Dell Sends Technician To Your Office To Break Your Laptop

Experienced customer service wranglers will tell you that if you’re going to buy products from Dell, buy them as a small business owner, since they get better customer support. I’d hate to see what kind of support reader Benjamin would be getting for his Vostro notebook computer if he weren’t a small business owner, then.

I have a Dell Vostro 3450 that I purchased for my small business. Last week, I updated to the a10 bios, and after a reboot, I was prompted with a power warning saying, I don’t have the appropriate power supply plugged in and my battery might not charge. I am using the charger that was shipped with my machine.

I contacted Dell via customer chat hoping they would send me a replacement power supply and it wasn’t another problem. I was told by the agent that they would dispatch a tech to provide a new power supply and replace the system board in the laptop.

This sounded like overkill to me and tried to get them to just send me a power supply and I would let them know if that worked. They insisted on replacing the board so I let them do it.

Last Tuesday 2/28/12 my tech arrived to my work place. I provided him a place to work and off he went replacing my system board. When he was done I picked my laptop up put it back in my bag and when I came home and started using it I noticed that the keyboard was not secured properly. I chatted with support again and was told this was a user replaceable part and I could repair it. “Fine” I said and with the instructions, I attempted to snap the keyboard back into place.

It would not securely attach to the chassis via the keyboard retainers per the instructions. I removed the keyboard and found that the keyboard retainers had been damaged.
I chatted with support again and informed them that the machine was damaged and tech figured out that now the entire palm rest assembly needs to be replaced.

I requested a call back from a manager as I was pretty upset at the shoddy work and spoke with “W” Dell ID [redacted]. He assured me that they were making a dispatch to correct the problem. I wanted W. to offer something to help rectify the situation, namely a small warranty extension as my laptop has a new system board (probably refurbished) and am worried this machine would fail again after such an unskilled tech worked on it. I was told I must contact customer service to have that arranged.

I asked if he could transfer me to customer support and explain the situation on my behalf (a warm transfer) this request was refused and I was told that I must hang up with him and place the call, dealing with dells horrific IVR and waiting on hold.

He stated that he was chatting with a customer care specialist about my issue and I asked that she would contact me to discuss the matter. He said she was at home and “does not have access to the database” so she would be unable to call me. I asked if customer support was open and he lied and told me they were.

I considered this a very dirty trick to try and get me off the phone as this was at 9:45 PM CST and I was assuming they were closed. After a few more minutes “W.” finally admitted that they were closed and I asked for a call back in the morning from the customer service rep he was chatting with. He said that would not be possible and I would have to call in the morning claiming “They cannot make outbound calls.”

Fast forward to today when my computer is supposed to finally be back in working order and I receive a call back from a tech who says my part hasn’t been shipped yet. According to FedEx’s website it hasn’t even been picked up yet, as of 9PM CST on the 2nd business day of my “Next business day” service contract.

I chat with dell again and they tell me that it is out of their hands at this point. So now my damaged laptop will most likely not be repaired until Monday at the earliest and dell is not concerned at all.

The office of Michael Dell himself intervened after previous readers’ own Dell Hell situations: if the part doesn’t show up soon and solve all of this poor computer’s problems, maybe he’d like to hear about it. You can send him a note at


Edit Your Comment

  1. hakka lugi says:

    All the mobile repair technicians are contractors. I use Dell Tech support for business all the time and have have never had a bad experience. This sounds like an incredibly isolated incident.

    • Cicadymn says:

      Same here, most dell techs we’ve had have been quick, courteous (Though not particularly friendly), and are in and out in no time.

      There was one time where we had a bad tech. I recall he was replacing the motherboard, spent all day and left it in pieces. They sent out a different tech the next day with a different motherboard and he fixed it up in no time. Last time we saw that bad tech.

