22 Confessions Of A Former Dell Sales Manager

UPDATE: Dell Admits Error In Asking Consumerist To Remove Post
UPDATE: Dell Demands Takedown Of Our “22 Confessions Of A Former Dell Sales Manager”

A former Dell kiosk manager writes us to share helpful tips about doing business with Dell. He has no particular problems with Dell, he just wanted to share some helpful tips for consumers looking to get the best deal. He includes info on getting the best deal from the website, different kinds of promotions the Dell offers, insider details on how the kiosk sales reps are compensated, what coupons and deals they have to offer you to close the deal, the email format for Dell in case you’re thinking of launching an EECB, where to take your Dell credit card complaints, which extended warranties to avoid, how to get a domestic tech support rep… and more. It’s very comprehensive. Enjoy!

I am a former Spherion rep that later became a Dell Branded Rep (manager) of a Dell kiosk in the Philadelphia, PA region. To work at one is to work at all, and I worked at four different kiosks in the region. I worked from July 2005 until October 2006, but keep regular contact with some of the guys I trained and brought up. Other than the usual complaints, I have no problem with the company.

Things most people know already:

1. Small business is better than home and home office – Small business typically runs a few dollars more than the home office, but you stand a better chance of getting domestic tech support rather than non-native English speakers. As an added perk, small business promotions are occasionally better than home.

2. Play with the web site – There are many different pricing packages for the same product throughout the various sections, typically three or more per segment. If you’re buying a Dell soon, configure a unit from a link off the main page, from the product listing on the drop down and from the “As Advertised-Newspaper” drop down. Configure the same system each way at the home, small business and the Direct (kiosk) site (http://www.dell.com/directstore). It is very likely you will end up with nine different prices.

3. Extended warranty for laptops – Do it for as long as you feasibly see using your laptop, and include accidental. Two years is typically the lifecycle from “new product” to “no longer produced/no more refurbs” though YMMV. Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop. The standard warranty will not cover any screen defects.

UPDATE: Current Dell rep says: If a system is no longer shipping a used/refurbished is always sent, though the refurb should be equal or better as far as hardware is concerned. As of this writing if a system is exchanged, via either Complete Care warranty or concession, and the system is still a currently shipping model a new system is to be sent.

4. Extended warranty for desktops – There is nothing in a low end desktop (non XPS) that is worth the price of the warranty should you have to replace it. Only pick it up if you have absolutely no clue what you’re doing once the case is open.

5. Tech support phone – If you do go with the home/home office/direct route, tech support is outsourced (duh!). The tech support instant messenger typically provides a calmer, more understandable conversation due to the fact that accents are taken out of the equation. Think back to high school Spanish. It was always easier to translate the foreign language you were reading than if you heard it. Same concept applies here.

6. Tech support web site – If you’re having a common problem, hit the product forums (however crippled they may be now). It is very likely your question/problem has been resolved before, and usually a domestic tech rep posted a solution there.

7. Warranty Repairs – On all but the two lowest warranties (90 day and 1 year limited), warranty repairs will be done in the home. The repair techs are only required to replace the broken part. They are not required to do anything else. If they replace your hard drive, they are not required to reinstall your OS or drivers. Most will do it if you’re nice, but don’t expect it. If you’re clueless, there are tutorials all over http://support.dell.com that tell you how to do it yourself.

UPDATE: Current Dell rep says: Also with desktop machines at home service is the only option. Notebooks on the other hand may have a return to depot or an at home service contract.

8. OS Backup Disk – For over a year now, Dell has required you to purchase your Backup/Reinstall Disk. Order this with your machine. Once your Dell is delivered, it is a pain to get the disk at all, much less at a sensible price. If you do not have this disk and your hard drive dies, at home warranty repair will not be able to get your PC running once the drive is swapped without selling you a new copy of your OS.

UPDATE: Current Dell rep says: Dell no longer requires the purchase of the backup disk. They are included with every computer that ships with a Windows OS. On the subject of hard drives, if your drive fails within the first year of purchase you should be sent an imaged drive that will contain everything except for your royalty applications (Office etc). If for some reason you lose the media, you can request the OS, Resource/Drivers disk, and the applications disk at no cost to you. (Even if you are no longer under warranty Dell will send you an OS disk) Note that the Resource/Drivers and Applications disk is only available for currently shipping systems. Should you need to reinstall you’ll need to download the drivers from support.dell.com from another computer and copy them over. Last, within the first year of purchase, if you need to reinstall the OS and you can’t access the recovery image, or if it was deleted for some reason, you can request an System Recovery CD that does pretty much the same thing. (Not available on notebooks due to the Media Direct partition.)

9. DPA/Dell Preferred – This is the Dell credit card, like a Sears, Macy’s or Radio Shack credit card. Typically a high rate, low limit card. The lowest APR is still around 18-20%, and that comes with a $5,000 limit. The $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000 limits have rates in the mid to high 20s. The lowest limt, $1,500, has an APR of 29.99%. NEVER USE THIS UNLESS THERE IS A KILLER NO INTEREST PROMOTION.

    a. Interesting Note: In the Back-To-School season of 2005, DFS (Dell Financial Service) was issuing cards to 18 year olds with a $7,000 limit and a 29.99% interest rate.

Stuff you may not know:

1. Promotion cycle dates – Thursday is the first day of new promotions. If you go to the web site at 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday night and again on 1 a.m. on Thursday morning, the promotions are different. The catalog promotions run from the start of the month to the end. Additionally, on holiday weekends (Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc.) there may be special sales/coupons for the three-day weekend.

