Dell refuses to repair damage done in their repair depot

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Mar 23, 2019
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#1
This is a very long story, as it has played out over the course of 2 months, so I will be as brief as possible.

I had the keyboard on my Dell laptop replaced under warranty by Dell when the right shift key stopped working. After 3 weeks my laptop was returned with a new crashing issue that did not exist before I shipped it to Dell for repairs. For reference, the system originally shipped with 8GB memory installed in DIMM slot A, and I added 8GB more in DIMM slot B nine months prior. My system ran flawlessly for 9 months after I upgraded the memory. This crashing issue did not exist before Dell opened my computer to do the warranty repairs.

I contacted tech support to report the new crashing issue, and was told to send it back in. I requested expedited service and they complied. My laptop was returned, and the memory upgrade I had installed was taped to the lid of the laptop with no explanation. I reinstalled the memory, and shortly thereafter, the crashing issues resurfaced. By this time, it had been nearly a month since I initially sent my laptop in, and my patience was waning. I had taken a photograph of the memory taped to my laptop, and emailed it to Dell's tech support, demanding to speak to a manager to explain why it had taken a month for them to make my computer worse than when I shipped it to them.

The fact that Dell "fixed" my problem by removing memory from my laptop in the first place tells me that they indeed found a problem. The fact, however, is that Dell only fixed the symptom. The problem remains.

I was put into contact with Dell's Advanced Resolution Group. Over the course of 4 or 5 phone calls and at least 7 emails with written and photographic evidence of my issues, I was told that Dell would not help me in any way. Each time I talked to Dell's Rep. I was told that their hardware scans showed no errors, so I could not return my computer for repair.

I offered to exchange my laptop for a new, comparable model. I offered to pay any price difference. The answer was no.
I offered to send my laptop in for a refund. The answer was no.
I gave them multiple opportunities to repair the laptop. The answer was no.

I spent hours upon hours troubleshooting, each time reporting my new findings to Dell - all of them pointed to the fact that having memory installed in DIMM slot B caused the crashing issue. The answer from Dell was the same - literally cut and paste. Their hardware scans showed no issues, and the system was running "as per design", so they wouldn't fix my laptop.

I paid a PC repair shop $200 to diagnose and troubleshoot these problems, in hopes that a second opinion would convince Dell to help me. Their findings reported that the motherboard needed to be replaced as there was a problem with DIMM slot B. It would cost me $850. I forwarded this information to Dell, and was told that they did not accept 3rd party diagnostics. Again, the answer was that they would not help me.

I finally filed a complaint to the Better Business Bureau in Texas. Two days later, I got a call from Dell. It was the exact same Advanced Resolution Rep who had been refusing to help me in the past. I already knew how this was going to go. He said he wanted to run a remote diagnosis on my laptop. I asked him what the point was, as Dell's diagnostic tool had failed to find the problem on multiple occasions, making this exercise a waste of time. He insisted, and I complied, but I told him to wait a moment while I installed the memory in the faulty slot, knowing full well that running diagnostics with no memory in that slot would yield negative results.

It was here where things got contentious. He told me that installing memory into my computer voided my warranty, and that Dell did not support user upgrades on hardware. He basically told me that he would not run the diagnostics in the faulty configuration. I told him his claims were demonstrably false, and that memory is a user upgradeable component. I actually followed up with tech support via chat after this conversation and they confirmed this.

After a bit of heated back and forth, we finally got to the point of him running his diagnostics. I gave him remote control of my PC to diagnose my PC. During this process, my PC crashed twice. He asked me if the memory was installed in the faulty slot. I told him it was, and he told me that I was wasting his time. I told him I would see Dell in small claims court.

If it does get to the point of litigation, I will request a clean break from Dell. I want to be able to return my computer, all the upgrades I purchased from Dell, the extended warranty I purchased from Dell, and the cost of shipping, all for a full refund. I also intend to sue for the cost of the diagnostics I had run, as it should have never gotten to the point where I needed them. I no longer feel Dell deserves my business or my money.