    • cytoman says:

      This is not an isolated incident at all. We have Dell small business and we have had multiple instances of next business day not being met. Because we are a medical clinic it is imperative that we have working equipment. That is why we pay the extra for full support. Lately when Dell knows they will miss their deadlines they don’t call and won’t make any efforts to make it right. We are switching to HP and we do $100K in business every few years.

    • I Love Christmas says:

      This isn’t isolated at all. Ask just about anybody working in IT. We hate Dell specifically because of their support.

      • MrEvil says:

        Coming from a shop that uses both Lenovo and Dell for client-tower I’ll tell you this that I’d much rather deal with Dell than Lenovo support. HP is bloody tops on our servers though.

    • farker22 says:

      i really like dell products but their field techs are creepers.

    • proliance says:

      I guess you mean all the Dell mobile repair tech are contractors. HP moved away from contractors 5 years ago and all their techs are in-house HP employees.

      • fischju says:

        Well that’s just not true. I’m an independent contractor, through a third party company that handles HP warranties, I service HP systems all the time.

  2. suez says:

    That happened to me. I bought a Dell on my own 5 years ago. About 3 years ago (still under the extended warrantee) it started running very hot. They sent out a third-party repairman to my office to fix it during business hours. He replaced the responsible part, but then did such a crappy job of reassembling the laptop and he literally bent the keyboard trying to screw the wrong screws into place. I called Dell back and said now it had OTHER problems, and that I did NOT want the same guy back again. They did right and not only sent out a more competant repairman, but sent a new replacement keyboard, too. So it ended well, but I never understood why the first guy insisted on reassembling it and forcing it together when it was so obviously wrong at a glance.

  3. scoutermac says:

    I have worked for Dell as a contractor. Many of the other people I worked with that were also contracting to Dell did not know what they were doing.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Assume you have a decent job, now.

    • kobresia says:

      I was a contractor on the IBM side of QLX for a couple years, I stuck around that long because I liked the job. But after a while, it started seeming like I was constantly fixing other techs’ screw-ups, whether it was breaking stuff because they didn’t know what they were doing, or just taking out every single screw in a system and being unable to reassemble the mess.

      If they want to fix the situation, they should probably pay senior techs better, and stop hiring folks with no experience or knowledge without having them train under and be overseen by a senior tech for more than a couple of calls. Just my $0.02. It would improve the consistency of service anyway, rather than having the “terrible tech, followed by an expert tech” situation.

  4. Pooterfish says:

    I know that the headline as written is snappy and attention-grabbing, but it’s also unfair. I doubt that Dell sent out a tech with the purpose of breaking the guy’s laptop. And the real issue is the uncaring and dishonest tech support response, anyway.

  5. some.nerd says:

    I blame the OP for buying a Hell in the first place.

  6. Brontide says:

    The travel power supply can be purchased with laptops that require more wattage to both use laptop and charge the battery. The travel supply will work and will charge the battery, but it takes significantly longer than the standard power bricks. I know since I have gotten this same warning on our last round of dell laptops purchased, thankfully I had an older charger around that I could use when I needed a quick charge.

  7. jrwn says:

    I actually just a Dell repair tech out to my shop yesterday for a 3500 machine. I had replaced the the motherboard previously from dell, referb item, and stupidly did what the chat tech guy told me to do. I removed the jumper to reset the bios. After that, that power supply test lit up, but no fans started, dead board.

    The tech came out with the mother board and video card(?) that dell sent to them, replaced it, and it worked. They were gone within 30 minutes.

  8. nearly_blind says:

    Dell is on my lifetime “banned” list. I stopped buying from Dell for my business after 10+ years as a customer a couple of years ago after I ordered a few laptops and 50% of them had hardware issues, and 100% had drivers/system software installed that had serious flaws. If there’s a serious bug with a driver, such that you know that an important feature will not work at all, e.g. wifi, dvd, etc, then you should update it before you ship it. Also, these known driver issues make it very painful to resolve hardware issues. The support people first assume that the issue is an old driver, bios, etc., and if that doesn’t fix it, they suspsect that maybe the updates were installed in the wrong order or incorrectly, then they need to reinstall windows and start from scratch, then many hours later they say OK it’s a hardware issue.
    I switched to Lenovo. No hardware issues with any computers so far, no junk software and trial ware to remove, a nice easy to use reliable system for updating drivers, etc, and the computers work when they’re delivered even if you don’t update anything.
    (No I don’t work for Lenovo).