2. Promotion styles – Typically, one week will be cash off while the next will be percentage off. If you liked cash off but the current promotion is percentage off, check the “As Advertised-Newspaper” section. These typically have a remnant of the prior week’s promotion as well as better versions of the current week’s promotions. Cash off helps for cheap systems, percentage off helps with high-end.

3. Dell Customer Care can price match within 24 hours from the time of order. Combining #1 and #2 from this section, if you are unsure of the value of the week’s promotion but need to order something, order it Wednesday night. Check the promotions for the new week on Thursday. If its better, call and price match. If its not, sit back and feel smug for no reason

4. Dell corporate email – As of December 2006, everybody (save Michael Dell) working for Dell U.S. has the same form of email address: firstname_lastname@dell.com. Michael Dell’s does not follow this pattern and is changed immediately whenever the current one is discovered by lower-level employees or the public.

5. Dell’s internal fiscal calendar is different from other corporations. As their fiscal year ends in January or February (I honestly don’t remember), the best deals will typically be found in late January and all of February. Also, buying during the last week of any quarter typically means free or deeply-discounted 2nd day or overnight shipping, and the quickest order turnaround. There are no steep discounts for the holidays, though they will run a few weeks of consecutive percentage off promotions during the back to school season in August.

6. The DFS servers are notoriously flimsy. If you apply for DPA (why would you?) and it is unable to complete, it means the server is overloaded but your credit rating has already been pinged. Reapplying will not fix the issue but it will repeatedly ping your credit. The system is unable to verify cell phone numbers and will automatically reject based on the use of one.

Fun facts about the Kiosks:

1. Why should I shop at a kiosk? I can order from home. – A very valid point, but the majority of kiosk customers are morons who think computers are magic boxes that let you see pictures of cats in funny poses while someone steals your AOL password. There’s a few reasons why an educated person aka Consumerist reader should hit the kiosk up:

    a. Discounts – There are several ways the Dell Direct kiosks can attempt to match or beat an online deal.

      i. Closing tools – Dollar off coupons that depend on how much you spend. Spend $600=$25 off; $1200=$50 off; $1,600=$75 off; $2,000=$100 off.

      ii. Refuse to Lose – 10% coupons meant to allow a sales rep to seal a large deal. These can only be used when the computer price alone is $1,600 or more. It can not be used on accessories, TVs or multiple computers whose aggregate value is above $1,600. This must be requested from the Manager on Duty (MOD) through an email request, and will generally be credited before the computer is shipped.

      iii. DPA coupon – Dell will already give you 2% off your order if, at the payment screen you click the link that offers 2% off when you pay with DPA. The kiosks have a 3% DPA closing tool that can be used also, giving a discount of slightly over 5%. This works for all DPA purchases including TV’s, monitors and cameras.

      iv. The closing tools are nothing but individual-use coupons entered at the shopping cart. They are invalid on the home and small business site. Reps are supposed to use them as a last-ditch effort, but as long as you’re not buying a sub-$600 system, they should offer them without your having to ask.

    b. Printer cartridges – No you can’t buy them there…officially. They are non-inventoried items that many kiosks have a heady supply of due to inexplicably random deliveries from corporate. If you’re in a pinch and need one that day, go (don’t call), get a feel for the employees, and if you think they’re cool with it, offer cash.

2. There are two levels of kiosk employees. There are those hired by Spherion, creatively known as “Spherion reps,” and then there are Dell Branded Reps, or DBRs. DBRs are effectively the management of the individual kiosk, and are the only ones able to work uncompensated overtime. Deal with them if possible, because they are very likely to be there the next time if you have a question. They’ve also been there much longer than any other kiosk staff, so they likely have a much better skill set for finding bargains.

3. If you have a problem with DPA, the kiosk has a specific email contact for Dell Financial. Problems can be resolved much much faster.

4. The Dell Direct kiosk website is configured differently than the others. There are “bundles” (linked from the main page under the “start shopping” graphics) and there are “non-bundles”. Bundles, so called because…you guessed it…accessories and service are already bundled in, have a higher profit margin. They are also the most customizable system on the website. Non-bundles carry lower profit margins but may be limited. The salesman will always start from a bundle. Let them finish, then make them search the non-bundles for an equal system with a better price.

5. Kiosk reps are judged on the following:

    a. Unit price: The average sale price of each reps transactions. $1,200 was the goal as of March, 2007 but $1,600 was preferred.

    b. Bundle percentage: Dell varies on what percentage of all sales it wants to be from the “bundle” page depending on the month and who you’re talking to. It is typically between 40% and 60%.

    c. Service: Each PC/Notebook sale is expected to have a 3 year warranty attached. Typically, the number is between $160 and $200.

    d. E&A: This is the percentage of the sale that was spent on accessories. Each transaction should have between 5% and 10%, or one printer and cable per PC or one bag, lock and travel mouse per Notebook.

    e. DPA: Dell Preferred Account purchases. The expected percentage of DPA sales has climbed in the past years. It currently hovers between 40% and 60%, and they want a 1 to 1 customer to submitted application ratio.

6. Secret shoppers – The kiosks are secret shopped constantly, and they’re playing of a 20-question scorecard. Don’t be surprised if the salesman asks really base/borderline-insulting questions if you act interested. They think you’re a secret shopper.

7. Communication – Complaints made about Dell to the kiosk reps go unheard. There is no place for the rep to turn around and report the complaint to. Communication between reps and even district management is limited, and reps are discouraged from calling the regional management. Store, district and regional management are all run from email and cell phones. It is not uncommon for the kiosks to receive three answers from three departments, with the end result being all three statements retracted without a solution in place.

(Photo: Josh Swannack)


Edit Your Comment

  1. boandmichele says:

    I used to work sales for Dell at a call center near here… All of this is very good and valid information. Definitely reference this before buying a Dell. They use good components in their systems, but you can get ripped off without decent preparation.

