My Dell/Alienware Customer Service nightmare Story - Since December 2017 (Help) Buckle up

My Dell/Alienware Customer Service nightmare Story - Since December 2017 (Help) Buckle up

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johnvene


Back in early December 2017 I was in the market for a gaming laptop, I previously only purchased HP products for about 10 years and my last laptop was an MSI. I ended up doing some research and the Alienware 15R3 had everything I wanted, it was a little over my original budget but I went ahead and purchased it Dec/07/2017 for ~$1500. It arrived a little earlier than expected to my surprise. This is my first time ever purchasing a Dell product but due to some researching, I figured to step out of my boundaries since it seems this was the laptop for me.

 

A few days after receiving it and installing well over 250gb of all my programs/software/games I decided to change the wallpaper, I found one online that was an Alienware wallpaper similar to the default one these laptops come with but this one had a red background. Right away I noticed the wallpaper flickering, in particular when I moved the mouse but it would also flicker at rest (noticeably). I thought, "This might just be one of those active wallpapers" but no, I went back to google and concluded that anything that was in the color red would flicker/pulsate in my screen, if I hooked up the laptop to an external monitor then these symptoms wouldn't show... Obviously resulting in the problem being within the laptops hardware/software.

I graduated early last year in Information Technology (Bachelor's Degree) in a reputable University and have since then been working as tech support at a big company in Miami Florida. So naturally, I went ahead and did some basic troubleshooting myself, updates/drivers/screen-resolution/color calibration etc... Nothing worked so I showed the issue to my highest experienced co-workers and they couldn't figure out the issue either and told me to contact Dell. Here it all starts, once I contacted tech-support this is were my terrible and inconvenient venture started. 

 

In the beginning, the tech-support agent went through all the basics, nothing worked. After following up with me and having gone through several agents which conducted updates for my drivers, video card, touch-pad, BIOS, ran several screen tests and also uninstalled and reinstalled drivers etc etc etc... They figured I had to reset my PC. At this point we are about ~3 weeks since I originally contacted them and I've been dealing with tech support several times a week for a very high amount of hours (Even during work at times). So I ran the computer reset without keeping my files and once again, the issue was still there. Last, they instructed me to do a clean O.S install. I performed this during work hours and installed the latest version of windows through a USB boot up, this also didn't resolve the issue. By now, I have documented around 9 agents I have spoken with including 2-3 supervisors. I also sent several videos in order for them to see the problem I was having since they couldn't see it remotely. The last supervisor I spoke with mentioned me getting a replacement laptop and due to all my personal time spent plus all the inconveniences that comes with that I was told to contact them once I receive the replacement to compensate me with a keyboard and/or mouse. (This never happened)
Now I have the replacement, once again it arrived earlier than expected so that was good, I opened it right away, set up windows and went straight to check if this one could possibly also have the same issue, and it did... The same exact screen flickering and bizarre behavior whenever the color red is present... I contacted tech-support right away, to once again perform the same exact lengthy procedures that were performed in my original laptop plus A LOT more. By now, I'm about 5 weeks in since I first received first laptop and nearly a week of dealing with tech-support in the replacement laptop, so they concluded that they would send a technician over to my house to troubleshoot in person. I received a phone call within a couple of days from the technician and that same day he showed up to my house, I opened up both laptops in front of him and showed him the issues, then told him everything I have been through, he proceeded in troubleshooting and trying to resolve the issue for about 2 hours and once again... He couldn't resolve the issue. 

That same day after the technician left I contacted tech-support once again, and they told me that they want to try a few other things, so I spent almost 2 more hours with an agent over the phone that was trying other things that weren't tried before, none solved my problem... I sent 2 videos showing both laptops side by side with their according service tag so they can once again see whats happening. Now they said that they have tried everything possible and that they needed to escalate this issue to a "Level-3" with the engineering deparment and that they would help me out and give me a resolution for everything that I have been through within 24/48hours, I called back to follow up to see if there were any updates or response from them (since I couldn't talk to the engineering department directly) and it ended up taking 4-5 days to receive a response, what was the respond you may ask? They said that they couldn't replicate the issue that I was having in their facilities and to do a full reinstallation of the Operating System in the replacement...Again...