    • scoutermac says:

      I have worked for Dell and am a certified Dell technician and I won’t buy a Dell.

      • I Love Christmas says:

        It seems like everybody with any Dell experience agrees: Don’t buy Dell. You may be happy with the price and the product at first, but as soon as you need support you are going to curse the day you decided to pick Dell over IBM or HP.

        • SynMonger says:

          It may seem that way, but it isn’t true. No issues with Dell in all the years we’ve used them. Replacement parts are timely and on-site support in our area is top notch.

  9. elangomatt says:

    We’ve had pretty good luck with the Dell technician (contractor) for our area. I think there was one time when a monitor bezel wasn’t snapped together all the way, but otherwise no issues. Sometimes the part replacement didn’t fix the issue, but was fixed with other parts on a subsequent visit. Our only complaint is that we always try to find a desk away from everyone for him to work at since he seems to have BO issues.

    • scoutermac says:

      My experience as a Dell Technician was that many times Dell sends DOA parts. They also count that against their technicians even though their technicians have absolutely no control over this at all.

  10. nandhp says:

    Also, the small business machines come with a minimal amount of trialware.

  11. blinky says:

    My solution to this kind of problem is to buy an apple. Its geniuses are fairly good and readily available.

    • scoutermac says:

      That is because you pay for it by spending $2,000 on a PC that should be $1,000. You still have problems with Apple.. they are just different problems.

    • elangomatt says:

      We had an Apple technician come onsite a while back to fix a nearly new iMac. I don’t remember what was actually wrong with it before he came, but during the hours he spent working on it, he plugged something in wrong or crossed some wires and shorted out something with a nice puff of smoke. So no fanboy, buying Apple is not the solution.

    • Phildogger says:

      Bad advice. Apple is in no way compatible with his machine when it comes to price, compatibility with software, etc. Apple machines are no better, they just are owned by less than 5% of the computer population, making them much less attractive to those who write viruses, spyware, malware, software companies, and programmers.

      • TRRosen says:

        Your right Apple doesn’t make cheap crap. OP’s fault here a $400 computer is going to break and break quickly. You buy a Yugo you get a Yugo. If you need a $400 laptop buy a used Lenovo.

    • I Love Christmas says:

      Worst possible solution. This wasn’t some laptop for a little kid to play around on the internet, this was a business machine.

      • red says:

        for $500? Better off getting a mac and installing windows. OS aside, they do tend to win design, reliabilty and customer satisfaction rewards.

        I’ve owned Apples for 6 years, had 2 problems. One was fixed in 3 days and fed-ex’d overnight to my hous, the other resulted in a new phone on the spot. It takes as long for me to drive to an Apple store as it does to get through to a Dell tech, and only one them does something the same day.

  12. Lyn Torden says:

    We’ve had numerous problems with Dell at my job place. They replaced the LCD display module on my laptop 3 times before the next tech noticed burn marks around one of the 2 power modules and determined the display backlight was underpowered from just one module. But this was already after the CEO issued an executive order “no more Dell purchases”. Shortly after that I got a nice desktop (I didn’t need a laptop … that was just the first round of machines we bough) that was not from Dell. And that machine has been working fine for the past year and a half.

    Over 50% of our Dell machines have had to be serviced. Some of the servers had repeated memory issues. Alas, all Dell servers are now gone, and only 4 Dell laptops remain in the hands of some of the programmers.

