If you're subscribed to more than a couple of blogs you'd be hard pressed to miss the "Dell Hell" stories that have been floating around, but they've all be limited to home machines. Now I rectify this <g> I went into the office Monday (well I have to put in an appearance some times and I could go visit a friend in a London Hospital later) and there was a beeping coming from the server room. In general technical consultants only go into the office when we're on the bench so the beeping had been noticed last week, but no-one could work out which machine it was coming from (although there was a flashing red light on the front, *heh*). So I opened up the front of the machine to see one of the raid drives with 2 flashing red leds on it. Uh-oh. I rang up the network guy, who was in Scotland, and told him what I'd found. So we concluded the drive was toasted. I plugged it back in to see if it would rebuild, nothing. So it's place a Dell call out time, we have next day service on it. The call routes to Dublin and I request a new drive. Nope, you have to go through a bunch of stuff first. Now admittedly the steps took longer than expected because I don't have admin rights on that box (it's an AD controller, so probably a good idea, I might find it funny to disable the CEO's account). I had to get the Dell Drive Array stuff installed and forward some logs. The logs didn't show anything wrong, even though the drive was out. So it was grab and install a diagnostic utility time, which also produced no errors. After reseating the drive again the RAID utility finally spat out hardware errors as the rebuild started. With great glee I sent a "Told you so" email to the customer support guy, who arranged a hardware call out. But why did I have to go through all this? When I've dealt with IBM and Compaq they've always sent a new drive out as soon as I asked. Dell however have customers who apparently request drives because they feel theirs are getting old and so treat each customer as a liar and make them jump through hoops. Not good making me feel like a liar.

I should make it clear the customer support agent I dealt with was great, it's just the process that sucks. I've had this before with Dell as well. My work laptop (we buy a lot of Dells) is making a rattling noise as it moves about. I narrowed it down to the surround of the LCD. So I rang Dell up to ask for an engineer to come look at it, thinking that preventative medicine would be a lot cheaper for them and save me time in the long wrong; replacement LCDs are expensive. I was told I have to wait until something breaks before an engineer will come out. So now, on the rare occasion I turn the laptop on I wait in fear for a bang and smoke indicating the loose object was a screw and it hit somes exposed power part. Very different to the experience I had with Toshiba when I reported the fan on a Tecra was making funny sounds, I had an engineer the next day who replaced the fan and the processor in case it had overheated and had hidden damage.

So who do I buy my next machine from? Difficult, I want something small as I don't have a lot of space upstairs and a normal desktop just takes up too much space. We'll have to see, but I really don't want to get a Dell.

[30-Aug] Kudos to the customer support person again, who just rang me after a week to make sure the replacement drive and backplane is working.

[Listening to: Little Star - Stina Nordenstam - And She Closed Her Eyes]