Dell, like many electronics companies, does not like to repair your computer under warranty. Especially your laptops. People treat consumer electronics as consumables these days, and fixing your laptop for free costs them money, when they would rather you buy a new laptop, which makes them money.
This is the story of how my daughter’s 5-month old, less-than-$200 laptop almost cost $120 to repair, but eventually Dell stood by their product and repaired it under warranty.
My daughter, who was 12 at the time, had saved her money to buy a new laptop. She had just enough to buy an inexpensive netbook and a subscription to Office 365. She wanted to write, she’s thinking of becoming an author one day. We went to the local electronics store, and decided on a Dell. We chose Dell over some other brands because Dell was known to us.
For 5 months my daughter babied this computer. It was moved from her desk to our room every night. It was never dropped, bumped or mishandled. She took good care of it, better care than I took of my own laptop, which cost 5 times more.
So she comes to me with a broken hinge. It takes about 30 seconds to realize that dell has designed this laptop with metal screws going into less than 1/4 inch of plastic. 3 of the 4 pieces of plastic have snapped. Only one screw it holding. Every time she opens the laptop stress is placed on the screws. The brittle plastic could not stand up to the strain of normal use.
This is an obvious design flaw.
See the small pieces of plastic on the small screws. That’s all that holds the screen onto the hinge.
So, I get on the dell website, and chat up a customer service rep. He has just told me the computer is under warranty, BUT his supervisor has told him the damage is physical damage and not covered under warranty. I have sent him pictures of the damage, and the case is perfect, not even a scratch. But the hinge is broken, both are really. I ask to have the supervisor get on the chat. He arranges a phone call.
A while later the supervisor calls. He starts to explain why broken hinged are considered physical damage. Starts with drops. I stop him and remind him there is no damage to the case, the computer has not been dropped. At this point he says the craziest thing: Sometimes opening and closing the laptop can cause physical damage. ???
I, politely, go off on him for a bit. First, laptops are designed to open and close. And my daughter did not mistreat this computer. This is an obvious sign flaw, or manufacturer defect in the plastic. Neither of which negates my warranty claim. He changes his tune and suddenly the repair will be covered.
The box arrives and I send it off. You might think this is the end, but if you know much about warranty repairs, you know there is another hurdle.
You see, even though the CS supervisor has ruled my repair under warranty, the same “physical damage” dodge is in effect for other employees. A few days later I got an email from the repair depot saying my repair would not be covered and would cost $120.
OK, here we go. Same dance all over again, but now they have the computer. i call the tech, who doesn’t answer. So I call the customer service line. I need an out of warranty repair reclassified as a warranty repair. Who can help me? I get transferred from one person t another and finally back to a lady who decides she will be the brick wall. She starts reading her script. I interrupt. I ask if she has the power to classify the repair. She says no, and to let her finish. I stop her again, and basically I’m told that no supervisor will help me. She will not transfer me, she will not help. I explain my conversation with the previous supervisor. She says I would need to talk to him. I ask to be transferred to him, and she refuses to transfer me.
Now, look, I’ve been polite, but direct, up to this point. But this is the last straw. This woman could transfer me, but she won’t. She is saying that Dell will not stand by its product. She is saying the even though I was promised an under warranty repair I won’t be getting one. I am done. I am over Dell.
I have one last thing to try, and that is public shaming via social media. I know that Dell has a couple of active twitter accounts. So I start telling my story, mentioning their accounts. Eventually I get a response.
Dell isn’t stupid. This screen bezel will cost them about $50 to replace. How many people do I have to drive away with my public complaints about their product to make it worthwhile to fix what should ahem already been fixed.
So I get in contact with one of the accounts. I DM them the whole story, start to finish with pictures. They go to work. The next day I’m told the repair is underway, for free. The days after that I get a shipment notification, the laptop is on the way back. We get it back and it is repaired and ready to go.
It should not be necessary to basically threaten the brand of a major corporation to get them to stand behind their products. But that was what it took to get my daughter’s laptop repaired. Will it break again in another 5 months? I don’t know, but for now its working fine.