Does Anyone At Dell Handle Busted Hard Drives?

Nobody at Dell can help Kevin return two broken hard drives. Kevin’s Seagate 320GB FreeAgent drive refuses to power on, and his 160GB Western Digital won’t boot. Kevin sent Dell a note after wrangling with eleven CSRs over five hours:

I called tonight due to 2 harddrives I purchased 26 days ago. Both drives have completely failed. One is knocking and the other won’t power on at all. I called Dell and have been transferred to 11 people and 3 different calls:

1st Call – 48 Minutes (Disconnected during transfer)
2nd Call – 91 Minutes (Disconnected trying to transfer me)
3rd Call: 138 Minutes – Disconnected during transfer.

I am fed up and it is absolutely ridiculous. They have no idea what department to send me to. So far I have talked to:
“Customer Care”
“Dell Care”
“Business Sales”
“Hardware support”
“Desktop Support”
“Technical Support”

I have 4 different case numbers they have assigned me and still nothing to show for it. They can’t even tell me who I need to talk to or what I need to do to get the parts replaced. I have spent close to $240.00 and wasted hours of my time away from my family trying to repair this issue.

The original hard drive I ordered is an external drive that I was able to connect and move all of my data to… Then it just wouldn’t power on. Tried multiple power outlets, will not power up. I have lost all of my data there.

Then I purchased an internal drive, I have had it less than a month and it is knocking and won’t boot. I am very dissatisfied and the award winning customer care has to be the farthest from the truth.

Case #: 1734xxx82
Order Numbers:
718xxx24 – 160GB
710xxx785 – 320GB

The note didn’t get Dell’s attention, but a complaint to the Better Business Bureau did. A Dell representative called Kevin to arrange the returns:

BUT!!!! 30 minutes into the call as she is taking my address info and giving her apologetic speech…Oh wait! I’m sorry Mr. Hatfield but we can’t replace these. Have a nice day.

Hopefully one of Dell’s damage control ninjas can explain exactly which Dell department, if any, is responsible for handling busted hard drives.

Dell….RUN! Yet another horrible experience with service and products! [Kevin Hatfield’s Blog]
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)


Edit Your Comment

  1. hinkmania says:

    Perhaps he should try contacting the original equipment manufacturer and explaining the situation to them.

  2. azntg says:

    @hinkmania: Sure… only to have those OEMs to redirect you back to the computer manufacturer!

  3. shades_of_blue says:

    Use the official Seagate and WD RMA pages. It’ll make life easier.

  4. KernelPanic says:

    As a long time OEM system builder I can say that neither Dell nor Seagate are in the data recover business. They will simply send you another drive (likely an already RMA’d and “repaired” drive) and move on. I always recommend new drives anyway, it’s much better to get a new drive then inherit someone else’s problem and it’s only $100.
    It is the end users responsibility to back up their data. The first three rules of computers are after all; backup, backup and backup.
    It always amazes me that end users fill no responsibility to be proactive and install Antivirus software or run the occasional backup.
    The simple fact is that the most likely part to fail on a computer is the hard drive that is spinning at 5000/7200/10,000 RPM with a head that’s precariously floating a fraction of a human hair width over the spinning platter.
    I can make one recommendation on the external drive. Yank it out of the external case and see if it spins up and initializes on a regular desktop. The external units are after all; just regular hard drives in an external case with a PATA/SATA to USB/Firewire interface. After all, it may just be a problem with the AC adapter or the aforementioned interface. This will void your warranty of course.
    All that said. It’s now data recover time with a firm like You’ll likely pay through the nose for the recover any where from the low price of $800 all the way up to tens of thousands of dollars. My experience with data recovery on a single drive probably averages around $1800 or so.

  5. ajgmcse says:

    Hard Drive have from 1 to 5 year(s)warrantees on them. Instead of calling DELL, you should call the manufacture using their website and then ask for an RMA number from them.

    I have only gotton good experience from DELL. I have purchased several desktops and 4 laptops. After one year of use on one of my laptops the burner failed to function. The warrantee was out; but I call DELL anyway. They asked me one question and that was if I could install the burner. I said yes … the next day later in the afternoon FEDex arrived with my new DVD Burner. The same box that the new DVD came I used to sent back the one that was not working. Out of all the equipment that I have purchased from DELL that was the only problem I had with hardware.

    I purchased a 160 gig Seagate hard drive from PC Club locally and after their warrantee was over the Drive failed. I took the drive back to PC club and was told they could not help me. I got on the Internet, got their phone number and called using my VONTAGE phone which costs nothing for long distance calls. I told them my story I was asked if I want the data on the hard drive rescued, I said no. They gave me an RMA number and I mailed the hard drive back to Seagate. Approximately 1 month later I received 260 gig Hard drive from Seagate. I was very pleased.

