Dealing with a lot of hardware (in the sense of moving/maintaining) involves some support from vendors. Sometimes vendors are doing a particular bad job. This blog page is dedicated to vendor screwups and document real stories.

The support for a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2019-12-19 - 2020-04-06)

10 days after the repair the space bar inhibts the same behaviour and hangs / does not produce a sign. I cannot open a service request on the website, as the previous request is still open. Additionally now the rubber from the screen falls off. The overall impression of the device is like a cheap 50$ notebook that you buy on shady electronics market, significantly below standard of regular notebooks.

Again a list of "mysterious" calls can be seen in the Dell website, but nobody ever responds on the Dell own website. Meanwhile the support on Twitter tells me to take pictures and a video of the space on Twitter. After I sent all of it, I am asked to reboot the system and try if the space bar still doesn't work in the bootloader.

Updates from this particular Dell fiasco:

  • 2019-12-20: The exchange is confirmed., it should be done in 2-3 work days
  • 2019-12-28: The necessary part (unclear which) is not available, the exchange is postponed to 2020-01-12.
  • 2019-12-31: I get an offer to the the system replaced by a refurbished system. That does not make any sense as the device is almost brand new and a refurbished one has been returned (probably for a good reason).
  • 2020-01-03: I request a statement to how Dell understands "Next business day" support, as the problem has been open for weeks. Again.
  • 2020-01-04: another key ("d") now also gets stuck. It seems the keyboard was never tested to be used in reality to me.
  • 2020-01-06: Dell informs me that the repair is delayed until 2020-01-28.
  • 2020-01-07: I inform Dell that their behaviour is breaking the contract and that I want to have a refund, a replacement or a repair by end of week. This is still significantly longer than "next business day".
  • 2020-01-08: Dell re-informs me that they can exchange with a refurbished device, which I decline before.
  • 2020-01-10: Dell re-informs me that the repair is delayed until 2020-01-28
  • 2020-01-16: Dell informs me that the repair is delayed until 2020-02-24. This makes it an at least 2 months repair time.
  • 2020-01-16: I re-inform Dell that they can refund and pickup the device and that I expect it to be done by 2020-01-24
  • 2020-01-21: Instead of replacing the notebook with a used notebook, Dell today suggest to replace it with a new one. I accept the proposal and now wait for a replacement device.
  • 2020-01-22: I am asked to take a picture of the notebook with the serial tag and to provide the following information: 1. Service request number, 2. Registered Owner's name, 3. Current date and time and 4. Current Location. However the device does not have a sticker and all information is already present at Dell.
  • 2020-01-28: While the replacement notebook should be on the way (according to the tracking it isn't - but then again nothing in the support system of Dell is up-to-date), the current notebook is slowly dying: The screen has become wobbly-wobbly and makes funny noise when opening, closing or even moving the notebook while the display is open. If this notebook was about 7 years old, I'd say it's a typical worn-off problem. However it is about 3 months old now. My hope: it's only this particular model, it's not an issue of the whole XPS 13 series. My fear: it actually looks to be designed rather fragile, compared to a thinkpad. Also note: more random keys get stuck half the way and make it impossible to type text correctly, because a key may-or-may not function on the first hit.
  • 2020-01-31: The date for the replacement is set to be 2020-02-14.
  • 2020-01-31: The notebook begins to further fall apart: the keyboard/lower part slowly disconnects from the screen on the right side. This might also explain the wobbly behaviour. Furthermore the notebook freezes now with some disk I/O. The latter could be a software bug, the former could be a mis-repair (screw lose?). So clearly, if you need to rely on a computer, neither the XPS nor Dell is something to choose.
  • 2020-02-02: The audio jack is now loose and headphones only get partial connectivity. This is probably related to the right part of the screen falling off.
  • 2020-02-03: Can't believe it, but now the touchpad also gets stuck. It is about 0.3mm down on the left side, making it impossible to issue a left click.
  • 2020-02-11: The replacement notebook arrived.
  • 2020-02-16: The replacement notebook gets hand-burning hot at the bottom. Problem reported via Twitter.
  • 2020-02-17: Dell says the hot temperatures are normal, even though I advise Dell that it has potential to burn my skin.
  • 2020-02-19: On the replacement notebook the "c" key gets stuck from time to time.
  • 2020-02-25: The power supply of the replacement notebook is broken. It stops charging after some time, the led on the charger turns off. It works again, if it is disconnected from the power outlet for some hours.
  • 2020-02-26: Running diagnosistics confirms that the charger is broken. This amount of time spent for debugging this notebook series is beyond ridiculous. Dell so far refuses a full refund even though they clearly ship unusable hardware.
  • 2020-02-26: The "h" and "u" keys are now als exhibiting partial stuck behaviour.
  • 2020-02-26: The system gets very slow (mouse pointer lagging slow). I reboot. The system gets stuck in the Dell logo state. Turning it off hard. Turning it on again. It stays stuck with the Dell logo.
  • 2020-04-20: The system has been sent back and refunded.

