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.

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)