Gavan Reilly

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Archive for the ‘Dell Inspiron Mini 9’ tag

Dell Netbook Repair: Fix One Problem, Create Three More

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I have mixed experiences of Dell and their customer support. Having been a Dell owner since college required me – literally – to get hold of one, I’ve had to be in touch with them on a few occasions, whether it’s to buy a new battery simply because the last has gotten wonky or whether it’s a full-blown motherboard replacement (once on each of my two machines at the time of writing).

Well, three weeks ago, after a day of regular use, I woke up one morning and found that my Inspiron 910, a Christmas gift from the parental units, was refusing to turn on. So, after a day of Googling for DIY repairs – learning that the newer the laptop, the lesser the chance that a randomer elsewhere in the world has catalogued their own problems with it – I bit the bullet and went to Dell themselves for help.

Now, I must say that the online chat feature, available to Inspiron and Latitude owners, is pretty excellent. You can say what your problem is, take live suggestions (rather than navigating through tedious troubleshooting kits that assume you don’t know how to turn the machine on in the first place) and generally it’s a nicely interactive – and free – way of getting a problem solved, especially if you’re still within your warranty, as they can arrange collection of faulty hardware with you on the spot.

Where they fall down is actually working on the machines, post-courier. After explaining via the Chat feature that a software glitch wasn’t to blame – the machine literally wouldn’t turn on, you’d think it would be a simple matter to rule it out – and having seen off the courier on the 9th of June, I heard nothing for a while. So back onto the phone I go, to ask when there might be any sign of the laptop coming back. Luckily I had my original Latitude D505, ‘Sushi’, newly reghosted albeit five years old, to see me through while the netbook (inventively titled ‘Sushi II’) was in repair.

“They usually take one week, sir, so you should expect it on Friday the 19th or Monday the 22nd of June.” Fair enough. I call again on Tuesday the 23rd, still Sushi II-less. I am told my details are taking quite a while to appear on the screen, so they offer to take my phone number and call me back later.

I never get the call. Luckily, I am pacified by the machine actually returning the following day – Wednesday the 24th – and indeed now being in a rather improved condition, given that it turned on. So far, so good (-ish). Attached is a small factory note from Dell themselves. “Motherboard replaced and Windows reloaded. All perfect working order. Dave Maguire.”

(As an aside, I’ll never understand that when making small hardware repairs, laptop companies, Dell prominent among them, decide it necessary to reinstall Windows, especially given my circumstances where I wasn’t in a position to make a backup before handing the machine over, when the thing wouldn’t even turn on. Can anyone illuminate me?)

Except that once I turn the laptop on, and try to charge the battery (assuming that it had been emptied during repair), I discover that the battery doesn’t in fact charge. This is the same battery that was fully functional when I handed it over, and which had been isolated as not being a factor in the initial problems. So back to the Chat I go.

06/24/2009 04:46:06PM
Agent (Americas\abhijeet_deb): "I have discussed the case and we 
will send out a new battery. May I have your address where we 
need to send it?"
06/24/2009 04:46:22PM
Gavan: "Sure"

I hand over my work address, agree to hand in the broken one as exchange, and indeed the following morning I am delivered a replacement – even though I’m away from my desk, and don’t get a call asking me if I’ll be present to hand over the dead one, meaning that the courier leaves without it. Great stuff. Admittedly it charges slower and decharges quicker than my first one, but it’s a battery nonetheless. Small quibble in the grander scheme of things.

So Saturday morning comes around and I hop online to get some coverage of the Lions match that afternoon. I open a stream. No sound. Hmm. I reinstall the sound drivers and check all the software settings. No luck. I try headphones. Ah, success. The speakers themselves, it seems, are busted. Sigh. Maybe I can live with it.

I go to Twitter to try and talk about the rugby. I try to use the hashtag #Lions. Only then, pounding away at the # key and the ones around it, do I discover that my newly-repaired laptop not only returned with a dead battery, but with broken built-in speakers and with five keyboard keys being totally unresponsive.

Darren had warned me that when Dell do repairs, they have a habit of using refurbished parts which aren’t in the best physical condition. Figuring that the Inspiron Mini 9 was only six months old – and had no recorded Google history of ever breaking down – I thought the chances were slim. Indeed, they probably still are.

So why Dell chose to take one laptop, with one problem, fix that problem and create three more, I don’t know. Dave Maguire, you have a lot to answer for.

Written by Gav

June 29th, 2009 at 12:46 pm