Thursday, April 02, 2009

I am in Hell, sir!

Or at least I’ve just been there. Dell Hell that is, and the line from Mr. Christian in The Bounty sums up that mephitic place of perdition nicely. For those that haven’t heard “Dude, you’re getting a Dell” lately, Dell Hell is where you are when your machine won’t work and support doesn’t seem to respond. I’ve actually been there twice recently.

The first time, my son’s machine was going into thermogenic shock. Yes, it was overheating. This was a Latitude D820, and it would reproduce by playing an MP3, booting from a memory key into the diagnostics and running them, or just entering the BIOS screen and moving around between items for 30 seconds. After several emails back and forth with Dell “technicians” (all of which told them the specific of an overheating machine and that it would do it in their diagnostics), I got a suggestion back from them: reinstall Windows. I figured, gee – that may somehow miraculously cure Windows (how I sure don’t know), but it won’t do a whole lot for the machine overheating and turning itself off during their diagnostics. I finally got nasty and sent the “flame note” asking them what part of Windows was running when booted from their diagnostics on a memory key and insisting on escalation to a supervisor.

That got a new mainboard installed. However the problem remained. We then got a new board again, a new fan, a new heat sink, new memory, and a new processor. Problem solved (it was apparently the heat sink all along).

I thought I was out of the Dell Hell, that Latitude Limbo, that processor purgatory. Alas, no – next my machine (an identical Latitude) started on the journey to Gre’thor to see Fek’lhr. I came down to use the notebook and found it on a Blue Screen – something about memory management – and it had hung at 0% on the dump file. I powered it off and it would not come back on. At least the screen wouldn’t show anything. No post test, no logo, no boot, nada.

So I took it out of the dock and opened the screen, but that produced nothing better. It would have on solid green LED, two blinking ones and then would power itself off after 60 seconds. Not good. I look up that particular combo of blinking Christmas Tree lights and it is something to do with memory. So I swap the memory with another machine that is working. The bad machine is still bad and the RAM from mine is chugging along great in the other box. I then try just one stick of RAM (1 GB instead of 2) in mine. Low and behold that works and it passes the diags. Put any 2nd stick of RAM in and the machine is useless. OK, needs a mainboard.

Back to the email with Dell Support. I have next day on-site service so this should be a snap, right? Send them a note on a Sunday (3/22/2009) and again, and again, and then finally get a reply on Friday. Still in Dell Hell like this guy. A couple more emails back and forth and they dispatch the mainboard which gets installed on Tuesday. OK, so that’s 9th day on-site support.

Every been in Glade Gehanna, Trough Torment, or Dell Hell yourself? Well I have! (I can just see Andy Rooney starting out with that one…)

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