Dell Inspiron Windows 10 under warranty--Dell wants $99 to repair software problem.

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Jul 22, 2018
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My Dell Inspiron 3580 ( Windows 10 ) purchased in August of 2020 is still under warranty. Without warning three days ago, it went into hibernation. I was unsuccessful at rebooting it and contacted Dell support via phone. The service rep took me through several steps--I was able to provide the bit-recovery key needed to reboot the laptop and save my files. Unfortunately, the system then asked for a password. I have no idea which password they require and the service rep was unable to give me any guidance on this. She told me I would have to contact software support for a fee of $99.00. I do not wish my files to be held ransom for a $99 charge when the laptop is still under warranty. The only other option is to reboot the system and lose all my files.

By the way, Dell does not provide an operating system disk with the laptop which means I'm out of luck for using a Windows 10 installation disk. I did contact a second service rep who basically cut me off when I asked a question about the time at his location.

Would love to hear from others who 've had similar issues with Dell. Is there any recourse for this problem? I am not a technical person and need the computer and files for my work.
 
Oct 11, 2018
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You likely had a BIOS update performed either via Windows update or some Dell updater program. This invalided the Bitlocker recovery key. You may be able to downgrade your BIOS to the version that you had to recover your files. Dell may not permit a downgrade though. I'd get a technician to do it.

I think it's a shame that companies are turning on Bitlocker at the time of purchase and not disclosing it. Then, they perform BIOS updates automatically which should NEVER be done without informed consent of the user. Part of that informed consent would be to disclose that you need to disable bitlocker BEFORE performing the update. Once complete, you re-enable and get a new recovery key.

Not to mention the danger in an incomplete BIOS update and the need to then reprogram the EEPROM. I doubt the $99 support fee would get you very far. Do you have a backup?
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
My Dell Inspiron 3580 ( Windows 10 ) purchased in August of 2020 is still under warranty. Without warning three days ago, it went into hibernation. I was unsuccessful at rebooting it and contacted Dell support via phone. The service rep took me through several steps--I was able to provide the bit-recovery key needed to reboot the laptop and save my files. Unfortunately, the system then asked for a password. I have no idea which password they require and the service rep was unable to give me any guidance on this. She told me I would have to contact software support for a fee of $99.00. I do not wish my files to be held ransom for a $99 charge when the laptop is still under warranty. The only other option is to reboot the system and lose all my files.

By the way, Dell does not provide an operating system disk with the laptop which means I'm out of luck for using a Windows 10 installation disk. I did contact a second service rep who basically cut me off when I asked a question about the time at his location.

Would love to hear from others who 've had similar issues with Dell. Is there any recourse for this problem? I am not a technical person and need the computer and files for my work.
Once you gain access to the computer it is essential that you back up all of your files in two places: 1) an outboard storage device (USB stick or hard drive) that you keep separately from the computer, and 2) a cloud-based storage system. USB storage is dirt cheap, and cloud-based storage is not expensive; there are some sites that offer free storage up to certain limits which may meet your needs. You can set the backup to update automatically on a daily basis via wi-fi.

Have you tried rebooting by holding down the power button for 30 seconds? Rebooting does not lose "all my files". Reformatting the disc and re-installing the operating system will erase files.
 
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Oct 11, 2018
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The problem isn't the boot up sequence from his description. A BIOS update also updated the TPM. The password he has only works with the TPM. Since it's changed, he must enter a now changed recovery key to unlock the bitlocker encryption.

It MAY, and I want to stress it it's not likely, be stored as part of a Microsoft account if you're using that. In my experience, it isn't since it generally doesn't have time post update to connect and send it. If so, it's here:

 
Jul 22, 2018
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You likely had a BIOS update performed either via Windows update or some Dell updater program. This invalided the Bitlocker recovery key. You may be able to downgrade your BIOS to the version that you had to recover your files. Dell may not permit a downgrade though. I'd get a technician to do it.

I think it's a shame that companies are turning on Bitlocker at the time of purchase and not disclosing it. Then, they perform BIOS updates automatically which should NEVER be done without informed consent of the user. Part of that informed consent would be to disclose that you need to disable bitlocker BEFORE performing the update. Once complete, you re-enable and get a new recovery key.

