Humpty Dell — headed for a fall?

Wrote this on my personal blog and thought it was important enough to share here as well.

Had this great idea for a blog entry and when I started out to get here, I saw that my Favorites was empty on this computer–and remembered about the hard drive crash.

Oh, yeah. Was sitting at Southside working away on a project when suddenly the computer started kind of ticking at me. Never having heard this noise before, I listened carefully and determined that, yes, indeed, it did sound like ticking, but I couldn’t seem to see any visible reason for it. So I kept on working for a couple of minutes. Then suddenly the screen went blue…

In software companies there’s an expression “the blue screen of death” that refers to the imminent demise of your hard drive. Well, silly me, I forgot about that expression and read the instructions that said in a misleadingly simple way, “if this is the first time you’ve seen this screen, restart your computer.”

Alas, they were just kidding when they said that. Restart to no avail. I won’t bore you with the rest of the story. Suffice it to say, many hundreds of dollars and many days later, my 11-month-old laptop is finally functional again–but missing all the little special personal touches like the contents of Favorites. The brand, folks, is Dell, in case you’re wondering. One friend is suggesting there may be a virus out there that’s killing hard drives, since mine was the fourth he’d heard of in only a few weeks. But I’m not buying that. I was also appalled to see that if I wanted a replacement hard drive from Dell, they saw that the thing was less than a year old and said, oh, well, that’ll be $129 please (for a 20-gig version). No warranty–though it’s less than a year old.

Okay. Let’s see. First, they charged me an outrageous $75 for a replacement power cord–and I noticed that not a single one of their models could use any other model’s power cord and no generic cord would fit any of them. Hmmm. Then a barely used hard drive crashes–and has no warranty. Then they want to charge me 30% more for half as much memory as any other brand offers. I know that this is one way Microsoft has gotten rich–by making proprietary stuff and charging a premium. But it feels like maybe Dell is going too far.

As my friend who postulates the virus theory also says, if I hear from 3 people that a company or its products have performed badly, I no longer buy from that company. Anybody else got some stories about Dell they’d like to share?

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