I’m not defending Dell, but…

Another Lockergnome contributor drew my attention to this blog.

I see these category of articles and have to remind myself (and others) that
you’ll never see a blog that says “I bought a so-and-so thingamojob and I’m
very happy with it. The end”. Ok, well maybe from Chris.

Furthermore, one blog with a particularly bad customer-service issue does
not a statistical sample make. You’ll find such a horror story for almost
any durable good: cars, washing machines, Hummers…

That being said, I agree with all the points in that blog, but I think the
backlash is beginning to take. Dell announced a while back that they were
going to keep some of the customer service people in the US. Maybe that was
only for corporate customers, I don’t recall.

Notebook computers are especially prone to customer-service problems. Unlike desktop computers, if there is one tiny problem with notebook, the whole thing has to go in for repair. On a desktop, you can just bring in the one problem part, or just replace the video board or something. But there is basically only one “field-replaceable unit” on a notebook: the notebook.

I think we’ve taken for granted just how complex these things are. There a millions of transistors (whatever those are — yeah, *I* know what they) inside, and if any one of them overheats and stops functioning, well, there goes the notebook.

I have owned more than 10 notebooks/laptops/portables over the past 20
years. I have experienced the headaches of customer service and the joys of
not having to deal with them. My current oldest one still active is a
vintage 1997 Dell Latitude LM running at 166MHz running Win95 (I don’t dare
upgrade to anything past Win98SE). No problems ever. My worst notebook was
also a Dell (DOA).

My current notebook is an HP Pavilion ze5300: 2.6GHz that feels like 1.6GHz.
The keyboard is terrible (I have a light touch and not all the keys register
when I hit them, so my first draft of anything always misses chrcters,
especially the “a”); the battery life is an hour if I’m good; it’s heavy;
it’s hot; the fan is loud; the built-in speakers are even worse than other
built-in speakers of other notebooks; and the range of the built-in wireless
network is poor. But, the screen is great at 1400×1050 which I need for my
software and hardware development, and it was cheap (plus 24 months, no
interest). So, I’m willing to not complain too much.

I always like (if that’s the right word) to look at the customer forums for
the different laptops. IBM, HP, Dell, they are all the same with the same
complaints, the same “I’ll never use a [Dell, IBM, HP, Toshiba] notebook
again, I’m going to [Dell, IBM, HP, Toshiba] for now on.”

The moral of the story: youse pays your money and youse takes your chances.
And get the extended warranty.

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