Not to mention the danger in an incomplete BIOS update and the need to then reprogram the EEPROM. I doubt the $99 support fee would get you very far. Do you have a backup?
Hi thanks for your responses. I did get the current Bit-Recovery key when I signed into the Microsoft account on another device. (at the first occurance of not being able to get into Windows 10). I understand that I am not going to lose my files by "rebooting" the system. I have been through the automatic repair sequence, etc. They still want some kind of password before proceeding to the next step in the sequence that will get me back into Windows 10. I have gotten a backup of most of my files on another drive. I am frustrated that Microsoft has been so unhelpful in its "support" regarding what password they are looking for. Instead, they want me to go to "software support" for a minimum of $99. PS: Its not my Microsoft or Dell password. The system does accept the Bit-Recovery key I enter, but then asks for a (mysterious to me) password.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Hi thanks for your responses. I did get the current Bit-Recovery key when I signed into the Microsoft account on another device. (at the first occurance of not being able to get into Windows 10). I understand that I am not going to lose my files by "rebooting" the system. I have been through the automatic repair sequence, etc. They still want some kind of password before proceeding to the next step in the sequence that will get me back into Windows 10. I have gotten a backup of most of my files on another drive. I am frustrated that Microsoft has been so unhelpful in its "support" regarding what password they are looking for. Instead, they want me to go to "software support" for a minimum of $99. PS: Its not my Microsoft or Dell password. The system does accept the Bit-Recovery key I enter, but then asks for a (mysterious to me) password.
A vey wild guess as to the password: try just returning; i.e., the password is blank. Unless you’ve tried that.
 
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Oct 11, 2018
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Hi thanks for your responses. I did get the current Bit-Recovery key when I signed into the Microsoft account on another device. (at the first occurance of not being able to get into Windows 10). I understand that I am not going to lose my files by "rebooting" the system. I have been through the automatic repair sequence, etc. They still want some kind of password before proceeding to the next step in the sequence that will get me back into Windows 10. I have gotten a backup of most of my files on another drive. I am frustrated that Microsoft has been so unhelpful in its "support" regarding what password they are looking for. Instead, they want me to go to "software support" for a minimum of $99. PS: Its not my Microsoft or Dell password. The system does accept the Bit-Recovery key I enter, but then asks for a (mysterious to me) password.
Right, it's the new bitlocker key. When the TPM changes, the recovery key is invalid. This is becoming increasingly common. It generated a new key. You don't have it, Microsoft doesn't have it. It has to reboot to send the updated key. The only way to restore with the key you have is, as I said, reverting to the older BIOS. Once you do that, everything will be right back. If you want confirmation on that, can you either send a screen shot or send EXACTLY what it asks for on that screem?
 
Last edited:
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Aug 30, 2015
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You likely had a BIOS update performed either via Windows update or some Dell updater program. This invalided the Bitlocker recovery key. You may be able to downgrade your BIOS to the version that you had to recover your files. Dell may not permit a downgrade though. I'd get a technician to do it.

I think it's a shame that companies are turning on Bitlocker at the time of purchase and not disclosing it. Then, they perform BIOS updates automatically which should NEVER be done without informed consent of the user. Part of that informed consent would be to disclose that you need to disable bitlocker BEFORE performing the update. Once complete, you re-enable and get a new recovery key.

Not to mention the danger in an incomplete BIOS update and the need to then reprogram the EEPROM. I doubt the $99 support fee would get you very far. Do you have a backup?
I've been using Bitlocker for years on several computers, all of which have had many iterations of bios updates, without any alteration of the bitlocker key. I do not know what is wrong with this particular user's computer but it is not true that every bios update causes the bitlocker key to invalidate.
 
Oct 11, 2018
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I've been using Bitlocker for years on several computers, all of which have had many iterations of bios updates, without any alteration of the bitlocker key. I do not know what is wrong with this particular user's computer but it is not true that every bios update causes the bitlocker key to invalidate.
I don't think I said EVERY BIOS update would cause that. If I did, that is in error and I apologize. If the BIOS update changes the TPM, it would cause this exact issue. For one, it alters the recovery key and it also changes the trusted relationship between the password and the Bitlocker key.
 
Apr 7, 2021
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My four-month old Dell XPS desktop recently crashed on boot up ("inaccessible boot device"). Dell tech support quickly deemed this a software problem, not covered by warrantee, and said I would have to pay $99 for a consult. I am an experienced computer user, and after trying numerous possible fixes myself, I agreed to the charge. The very polite and patient phone tech walked me through a number of procedures (many of which I had already tried), finally saying I would just have to reload Windows, something I already knew how to (but was reluctant to) do.

Since Dell tech support was unable to explain what had caused the problem or how to avoid it again, I remain concerned that it was a hardware glitch that triggered the crash. One of the reasons I bought a premium-priced computer was for support if I ever needed it (this is my fourth Dell), and I must admit disappointment.
 
Mar 30, 2019
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My four-month old Dell XPS desktop recently crashed on boot up ("inaccessible boot device"). Dell tech support quickly deemed this a software problem, not covered by warrantee, and said I would have to pay $99 for a consult. I am an experienced computer user, and after trying numerous possible fixes myself, I agreed to the charge. The very polite and patient phone tech walked me through a number of procedures (many of which I had already tried), finally saying I would just have to reload Windows, something I already knew how to (but was reluctant to) do.