Summary: Dell is fully incapable of repairing a device and upholding a contract. I assumed I bought a notebook with next business day service. What I got is a computer which has frequent hardware failures and no support within any sensible amount of time.

The support for a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2019-11-16 - 2019-12-09)

I ordered this particular notebook on 2019-09-19 and it arrived around 2019-09-27. So far so good. However shortly after starting to use it, I managed to get a somewhat-stuck key (the "p key"), which more-or-less randomly hangs/does not produce a character. As some of my passwords contain a p, this led to very frustrating login failures.

Having a stuck key like this after less than 2 months of use is really not showing good quality, so I reported this issue with Dell on 2019-11-16. With the device I bought the so called "Complete Care Service" and "Premium Support". In theory reachable 24x7.

In practice, after opening the support request on 2019-11-16, I did not receive a real reply on the following Monday. So I reached out again and got a reply on Tuesday, already being late if it was only next business day (NBD) support.

After reporting that issue additionally the rubber below that keeps the notebook stable on the table began to detach itself from the notebook. Only another minor problem, but clearly nothing to expect from a quality device.

After a long forth-and-back via Twitter DM about the device heat and whether the p key still occasionally is stuck (yes!) there was eventually a replacement scheduled for the 26th of November.

However - you can guess it - nobody showed up. The log at Dell says that somebody tried to reach me, however there was no missed calls on any of my numbers. And no email or no direct message. So even if somebody tried to call, they did not bother sending an email.

Until I reached out again, after I got a message that the phone number is forwarded. It continues "funny" like that: on 26th there was no further communication from Dell. No message, no call, no email.

However when logging in to the Dell portal, Dell rescheduled the appointment for Thursday, 28th, 0800.

Independently on how the story evolves from here, the amount of time spent into the support, waiting, replanning locations, etc. is already exceeding the worth of the product. So I can clearly disrecommend buying this device/support combination, if you want to professionally work with it.

And it continued on 2019-11-27 at around 2230 in the evening when the Dell technician called me by accident. "I just wanted to save your number". Then asking me on the phone where Glarus is in detail. I guess Dell doesn't have a navigation software... Then eventually telling me that he might or might not come tomorrow (the 28th), but he will certainly contact me in the morning.

2019-11-28, around 1400. No call, no message, no nothing. Reaching out via Twitter DM. Again. My phone number is confirmed, I get as an answer. So yet another day where Dell scheduled the support (not me), does not appear, does not reach out nor gives any suitable answer.

2019-11-29. The technician just wrote an email that he comes Monday 1200. That is yet another week after Dell originally announced the repair and yet another time that Dell unilaterally decides on a new repair date without even trying to confirm the date.

But it gets worse: later in the evening I received a twitter message that the case is closed. Without ever having seen a technician, without having gotten it repaired. And a bit later it gets confirmed on the "service request" page of Dell.

So in a summary:

  • Waited for nothing to happen for two weeks
  • Multiple support appointments scheduled without ever showing up
  • Claims of trying to reach me by phone without any missed call (and other calls that I received the same day)
  • Wasted many hours in communication
  • No support executed at all
  • Support cased closed without doing anything

The story continues: 2019-12-04. I got a message saying that the techincian is coming tomorrow. Again without confirmation from my side and with less than 24h to react.

2019-12-05: because so far nobody ever showed up, I send a message via Twitter to @DellHilft, asking about the technician. Answer is that I should wait. The third day. I also check the support center, which claims to have called me at 3 am GMT. 3 am. Seriously, which company does that?

GMT is actually behind Swiss time, so the actual call happend around 2am. Besides all of that, I obviously did not receive a call.

BUT things can get worse with Dell. Since the 5th, my messages in the dell support website don't show up anymore. It basically looks as follows:

Dell: we are calling you
Me: I don't see a call, this is my number:
Dell: we are calling you
Me: Hello? Did you see my message?
Dell: We will just silently drop your messages now

Since 2019-12-05 the "." key is also stuck from time to time. Basically the notebook is falling apart within 2 months of use and the only thing you get is false claims of a technician showing up.

2019-12-06: the technician is calling around 0830. He starts by asking where I live and then tells me it is far away and he doesn't have time for me. He has many other customers. He also sounds very drunk. He tells me he might come on Monday, but cannot tell a time yet.

Also on the same day: I get a note from Dell telling me the technician could not reach me. Not sure how many WTFs can be produced within one day, but Dell is really pushing it to the limits.

2018-12-09: the technician called at 0900, arrived by 1230 and fixed the notebook around 1500.

  • Roughly 4 weeks waiting time
  • Roughly 80+ messages exchanged with Dell
  • 4 working days invested to get it fixed