a dell-ish ordeal

My husband and I have always been loyal Dell customers. When our keypad had problems, they sent out a technician to replace it—the service was fast and free of charge (perhaps because we had paid for several years of support services). Another time, when the computer was no longer under warranty, they sent us an operating system because the old one wasn’t functioning properly. So a couple weeks ago when the family computer wasn’t working and we needed a new one fast, we turned to Dell.

We ordered a laptop over the phone and it arrived at our doorstep in less than 48 hours, whoohoo and rah-rah-rah.


The computer did not work.

back when we were gamely playing along

After hours on the phone troubleshooting with support tech, days spent waiting for the next new thing (an operating system, a new hard drive, etc…) to arrive, and politely asking them to let us return the non-working computer and send us a replacement and being told that that wasn’t an option—we could send in the old one but we’d have to wait 10-12 business days for them to replace the motherboard and then send it back to us—we decided we had had enough. We returned the computer according to the instructions that came in the box.


They informed us they could not take returns that weren’t authorized. The return label we used—the one that came with the computer—was not authorized.


According to the US Postal service, Fed Ex picked up the box a week ago. According to the tracking number, the box is still sitting in our town’s post office. Fed Ex reports that they have the computer, but, due to confidentiality, they can not release any information about its whereabouts…except to say it should arrive at its (unidentified) destination in three weeks because Fed Ex is the new Futile Express. Dell says they know nothing.


We filed a complaint through Dell. And with the Better Business Bureau. And opened an investigation through Fed Ex. We are in standby mode.


*If Dell sends, say, a computer with no operating system and a malfunctioning hard drive, the customer will be held hostage while Dell makes leisurely jabs at fixing the problem. Dell will not allow the customer to return the product nor will they make an exchange nor will they refund the money, even if the problem is their fault. (Those things can happen, but no sooner than 10-12 business days, and not without a barrage of emails—such as, I would wish for one last troubleshooting which will be sending a replacement hard drive with an operating system installed—that only succeed in making everything more confusing and slowing the snail-like process to a near halt.)

*Dell does not take responsibility for their mistakes. The general attitude is, If you bought a computer from us, it’s your own damn fault. In the meantime, the customer will be out the hard-earned money that was carefully saved for such a purchase, therefore preventing the purchase of another computer. Furthermore, because the customer no longer has a working computer, all home/school/work life will be thrown into Complete Computer Disarray.

*Dell does not allow customers to return non-working products until Dell has exhausted all possible solutions to their satisfaction and succeeded in elevating the customer’s blood pressure to record highs. Even then, a solution is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed is that the customer will suffer random bouts of blinding rage, altered vision, and ragged breathing.

*It is weirdly difficult to uncover Dell’s mailing address. After sifting through the web and finally locating the address, one will discover that the zip code is not a real zip code. Which will raise an important question: Is Dell actually of this earth?

*After calling customer service and pushing all the right buttons, expect to learn that the hours of operation listed on the website are not the real hours.

*When the customer service robot chirps metallically that the wait time is fifteen minutes, it is a bald-faced lie. Wait for no less than one and half hours before finally hanging up.

*When filing a complaint through Dell and Dell promises that someone will be in touch within one business day, it’s another lie. Of course. By now the customer’s expectations will have been lowered dramatically. Actually, expectations will have reached subterranean levels. If Dell plans to resolve the issue, they will need to come armed with a shovel.

*If a customer is so bold as to request that Dell send a new computer and fix the non-working one on their own time—BECAUSE THIS IS DELL’S PROBLEM, NOT THE CUSTOMER’S, AND THIS CUSTOMER IS AUDACIOUS ENOUGH TO WANT A COMPUTER THAT WORKS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD OH MY WORD I CAN NOT BREATHE—they will explain that they are unable to do so because the computers “need to be built,” and the ones that are built are “already claimed.” Of course, the customer will foolishly point out that a new one could be ordered that very minute and would arrive in 48 hours, but that is, apparently, not relevant. However, one must give Dell some credit: perhaps Dell is unable to understand the customer’s logic due to the customer’s slurred speech, an unfortunate side effect of repeatedly slamming one’s head against the wall.

*Always always always make a Dell purchase with a credit card because then at least there is the option of putting a hold on the purchase through the bank. Debit cards and Dell do not mix.

And that, my friend’s, is a PSA from yours truly. xo!!

Ps. Please send brown bags. To, you know, breathe into. 

Pps. When we get our money back—if we get our money back, oh good grief I can not even GO there—we’ll be buying a computer NOT from Dell. So shoot us your recommendations. I’m all ears.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (10.20.14), the adjustment, autumn walk, would you come?, sweet onion corn bake, and rhubarb cake.


  • Margo

    oh my word, I am laughing and also so MAD at stupid Dell (sez she as she types on a very nicely functioning Dell laptop). I had 2 computer geeks recommend Dell laptops and because I know very little, I went with Dell and I spent less than $500. I realize none of this is directly helpful but I JUST HATE dealing with this kind of thing (our answering machine just died and as it is an integral part of our phones, I'm afraid we are going to have to replace the phones – I cannot deal).

  • Rebecca

    In our neck of the woods, and I wonder if in yours too, there is a stripe of Menno that has gone into computer repair. Best ever. The repair guys are polite, accommodating, and use small words. We have Apple laptops that have croaked in various ways and have been brought back from the brink multiple time. Seriously! I'm typing on one that is at least 10 years old.

    When we have gone to the Apple store, the little snots roll their eyes and act like Granny has brought in her old Underwood for a new ribbon. But the fact that they CAN be repaired speaks well for Apple, I think.

  • Anonymous

    I thought you loved Costco….why do you not purchase from them? Reasonable prices, many choices and good protection including "take it back" (if it does not work or you change your mind).

  • KTdid

    Buy your computer (or laptop) at an actual, physical store. Receive it across a counter from an actual human hand. Pay with credit card. Problems? Return to actual, physical store. Talk face-to-face to a human. Hand over computer, if necessary. Get replacement, or wait several days for repairs. That would be my biggest recommendation!

  • Us

    I agree about Lenovo. I have a Toshiba now that works great. I also agree with not shelling out too much. Ours last about 5-8 years and then crash and need replacing. Always, always back up the stuff you care about. Sorry for the mess of it all!

    • Kathy ~ Artful Accents

      Exactly what I was thinking! Good luck! Sorry you've had to deal with this mess. I've become an Apple snob with all electronic products. My 2 cents on the matter.

    • DA Landes

      File your complaint (for all companies involved) on their social media sites! Usually they are quick to respond (see Dell's FB page, a lot of the comments of complaints, with a fast response of a private message)

  • Suburban Correspondent

    My heart aches for you. Larry would have had a stroke by now. Are we talking desktops here or laptops? If buying a laptop, DO NOT OVERSPEND. $420 is usually sufficient for a perfectly adequate laptop that will last 4-5 years. By then you need a new one, anyway. I know that sounds spendthrifty, but it is the truth. I agree with the Lenovo recommendation. David got a good one for the above price that will see him through 4 years (probably more) of engineering courses.

  • Becky

    I'm an HP girl. My last computer was an HP, lasted close to 10 years (and is currently still kicking). I replaced it last year with a new HP, my office computer is an HP – I've been happy with them.
    Good luck.

    • Lana

      Forgot to say that this laptop has an off center mouse slightly to the left. It really bugged me at first but I have gotten used to it.

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