Dell Formats Your External Backup Drive, Erases 3 Years Worth Of Data

Reader Robert’s Dell XPS died. Under warranty, a Dell technician came to his house and in the process of “fixing” his computer decided to hook up and format his backup external hard drive, thus deleting 3 years worth of his work. Dell admits that they formatted his external drive but all they have to say to Robert is “Welcome to Dell.” Robert’s letter and timeline, inside…

April 7th – Top-of-the-line XPS Computer dies. Last words – “Hard drive failure.” Fortunately for me, I have the Dell Super Duper You-Should-Never-Have-to-Worry-or-Suffer-Needlessly extended warranty plan. I feel confident in the personal guaranty I get from Dell.

April 8th – Called Dell support and say that the computer fails to boot. “I think it is hard drive failure, because the computer gasped with its dying breath, ‘Hard drive failure.'”

Dell’s response: “We think it is a Windows issue. Reinstall Windows and it will work fine.” It does not.

April 9th – Marathon SIX HOUR call with Dell support during which time we uninstall and reinstall Windows, erase and replace the BIOS, unpartition and repartition the hard drives (several times), and perform all manner of terrible remedies to the computer in hopes of reviving it. None work.

Before we begin applying the electronic version of leeches to the XPS, the Dell support person asks, “We will have to erase the hard drive, is that ok?”

“No problem,” say I. “I have all my information backed up on this external hard drive. As long as no one touches the external hard drive*, everything will be fine.”

“I think it is the motherboard,” says Dell support eventually. “We will send a technician out. You should receive a call from the technician within 48 hours.”

The technician never calls. *ominous foreshadowing

April 10th through April 17th – Wait for technician to call. Emailed Dell Support several times with issue number and nice little note asking about the technician call. None of the emails responded to.

Used Dell Support Chat a couple of times from work and get runaround about how much they want to help, but unless I am sitting by the broken computer, pulling my hair our in frustration when they ask me to reinstall Windows one more time, there really isn’t anything they can do.

April 18th – Talk to Dell support chat on my laptop while sitting in front of my broken computer. Dell says, “Oh, you are using the wrong Windows installation disc, the wrong Dell support disc, and the wrong Dell diagnostic disc. We will send you the right ones.” They send me the wrong ones.

Specifically, they send me the Dell diagnostic discs for their bottom-tier laptops instead of their top-tier XPS desk tops so none of the drivers on the disc work. AND Dell sends a French-language Windows installer disc, apparently because they want to reward me by giving me the opportunity to learn a new language.

May 9th – Long, involved, multi-hour chat session with Dell support. Dell support person says that yes indeed , they sent the wrong discs and they can try to send the right discs again to me.

Logic dictates that if they just try enough times, eventually they might correctly address my problem once, right? Sadly, I am past the point of logic.

I express a level of frustration and contempt that gets me transferred to a supervisor. Dell supervisor tells me that I might have been right after all and that it probably isn’t a software issue. They agree to send out a technician.

May 13th – Dell technician comes out to the house. (I was at work and my wife was supervising the technician. He assured her several times, “I know what I’m doing.”) Doesn’t replace hard dives properly. Somehow, my 300GB hard drives gets magically replaced with a 150GB hard drive.

Also, the technician decides to plug in the external hard drive, the one I use as a backup into the computer and format it.

Apparently Dell technicians are NOT trained on the fact that FORMATTING A BACKUP DRIVE DESTROYS ALL OF THE BACKUP DATA ON IT.

May 16th – Dell support tells me that, yes, a Dell technician came into my house and effectively deleted about three years’ worth of data. All the personal data. All the professional data. All of those iTunes files I paid for and backed up so that money wouldn’t be wasted.

Everything. Now gone.

But somehow, thanks to the power of corporate magic Dell is not really responsible for this. They owe me nothing for my time and my grief and while they are very sorry for the fact I am effectively up the creek without a paddle, AND while they pretty much admit that they pointed me to this particular creek and then stole my paddle, I’m really on my own here.

So… um… that’s my customer experience with Dell. I drop a large chunk of change and buy their top-tier computer and then pay extra for their top-tier customer and technical support and am rewarded by having my external back up hard drive erased.

Thank you Dell for taking all my money and then repeatedly kicking me in the virtual nutsack because it amuses you so. Thank you Dell for making me angry enough to blog about what a craptacular waste of time and money your entire support network is.

But mostly Dell, thank you for giving me a story to share with each and every person I know who comes to me and asks what kind of computer they should buy. Because I plan on sharing this story with as many people as possible for years to come.

Wow. As if we needed another reason to hate Dell, we can’t imagine why the tech would mount an external hard drive and format it with blatant disregard to its contents. We’re not sure what all of your lost time and data is worth, Robert, but we would really like to see Dell try to make this right.

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