  2. rbb says:

    Small business does usually have better deals than the home/home office unit. But, small business charges sales taxes in all locales regardless of a Dell presence or not, whereas the home/home office unit may not. Check first.

  3. luckybob343 says:

    Dell Home/Home Office will charge sales tax in any state it can. Delaware is about the only state where sales tax isn’t charged. Again, check first, but you’re pretty much going to have to pay sales tax on the stuff now.

  4. homerjay says:

    So if he’s not disgruntled, that would leave him relatively gruntled?

  5. boardboy330 says:

    I live with a Dell Tech…I’ve seen the parts they use for computers…many are refurbs…but most issues are their motherboards (apparently crap). I wouldn’t mind buying a Dell system (which I plan to do soon) but I would be afraid of buying the service plans…

    Plus, to know my roomate…this is not the type of guy you would willing let into your house. He’s a great guy when you know him…but he is beyond strange…excentric I believe is the word.

    Beware of Dell…as any company…do your homework and you will prevail

  6. jeffj-nj says:

    Interesting information, but correct me if I’m wrong, the only useful bit was to buy a computer on Wednesday night so that you have the option of price matching it with tomorrow’s inevtible deal. Was there anything else I missed which was more than interesting and actually useful?

    I’m not trying to be obnoxious; I’m really asking.

  7. joeblevins says:

    Good information, nice to see insider info from someone that isn’t bitter.

  8. Pi_Equals_3 says:

    Just want to comment on the first No. 8 regarding the purchase of OS Backup Disks. No one should have to pay for OS backup disks.

    There is no need to purchase the backup disks. The link I’ve provided below shows you exactly how to acquire the backup disks for free from Dell’s Customer Service. Just follow the steps and you’ll be on your way to getting your backup disks in the mail for FREE.

    You may have to repeat the process as I did have to email them twice. The first time I emailed them, I got a reponse back saying that Dell does not ship the backup disks for free but be persistent and email them again.

    I requested and received my backup discs last December but the process should still work.

    Note though that the backup disks were for my Windows XP Professional laptop but the process should be the same if you have Vista on your PC or laptop.

    I received all the OS backup disks including the dell installed software disks.

    Here is the link: [forums.slickdeals.net]

  9. faust1200 says:

    C’mon everybody knows confessions come in 10’s! WTF is this 22 crap?

  10. Arlahna says:

    This is very good information! Thank you for taking the time to compile this list for us. I’ve been considering the benefits of a dell system lately and thought about going by a kiosk to ask questions. Unfortunately the closest kiosk to me is half an hour away and not exactly on my way anywhere. Still, when I get ready to start asking questions, I’m going to study this list and maybe even take it with me. Forewarned is forarmed!

  11. Shelly27 says:

    Darn.. I just bought a Dell online wenesday night.. wish I read this first~!

  12. QuirkyRachel says:

    Yeah, my parents have had Dell’s for their business, and they don’t ahve tech support issues. But I hear horrible stories about Dell tech support if you don’t have business Dell

  13. Myron says:

    “Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop.”

    Gee. That seems unethical.

  14. luckybob343 says:

    Ethics? To get the better of a company you must first THINK like a company. Throw your ethics out the window!

  15. backspinner says:

    For tech support, I would skip calling AND instant messaging and go straight to e-mail. I skip the phone for the obvious reasons. I’ve tried instant messaging and always get disconnected from chat or receive scripted answers that don’t answer my question for so long I get to the point of almost throwing my computer out the window.

    Every time I’ve e-mailed Dell tech support, I’ve gotten answers that are actually useful. It may take longer but it cuts the frustration down by an amazing amount.

  16. exkon says:

    Very good article for the beginner computer buyer. I have personally bought Dell computers from their online store with no trouble ever. I like their product and it does fine what I need it for: games/porn.

    But definitely keep an eye out for dell computer deals they always have some sort of deal going on.

  17. Chicago7 says:


    Hahaha! :D

  18. Chicago7 says:

    Sometimes, when you buy refurb Dell, you find little suprise CDs/DVDs in the CD tray! Very interesting stuff, sometimes.

  19. Jesus On A Pogo Stick says:

    @backspinner: Do you know where I could find that e-mail address? For the life of me, I cannot find it.

  20. swalve says:

    To my knowledge (Dell Warranty Parts Direct Certified in everything they make), Dell doesn’t replace any computer systems under warranty. If a part fails, you get that part replaced with a working one. No new system.

    If you drop it, you get nothing (unless you have plausible deniability- ie, there is no obvious physical damage).

  21. ShadowFalls says:

    Well, even though Dell does offer accidental damage coverage, this is not available for Floridians. Basically making Dell not a first choice for anyone who wants such coverage on a laptop or desktop.

  22. ShadowFalls says:

    Even though Dell does offer accidental damage converage, it is not available for Floridians. Basically, this makes them not a first choice for anyone who wants such coverage on a laptop or desktop.

  23. Nekoincardine says:

    As a former Dell Campus Representative (the guys who advertise at college events), I don’t see anything that screams inaccurate to me here. However, the man completely fails to mention the number of secret promos available. Costco members can get a discount by getting linked to Dell from the Costco site, university students at certain schools get anywhere from 2 to 12% off… It doesn’t take too much looking to find them, typically.

    … Actually, a little secret of Dell’s. They’re one of those companies who practices “internal competition”. i.e. the Kiosk guys are in competition with the Dell Home site is in competition with the Dell University program. This is why there’s three different prices if you visit three different Dell sites. In other words: Double emphasis on what he said about each group offering different deals.