  13. I Love Christmas says:

    This is exactly why you don’t buy Dell products. I’ve yet to come across an IT worker that doesn’t despise Dell. Their hardware isn’t necessarily bad, but if you ever have to deal with customer service you’re going to wish you went with HP.

    • MrEvil says:

      Lenovo is worse. We buy Dell desktops and Lenovo Thinkpad laptops. I’d MUCH rather have to call Dell than Lenovo for hardware issues. Also the hardware in Thinkpads has turned to complete rubbish as of late. I’ve had so many T410s and T420s die within a few days of unboxing. DOA hard Drives, motherboards, touchpads. We’re sitting on like a 10% failure rate when it comes to DOA systems.

    • SynMonger says:

      I work in IT and have no issues with Dell. I order replacement parts via DOSD, they show up. Dealing with tech support is for folks without enterprise level support.

  14. Admiral_John says:

    ” When he was done I picked my laptop up put it back in my bag and when I came home and started using it I noticed that the keyboard was not secured properly. “

    Not to defend the Dell technician’s shoddy work, but why did you let him leave the premises without first checking the repair?

    • ray4jc says:

      this 10000 times this!

    • pegasi says:

      You ALWAYS make sure you test and inspect your system BEFORE the repair tech leaves!!! I CANNOT emphasize this enough. But then again, I tick them off – I’m a certified pc tech, so I catch the B.S. stuff, and will stand over them and watch, even if I can’t work on it myself because of warranty requirements that an “authorized repair technician” do the work.

    • fischju says:

      I do repair for Dell and HP as an independent contractor, it says right on the form you have to sign (at least through the third party who handles some warranties) that by signing you acknowledge that the unit it working. It’s required to be tested and working with the end-user before leaving site. Of course, if the guy didn’t know what he was doing, and obviously knew he broke it, he could have just skipped out.

  15. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    Okay, I’ll say it…the OP sounds a bit like a jerk to me. Why should they extend your warranty…because the tech busted a clip and now you are in doubt of your machine. It’s not at all difficult to replace these keyboards on their laptops.

    Dell does not have techs…they hire out to the cheapest outsourced “pc fix-it” company they can find in your area. So, don’t expect the dude who just quit Ronald’s steak house to pursue their tech career to be a Dell Einstein.

  16. GrandizerGo says:

    I see that on my laptop every now and then. I unplug the power supply from the back of the laptop and replug it in.
    It always works.
    I think there might be an issue where the power supply brick does not put out the current it is supposed to when you plug it in. So it is thought to be a power supply unknown to the machine and it does not meet the requirements.

  17. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    I have no idea how people could afford to work on computers for dell. they pay (paid in 2009) 8 dollars per incident plus milage.

  18. reybo says:


    Let me tell you about Dell.

    My daughter’s deluxe Dell for college didn’t last the first semester. Within a year we junked it. Dell failed to refund anything on their lemon, nor on the three service contracts they didn’t honor.

    It’s well known that buying Dell can be a disaster. We lost $2400. Your experience might differ, but here is ours.

    My daughter’s Dell desktop was 5 months from brand new when the hard drive failed.

    This Dell was to be her computer for 4 years at Kenyon College. I asked Dell up front if they could service it in Gambier, Ohio, if I pre-paid for on-site repairs for four years.

    “No problem,” was the response at order time. “No problem!”

    So I bought the usual one year warranty from Dell, plus an extra-cost extension for three more years. Add to that I bought an extra-cost contract for 4 years of on-site service in her dorm.

    And there was a one year manufacturer’s warranty on the part that failed, the hard drive.

    That should mean her machine is covered for parts and service, right? Wrong on both counts. This is Dell.

    The company lied and the salesman didn’t know. He later quit over this. Read on.

    Even though Dell had factory replacement coverage on their hard drives, they refused to admit the drive was bad long past when they knew it. No one told us why. Presumably, they were over budget for service calls due to the run of bad drives, and under orders to keep a lid on cost.