I'd like to know what recourse I have in my situation before I litigate. I feel like I've exhausted all my options aside from small claims court. I've been fighting this fight by myself for 3 months, and have made no headway. Any advice on other avenues to pursue, or how to file a small claim would be greatly appreciated.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#2
I really tried to follow this, Terry. It's much too long and has far too many details. Could you make a list of the facts in chronological order? Just state the facts,leave out everything else. For instance: '1. Dell keyboard replaced under warranty, returned 3 weeks later, hard drive crashed.' Once we grasp the situation, we can hopefully drill down and come up with some advice.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Aug 29, 2015
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#3
You need to find a Dell certified tech who can check out the situation, and determine if the issue is the stick of RAM or the slot for it. It Sounds like you chose the send in warranty version, not the on site or walk-in version?

You may be able to find a walk-in site to get assistance from.

That all said, you are bringing up legal action. It may be too late.
 
Likes: Warren
Jan 6, 2015
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#4
This is the timeline of events that I see from your post:
  • Dell laptop memory was upgraded by you to 16 GB (slot B).
  • Nine (9) months later Dell replaces the keyboard "under warranty", after which your system crashes repeatedly.
  • Dell requests it back, but returns it one month later with your memory upgrade taped to laptop.
  • Dell's Advanced Resolution Group tried but could not help. Each time their hardware scans showed no issues.
  • Your offers to a) pay for an upgrade to a newer model, b) send yours in for a refund, or c) repair the laptop (memory?) were rejected.
  • Your own subsequent diagnoses prove that re-installing memory in slot B caused crashes.
  • You then pay a PC repair shop $200 to troubleshoot. They determined a new motherboard was needed due to a fault in memory slot B.
  • You forwarded this information to Dell, and were told that they do not accept 3rd party diagnostics.
  • After a complaint to the BBB, the same Advanced Resolution Tech informs you that installing memory yourself voids the warranty. Tech support later refutes that (?), but in the meantime you tell him you will see Dell in small claims court.
Finally, you say to us that you want to be able to return your computer and receive a refund for the upgrades, the extended warranty, shipping cost, and the cost of the third-party diagnostics.

What recourse do I have in my situation before I litigate?

You can reach out to Dell using the Company Contacts link at the top of this page. . Please read this first: . How to Present Your Case

You are also welcome to post your proposed email here if you would like us to review and comment.

But before you write, I strongly suggest you consider your approach carefully. See below . . .
Ideally you want to provide the least amount of detail that conveys the right amount of disappointment. Remember that your goal is to win someone over your side; to have them rule in your favor. You do not want to be ignored or rejected. Whenever inflammatory language is inserted into an appeal you incur the risk of both happening.
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#5
My advice is to carefully read your warranty before litigating. The warranties that I can see all explicitly exclude "accessories or parts that are not installed in the Dell factory." If the computer works as Dell shipped it, you're unlikely to prevail in court (and you will be out any filing costs). However, it's possible Dell would settle rather than deal with the expense of a court case--That's the gamble you have to decide if you want to take.

If you haven't already, I would try installing a different set of DIMMs. Your problem could easily be caused by defective memory.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#6
In my many years as a tech, usually the warranty is voided by "replacing parts" on your own, not adding memory . . .
 
Likes: jsn55
Mar 14, 2018
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#8
In my many years as a tech, usually the warranty is voided by "replacing parts" on your own, not adding memory . . .
While OP says one of the reps claimed this, Dell has been supporting the computer in the factory-shipped configuration. This configuration appears to work fine and pass all diagnostics. The failure only occurs when the OP adds his memory.
 
Mar 23, 2019
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#9
You need to find a Dell certified tech who can check out the situation, and determine if the issue is the stick of RAM or the slot for it. It Sounds like you chose the send in warranty version, not the on site or walk-in version?

You may be able to find a walk-in site to get assistance from.

That all said, you are bringing up legal action. It may be too late.
I purchased this online, and there are no walk-in options for me in Washington State. I wish that was the case.
 
Mar 23, 2019
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#11
You need to find a Dell certified tech who can check out the situation, and determine if the issue is the stick of RAM or the slot for it. It Sounds like you chose the send in warranty version, not the on site or walk-in version?

You may be able to find a walk-in site to get assistance from.

That all said, you are bringing up legal action. It may be too late.
Yeah. There are no consumer service centers near me. It's all enterprise solutions.
 
