Jan
08
2009
1

Dell Corporate Customer Service – WOW

Dell

Dell Customer Service?

I think Dell just made me a customer for life.

I’ve already spent nearly $200 repairing my laptop. After three total repairs[1], my laptop finally died – again.

Since I had nothing to lose, I sent an e-mail to Dell’s head blogger, Lionel Menchaca about my problem. He was lightning fast in responding to me – asking for my Dell service tag.[2]

When Dell had lost my prior laptop and replaced it with the XPS m1210 I purchased a warranty extension. I had spent a fair bit of change on that laptop and I was expecting to keep it around a while. However, that extended warranty lapsed a little over a year ago.[3] I explained my problem with the bad nVidia video card. He responded telling me that I would be getting a call from someone soon.

Sure enough, less than a day later I received a call from Dell’s corporate customer service program. They told me that as a “gesture of good will” they were going to replace my computer’s motherboard – by sending a technician to me to do the repair.

Replacing a motherboard is so expensive its almost always cheaper to buy a new computer. Offering to repair an out-of-warranty laptop by sending a tech to me to replace the motherboard???

All I can say is WOW.

  1. Two of which were under Paramount Technology’s repair warranty. []
  2. This is a number on a little sticker underneath the laptop. The service tag code is essentially a serial number they use to track your computer when its being repaired or you call for technical support. []
  3. Although, less than a year from when I first started having this problem []
Jan
06
2009
3

How to Buy a New Computer: Part I: Balancing Want and Need

Broken Laptop

Old Laptop

Out With The Old…

Unfortunately, its that time again.  When my laptop died for the first time I got it repaired.  When it died again, it had the good manners to at least do so within the repair warranty.

My trusty sidekick died for the third and final time on December 31, 2008.[1]

…And In With The New!

Now its time to get a new laptop.  I’m reluctant to buy another Dell.  Dell installed nVidia graphics chips on the motherboard.  Those nVidia chips have  a critical flaw in that they overheat and pull away from the motherboard.  Sound familiar?  Well, this was the exact problem I was having with my laptop.  Apparently this problem has spawned a lawsuit against nVidia.

New Laptop

New Laptop

I’m undecided what kind of laptop I want/need.  A netbook?  A basic laptop?  A high-end laptop?[2]

Figure out what you need, then figure out what you want

Needs

Its all about what you want and what you need.  I need a laptop that will let me program, surf the web, listen to music, and send e-mail.  This accounts for roughly 98% of my computer usage.

The last 2% of computer usage is comprised of processor intensive activities such as watching DVD’s, video games, video editing, DVD and CD burning, and manipulating large amounts of programming code.  For instance, the WCAB legacy number to EAMS number converter involved more than 4.6 million lines of code. [3] My previous laptop struggled with that one. I probably only do these things once every six months or so.

For what I need, a netbook would actually work very well for me.

Wants

As any computer user knows, its very frustrating to have a computer that will not do what you want or takes to long to do it.  My wants are a super slim, light-weight, battery efficient, computer that has the processing power to deal with large amounts of data and the ability to burn DVD’s and CD’s.

A netbook fulfills the wants of a slim, light-weight, and battery efficient computer.  A basic laptop would suffice for the processing power and CD/DVD burning capabilities.

Having it all

When it comes to laptops, sometimes you can have it all – it just depends how you’re going to compromise.

  • If money were no object, this would be a no-brainer: buy a high-end light and powerful laptop.  These cost $1500 and start climbing steeply after that.
  • The other compromise is not so intuitive.  A very decent external CD/DVD burner combo drive would probably only cost $75 or so.  If I’m only burning discs 2% of the time, this is a very reasonable solution.  The bigger problem is the underpowered processors in netbooks.  They simply do not have the ability to play new games, handle large amounts of data, or deal with too many simultaneous tasks.  The only possible work around here is where you use your underpowered laptop to remotely control a more powerful computer and use that more powerful computer to crunch numbers.[4] However, this won’t help with video games.  ;)

Decision Time

What am I going to get?  I’m going to run down the pro’s and con’s of netbooks, basic laptops, and high-end laptops next time.  Stay tuned!

  1. Photo courtesy of Just Us 3 []
  2. Photo courtesy of Ciccio Pizzettaro []
  3. Seriously.  4.6 million. []
  4. Scroll down to the part about TightVNC. []
Nov
17
2008
1

My Laptop is Back!!! (Part II)

Data is important...

Data is important...

Quick recap:

...so backup your Data

...so keep a backup

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Backup your data before something goes wrong[2][3]
  2. A flash drive is your friend
  3. Decide whether it makes sense to repair or replace your laptop
  4. Make sure you find a good reliable laptop repair shop
    • Get a referral, if possible.  Otherwise, do your homework.
    • Researching a repair shop is time consuming, but you’ll be glad you did.
  5. Make sure your repair shop stands behind their work.  Paramount Technologies’ repair warranty is 90 days.  I think that’s pretty reasonable.
  6. Ask them what went wrong and how to prevent it

Ideas for new posts:

  • What to do when your laptop or computer dies?
  • How do you choose a laptop repair facility?
  1. Dell’s are great – if you know what you’re doing OR if you spring for the all-you-can eat repair buffet AND like talking to tech support. []
  2. Like discovering you have an evil android twin who’s exactly like you – except that he has emotions. []
  3. Thanks to wikipedia for the photos. []
Nov
10
2008
2

Laptop Woes – Part Deux

Technical Difficulties

Technical Difficulties

A little over a month ago my laptop died.  I took it to a shop in Contra Costa County named, “Paramount Technologies” who were able to fix up my laptop in record time. [1]  Apparently, the problem was the video chip which had loosened from the motherboard over time (probably through overuse).

Friday evening my laptop died all over again.  At least it was peaceful.  I put my laptop to sleep and it didn’t wake up again.

Its still under a repair warranty from Paramount Technologies, so I’ll take it back to them.  It has the same symptoms, so I hope its the same problem.  Even if it weren’t under warranty, my formula for determining whether I should invest in repairing or buying a new computer still dictates that I should probably repair.

No matter.  Be of good cheer: these troubles will have absolutely no effect on this website.  :)

  1. Estimate: 3 days.  Repair time: 3 hours.  Now, that’s what I call service. []

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