Since Dell tech support was unable to explain what had caused the problem or how to avoid it again, I remain concerned that it was a hardware glitch that triggered the crash. One of the reasons I bought a premium-priced computer was for support if I ever needed it (this is my fourth Dell), and I must admit disappointment.
Just curious, did they refund your $99 since they were unable to solve the problem? (Honestly would surprise me if they did!)
 
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Jul 22, 2018
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Here's an update to my Dell Inspiron laptop computer boot up problem--it still won't boot up. Have tried reinstalling OS Windows 10 from USB drive to no avail. The hard drive is dead. Am contacting Dell for a replacement. Wish me luck!
 
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AMA

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At this point, I would demand my money back. They sold you a defective computer. They should either refund you in full so you can buy a different brand, or else ship you a new-in-the-box replacement, not mess around by claiming they'll replace the hard drive. Look at your credit card terms and conditions.
 
Jul 22, 2018
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Thanks Ama, I have emailed the top Dell executive listed on Elliott Company contacts (Karen Quintos) but the email bounced back to me. (cc'd the other exec also.) Need to update the primary contact email at Dell.
Also tried Tech support twice today--both times the tech support person disconnected me when I told them about the hard drive issue. (I was very nice about it as advised by Elliott)
 
Jun 24, 2019
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If you are like many of us, you need a computer to manage in our increasingly connected world, unless this computer is a second one in your home/office. Thus, think about your problem as two problems:

1. First, buy a new computer. Check out ratings, and buy, if possible, from Costco using a Costco credit card. That extends your warranty to 4 years. Having gone around in circles with both Dell and HP, Costco, in the end, had my back. Get next day in home service if available.

2. Second, continue to press Dell for a solution. But, if you follow path no. 1, you won't as pressed about getting a computer back in service.

My current Dell has never needed service. The Dell it replaced, with the same model number, had a design defect that was unrepairable. Dell come out with a modified computer with the same model number but with at least three modifications (2 hardware changes and updated software) to deal with the design defect Dell refused to acknowledge, even though the defect was documented in Dell's knowledge base. Costco gave me a full refund. Dell was not happy; yep, they called me from Teas, not India, to express their displeasure.

My prior HP failed, and I did not have in home service. When it was repaired and returned, it would not turn on. A call to HP and opening up the computer revealed several wires not connected, despite the tag identifying the employee who supposedly "fixed" the computer. I was able to connect those wires with guidance from HP. That fix lasted a week, and the computer had to go back twice more. The good news is that my sister, who uses that HP computer just for e-mail, still has it and it now works fine after three trips to the HP doctor.

I've been using personal computers since they ran on CPM or proprietary operating systems, so I've been Beta testing for Mr. Gates, Mr. Dell, Mr. Watson, and Mr. Packard for nearly 40 years.

I wish you well.
 
Aug 29, 2018
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If you are like many of us, you need a computer to manage in our increasingly connected world, unless this computer is a second one in your home/office. Thus, think about your problem as two problems:

1. First, buy a new computer. Check out ratings, and buy, if possible, from Costco using a Costco credit card. That extends your warranty to 4 years. Having gone around in circles with both Dell and HP, Costco, in the end, had my back. Get next day in home service if available.

2. Second, continue to press Dell for a solution. But, if you follow path no. 1, you won't as pressed about getting a computer back in service.

My current Dell has never needed service. The Dell it replaced, with the same model number, had a design defect that was unrepairable. Dell come out with a modified computer with the same model number but with at least three modifications (2 hardware changes and updated software) to deal with the design defect Dell refused to acknowledge, even though the defect was documented in Dell's knowledge base. Costco gave me a full refund. Dell was not happy; yep, they called me from Teas, not India, to express their displeasure.

My prior HP failed, and I did not have in home service. When it was repaired and returned, it would not turn on. A call to HP and opening up the computer revealed several wires not connected, despite the tag identifying the employee who supposedly "fixed" the computer. I was able to connect those wires with guidance from HP. That fix lasted a week, and the computer had to go back twice more. The good news is that my sister, who uses that HP computer just for e-mail, still has it and it now works fine after three trips to the HP doctor.

I've been using personal computers since they ran on CPM or proprietary operating systems, so I've been Beta testing for Mr. Gates, Mr. Dell, Mr. Watson, and Mr. Packard for nearly 40 years.

I wish you well.
You may also wish to consider if you really need Windows -- a Macbook air an be had for as little as $999 and are usually reliable. I have several computers at home, of different flavors, but the ones I use the most are the Macs.

On my recent travels, I have noticed 75% of the laptops people are using in public are either Macbooks or Macbook Airs.
 

Neil Maley

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Thanks Ama, I have emailed the top Dell executive listed on Elliott Company contacts (Karen Quintos) but the email bounced back to me. (cc'd the other exec also.) Need to update the primary contact email at Dell.
Also tried Tech support twice today--both times the tech support person disconnected me when I told them about the hard drive issue. (I was very nice about it as advised by Elliott)

Please report the invalid email here-

 
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