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21 October 2009 @ 10:52 am
Dell: Nope  
I don't think we'll be buying from Dell again. I'm glad they produce a Linux-based laptop -- most companies won't, at all, full stop. It's a Microsoft licensing thing that's pretty certainly illegal, but happens with every large hardware vendor anyway. However, things have just hit the "yeah, no" point.

I bought the laptop, and the wireless card promptly failed. That's not great, but is probably excusable. I had to call and get forwarded a few times to get to somebody who would do support (including "yeah, the hardware failed" support), because Dell doesn't directly do that for Linux. That semi-excusable-ish, though *very* inconvenient since those phone numbers don't come with the machine and can't be found easily from the Dell web site.

The tech support guy was very competent, and had me do several things that should probably have voided my warranty to make sure the hardware genuinely didn't work. It was a pain in the ass to do with Shanna around (think of tiny little screws, opening up a laptop and a toddler, all in the same few square yards of space), but it was respectfully and competently done, and I can see why they do it. He didn't make me reinstall the OS and all updates a second time after I'd already done it once, which is, sadly, above average for tech support. And hey, now I know how to re-seat the wireless card in that laptop.

I thought he was calling at weird hours and annoying Krissy and Shanna repeatedly after the laptop had been shipped back to them, including asking questions like "when will the laptop be shipped back" (i.e. questions that Dell tech support should know better than Krissy, and really shouldn't be asking her rudely and randomly). Somebody with an Indian accent identifying themselves as Dell tech support was doing so, and it saddened me that the competent guy I had talked to was also a rude pain in the ass -- except, as it turned out, he wasn't.

Instead, Dell has guys claiming to be technical support calling and asking if the computer is a little slow or if it has any other minor complaints, probably to sell you an upgrade, possibly to just sell you the solution of removing all the shovelware they put on the computer before shipping it to you (I always reinstall any computer, from anybody, before using it).

Of course, whatever solution they're selling doesn't run on Linux. So after repeatedly, rudely, pushily calling many times (the most recent at 9pm), he found out the computer Dell sold me doesn't run Windows -- and it never has, they shipped it with Linux -- and he's stopped calling.

It's hard to overstate just how crappy a customer experience that is. Repeatedly waking up my toddler to sell me useless stuff that Dell already knows won't run on my machine is... special.

At the very least, guys: having your sales personnel identify themselves as such rather than claiming to be tech support, and have a separate list for Linux purchases so you're not trying to sell them Windows crapware. There's plenty of room in the market for Linux crapware if the Windows kind is working well for you.

This is all weird for me. My last Dell purchase, about three years ago, had fabulous customer support. The only serious problem I had was a spurious claim on their web site that my machine would support the intel VMX instructions. And given what a pain in the ass it is to figure that out, I'm okay with the fact that Dell was confused -- it took me several hours of sustained digging to figure out why my processor didn't have them.

Then again, my last machine cost noticeably more. Maybe I just need to not buy cheap stuff from Dell.
Davidtsgeisel on October 21st, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
I bought my Dell laptop from their business side, rather than the consumer side, and have never had any sales calls. And it came loaded without any bloatware, although if you're reinstalling (and Linux at that), it's likely not an issue.
Noahangelbob on October 21st, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
Maybe that was it. My last box was a desktop workstation rather than a cheap laptop. So perhaps I was dealing with the business side.
meganmh75 on October 21st, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
wow, yeah, we haven't had any of that type of problem with Dell. They've been okay with us. Of course, we've only run Windows.
Does pogo linux do laptops?
Noahangelbob on October 21st, 2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
I hadn't been familiar with Pogo Linux, but a quick look at their web page suggests that they don't do laptops.

Maybe I should check 'em out next time I'm buying a server, though.
meganmh75 on October 22nd, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)
My computer at work is pogo linux. Its been just fine, so far. probably 4 or 5 years old at this point.
Anthonyterpsichoros on October 21st, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
Most hardware vendors don't want to have to support more than one OS. Linux is especially difficult, as anyone savvy enough to know it exists and buy it is going to have some level of technical knowledge, but possibly just enough to be *really* dangerous to themselves.

The sales pitch sounds really annoying, though - that would merit a complaint up the chain, and/or deciding to not buy from them again.

The problem with selling Linux crapware is that there's so much available for free.
Noahangelbob on October 21st, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
By "crapware" I just mean the stuff they put on the machine initially, generally as adware for somebody that paid them to.

There's almost none of that for Linux, even though there's plenty of lousy stuff you can get for free. But it's an underserved niche, so if more Linux machines start getting shipped then we'll see more of the spiritual descendants of "400 FREE HOURS OF AOL!" and "BLOATWAREZ FOTOPAINTSTUDIOMAX SHAREWARE EDITION" shipping on them.