Buy a new Dell laptop and you too could get this support

Ok, so someone is bound to say I'm just using a blog entry to complain about a company and although I am, it was not me that got the bum end of a deal from Dell. My friend, does not use computers every day and is self employed in the building industry but needs better records for his tax and the production of bills and would like to watch a DVD or two. He found a laptop he liked but could not find anyone selling it and found something almost equivalent from Dell. He asked me for advice and to sum it up I basically said a) it is a lot of money for something which running Windows will be as slow as a dog in a year b) when laptops break they are expensive to fix (my own which is hardly portable with a massive screen cost nearly £800 to fix a broken screen - thank god it was insured) c) you don't really need a portable computer since you are only using it at home d) it is going to cost a lot to install MS Office etc and probably more I cannot remember.

He went ahead and ordered it from Dell and the package included MS Office Starter edition. On day one of it arriving it was not working and he brought it around for me to look at. Dell's own diagnostics said the disk was in error and he rang them to get a resolution. They agreed the disk was broken and said they could send an engineer out to fix it (basically replace the disk) but wanted nearly £20 for a copy of the Windows disk they would need to reinstall it! Dell supplied the laptop with a preconfigured disk with Windows and all the software they included pre-loaded on it. He refused to pay for Window CD again and they provided it free of charge!

Duely some days later (or perhaps the next day) a man arrived and replaced the disk and reinstalled Windows and it seemed he was up and running again. Today, he rang me to explain he seemed to be missing MS Offiice starter edition (which I explained was probably pre-installed with Windows on the partition Dell use to install a new laptop) and having rung Dell he was told this was a offered with his laptop and could not be replaced; it would cost £80 to have it sent to him and basically it was tough luck as this was a good-will offer to include MS office. He was directed to download OpenOffice. Now I use OpenOffice and it is a good piece of software but it was not what he paid for.

Now I've ordered a number of machines from Dell in the past and I know how everything is precisely detailed. If office stater edition was included it would have been mentioned and it is not his fault the disk was faulty. Nor should they charge for something (MS Windows) when the machine basically did not work on delivery. Distance selling laws allow him to cancel the order and return the goods but at the end of the day he was prepared to offer some leeway on this to get a working machine. As a result he has ended up worse off.

Has he been hard done by? I think so.

I'm not going to say I push loads of purchasing for my company through Dell because that would not be true but I'll take this on board and I'll certainly not approve any Dell purchasing in the future.

As an aside, my mother-in-lay wanted to replace a machine and I ordered it from Dell for her. She has not had any hardware problems for 2 years but it makes you think (especially since she lives a long way away) - having ordered it for her from Dell when it did not work I'd have been in the front line. I don't want to be in the front line of complaints for issues beyond my control so I guess I've learnt and relearnt some vital lessons.

Don't give advice on computing just because you are asked and you write software for a living - it will rebound on you.

Don't recommend anyone for computer purchases - it will rebound on you.

Don't let yourself be pushed into a repair when newly ordered goods do not work - use your rights and require a refund or a replacement.