Mar 23, 2019
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#12
While OP says one of the reps claimed this, Dell has been supporting the computer in the factory-shipped configuration. This configuration appears to work fine and pass all diagnostics. The failure only occurs when the OP adds his memory.
I contacted tech support who verified that adding memory does not void my warranty. The fact of the matter is, this is not a warranty claim. It's a you-broke-it, you-fix-it claim. The damage occurred while performing warranty repairs.
 
Mar 23, 2019
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#13
While OP says one of the reps claimed this, Dell has been supporting the computer in the factory-shipped configuration. This configuration appears to work fine and pass all diagnostics. The failure only occurs when the OP adds his memory.
Yes. I didn't replace anything. I added memory (and a hard drive, but that's irrelevant here).
 
Mar 23, 2019
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#14
Can you put a 16 GB DIMM in slot a? Have you had the after market DIMM tested?
The PC repair shop I took it to found no issues with the aftermarket memory. It runs perfectly in DIMM slot A. I'm sure I could put a 16GB stick in DIMM slot A without issue, but that won't fix my PC. Let's say I just gave up and did this, and sold my PC. I'd have to divulge that one of the memory slots on the motherboard was faulty. I'm pretty sure I couldn't get full asking price.
 
Mar 23, 2019
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#15
I really tried to follow this, Terry. It's much too long and has far too many details. Could you make a list of the facts in chronological order? Just state the facts,leave out everything else. For instance: '1. Dell keyboard replaced under warranty, returned 3 weeks later, hard drive crashed.' Once we grasp the situation, we can hopefully drill down and come up with some advice.
Sorry for the long original post, but this has been a 3 month process. Here is the bare-bones timeline:

1/22/18 - Buy gaming laptop from Dell
3/15/18 - Purchase memory from Delland upgrade from 8GB to 16GB. PC runs beautifully until 1/4/19.
1/4/19 - Right shift key stops working. Told to send pc in for warranty repairs.
1/7/19 - Send PC in for repairs
1/24/19 - PC is returned. I fire it up, and it crashes. Told by Dell to ship it back. I do.
1/31/19 - Laptop is returned a second time. Memory is taped to lid. I reinstall memory. PC crashes. I email Dell demanding to speak to a manager. I've had a month of downtime at this point.
2/1/19 - Get a call from Advanced Resolution Group (ARG). He tells me that the aftermarket memory in DIMM Slot B is the problem. He will not replace or repair my PC.
2/2/19 - I email ARG rep and, since I bought the memory from Dell, request a replacement memory module, as it has a lifetime warranty. He does not respond to this request.
2/3/19 - 2/4/19 - I do some independent troubleshooting. I determine that there is no problem with the memory. It's actually DIMM slot B.
2/5/19 - I email my methodology and findings to ARG. Here is the response:
"...when you sent the system to our depot, they could not find any issue with the computer after the third party memory was removed. Hence the computer is working as per design."
2/6/19 - I reply via email, reasserting my position that the memory was not the problem. I attach 3 photos of the memory in question in my hand while my computer crashes. ARG's response:
"As discussed, since there are no hardware failures on the computer, we will not be able to get it to our depot again. For any software issues you can contact our software support team , their toll free number is 1.877.790.3355, it is paid support."
3/17/19 - I email the repair estimate from PC repair shop, which supports my claim that the motherboard needs to be replaced. ARG does not accept diagnosis, and continues to refuse to help me.
3/19/19 - I file complaint with BBB of Texas.
3/22/19 - Get phone call responding to BBB complaint from ARG rep. See original post for details.
3/22/19 - I email him informing him that installing memory does not void my warranty. I have documentation to prove it. Here is his final response:
"I would like to inform you our depot has informed that there is no issue with the computer, it is working as per design. We go by what our depot has informed. I would also like to inform you that Dell does not support any upgrades on the computers."

And here we are. I feel I've gone to extraordinary lengths to try to get Dell to fix my computer and, admittedly, my patience has begun to wear thin, as ARG is a broken record of non-help.
 