  24. Jesus On A Pogo Stick says:

    I just recieved the best customer service of my life! I followed the tip about Technical Support Chat to solve my problem and I am amazed. I will definately use this feature again.

  25. Jesus On A Pogo Stick says:

    ^received. Ha Ha. I’m so excited that I’ve forgotten how to spell.

  26. quail says:

    I’ll agree that any system purchased from the small business side of Dell is better put together than the home/home office side. I’ve got a 2000 desktop that I had the 3 year warranty with. When the mother board and cpu crashed at year 2.75 they came out and replaced the dead parts. Add to that a 2000 Dell Inspiron notebook that I just retired last year and I’m happy with Dell.

    That said, the second desktop I’d purchased was a home system that I got for a steal. It unfortunately it ended it’s life cycle at only 4 years old (yea, ancient for computers). But the thing was never upgradeable and was nearly out of date when it was made in 2002.

  27. Antediluvian says:

    I guess I just figured everyone knew about the small business section being way better than the home / home office for Dell.

    Another point: if your company uses Dell and has a rep, the rep can get you probably the best pricing period, w/ no messing about w/ coupons or any of that crap. The trick: you can use the company’s Dell rep for your personal purchase. You provide the credit card and the shipping address, the company provides the customer number, and voila! hassle-free Dell purchases.

  28. Protonicv says:

    “Throw your ethics out the window!”

    This could get you in trouble, to provide a little more information on that topic.

    To get that kind of deal, “Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop.” you need to buy the “Complete Care Warranty” which is basically and Insurance on your syst.

    When you call DELL to say that you drop your computer they will ask very specific question and send them to the insurance co. to claim the cost of the replacement computer.

    If you lie it will be consider insurance fraud, the insurance co. doesn’t investigate all the reports but they do with some.

    Are you willing to take the risk?

  29. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    You have to ASK for a backup disc? Apple sends them to you WITH your computer at no charge. Plus they use FedEx for overnight.

  30. shdwsclan says:

    Actualy, apple doesnt bundle a backup disk at all….
    They dont need to, due to their liscensing, they just give you the full installer. They assume it wont be pirated or shared since there are so few mac users and mac only runs on apple. Neither of that is true anymore since mac will run on a pc and mac users are growing….but dont tell apple…youll ruin it for the rest of us when they put keys on the software.
    Generally this was true since 1 computer = 1 license, so every mac ever sold had a liscense and you could not build your own mac, and they really did not care about piracy of new os…. Also, you can only have pre-supported hardware in a mac[no new or foriegn hardware]

    Windows recognizes that X86 is an open platform and windows will be pirated.
    There is much more hardware for a pc than a mac, so you really cant package all the drivers for a dell tht uses some no-name graphics, screen mobo inside windows…if ms hasnt even heard of it….same thing with onboard hardware…
    A backup disk is basically all of this and it complies with OEM liscensing restrictions of only being able to be installed on the computer it was meant for…

    Also, here is an interesting fact.
    Time of mac os installation is nearly equal to the run of the backup disk.
    The mac os compiler, hardware scanner and defragger are equal in speed to the copying of a backup disk back to a hard drive…..this is due to the high compression used…

  31. smarty says:

    Another item that may not be known: If you order a computer and want to make changes to it, contact that division. i.e. Order from Dell Home, no other Dell division (small business, U., etc.) can change or cancel that order…only Dell Home. Lesson learned a long time ago!

  32. lemur says:

    @swalve: Actually, if you bought Dell Complete Care with your laptop and you break it by accidentally dropping it, it is covered by your warranty. They will make your laptop functional again either by replacing parts or giving you a refurbished unit.

    But that’s the thing, refurbished units are always available. Not necessarily a unit of the same model you have. Still, the contract says that if they decide to replace the laptop, they need to give you a unit equivalent or better than what you had. But it does not have to be a new unit.

  33. duckyvoodoo says:

    I’m sort of half tech savvy and half cat loving moron, and I’m actually gearing up right now to buy a computer, probably a Dell. Can anyone here recommend a place I can find out definitively what the best video card, etc, and whatnots are?

    any suggestions welcome – I will be wanting great graphics and a huge screen because I make art on the computer. But I don’t want a mac.

  34. 3. Extended warranty for laptops – Do it for as long as you feasibly see using your laptop, and include accidental. Two years is typically the lifecycle from “new product” to “no longer produced/no more refurbs” though YMMV. Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop. The standard warranty will not cover any screen defects.


  35. warchild says:

    Actually, the part about outsource support for Home systems is absolutely incorrect. I have called a few times before for technical support and I have spoken to people in Utah and Oklahoma.

    In addition, you do not need to pay for the software CDs to be ordered with your system. That is completely false as well. To add to that, if you need another copy to be sent out, they do not charge you for that.

    Some really good info, but its not 100% accurate as the person is just a kiosk sales person.

  36. elwynjenkins says:

    Good information. Reading this all is a marathon. I want one simple result, to get a computer for less. Like we all know that DELL is a relatively good computer BUT it looks like I need to be an information scientist to read these comments and remarks from a DELL salesperson. I think I still will use the phone from home. It saves me the cost of taking the auto from home, and saves me on shopping village parking and all that.

  37. billhelm says:

    some of the educational/corporate discount models, including the one I bought, still come with the install discs. and no backup partitions eating up space on the drive. a nice bonus.

  38. JohnMc says:

    Comment on printer cartridges. Though results vary by model:

    If you buy a dell printer of the laser variety:

    1) Be aware that Dell cross brands from Lexmark, Samsung, etc. They don’t ‘make’ their printers.
    2) However don’t assume that buying a Dell M5200 which is a Lexmark T640 that the Lexmark cartridge will work! Physically the toner shell will fit both units. But due to the fact that there is a personality chip in the shell prevents the swap.
    3) Toner cartridges with the personality chip can only be purchased from Dell. If you are a small business and Dell decides to no longer support that supply sometime in the future you end up with a brick for a printer. (My view, the price difference of the Dell to say HP is not worth the risk.) Oh and don’t think you can take them to a refiller. Well you can, but legally you became a co conspirator to abridging the DMCA.

