Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dell Laptop Battery Support Problems

As a computer guy, folks frequently ask me what kind of computer they should buy.  Until recently my recommendation was to go with a Dell. I’ve changed my preference although I’m sure you can still find some good deals from Dell. 

One of the reasons I’ll stop recommending Dell is their lack of support. Earlier this year I had a problem and now daughter my Erica has been charged over $200 for batteries that don’t match her laptop. You may have read my “Dell Phone Support Disassembles My Laptop” post. Erica’s experience was more frustrating and costly.

Last month, Erica ordered a replacement battery for her Dell laptop after her original battery died. Her problem started when Dell sent her the wrong replacement battery.

Her first call to Dell was unsuccessful because she didn’t have her laptop available when she called.  On her 2nd phone call she was told, “sorry”, she was a few days past the 21 day return policy.

After some discussion the support representative decided, as long as it was a replacement and not money back there wouldn’t be a problem. That sounded reasonable until they sent her wrong battery again.

After calling Dell support back expecting them to chuckle at their mistake, she was told it was her problem, not theirs. She could only get a replacement on the wrong battery. A supervisor repeatedly told her “ I don't know ma'am, that's not my problem."  Even, the tech support who forwarded her call told the supervisor that Dell wasn’t being “customer centric”.

I should point out that each phone call included a 20–40 minute wait time which is also unacceptable. The real irony is my youngest daughter Amy also replaced her Dell Laptop battery but ordered a 3rd party battery on Amazon. Her experience was a positive one and Amazon’s 30 return policy was clear.

My own recent laptop purchase was a Lenovo ThinkPad and I couldn't be happier. Looks like Lenovo will be my new recommendation.

Thanks to Ben Popkin at The Consumerist 
   Dell: We Can Only Send You the Wrong Kind Of Battery

Update: Thanks to Dell Customer Outreach Liasison, Larry I'm pleased to report that Erica finally has the proper battery and refund.   Snaps to Dell, their customer advocates and the folk(s) who let Dell know of our problem.

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Blogger Mitchell McKenna said...

Stuff like this just shouldn't happen! Dell seems to be going through a rough run right now, trying to stay as a leader of cheaper consumer laptops. With manufacturing plants leaving U.S. and customer support going down the drain apparently now.

I've got a Inspiron 1501 (little clunkier than new models), got it a year ago real cheap $600 range. It's a powerful machine for $ and haven't had problems till recently - now battery doesn't last 45min and sometimes it overheats. I'm thinking these problems have something to do with fan or that it can't handle the extra gig of memory I just added :(

2:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'v had similar problems dealing with Dell, which is why I will never buy nor recommend a Dell product again. I'm very happy now with my HP/Compaq desktop and IBM (Lenovo) Thinkpad.

2:43 PM  
Blogger manic marc said...

A bit OT I know, but while you're talking about batteries.
My HP battery looses 10% charge overnight. Is this normal? It's only 7 months old. I hardly ever charge it down below 70%, and I do calibrate it.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Ivealwaysgotmail said...

I've Got to say i love dell's XPS customer support, I still have trouble even talking to their inspiron etc support, but their xps support would not allow this to happen, They have to power to simply contact the person that can authorize them to solve the problem, Its that simple, something that inspiron tech support tends to pass off on to you. If you buy an XPS system from you get the same 1 year warranty + xps support, and its really cheap, i recommend the xps 420 for price/feature balance, you can get a screaming one with a 2.4ghz quad core for under 600-700$,
If you email With your problem i am sure your battery situation will be taken care of, But my advice is if you buy dell, buy xps.

7:19 PM  
Blogger ViperBorg said...

@manic marc: You can calibrate it by running the battery completely dead, and then recharging it.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hmm, from your post, this does NOT seem to be a "support" issue, and more a "Store" issue.

Please clarify, and tell me if i have anything wrong.

Your daughter BOUGHT a battery from Dell, and bought a battery for a unit that she does not own. In a 21 day period she called once, didnt have information with her, and didnt call a second time, until 21 days had passed.

At this point, she was outside of her return policy with the Store, and a rule was bent, allowing for an exchange.

Obviously in this case, an exchange can do no good, since the original part was not what she needed.

I dont see how dell can be blamed for this (and i work for HP, so i love to see the bad pub)

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have it wrong. I don't think it says anywhere that his daughter bought a replacement battery for a unit she doesn't own. It was Dell that goofed up and sent her the wrong battery in the first place. Therefore, I believe it IS a support issue. If they had sent her the right battery in the first place, she would not be stuck with a battery that doesn't match her laptop and 200 dollars in the hole. They should've said "we made a mistake, send us the battery back and we will send you the correct battery." Open and shut case. To play devil's advocate, she should've been more proactive about getting the problem resolved, rather than waiting so long to call the second time.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Dell Customer Advocate said...