    In stead of posting these complaints on the Internet you should be more resourceful. I am a A+ certified Tech and have received free hard drives from manufactures, several of them I have found in trash bins next to computer stores. If they are within the warrantee period of 5 years I send them to the manufacturer. Now have 6 hard drive that I never paid for, I just follow the directions from the manufacturer website.

  6. kenblakely says:

    Contest the charge with your credit card and send an EEMB

  7. jesirose says:

    @KernelPanic: The post doesn’t say anything about recovering the data, he’s just trying to return the drives for a refund…

  8. Niloc0 says:

    I work for a Dell outsourcer doing tech support and I can tell you that Dell’s return period is 21 days. For 3rd party products (non-Dell branded items) you have to go to the manufacturer for support after that. Dell is just the reseller in this case – it’s as if you bought something from Best Buy, they’ll take it back within the return period but after that you go to the OEM. So that’s it for the external drive.

    The internal drive may be another story – do you own a Dell computer? Is it still in warrantee? If you purchased the internal drive new from Dell and installed it in a Dell system with an active support contract then it takes on the warrantee of the system. Call hardware warrantee support – they will replace it for you.

    If you bought it from Dell “spare parts” (refurbished, used & open box parts) then it only has a 90 day warrantee, but it still should be covered. Again – hardware warrantee support.

    Select option 1
    Enter extension 7280260

    8am-midnight Eastern time, 7 days a week

  9. smbfl says:

    A couple of posters recommend going to the OEM to try to get the issue solved. This won’t work with the internal drive as the OEM doesn’t provide any warranty on the drives to the end user. The only warranty you have is through Dell (put the serial number in the OEM page and try it sometime.. very disappointing). The OP might have luck with the OEM on the external drive though. Worth a try anyway

  10. jameson71 says:

    I have a pretty long history of dealing with dell support for the enterprise, and one anecdote of dealing with their home and small business support some years ago. My girlfriends hard drive in her dell went, and She called support. They told her that because her computer shipped with windows 98, that the problem was that the computer was upgraded to xp. I called (from my apartment) and explained that the hard drive is making clicking noises etc. and that it was definitely a hard ware problem. Still no go. So what I did was the same I would have done for work. Downloadd dell diagnostics disk (or cd these days) run the drive diags, get the failure code from that and the service tag for the computer, and then call dell support. Do not answer their questions…just act like you have done this a million times and tell them you have the service tag and the error code and they will usually not ask any more questions except for what those 2 numbers are and process the RMA.

  11. SaraAB87 says:

    This is wonderful to know as I am in the market for a backup drive for my computer, and now I will know to avoid Dell and Seagate.

  12. ArtDonovansLovechild says:

    Did they say why they refuse to accept the return? My business uses Dell, and I have a dell laptop myself, always happy, though they are huge sticklers for policy. Only problem I ever had was on an old comp that I didnt realize I had bought refurbed (years ago). They refused to do anything on that one even days after delivery.

  13. swalve says:

    It sounds like he bought both drives as add-ons, not with a system. Probably on his Dell card. I know Dell won’t warrant the external drive, that goes back to the manufacturer. The internal drive who knows?

    “BUT!!!! 30 minutes into the call as she is taking my address info and giving her apologetic speech…Oh wait! I’m sorry Mr. Hatfield but we can’t replace these. Have a nice day.”

    This is suspect. What would make her think she could do it, and then that she couldn’t?

  14. warchild says:

    The poster mentions that one of those drives is an external drive. Since this is the case, you should not be calling Dell, or whomever the vendor would be, for technical support assistance. I am sure that there is a return period that Dell has to offer for its retail products that they sale. Obviously, if they will not take it back, then it is way outside that return period.

    C’mon.. isn’t there something better to post?

  15. edrebber says:

    “Dude you’re getting a dell”


    The drives were probably damaged during shipping or else they were returned defective drives repackaged as new.

    Pack everything up in the original shipping containers, write “REFUSED” on the label and send them back to Dell.

    Finally, contact your credit card company and dispute the charge. Let them know the drives have been returned.

  16. JayPechek says:

    Hi Kevin,

    You can call Seagate at 1-800-SEAGATE and get assistance with your Seagate FreeAgent external storage solution. Our technical support may be able to get you back up and running.

    If it is defective, our external storage solutions all carry five year warranties and lifetime free support.

    If you have any problems please feel free to contact me at

    Jay Pechek
    Seagate Corporate Communications

  17. drkkgt says:

    How weird, I used the web interface for talking to Dell (create an account and list your computer under it. Once done there is a link to report a problem.)
    Just two weeks ago, I had a drive go out of a desktop that was about 6 months old. Wrote it up, got a auto-response email asking if I tried a few things, sent it back and within two hours got a notification that a new drive was enroute. Got it the next day.

