You may've read my post on the poor customer experience at my neighbouhood Best Buy (the good, the bad... you get the picture). I was in search of a new laptop for my wife and I purchased a new, sealed Dell Inspiron Laptop with an Intel T5750, 3GB, 250GB. Such a model should be a good, reasonably priced replacement for her Inspiron 600M.
Over the weekend, I backed up and migrated the files from my wife’s old notebook to this new machine: file transfer was easy using Windows Vista Easy Transfer. I spent the bulk of my time on installing applications. All was well, my wife was happy and the kids were thrilled of the promise of a new computer in the kitchen.
After using the PC for a few hours, the machine froze.
I restarted by holding the power key and after running through the self test, I found in the diagnostics that the hard disk was no longer recognized, making a repetitive clicking and whirring sound. To my ear, it sounded as if the drive had fallen and was unable to get up.
So back to Best Buy I went. After taking the unit behind the curtain, the Geek Squad determined that the unit was in fact unrecoverable, and my only options were to exchange it for another PC (but not a similar 1525, as they were sold out) or return it for a full refund. could get one form another store a couple of hours away (no thanks) so I opted for the refund. To their credit, Best Buy's return staff were courteous, helpful and sympathetic.
Oh, and while I was in line, saw several Dell PCs on the returns table – this didn’t inspire confidence.
One of my concerns about the returns process wasn't how the credit would appear on our credit card statement, but how Best Buy would ensure that our personal identifying information would be erased/ destroyed from this drive. After asking, Best Buy’s manager on site assured me that the unit would be returned to Dell and that it would not be resold. But knowing that Dell has a healthy refurbished sales channel, and lots of stock ends up on Best Buy's "returns" table, I’m still a little concerned. How does Dell deal with drives that fail in the field returned for refurbishing?
So far, no word from Dell's customer advocates (via email).
I am a long time Dell owner (several towers, laptops) and a little upset at the time I spent this weekend migrating my wife’s data to this new machine. In all, these are steps I will have to repeat when buying a new replacement machine for her 600M. Frankly, I don't think that I will invest in another Dell personally purchased via box box retail – all my Dell PCs have been built to order (BTO) direct from Dell.
With back to school and holiday sales on the horizon, there may be a good time to buy coming up, assuming my wife's trusty Inspiron 600M lasts. (I expect that it will.) An added bonus for this tried and true notebook: I purchase the then-discounted four-year, full coverage ("even if you drop it we fix it") warranty, which has paid for itself a couple of times over: Dell has so far replaced the motherboard, power supply and hard drive. And it remains quite usable, having upgraded the more than three year old notebook from Windows XP to Vista Home Premium SP1 and Office 2007.
There are 151 days of Dell Complete Care remaining on the 600M. Maybe this notebook will see us happily into the new year.