  39. MauriceReeves says:

    A couple of things to add about my own experiences with Dell:
    I’ve got an Inspiron 9300 that I bought a year ago. The battery is dying, the DVD-ROM drive doesn’t work anymore, the left control key won’t stay on, the power brick already died (had to pay out of pocket for that) AND the front volume controls are flaky.

    When I called Dell to complain I was already past my warranty. Their generous offer was I could pay them money so they could run diagnostics on my computer and tell me that everything was broken, and then I would have the privilege of paying full price for the replacement parts. That felt insulting. I mean, the diagnostics are done by software, so it’s not like it’s terribly difficult to run them, or interpret the results. Either run the diagnostics for free, or make me pay for the diagnostics but give me a discount for the replacement parts.

    And then if that wasn’t frustrating enough, we got an email giving us a discount on electronics and cameras, so we bought a new Canon Rebel XTi we’d been shopping for anyway. When we got the bill, we were charged full price for it. So we called and spoke to the reps and their answer was “You weren’t authorized to use that promotion, so you shouldn’t have used it!” Excuse me? If I wasn’t authorized to use it, then why did I get it in the first place? We’re still fighting this one.

    Given these last two experiences, we’re not going to buy from Dell again. I used to think of Dell as the Honda of computer makers: middle-of the-road on cost, but high quality and high customer satisfaction. Lately they’ve been more like the Ford of computer makers, bad on everything. In fact, I almost feel bad comparing Ford to Dell, but only because I don’t feel Ford deserves that kind of slap in the face.

  40. MauriceReeves says:

    Oh, and one thing I’d like to add, the customer service reps were always friendly and knowledgeable.

    I don’t fault them for my bad experience. My issues are clearly related to company policies.

  41. jetfxr27 says:

    Sorry Ben If the site slowed. I posted your info over at slickdeals.net and its exploding.

  42. jetfxr27 says:

    Front Page of DiGG. WOOT!!!!!11

  43. Tylas says:

    Back to shdwsclan’s comment:

    Apple does in fact sent full install dvd’s of their operating system and their iEverything suites, but they are extremely computer model specific. Say a Mac Mini install won’t work with the MacBooks or the Pros or the Tower. Also the case with different runs of the same models.

    Pretty much you are SOL of using anyone elses installer unless you have pretty much the exact computer.

    Take if from me, my old 12″ powerbook hd failed last week and it has been a real trial to find an installer that would work for me without rebuying a retail version of Tiger.

    Anyway this is a Dell post not Apple.

  44. Tylas says:

    To continue with Dell…

    Never bought a computer from them but my credit has attempted to multiple times. If you are unfortunate enough to a victim of identity theft, Dell financial is one of the first places they will go to because of how leinent they are with credit checks. Good credit, great. Bad credit, good enough.

    Either way just as this informant said it is crazy high interest rates. Just fight it as fast as you can so it doesn’t hurt you too bad.

    The last time they called me was 2 months ago saying someone opened 5 lines of credit on me. 5!!! Very leinent aren’t they.

    I’m blocking my credit.

  45. jenorth says:

    You guys are killing me. Why would you all put up with this?

    I purchased this computer in 2000.
    Sorry, it’s not a PC, it’s a Mac. It’s an old outdated G-4 dual 533mhz tower, that cost me 2,000 dollars 7 years ago.
    I use this thing daily. I hardly ever turn it off. Last year, I swapped out the older CD/DVD just because I And I do mean I wanted a faster model.
    In the process, I also added two new Internal hard drives. The Old one was only 40 gig. I had always used an external for back up, and an Iomega just so I could hand carry things around with me.
    In The 10 or 12 years, that I have been using apple products, I’ve had more problems with the add on’s, then the computers.
    I’ve gone through 3 different printers, 2 different scanners, 2 cameras, and who knows how many keyboards and mouseys, but the computer still runs faster than my son’s Gateway or HP. Both have over 1 gig processors.
    Of Course, every now and then you find a piece software, normally from that other company that really dislikes running on a Mac Once you delete it, or Modify it ( hehe), it usually fixes it.
    I think I’ve actually called Apple Tech help twice in the last 12 years.
    I do know that the very first time I used Tech Help, was when we found out that they had actually given out the wrong numbers on their paperwork. The Number they gave actually went to a Porn sight. God Bless Apple for knowing how to make their customers feel right at home. LOL.

  46. slinky317 says:

    Some things on this post are no longer correct. The DPA closing tool no longer applies, and there is also no longer a 10% Refuse To Lose coupon. I see the rest of what was incorrect has been corrected.

    And to MauriceReeves:
    It sucks that your computer died, but you gambled and only selected a 1-year warranty. You decided to save money up front and it hit you in the long-run. If you would have selected a longer warranty and invested a little bit more, your system would be up-and-running right now. Don’t blame Dell for you only selecting the base warranty.

  47. warchild says:


    You are the most ridiculous consumer I have ever seen in my life. How can you expect to get upset because a company will not help you after your warranty is over? That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard of. I am sure when you called them that they had a ball with you.

  48. opus684 says:

    The comments regarding Home vs Small Business are generally valid. But keep in mind that Small Business does not provide an option for Vista Home Premium edition, so if you want that OS, you’re stuck with Home.

