Dell Sells Laptop With External Drive But No Way To Connect It To Computer

David says he bought a Dell tablet that came with an external CD/DVD drive but no way to hook it up, making it all but impossible to install his operating system.

He has to buy another part if he wants to use the drive. He’s also facing issues with authentication. He writes:

I purchased a Dell Latitude XT several months ago. It shipped with Windows XP Tablet Edition and Windows Vista. Today I found myself trying to install Tablet XP from the installation DVD.

The XT does not include an internal CD/DVD drive. It’s not a netbook but it is designed to be used as a tablet. The irony is that Dell did include a CD/DVD drive. It’s not exactly an external drive- it requires a “Media Base” to use (a separate purchase). They couldn’t simply include a cable.

I found a way to install Windows XP from an external hard drive here.

I already had an external hard drive install setup for Windows 7 so this looked simple. I followed steps 12-20 and everything seemed fine until I was presented with product key prompt. The “start here” book that the DVD was delivered with stated “The Certificate of Authenticity label has been removed by your PC manufacturer and should be attached to your PC.” No such label was attached to the PC.

I spent the next two hours on the phone being bounced between Dell’s Technical Support, Customer Care, a “Resolution Specialist,” and eventually a technician. Customer Care had originally diverted me to Microsoft who quickly informed me that Dell would need to provide the product code for OEM software. Total time on the phone with Dell: over two hours. Total time on the phone with Microsoft: about ten minutes.

The technician basically told me I had to use the DVD to install XP. Apparently the product code is embedded on the system board or something.

Dell sold me a computer with an external CD/DVD drive that I can only use after spending more money. They included a DVD with documentation stating that the Certificate of Authenticity label is on the computer even though it isn’t. I found a way to work around the first hurdle they put in front of me but I’m stuck on the second. I’m hoping a Consumerist reader could help me out here.

Any advice for David?

(Photo: Ron Dauphin)