Man Haggles With Dell Over Failed Laptop For 3 Years

Ethan writes:

I purchased a laptop through my company in 2005. The laptop I bought was the Dell XPS (Gen2). I had several issues with the DVD burner right off the bat. Within months Dell was replacing my 6800 Ultra laptop video board due to video artifacts. This happened again and more parts were replaced. In Late 2006 Dell swapped my Gen2 system for a M1710. In my book, both the customer service and the quality hit the fan. They sent me a laptop with less memory and poor video.

Eventually after many calls they sent the right memory and fixed the video. Unfortunately, the laptop had serious thermal design flaws and I had another system exchange, multiple system board and video swaps. Not to mention overheating batteries. I got to know the local BancTec technicians by name. I really never was able to use the laptop. After more than 11 part replacements, they sent a M1730. In my opinion, they rushed the QA. The M1730 is a power hog and has to remain plugged in at all times. This is a laptop we are talking about. Something they sell as a mobile gaming solution. They even try to upsell additional batteries when you call them on the phone or buy it online. The M1730 is configured with SLI, however the fist system they sent had 1 bad GPU on the 2GPU video board.

So, they ordered me another laptop, which was canceled, and then reordered, and then canceled again. For all of my trouble I asked that they upgrade me to a faster processor and a blu-ray drive. The manager said okay, but that they had to order the parts after the laptop shipped. Then they shipped the laptop late and had to reroute the laptop as I was at a different location. I am a consultant and travel on business. DHL and Dell were not able to track the laptop. It was actually out for delivery on a DHL truck in FL, instead of a truck in GA. I finally found out what was happening by talking to local DHL warehouse dispatchers.

The one that finally arrived had a Bad LCD with bad pixels and light distortion. Dozens of calls to dell tech support got me nowhere. The manager who made the promise was not returning my calls. At this point I was frustrated but not out of options. I sent an email to the Consumerist Dell Executive email list and 4 hours later I received a phone call from a very nice lady who works for the Dell Executive Resolution Team. She said she was looking into my case and would try to make things right. I was very relieved to speak with someone based in the US who was empowered to make things happen.

The first thing she did was ask that I send her a list of the exact configuration that I had and the one that I desired. Not to0 hard. Only two parts difference. I sent the exact list as configured on the Dell website and waited. After a week or so, and no updates showing on the order, I emailed/called her. She couldn’t find out what was causing the order delay so she canceled the order. When I looked at the order and matched up the parts, I found the video board was missing from her order part list (not mine). I also noticed the list was missing the Bluetooth card part. She wanted to let the order process (expedited) and take care of the Bluetooth part later. The ship date came and I tried to track the DHL tag. DHL said they hadn’t picked it up, and Dell couldn’t tell if the laptop had shipped. I called DHL a few more times and they said Dell had registered the tracking number but hadn’t actually shipped the box. I related this info to woman at Dell and she began checking other contacts.

Finally the tracking number came up as Ground Service. Dell had expedited the laptop build, but had not sent it next day. Every previous laptop had been sent next day and the Dell website listed Next-Day service. Eventually I did receive the laptop and it was missing Bluetooth. I swapped the BT daughter card and you think the story would end there. Nope.

The current M1730 has major issues and already I have had the motherboard, power supply, and battery replaced. The Blu-Ray scratches the dvds and the first replacement they sent was DOA. I am trying to test the second Blu-ray, but my laptop has been crashing and locking up. I’ve worked with a Sr. Dell Executive Technician for 5 days. Here are my current unresolved issues:

The laptop power cord can be loosened by moving the power cord or the laptop. When this happens, the laptop switches to battery.

When the laptop is running on battery, it freezes and locks up. This happens every time, not just occasionally.

When I plug the laptop back in from running on Battery it bluescreens or freezes.

The SLI drivers are poor and do not work. Dell has 2 drivers, one production and one beta. The production driver causes the laptop to freeze when Freecell is started. Performance at high resolutions is worse than previous generation laptops. The beta driver fixes some problems but the driver readily crashes when switching to SLI.

When cold booting from the battery the laptop is more stable, but cannot play DVDs, video, and is very slow to respond (like a 400Mhz Celeron)

I’ve rebuilt the laptop more than a dozen times with various driver configurations.

Dell is not able to give me a clear workaround for these issues or a expected fix. I have been told to keep my laptop plugged in at all times.

I’ve send another email to the Consumerist Executive list, and received another response from the lady at Dell. I will post an update on what they tell me.

You are either very patient, or insane. I think I would have just given up and asked for my money back at this point.

(Photo: Fireflock)