  49. Trackback says:

    Yes, I just said that and with earnest sympathy: Poor Dell. They keep finding themselves taking point in big companies’ scouting missions into the guerrilla- customer-controlled Vietnamese internet jungle.

  50. rainfever says:

    3. Extended warranty for laptops – … Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop. …

    I really think your website is being counter productive by posting this kind of shit. I mean, granted, corporations can be nasty etc. but all we are doing is poking the pig bastard with a stick and eventually making it worse for ourselves. The consumer.

    it may be nice to get a cool laptop, but for those who legitimately use the system its fucked.

  51. Trackback says:

    After the small kerfuffle about Dell trying to get Consumerist to take down a post with 22 tips on buying machines from a former Dell kiosk salesman (see my post below), Dell blogger Lionel Menchaca throws himself on his sword and says in front of blogs and everybody, the company made a…

  52. stonent says:

    Here’s a little tidbit regarding Dell printers and Lexmark printers. Yes they do use a personality chip, but that is only in the front half of the cartridge. The back half of pretty much all Lexmark printer carts sold in the last 10 years is exactly the same.

    That being said, I used to collect old Lexmark/Dell toner carts at work and separate them. Release the 2 springs on the side and spread the plastic tabs. The toner “tank” will release and you can snap it on to another front end. I once took an Optra S1200 cartridge and merged it with a Dell cartridge, the Optra S worked great with the Dell toner and the Dell 5200 worked great with the Optra S toner. Be aware though, that the actual chemical content of toner is “speed rated” 12 page per minute toner is a different chemical from 24 page per minute toner because it melts slower. However, as of yet. I’ve never had any problems with doing these swaps and at the prices they charge for the prebate vs high yield carts, you can see some significant savings here.

  53. stonent says:

    For some reason my post about Dell / Lexmark toner didn’t post. Basically to get around the lock-out chip on the Dell and Lexmark carts, you just release the springs on the side and separate the cart into 2 pieces and then snap in the Lexmark toner section on to a Dell cartridge. I used to do this at work all the time.

  54. lost-in-space says:

    reply to jenorth


    Your not only an obvious mac lover, you have no clue either.

    Lets see……

    You claim you paid $2,000 for your computer, yet it’s faster than your sons Gateway or HP which have “faster than 1 gig processors”.
    So your year 2000 computer is faster than a year 1999 PC?

    oh wait, not really.
    you paid more than they probably did.
    In fact, I paid $1200 for my “faster than 1 gig processor” computer in 1999.
    so you got a faster computer for 75% more than i paid.
    Is it 75% faster?
    I doubt it.

    Also you state that you “use this thing daily, and hardly ever turn it off”.
    You do realize that powering on and off an electronic device is what kills it right?

    And I’m also willing to bet you dont really DO much with the computer other than basic surfing, email, word processing etc. Nothing that really requires much of an advanced computer.

    The reason most people buy new computers is because they want NEW items, be they new software, new hardware or because they have not previously owned one (or the person they are buying for has not). They are trying to run the latest game that requires intense 3D gaming cards, or they want to encode video in less than a day.
    People don’t run out and buy a $2000 computer anymore (unless the’ve bought into the apple hype) because they need a computer. They buy $2000 computers because they come with specific hardware or have specific upgradability.

    If they just want a computer, they can get one from Dell (or others) for less than $350.

    that is all that they need to surf the web, play basic games, and send email.

    Also, you state that you’ve replaced the original drives with others because you wanted larger, and replaced the CD/DVD drive because you wanted a faster one (i think this is what your convoluted sentence says). So have you also updated the OS as well? Because you can keep adding all of those costs to the cost of the computer and you can figure you could have probably purchased a new PC from Dell, with bigger HDD, faster DVD Writer, faster processor (even a Duo Core if you like, you know, the ones apple uses in its new computers because power pc chips weren’t worth developing anymore), for the cost of the HDD, DVD, OS upgrades you have done.

    And lastly, the reason that some computers are slow has more to do with the people using them and the sites they visit, than the computer itself.

    throw in all the little “widgits” that people install, and do not properly configure, and you will slow down any computer, even your beloved mac.

    I work on and administer computers for a living, and that includes computers running Windows, Mac OS9 and OS X, Most versions of Linux, and even a few BSD based systems.

    People like you that have no basis for their facts, are the ones that apple loves,
    You wont questions anything and will instead continue to blindly support their products regardless of the truth.

    You probably think that Mac’s don’t get virus’ either, and that Apple wrote OS X from scratch…..

    Keep thinking that…….

    Oh, and Steve Jobs is on the phone for ya about that bridge you want to buy…….

  55. MauriceReeves says:

    That’s fine if that’s how you feel. Yes I made the decision to skip on the extended warranty, and I knew that I took a risk doing that, but I only did so because I’ve owned a string of Dell’s before that have been rock-solid and still run great. The frustrating thing for me is that all of the things that have gone wrong with my laptop did so right within a month of each other, and very soon after the warranty ended.

    I don’t think Dell did that on purpose, or that they’re trying to screw me. Asking around at my job, where we all use Dells almost exclusively have revealed a lot of similar issues, so it’s not just been me. There appears to be a marked decline in quality that’s just…upsetting.

    The reps I dealt with were very nice, apologetic, and easy to deal with. So I don’t think they had a ball with me. I think they felt bad too that so much had gone wrong with my computer so quickly.

  56. raveolution says:

    I am a licensed insurance agent and I would like to address a particular element of the article writer’s (casually given) advice:

    “Once your model is off the refurb site, drop it. Voila! New laptop.”

    This is called a moral hazard. Insurance fraud. This laptop warranty is basically a form of insurance.