    Actually it was something else they were hiding.

    The hard drive failed in early January and my daughter called me. I reviewed the warranties and service contracts with her and said call Dell. She did, and complied with everything Dell techs asked of her.

    This included three complete re-installations of Windows, each one failing because the drive was bad. To do that on Dell’s telephone schedule, she missed 7 college classes and hurt her grades.

    They refused to provide the on-site service I paid for. Just said no. Rather than risk flunking courses, after three weeks she gave up and brought the Dell from Ohio to me in Virginia.

    I tried a dozen times to get Dell to install a new drive. They stone-walled me. On their instructions I tried every fix for a drive there is six times over. Still Dell adamantly refused to replace it or send a technician.

    Eventually I had enough. I know a dozen ways to shred a lackey by phone and on the
    55th day I shredded them up three management levels until someone responded properly.

    Two months after the drive failed, Dell finally sent someone to replace it. When he cracked the seal and opened the case, I was flabbergasted to see the drive. It was a Western Digital Caviar.

    That explained everything.

    Early mortality Caviar drives were common knowledge that year. I knew that from reading tech conferences and InfoWorld. That’s why when I ordered the Dell my invoice states: “Customer specifically requests we not use a Western Digital Caviar drive.”

    They put one in just the same, and HID it by not showing it on the packing slip. When it failed, they fought against revealing the drive they gave me. When they finally did, they replaced it with another Western Digital Caviar.

    It lasted five months.

    Michael Dell couldn’t resist the deal: Western Digital was dumping flawed drives dirt cheap. They have a high failure rate? So what. On Wall Street only profit margins matter.

    I didn’t call Dell when the replacement Caviar failed. I returned it to Western Digital under the WD warranty. They sent me a new Caviar and I sold it on eBay. The buyer got garbage with a 12-month warranty. I put a Quantum drive in the Dell and everything was fine.

    For a few months. Then Dell’s “we buy from the lowest bidder” motherboard died. That was
    enough Dell for me.

    The Dell salesman was outraged when he heard this. By freaky coincidence, the salesman who answered my call to Dell and helped me place the order was someone who grew up in my neighborhood.

    When my dealings with Dell were done, I called him to share our experience. He looked up the event ticket, saw what Dell did to us, saw the Caviar drive that wasn’t supposed to be there, and the service contracts he sold in good faith that they didn’t honor.

    He quit his job with Dell.

    Deal with Dell if you want to, but you could get what we got. Even in the aftermath when we sent them the event ticket and asked for something to be done about this $2400 rip-off, they ignored us.

    No refund for the intentionally flawed factory lemon computer; no refund on the service contracts they didn’t honor.

    That mistreatment is why you are seeing this more than a decade later, you and everyone we reach year after year with this warning. Every thousand orders Dell doesn’t get spares people anguish.

    Pass it on.


  19. kgb says:

    FYI: If you have a brand name HD in your computer, you can usually just contact the mftr. and they’ll send you a new one if yours dies.
    I know people who buy used bad drives on eBay, then send them back to the mftr. and get new ones.

  20. DELLChrisM says:


    I work for the Dell Social Outreach Services team. Please contact us via our twitter identity (@DellCares) so we can investigate this. Please mention on twitter to us that it is in reference to, “Dell Sends Technician To Your Office To Break Your Laptop”.

    DELL-Chris M
    SOS (Social Outreach Services)
    Desktops, Displays, Alienware

  21. neamerjell says:

    “Last week, I updated to the a10 bios…”

    If you left the BIOS alone, you would never have had any problems at all! NEVER update the BIOS unless you install or upgrade hardware that absolutely requires you to do so. This is one case where the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” definitely applies.

    Flashing a BIOS is just not worth the risk of accidentally updating to the wrong BIOS for your system, which is obviously what you did, or completely bricking your computer.

  22. karlmarx says:

    Well they broke my brothers laptop when too…