I have been extremly patient up to this point but I must note that most if not all tech support agents and supervisors were good to me and genuinely tried helping me with my issue, the problem here is in Dell/Alienwares procedures that they must follow and with no exception must obey no matter the circumstances... So, I told them that I had already peformed a full Operating reinstall in my original laptop and it didn't work, I tried talking to several agents and it felt like some supervisor were avoiding me at this point until 1 agent told me that this will definitively be the last thing that I would have to do and basically left me with no choice but to perform a complete wipe of my system again that this time was done remotely by the software department... This was on a weekend and I was on the phone and dealing with this from ~5:30pm until about almost 11pm. As expected, when everything was finally done, the issue was still there, I asked if they wanted me to send more videos and they said they no longer need any evidence, that they already have enough. They were closing and this agent told me to call them back tomorrow and speak with a supervisor. So I called the next day spoke with 2 tech support agents that reviewed my whole case and talked with their supervisors to finally settle another resolution. 
I was  approved to get a 3rd exchange and this time naturally I told them that due to my colossal case and well over 40 hours of talk time by now plus my personal and work time invested into this I wouldn't want to receive the same exact laptop for a 3rd time. I was told by 2 agents this same day that were consulting with their supervisor (The one that offered me the keyboard/mouse that never happened) that there should be no reason why I shouldn't receive an upgraded laptop or the same one with upgrades. They told me specifically and repeatedly that I will receive a phone call within 24/48 hours (before receiving and E-mail) from the exchange department and that I'll be talking with them about the upgrades for my insane amount of troubles. I'm always on top of my phone and a couple of days later, no phone call, but an E-Mail stating that they want my address to send me for the 3rd time the same exact laptop with the same exact specs... At this very point I started to feel frustrated, I tried getting in contact with the exchange associate and he wasn't on site, I replied to the E-Mail explaining everything and that I was told I wouldn't get the same laptop for a 3rd time AND also had 2 tech-support agents that sent him an E-Mail to get in contact with me.. They told me I should expect a phone call once again within 24/48hrs. 5 Days passed without any reply or attempt to contact me... Within those 5 days I would call to get an update and they told me he wasn't working or was working from home, within those 5 days they tried getting a hold of him or his supervisor and sent him even more E-Mails to call me, they also tried handing my case to another agent in the exchange department but then told me they couldn't do that. Once I received the phone call, they told me that due to Dell policy they can't offer me or compensate me with anything and that the only thing they could do was extend my warranty (Which I absolutely do not need since my warranty is until mid-2019). I got a little mad at this point but kept it to myself and kept talking to this exchange agent, I said that there has to be a way to get a hold of a higher department so that they could see everything that I have gone through and do something for me, so he had he had to E-Mail this particular department and wait for a response with zero guarantees.
Now, reaching the end of my rather exceptionally and unpleasant story. I was told to call customer-care if I wanted to file a complaint and after being transferred within 3 different countries in the globe, I finally got a hold of them. I told them my whole story which I really started to get tired of repeating over and over again, only to get a response that there is absolutely nothing they can do for me, I asked if there is any way that I can reach or speak to anyone in corporate and they told me, no. In a desperate attempt to get a hold of corporate I ran into some forums that recommended that the best way to get attention from corporate is apparently through twitter, and so with my inactive and barely used twitter account I sent Dell a long message with everything that I have been through, only to get yet another response basically stating that they will keep an eye on my case and that there are no guarantees. Already losing the little hopes I had, I received a phone call within a day from the exchange department, telling me that they spoke with 2 department managers (one of those departments was corporate) and explained everything I have been through, that they tried pushing for me to receive any upgrade but these departments rejected the request stating that this is out of Dells procedures and that all they could offer was to extend my already extended warranty... 


Today, well over a month of trouble and speaking with Dell for every single day for the past week and a half hoping for a resolution that never happened, I asked what happens if this 3rd laptop out of bad luck gives me issues? what if this 3rd laptop gives me the same exact issue? for the third time... Their reply was that unfortunately you must go through all the procedures again with tech-support and that if that doesn't solve the issue with this 3rd laptop then we will provide you with a refund and you would send the laptop back to Dell... No options, no customer-service, I never had an option nor a say in all of this, just followed their procedures and waisted a colossal amount of time for something that I had nothing to do with but yet had to really go out of my way and deal with... Right there I told the agent, this is the worse experience I have ever dealt with as a consumer of anything that I have ever owned, put that 3rd laptop on hold as I am going to take into consideration returning the laptop and going back to HP or with another company that I know would of never put me through anything like this. Their reply? We will have to get in contact with a particular deparment to see if they approve your return and refund... I literally responded by saying that I have given up and I don't know what to do anymore, are you able to take the laptops back if I'm not approved a refund? I don't care about this refund, I just don't want to deal with this anymore and I am extremely tired from all of this. This was earlier this morning and they told me that they should most likely have an answer for me by tonight, worse case tomorrow and of course the rest of today went with no contact, no updates, no E-mails.

In conclusion, at this moment I'm already aiming to returning this laptop no matter the costs, ironically this is IF they let me, another agent today told me that I have 30 days since the date of purchase to return it, I told the agent that I received a replacement within those 30 days and their answer was that, that doesn't matter, those 30 days do not start over again just because you received a replacement. I'm looking back into HP which I dealt with for many many years and the 1 time I had a somewhat similar issue with them, within a few weeks they tried tech-support, once that didn't work then they told me to send it in through priority shipping, I got the laptop back after the issue was supposedly fixed but the issue came back within a few days, I told them, reported the issue and showed proof. No questions asked they offered me 2-3 laptops to pick from with upgrades due to the incovinience. This was also no cheap HP but a premium model I had originally purchased for about ~$1100 about 5 years ago.