    Dell might not be able to prove insurance fraud against everyone who follows your advice, but the fact that the laptop got dropped AFTER 2 years could be a huge red flag if they’re bothered to take it to court. However, when you carry out this fraud, you cost other customers more money because, being a form of insurance, the insurance provider will raise the cost of the warranty for everyone. We would all pay the price for this, and not just Dell customers.

    It is very irresponsible for any journalist to give advice like that. It’s dishonest and it costs every customer both money and a shred of credibility (how do you know, from here on, who accidentally dropped their laptop, and who did it to defraud the warranty?).

    I strongly urge the writer of this article to remove that quote or apologize publicly. It damages the credibility of your (online) publication when you (even casually) advise people to commit fraud.

  57. threnners says:

    My old Dell rep told me that the quality of the system you get just depends on what parts they’re using at the time. We had a lease of 100+ systems with 52 hard drive failures and 36 power supply failures. However, we opted to give them one more chance, and so far, two years into a three year lease I’ve had to replace a couple of floppy drives (and that was because of the morons using them.) You’re still at the mercy of the warehouse though.

  58. beranger says:

    > you gambled and only selected a 1-year warranty.

    Well, sorry to say that, but anything that breaks in 1-yr is under-reliable for the 21st century!

    I own a HP laptop since 2000, and I have used it almost daily… except for the battery (which only lasts a few minuted) it never had a problem! Now *this* is reliability, not Dell’s!

  59. divendra says:

    You could follow these helpful tips, or, you just not buy a Dell. I always go with the latter. I had 4 Dells, and every one of them had problems. Never a Dell again.

  60. Trackback says:

    One of the common themes around here is that it’s bad when you let your lawyers make business decisions. Why? Because lawyers understand the law, and they understand how to use the law — but they don’t often think through the business consequences of using the law.

  61. hubbers says:

    When I purchased my £1700 Dell in teh UK I forgot to apply for Nectar Points on [www.nectar.com] The 3400 points would have been worth £50 or US$100.

  62. ninjapoodles says:

    Our current strategy in dealing with service issues is to bypass tech support completely in favor of Dell’s “Customer Advocate” team. The level of service is on a shockingly different level. We got a new (not refurbed), upgraded laptop to replace the one we were having trouble with, and were cared for better than we ever expected–and we were well OUT of warranty. I wrote about it in the “above and beyond” thread on the consumerist forums. Best of all, the advocate team is in Texas, not New Delhi, and we almost speak Texan.

  63. starjax says:

    I am a dell certified tech. I have spent many years servicing dells in a corp. environment. In the first year a new model is out, you typically get new parts. After that they are refurbs. Lets say you have a bad system board on a notebook. You replace the power brick, cpu, and mb. then end up replacing the mb and cpu again, and yet again another mb. After the third major repair you can ask for the system to be replaced (lemon law or something to that effect).

  64. lareinajul says:

    I worked for American Airlines for 5 years, and was so excited about the prospect of receiving a Dell computer when it was announced that all AA employees would receive a base model Dell.

    Of course you had to pay for any upgrades, and I spent about $1000 extra about 5 years ago…

    Well, since then the ex-CEO (Don Carty)was ousted for hiding an executive retention fund from the unions and the bankruptcy courts… that later lead to concessions that sent many to unemployment and even food lines in states like OH that have a slow economy..

    They were narrowly able to avoid bankruptcy after the fiasco and the pickle he left the airlines in, and by the grace of many employees that agreed to the concessions instead of walking out.. after having already gone through several rounds of layoffs.. they survived..

    But guess where Don Carty is right now?? Here’s an article in case you do not know about the scandal..


    He is the CFO of Dell!!!! Michael Dell ought to be ashamed.. this is irreprehensible to place a proven criminal like Don Carty back in a C-Level position.. and CFO no less!!! This is horrible..


    But it is the duty of us comsumers to stop these crooks!! He will probably do the same thing to the Dell employees and share holders.. and the only way to stop him is to get into Dell’s pockets and let them know we do not approve of this!!! I will never purchase a Dell again.. and I now realize why we were offered Dell computers.. almost everyone upgraded.. and on top of the money.. Carty must have gotten a HUGE kickback.. now I know he was always on the board.. I regret ever having purchased the Dell. I had nothing but problems.. because they always asked for my serial # and I think we were in the lowest support tier possible..

  65. Segin says:

    I am one of those tech’s that home service on Dell repairs. On replacement harddrives, to reinstall the OS would take about an hour or more, with drivers and software and such. Dell has told me to tell the customer they will walk them through the OS installation over the phone.

    I used to be a ‘preach the word of Dell on the streets’ type of person but that has changed 100%. A person (probably not tech savvy to start with) has a problem and goes to get tech support (who is already going to be talking technical language or a watered down version) and then they have to decipher the accent on top of that. This doesn’t work well.

    And yes, if you ARE going to buy a Dell, always buy a warranty for as long as you want to actually have a working computer, because Dells seem to be suffering from break down syndrome.

  66. AlHazred says:

    As a technician who has bought Dell laptops before, both for customers and my own use, let me give you guys this tip: if you need a serial port on your laptop to connect to other equipment without a USB dongle (which are notoriously unable to pass a Serial BRK properly), order a Dell laptop from the Medium & Large Business page – as far as I can determine, those models all have serial ports, while Home & Home Business and Small Business models do not.

  67. it_wizard says:

    I’ve been a loyal Dell customer for 6+ years now. I support directly 250-300 Dell workstations or laptops at my company as one of a small group of IT and even have a few Dell servers as well. I can say this without any hesitation – Dell has been going downhill DRASTICALLY in both the quality of their support as well as the ability to easily configure a systm for purchase. You used to be able to select whatever options you wanted quickly and easily. Now all you have are these ridiculously simplified upgrade options – but have you noticed you can’t downgrade anything now. I use Enterprise Premium account and even there things are less and less user friendly and more geared towards selling useless add-ons and unnecesary upgrades. For example, try configuring a Dimension desktop in either Home or Small/Medium Business section – and bask in the glory of being forced into ONLY upgrades…Only to soak in the fumes of their worsening tech support.