  18. wesrubix says:

    uuuuuuuuuuugh I bet they are both external drives. The Free Agent is definitely. Not sure about that WD. They are retail products, so take it up with the manuf. Why should dell diagnose the problem?

    It’s unfortunate though, unspeakably unfortunate, they just didn’t ask immediately “did you buy these from our peripheral store?”, “are they external?”, and tell him “contact the manufacturer, we don’t replace those [because they aren’t dell parts].”

  19. swalve says:

    @drkkgt: Yes, that has worked for me as well.

    @edrebber: You can’t refuse a shipment 26 days after you’ve accepted it.

    *Somebody* clearly warrants this equipment, unless this guy bought it in a non-standard way (refurb, ebay, etc). If Dell is just the retailer for these things, then why should they warrant it? Would you call Newegg it something broke after a month of use? No, you’d have to go to the OEM.

  20. ArtDonovansLovechild says:

    All those people who just cry “CHARGEBACK” on everything, get real. It doesnt work that way. You cant just decide a product isnt what you expected and get your money back from your CC. Even if you did, abuse of this system will just screw us all going forward.

  21. BrockBrockman says:

    Hard drives fail – fact of life.

    Sucks that it happened all at once, but it happens on a regular basis.

    The easiest and best thing to do is contact the hard drive manufacturers, even if Dell bears some responsibility here. They will replace both hard drives, no questions asked. Each hard drive has at least a one year warranty.

    Ages ago, when I used to deal with this stuff for a living, we always did hard drive warranty work through the manufacturer, simply because it was much, much more efficient. It was pointless to go through Compaq, HP, or Dell.

    So, if you actually want to get your hard drives replaced, talk to these guys:

    Seagate Warranty Services
    Western Digital Services

    If you want to keep getting the runaround from a crap company with crap customer service, keep dealing with Dell.

  22. EtherealStrife says:

    Two hard drive failures in one month, and one is a SEAGATE? I’m going to blame the victim here. You probably cut power to the external while it was still being accessed, and improperly installed the internal. Or just the former. I’ve had WD drives ship the 7 miles to my house and be DOA, supposedly Caviars (shipped BY WD). Bite the bullet and RMA the suckers, after double checking that they are in fact dead. You’ll probably get refurbished units, but it’s more than you’ll get from dell.

    In the future, only deal with dell for laptop purchases. Everything else is cheaper elsewhere. Credit or no credit, dell will cost you.

  23. @azntg: Bingo…

  24. ShadowFalls says:

    These are all products that are purchased in retail stores and carry the same warranties, it is not an internal OEM hard drive. As which, you should be contacting both Seagate and Western Digital for a RMA and not be complaining here.

    As for failures, the external enclosures are generally made cheap, more so its AC Adapter, failure rates on those are pretty high. Those failures can cause completely non-working drives, to ones that sound dead from a clicking noise, but the internal drive is actually fine.

  25. P41 says:

    I had no problem getting my Dell hard drive replaced on my “next business day” service contract. They were out of stock the next day, but the day after they did it and everything was fine.

    Of course that was after a six week wait to get the service tag authorized for service. The best they could tell me was to fill out their form again. Yeah I did that. Remember that was the first thing I told you. And I don’t need a new case number, any of the first four will do.

    The thing that gets me is it seems like Dell has like 10 parallel service departments. Here’s a thought for the Dell lurkers to report back to their bosses – If everyone who has to deal with Dell four times only had to deal with Dell once, it would be like one fourth of people were calling you. Which would be like Dells broke one fourth as often, which you’d kill for, right?

    And don’t even get me started on the “you seem pretty sure the laptop hinge broke because it was dropped, yet there’s not a scratch or dent on it…” I select more than my annual salary in new computers, stop treating me like my Jersey warehouse burned down just before an audit.

  26. rewinditback says:

    I always take dell Posts as an opportunity to express my extreme hatred for dell’s customer service.

    My battle with them ended with a cease and desist threat, and then finally one of their corperate CSR’s emailed me.

    I might be able to dig up her email address if that would help you…

  27. rewinditback says:

    is who handled my refund after battling them for three months. She is a Senior support services rep… it might be worth a shot.

  28. khatfield says:

    I am Kevin — who originally posted this on my blog. I have been in contact with Dell since this was posted and they are currently working to get the replacements. Thanks everyone for your kind comments, it does seem there was a misprint in my original blog, as these were both Seagate drives. It was installed properly and the external was not being written to. It was removed with “safely remove” and then unplugged, when put back in the surge protector it wouldn’t power up. Tried multiple outlets as well.

    So just for clarification, this being posted has helped to have my problem routed through the proper channels and get the attention that I was unable to accomplish on my own. Thanks Consumerist!

  29. CoffeeAddict says:

    It’s nice to hear that hdd issue is being resolved. Good show Dell!!!