When It Comes to buying a Dell: Don’t

Part II

Kim Bellard
4 min readMay 10, 2018

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In a previous post, I discussed the multiple problems I had with my new Dell XPS 9370, as well as the repeated and extended interactions I had with various members of their customer support team.

When I last left it, I had been referred to the “escalation team.” They had me do a factory reset (which wiped all my data and downloaded apps). That, too, failed to entirely solve the original wireless connectivity issue.

They finally agreed — “as a one-time exception” — to send an on-site tech support person to once-and-for-all fix the problem.

So two days ago I got a call from a person whose sole purpose was to tell me that someone else would contact me the next day to actually schedule my on-site session. She could not tell me when such a session might be or how long it might take; those details were for the technician.

So yesterday I got a call from an automated caller, saying my session was sometime between 9 am — 1 pm. No advance notice, no coordination with my schedule, and even my cable company gives shorter service windows. That time slot was not convenient for me, but at least their system allowed me to postpone the session to today.

This morning I got a call from the technician saying he was 20 minutes away. So much for agreeing on a time. I just wanted to get it done, and I was able to be flexible, so I agreed.

The technician was friendly enough, but didn’t seem to have much knowledge about, nor interest in, what my PC’s problem was. He was just there to replace the motherboard. OK, I thought, if that’s what it takes, let’s do it.

When he’d finished, we discovered a new problem. The PC would not let us in. It wanted a BitLocker recovery ID. He looked at me as if I’d installed BitLocker, or suggested that maybe those “corporate IT guys” had.

I had no idea what BitLocker even was. I’d bought the PC directly from Dell, and there are no corporate IT guys anywhere in my life. I certainly had neither downloaded nor activated BitlLocker.

He got Dell on the phone, and the solution was that I needed to log into my Microsoft account to get the recovery ID. That was harder than it should have been, since that account’s username/password were stored on the PC, which I couldn’t access.

Eventually I was able to get into my Microsoft account (using a different computer), and got the BitLocker ID. The only trouble was, it didn’t work. It took me through several iterations of imputing the (very long) key, only to get an error screen saying there was a problem. Then the PC would restart, and I would need to input the recovery key again.

At the point the technician said he had to leave. Mind you, the problem that his “repair” had caused wasn’t fixed. I was in worse shape than before he came, because now I couldn’t even use the PC. He said it was a software issue, and he only did hardware.

So he just left. And, oh-by-the-way, the Dell people thought they had done all they could too, so they hung up, promising to call back later.

I was aghast, not to mention very frustrated. I hadn’t fully expected my issues with the PC to actually get better, but I certainly hadn’t expected things to get worse. And I couldn’t fathom service people just walking away from an issue.

Finally Dell did call back and were able to walk me through another set of options, which ultimately “worked.” Why they didn’t do that in the earlier session, I do not know.

I now gather that BitLocker has been standard for Microsoft since Vista. Dell admitted that the BitLocker issue could have been foreseen when replacing the motherboard, but neither they nor the technician seemed at all prepared for it.

By the way, the wireless connectivity issue resurfaced almost immediately, so all that time and drama was for naught.

I hadn’t thought my opinion of Dell or its service could get any lower, but I was wrong.

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Kim Bellard

Curious about many things, some of which I write about — usually health care, innovation, technology, or public policy. Never stop asking “why” or “why not”!