Thank you for anyone that took the time to read this, I'm just sharing my frustrating story and hopefully seeking some help in my case, I don't even know if there is anything else I can do other than return the laptops and moving on. I still really like this Alienware very much and my intentions were to never return it, but unfortunately it has gotten to this point due to their super strict robot-like porfolio that they all must apparently obey. I have all the names of the agents and supervisors I have spoken with to this day and a few of course already know me. As long as this story was, there were of course many other troubles that I went through that I didn't include.

Any suggestions? Anything else on my power, beyond anything I haven't already tried? 
-John

Replies 6

LinkRS

Hi John,

As I too have been the receiving end of Dell/Alienware techs not understanding or acknowledging what was clearly a hardware issue, I can certainly emphasize.  The folks you speak with have a very limited script, and it seems that most of the folks you deal with do not really know much beyond that.  When you venture beyond their script, they don't really know what to do.  Since you had two individual laptops exhibit the same issues, that implies that you have either found a design or build fault, software configuration error (something like the wrong monitor "driver" or even a bad refresh rate setting that is perpetuated through re-installs), or an issue that only a select few think is a problem.  I went through this type of issue when I received my 17 R3, which was one of the first Skylake model systems out.  The upgraded ($300 option) UHD display has backlight bleed, which is a problem but ended up being the result of how the systems were built.  The frame around the LCD was too tight, and over a few weeks it would "give" and the issue would resolve.  However, since this happened during assembly, it impacted every one they shipped.  Some folks never noticed it, and others (you can search these forums for my saga on it) thought it was terrible.  I was never able to get Dell/Alienware to recognize the issue, and I would not be surprised that it is still an issue for new shipments.  The number of people that have a problem with the backlight never seemed to reach the level where Dell/Alienware tracked down the cause to solve it.

Is your system a GSync model or even a 120Hz panel?  If so, I suggest you take a look at the graphic adapter properties, and make sure that the refresh rate is set to the correct value.  If it is at some strange value (like maybe 57 Hz instead of 60 Hz), it would cause what you described (red is higher intensity and would make those things stand out easier).  If its, try to set it to a higher value and see if that solves your issues.  Good luck!

Rich S. 


fadingfool

I echo LinkRS suggestion above - I'm guessing this is when the laptop is using the integrated HD 530?  Does it still happen if you run a game in windowed mode?  It looks like there are some known problems over at the intel site (https://communities.intel.com/thread/91353


McBarnacle

I am sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience with support. My own experience couldn't have been more different. Issue fixed in decent time, constant contact from Dell support. Can't praise them enough (I'm in the UK).

 

McB


elpitaya

I keep reading stories of 15r3 with horror, I got into one myself too, (overheating) tho, being in Mexico took forever (almost 2 months) for fixing!!! 
In the end they got it fixed but man it was a horrible month, I personally started putting pressure on them via twitter and email and phone telling them to ESCALATE the case / problem, that at least made me feel they were being annoyed by me.

I hope your case is resolved soon. I won my laptop and as it's free couldn't complain about tech support but I feel the bureaucracy inside it's TOO SLOW.. 
 

Good luck! Keep us posted and please quote in case you need something else.

Alienware 15 R3 i7-6820HK @4.1Ghz GTX 1070, 8 Gb DDR4 @2400, 512 GB SSD + 1 TB @7200 RPM

Vygg Stonehand

johnvene

I feel your pain. Dell Customer Support has been putting me through the wringer over a faulty A51 R4 replacement system for almost two weeks now.

Two days ago they elevated my issue and promised that I would get a call from a supervisor within 24 hours. Heard nothing.

When I checked the status of the service request they show that they closed it at 2:00 am this morning after talking to me. I don't know who they think they think they called at two in the morning, but it wasn't me.

Of course, since their customer support only works East Coast banker's hours during week days I can't even call anyone to find out what's going on for another two days.


Vygg Stonehand

You might want to check with technical support on your laptop and ask them when it was actually built. They may have sold you a repaired computer as new.

Turns out that's what happened in my case. The desktop was actually built last September and returned for replacement by the original purchaser in October. Dell then sold it to me in January as a supposed "new" computer. It sure explained a lot about all of the different problems I was having with it and how they managed to ship it to me only 48 hours after I ordered it.

Also found out from their "Customer Support" that when you return anything for repair it not only doesn't go to Alienware but Dell doesn't touch it either. Dell subcontracts all repair work to  a third party vendor. The "support" person didn't know who the repair company is or even where they're located (Nashville, TN according to UPS). Once it's repaired it goes back into Dell's inventory.

When I called to ask for a refund I was told that they were already in the process of gathering up repaired/refurbished parts from the repair company to build me another "new" system. Needless to say I told them to keep that piece of junk and refund my money. I was told that they would cancel the order immediately, but wouldn't process my refund request until the repair company returned the defective unit back to Dell. I don't see why my refund should be dependent upon their relationship with their vendor, but  . .. it's all part of the Dell "Customer Support" meatgrinder, I guess.