Letter To Michael Dell Frees College Student From Dell Hell

At the end of last semester, Alex experienced one of the great college student nightmares of our time: his Dell laptop fried itself shortly after the warranty expired. While he Fortunately, he had a few things going for him: his father had originally purchased the computer on a credit card (American Express) that extended his warranty protection, and Alex knew enough to research the specific problem. AmEx’s repair offer didn’t satisfy Alex, so he summarized the situation in a letter to Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell.

Mr. Dell,

I am reaching out to you due to my dissatisfaction with Dell Customer Service and the deletion of the Dell Consumer Advocate email. I’m an owner of a XPS m1530. The express service code is [redacted]. My father originally purchased it for me as a going away to college gift in August 2008, since it is a necessity to have a laptop, and my family has been purchasing Dells for around a decade as of now.

During my finals in mid December, my laptop broke. I still had a few papers and projects to get done and I lost whatever progress I had done. Luckily I was able to get my work done just in time to meet the due date for the assignments. I was pretty sure that the motherboard was fried. That day I contacted Dell Customer Service and they told me that since my warranty expired in August, they would be unable to talk to me. They were, however, willing to offer to extend my warranty to cover any other problems or to connect me to a paid service hot line. I declined both options. I was a bit upset at the fact that the representative offered to extend my warranty, seeing as I did explain that I was pretty sure my motherboard was fried and that I was in a bit of a panic due to it being finals at my school.

My father is much better with electronics than me. When I got home for winter break, I let him look at it and he agreed with my diagnosis. Upon looking up other people with problems with the same model, I was guessing it was due to the faulty Nvidia GPU that came with it. We did purchase it on American Express, so we were going to contact them about their extended warranty policy.

My father took it upon himself and he was in contact with both Dell Customer Service and American Express. He told me that the first representative from American Express would refund the full ~$1400 we originally spent on the laptop and would not require a repair estimate. A week later, American Express sent us a letter that requested an invoice on how much it will cost to repair the laptop. We brought it to a computer specialist and gave us a repair invoice of $523.23, not counting the $73.83 it cost the technician to determine how much it would cost for the replacement and installation of a new motherboard. The estimate totaled $597.06 but waived the $73.83 fee to get the estimate. American Express agreed to pay the $523.23 and if there were any further problems up until the third year from the date of purchase, they would spend no more than the $880 remaining on any repairs or replacement.

As a college student, I do have a rather tight budget to work with and I’m in a bit of a “catch 22” situation. If I do get my laptop repaired, there is a rather high risk that the faulty Nvidia GPU will ruin a new motherboard sometime in the future. On the other hand, the $523.23 is not enough to buy a laptop that has similar specifications to my broken one.

Unfortunately for me, the class action settlement doesn’t cover the issue of the GPU overheating so there I will not receive any form of compensation from that. I do not blame Dell in any way for the faulty Nvidia GPU sold in the XPS m1530. I do, however, hope that there is someway for the Dell Inc. can help me so that I do not have to either have my laptop repaired and risk it breaking again or have to save up money in order to combine that with the money American Express reimbursed my father for the laptop. I’d like to add that I am writing this email from my families oldest Dell, a Dimension 8200 running Windows XP on a Pentium 4 processor with an upgraded RAM of 1GB. It’s a bit slow but still works like a charm.

Thank you for your time,


Great letter. Alex originally copied us on the letter when he sent it, then sent an update. Dell responded to the letter the very same day.

No sooner did I send my response, I got a call from Dell. The representative said they would replace what was wrong free of charge. I guess that means either the Michael@Dell or Michael_Dell email still works. As long as Dell doesn’t decide to charge us after the fact, I guess this is a win for the consumer.

They had better not. A tentative hooray for the consumer!

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