon, before the specially extended warranty expires in 2007.

Did Dell make good because they were separately being sued in a class action suit, or because Will was persistent and threatened to switch to Mac? Who cares! He got a replacement computer, and can eventually get the Mac he really wants anyway.

As Sammy Hagar would grunt, that sounds like the best of both worlds.

Will’s e-mail after the jump…

So I’ve gotten a couple of emails from the law firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein regarding a settlement on Dell 5150s and faulty adapters and motherboards. The site regarding the settlement can be found here: http://www.lundellsettlement.com

My own 5150 story is that I got the computer in Sept 04, and due to a design defect where apparently, a small piece of plastic would push into the motherboard and make it so that the power supply would not be recognized, the computer stopped working in November. (the problem has been discussed on many forums, including Dell’s own support forums, and I believe that was the main consensus as to the source of the problem, and that it did in fact affect all Dell Inspiron 5150’s)

I sent the nonfunctional computer to Dell and since I was under warranty, got my motherboard replaced. But the problems didn’t end there, as even though I took the care not to push too hard on the bottom of the case, within a few months, the same problems happened again. It failed completely on me in Sept. 05, and since I was out of warrantly, I began looking around for options.

The law firm above put me on their mailing list after I was directed to their site through a webforum, and I actually ended up chewing out Dell’s Customer Service and describing the flaw to them. After I insisted that I wasn’t paying for a new motherboard, and that this computer would push me to move to Apple, they offered me a refurbished laptop for free. It was actually a 6000 series, and I was content with the replacement. Their Customer Service was actually very acommodating in the end regarding this, and personally, I think it indicates how much of a problem they were having with these computers.

Looking at the settlement, it’s obvious that Dell wants this to go away. They aren’t admitting that their product was flawed, and that they knew about it, but they’re extending the warranties, as well as paying between 1.3 and 3.3 million in legal fees for the plaintiff.

But if you look at the terms of the settlement, the warranty extention goes until 2007. If your 5150 fails on you after that, then Dell isn’t paying for it, even though the structural defect will obviously still be a problem. They’re probably hoping that by then, people with 5150’s will just buy a new laptop when their old one breaks again. I’m hoping people won’t be buying Dells, and as for me, when the 6000 series laptop becomes too outdated, I’m buying a Mac.


Edit Your Comment

  1. LafinJack says:

    “Dell Inspiron 5150 Inspiron”

    Oops. :)

  2. Thanks for posting this (this is Reader Will).

    One quick thing I didn’t mention. If you manage to go my route and get a refurbished computer, it will NOT be under the same warranty, and I believe you will have to pay for any kind of warranty plan.

    I didn’t care about this because I just wanted a different computer without the design flaw (which apparently is not present in 6000 series Dells), but I can see why someone might not want a refurbished computer that has no warranty.

  3. mactbone says:

    G-D D-MN

    I had this same freakin’ problem. I was out of warranty so I took it to a place to see what they could do and they told me that I could replace the mo-bo but it would probably break again. I gave it to my brother-in-law because he’s dealt with that stuff more. I just called and he hasn’t messed with it yet so I’m going to talk to Dell.

    I spent so much freakin’ money on that problem and ended up buying a new cheaper laptop – all because apparently I’m a moron for not searching enough on the internet. I don’t know who I’m more mad at – myself for not being proactive enough or Dell for making such a cr*p product.

  4. solmssen says:

    Buying a Mac won’t save you from design defects. Please to enjoy:


  5. solmssen says:

    Buying a Mac won’t save you from design defects.

    Please to enjoy:

  6. solmssen says:

    and using a PC won’t save you from duplicate posts. Sorry…

  7. drzombie says:

    FYI, there’s a website on the internet that posted a solution to this problem years ago: simply remove a plastic tab from one of the bottom covers, and if done early enough in the computer’s life, the flaw is completely avoided (the problem is caused by the plastic tab actually loosening one of the chips related to power management on the motherboard). Did this to my 5150 a year and a half ago, and have never had a problem with this laptop (it did run slightly hot at one point, and I had the motherboard replaced free of charge, but I think that was more a result of Dell’s panic whenever someone says they have even a slight problem with a 5150).

  8. earlofsandwich says:

    Thanks for the post. I’m in a similar situation in that I bought a 5150 in January 04. The heat sink was replaced under warranty December 05. I then paid Dell $471 to replace the motherboard due to the power problem in Jaunary 06. I plan on submitting a claim for reimbursement of the $471 from Dell but would like your feedback as to how aggressive I should pursue getting a replacement model. If so, do you have any suggestions on how to proceed. Thank you

  9. baja27 says:

    I ordered a Dell 3100 On July 5th 06 and it was delivered on July 14th. I assembled everything and after typing a letter the unit would not shut off. I spent 3 hours with tech support (until 2:00 a.m.) when I finally gave up. The next day I tried to send an email using Outlook Express. 6 hours later with tech support the problem was still there and the unit won’t shut off. Sunday morning I spent 7 more hours with tech support problem is still there. They did their remote access to try and cure the problem and even went as far as removing all the software and reinstalling everything. I tried to get hold of customer service but was told they were closed on weekends. Lets see…I can order one and talk to tech support 24-7 but customer service is there only a fraction of the hours.I went out of town on the 17th and returned on the 25th. I called Dell to return the product and was told that I was out of the 21 day return policy. Now I’m an engineer and really good in math, if I received it on the 14th and today was the 25th isn’t that 11 days? Customer support states that the return policy starts the day the unit is ordered. So lets see if I lived in Alaska and ordered it on the 5th and received it on the 26th I am already out of the 21 day exchange the day its delivered. So I did the next best thing I called American Express and refused to pay for it. They took the charge off my bill and I have not heard anything from Dell since.