Bill, I'm a Outreach Liaison here at Dell headquarters in Texas. One of the guys here saw the article on the Consumerist and let me know about the problem.

First of all, I'm not sure why you have had the problems getting the correct battery as nothing you describe appears to follow our support policies. If you can email me the order number for the battery ( with 'ATTN: Larry (Battery)' in the subject) I'll be happy to get the matter straightened out for you.

If you ordered a battery for a specific model of Dell, and then got the wrong part, Customer Care or Tech Support should be able to either set up a return or get you the correct part shipped out (with the incorrect part returned to Dell). I'm not sure why that has not happened, but if you have the names of the people that were telling you it wasn't there problem I'll be more than happy to pass on the appropriate feedback to their manager(s).

I'm not familiar with battery warranty coverage from other brands, however, at Dell the batteries are considered consumable items because they will eventually stop working correctly no matter how well you treat them. Notebook batteries are typically rated for about 400 cycles, which under "normal" use will be about one year. For this reason Dell has a one year warranty on the battery (based on when the battery was manufactured).

Manic Marc, if your battery is losing 10% of its charge overnight and is less than a year old I'd definitely recommend contacting tech support to see if they would replace it.

Dell Outreach Liaison

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this Bill. After similar experiences with HP and Dell, I almost exclusively recommend and do business with Lenovo.
The T-Series Thinkpads have been incredible machines for the price, and are practically tuff-books compared to my old HP.

Hopefully Erica will get it taken care of. She's probably also learned a good lesson in being a consumer... the hard way...

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding dell customer advocate's post: Isn't it funny how they only offer to help you AFTER it's been posted on the internet or in the media? I have a suggestion for you and your ilk--if you really care about the customer experience, then how about getting rid of the cheap-ass outsourced reps who have no stake in whether or not the problem is resolved and bring support back to the US. It seems that if you just get it right the first time, the savings would pay for having US-based reps. But I guess DHell only cares about getting as much $$ from the mean consumer as they can while cutting costs wherever they can. It's no wonder why DHell stock is in the crapper.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Dell Customer Advocate said...

Isma'il, of course you're only going to hear from members of my team after something is posted to the internet. The job of my team is to find such posts, contact the person that posted it, and see what we can do to fix what obviously didn't get fixed before.

We can't very well post to someones blog about a problem they haven't had yet. ;)

You are correct that fixing things correctly the first time is less expensive for Dell. Part of my teams job is to find these things and get them reported back so we -can- fix them. I will be sure to include your feedback about tech support in that.

Dell Outreach Liaisons

2:10 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


I appreciate your offer to help.

Hopefully, you've been notified of Erica's Email which was sent Thursday night. She hasn't heard back yet so if you missed it, I'll have her resend.


2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, dell customer advocate, how about engineering the product better instead of relying on the cheap Chinese R&D folks to do DHell's engineering for them? Why not pay a little extra to build a quality product....y'know like your company did ten years ago, instead of relying on a two-bit R&D outfit, just slapping the product together, and making the customer deal with any problems that come up? Y'know the 'big three' automakers used to pull that crap (except for using Chinese R&D) and the Japanese beat them at their own game. It's no wonder why Chrysler was bought by Daimler Benz and Ford and GM are in financial trouble. Only within the last few years has Detroit realised that quality is important to the consumer. Maybe if DHell figured that out, their stock would be worth something and they wouldn't have to spend so much money on useless PR.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Dell Customer Advocate said...

Bill, I did miss her email. I found it this morning, however, when I went back to double check things and have set up an exchange to get her the correct battery. Assuming no delays she should get it tomorrow.

Dell Outreach Liaison

12:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Thanks again for your help and support. It's good to know someone is out there helping to make the world a better place.
Stop by anytime.


12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Review! Well written and quite descriptive as well.. If any item or topic comes out then you should be the one releasing it to the public and make it known! The way you describe it is very intriguing and feels like candy to my ears, if that really makes any sense :) but you catch my drift.. In one of my classes, we were given a paper with instructions of how to build a swan made of aluminum foil and we had to explain to our group verbally how to construct the swan.. It was difficult! But, manageable and we came second in place, but it was tasky :) Nevertheless if you post anything else up I will most definitely check it out! Great review!

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Dell Keyboard Repair said...

I agree that Dell has some problem with its support staff. In such a case I would recommend to use the services of any authorised service center. As guys in such centers are professional and experience and deliver the products on time.

4:03 AM  
Blogger freeebeeez said...

I realize, that after getting the refund, you feel obligated to give Dell a nod, but seriously, they made repeated mistakes - not just one mistake.

Repeated customer service mistakes is a problem and a single apology doesn't cover it up or negate the fact you had to jump through REPEATED hoops to get it taken care of.

Luckily, I didn't need your initial warning about Dell. I knew they had crap customer service for crap products.

8:45 PM  

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