Investigator: Getting battered by support

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Investigator: Getting battered by support

The long wait for help...

Modern notebook computers are reliable. The technology in them is mature and, in most cases, major components are reasonably easy to replace. But not all parts are commodity items that can be easily picked up. Batteries are a good example of this.

One of our readers, John, sent me the following note.

I have a Dell XPS 15 laptop.  The touchpad stopped working and their [Dell] technical diagnosis is a swollen battery.  It is still under guarantee and after a bit of a run-around I am told that there is no ETA for a new battery.

A look through Dell’s support forums reveals this isn’t an isolated incident. And many others, across the world, have reported long wait times for a replacement part – some owners have simply ordered their own, third-party battery from online retailers and carried out the replacement themselves in frustration.

John has a few questions regarding this issue. He says the problem is not new and suggests it is a design flaw. Certainly, there have been plenty of cases reported of laptop batteries failing with several manufacturers issuing recalls. However, it has been several years since Dell has done this on a large scale.

John asks “What do I do in 12 months when it, presumably, will happen again and my expensive computer is no longer under guarantee? Why are Dell still selling XPS15 without comment?”.

As a matter of consumer law, the companies that sell, hire or lease items must ensure products are safe, lasting, with no faults, look acceptable, and do all the things someone would normally expect them to do.

In John’s case, these obligations are not being met.

When it comes to the warranty, you can seek the party who sold you the product to either repair or replace the item, or you can seek a refund. Repairs need to be carried out in a “reasonable time” under Australian consumer law. And with replacements, you do not have to return products in the original packaging to get a refund.

Importantly, while manufacturers may specify warranty periods on their products, goods sold into Australia are subject to a higher standard. Even though Dell’s warranty documentation only specifies a year, given there’s a reasonable expectation that a well-cared for computer would last significantly longer than 12 months he could still seek warranty repairs beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period. 

John supplied us with lots of detail, including his email conversations with Dell regarding this matter. We sent those through to Dell for comment and received this boilerplate response.

Dell places the highest priority on customer satisfaction. This situation has been resolved with the customer.

Unfortunately, John is about the head overseas and the situation hasn’t yet been resolved.

Follow up on Telstra and the NBN Modem

Last month, we reported on the story of Carl and trying to get the technical details of the Sagemcom F@st 5335 Telstra VSDL that was supplied as part of his NBN installation. Carl’s challenge was in configuring VoIP and port forwarding. 

Telstra didn’t answer before we went to print, nor since then. But one of our readers provided his experience following a similar installation.

Peter said “Apparently, the techs who come to the house or on phone support have not had any training for the modem in question and unable to fix things as you are unable to reset the sagecom”. 

So, it seems Telstra’s technicians and support people have as much access to good documentation and support for this modem as the rest of.

Our advice – if your NBN retailer gives you a choice of modem/router, choose one that has plenty of documentation and get the installer to walk you through all the configuration screens and take some notes.

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