    Dell was never like this before. I was a huge cheerleader for Dell to my management and any of the hundreds of people who ask me for IT advice every year. But they are losing us… and honestly, I’m not so sure they really care anyhow. They’d rather go after the business of morons who don’t know enough about PC’s to configure the options they want for themselves and need the nerfed version of “upgrade heaven” dell buysite to walk them through it.

  68. Mcars says:

    I have been a Dell employee for well over a decade. While I worked mainly as a Sales Manager in the Inside, I would endorse much of this article as fact. And, while I normally would not post to a blog in general, I was captivated by Dell’s defensive stand on this article, because it represents Dell’s bullying tactics that it began to use on its customers years ago. Not one of my former co-workers was surprised by their initial reaction to the blog, and it has become a shadow of the company that it once was from a standpoint of ethics.
    That said, hardware is now a commodity. Dell’s notebooks have taken an industry hit in the trade rags, and their home desktops are the stuff of tech-support nightmares.
    But all of these things can be summed up in the press Dell has recieved lately. Investigated by the SEC for improper compensation practices and the layoffs of over 8800 people around the world sum up where Dell has found itself in 2007. Why would anyone spend the money with a company that is getting such bad press and is under multiple investigations for illegal and illicit trade practices? (I.e. The Battery Recall disaster of 2005-2006)
    And-IF you really want to express yourselves to Michael himself, you can do as I did many times at Michael@Dell.com. Assuming you get a reply, why not ask him why he has tarnished a great company and why he will be forever scorned instead of revered as someone whose company was once founded on morals and integrity is now a mere memory of its former self, and rotten to the core! Hey…other than that, it’s a great place. Life in the Crooked-E has never been so interesting. ###

  69. luckymike005 says:

    The standard warranty will cover screen defects!They do have a size requirement for the defect(a certain # of pixels) but it will be replaced if it meets the standard. How do I know? I used to work for extended services. I sold many warranties for Dell although I worked for an outsourced company. There are many changes at Dell, though. Surprise! surprise

  70. TFM says:

    Has anyone else noticed the interesting fact that everyone who’s complaining about Dells, on this entire site, have had just about the same problems with all their computers. I have learned the hard way that Dells are unreliable. Sad, but true. You people get so angry at each other like they were insulting your parents or something. Everyoe has their own problems. Dell just happens to have alot more than others. People must remember that all we consumers really want is a relaible portable computer and to get what we were promised we would get, when we pay for it. Am I wrong?

  71. tyrone8323 says:

    I’ve had 4 Dell laptops – never had a problem with any of them. I’ve worked on hundreds of Dell desktops and servers, never had a problem with one of them. I’ve never had to call Tech Support because I know how to take care of the systems I work on and own. If I’ve ever had to call Dell or chat with them, my problems were resolved immediately.

    Dell doesn’t build bad computers (with the exception of few DOA [I never recieved one], but that’s with every company), maybe it’s the user suffering from the ID10T error.

  72. viableoptions says:

    Wow! This is all really great info. for the masses whom ask me what to buy! I refurbish “curbside donations” with Mepis Linux. It is Ubuntu with 1% more goodness added! Dells seem to work just great, except for the few easily replaced winmodems, proprietary audio and video chips.

    Happy to see Dell wise up and redact the take down notice! All it did was piss-off a million Linux and Dell fans, and 10 million potential customers!

    Not like Dell would miss them. But, System76 and Lenovo are already shipping Linux Computers worldwide! Dell had better hurry up with their entre’ into the world scene!

  73. ILuvKurry says:

    One way to amuse your office buddies in the immediate vacinity of your cubicle is to put Dell support on speaker phone.

    It really lights up our day. We can go for hours of laughter, with questions like.

    What is a power cord? (Then try get Dell support to describe that!)

    I found the father board, but I dont see the motherboard?

    Does the PC face me or face you?

    Can I bring the PC to you instead?

    Act all happy and excited and blurt… yes yes yes… I see the flux capacitor!

    Or suggest a fix yourself… like… uhmmmm…

    What if I used a tricorder and injected a graviton pulse in a rotating harmonic? Would that assimilate my PC? (Try keeping a straight face after that one… buhahahahaha!)

    We are such degenerates and I do feel sorry for the fella on the other end that keeps a straight face through all this.

    I promise to try be a good corporate citizen… or I might just end up flipping burgers.

  74. delldudette says:

    This is in response to ILUVKURRY comment. I am a senior tech for Dell in their Gold Warranty Department. If you got me and asked me those questions — I would pee myself!! Funny stuff!!!

  75. Trackback says:

    My sister-in-law wants advice on buying a new laptop. For what they’re worth, here are my pearls of wisdom for saving money and headaches, and for getting the most bang for the buck.

  76. kicksonfire says:

    Dells = nightmare! I’ll still with my mac till the end of the road!

    KicksOnFire.com – Air Jordans & Nike SB News and Updates

  77. NorineLiopleurodon says:

    this post is old but maybe I will get a response

    I am doing some research trying to decide what to buy. I am looking at a Vostro for $510 and considering what has been said about warrenties and accidental on laptops. If I were to get both for two years, it will cost another $287! Is it really advisable that you should pay more than half the cost of the computer for these services that I would hope I would never need? Do you take the chance and put the $287 towards a new computer in a few years? It is, however, a laptop and I can be clumsy.