Mar 23, 2019
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#16
Sorry for the long original post, but this has been a 3 month process. Here is the bare-bones timeline:

1/22/18 - Buy gaming laptop from Dell
3/15/18 - Purchase memory from Delland upgrade from 8GB to 16GB. PC runs beautifully until 1/4/19.
1/4/19 - Right shift key stops working. Told to send pc in for warranty repairs.
1/7/19 - Send PC in for repairs
1/24/19 - PC is returned. I fire it up, and it crashes. Told by Dell to ship it back. I do.
1/31/19 - Laptop is returned a second time. Memory is taped to lid. I reinstall memory. PC crashes. I email Dell demanding to speak to a manager. I've had a month of downtime at this point.
2/1/19 - Get a call from Advanced Resolution Group (ARG). He tells me that the aftermarket memory in DIMM Slot B is the problem. He will not replace or repair my PC.
2/2/19 - I email ARG rep and, since I bought the memory from Dell, request a replacement memory module, as it has a lifetime warranty. He does not respond to this request.
2/3/19 - 2/4/19 - I do some independent troubleshooting. I determine that there is no problem with the memory. It's actually DIMM slot B.
2/5/19 - I email my methodology and findings to ARG. Here is the response:
"...when you sent the system to our depot, they could not find any issue with the computer after the third party memory was removed. Hence the computer is working as per design."
2/6/19 - I reply via email, reasserting my position that the memory was not the problem. I attach 3 photos of the memory in question in my hand while my computer crashes. ARG's response:
"As discussed, since there are no hardware failures on the computer, we will not be able to get it to our depot again. For any software issues you can contact our software support team , their toll free number is 1.877.790.3355, it is paid support."
3/17/19 - I email the repair estimate from PC repair shop, which supports my claim that the motherboard needs to be replaced. ARG does not accept diagnosis, and continues to refuse to help me.
3/19/19 - I file complaint with BBB of Texas.
3/22/19 - Get phone call responding to BBB complaint from ARG rep. See original post for details.
3/22/19 - I email him informing him that installing memory does not void my warranty. I have documentation to prove it. Here is his final response:
"I would like to inform you our depot has informed that there is no issue with the computer, it is working as per design. We go by what our depot has informed. I would also like to inform you that Dell does not support any upgrades on the computers."

And here we are. I feel I've gone to extraordinary lengths to try to get Dell to fix my computer and, admittedly, my patience has begun to wear thin, as ARG is a broken record of non-help.
I also need to add that, the fact that the Repair Depot claimed to have "fixed" the problem by removing the aftermarket memory from DIMM slot B proves that they acknowledged there was a problem and took steps to correct it. The fact of the matter is that removing the memory only fixed the symptom, not the problem.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#17
You need to appeal to the executives at this point. Use the "bulleted" approach to detail your actions and Dell support responses.

Bear in mind these things:
  • You cannot prove that your laptop was working before sending it to Dell support. You will be asking them to take your word for that.
  • Similarly, you cannot prove that Dell broke your laptop. When replacing the keyboard it is likely that they ran separate diagnostics which did not exercise the additional memory in slot B.
Although your frustration is understandable, refrain from accusatory statements as they can actually hurt your chances of a refund . . .
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
17,678
15,942
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
And do NOT threaten a lawsuit or small
claims court- once you do that they will stop communication with you.

Once you threaten small claims court, you need to actually file a claim because you’ve already given them notice and their legal departments will tell them not to respond because anything they say can incriminate the case.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,600
1,564
113
Maui Hawaii
#19
I also need to add that, the fact that the Repair Depot claimed to have "fixed" the problem by removing the aftermarket memory from DIMM slot B proves that they acknowledged there was a problem and took steps to correct it. The fact of the matter is that removing the memory only fixed the symptom, not the problem.
I fully sympathize with your aggravation. At this point, you need to decide whether pursuing this is worth further aggravation, or simply buy a 16GB DIMM, put it in slot A and use the computer. Yes, the resale will be lower, but if you have 16GB of functioning memory you will have a fully functional computer that will hopefully last several more years.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Mar 23, 2019
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#20
You need to appeal to the executives at this point. Use the "bulleted" approach to detail your actions and Dell support responses.

Bear in mind these things:
  • You cannot prove that your laptop was working before sending it to Dell support. You will be asking them to take your word for that.
  • Similarly, you cannot prove that Dell broke your laptop. When replacing the keyboard it is likely that they ran separate diagnostics which did not exercise the additional memory in slot B.
Although your frustration is understandable, refrain from accusatory statements as they can actually hurt your chances of a refund . . .
I never accused Dell of anything. I merely stated the facts. Computer goes in for repairs -> computer comes out with a new problem. If I'd had the crashing problem before, I would have contacted Dell for support.