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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good Times with Dell Tech Support

posted by on March 27 at 11:39 AM

Fourteen minutes of my life I’d really like back.

03/27/2007 01:08:32PM Agent (RTS Shelia S): “Thank you for patiently waiting. You have reached Dell Hardware Warranty Chat Support. My name is SHEILA and I will be assisting you today. In order for me to help you, can you provide details about the issue youíre having?”

03/27/2007 01:09:52PM Anthony Hecht: “I’m trying to install Vista, but it won’t boot from the DVD drive. I’ve successfully booted from CDs in the drive, but the Vista DVD media won’t boot. I pressed F12 to go to the boot menu, selected the CD-ROM device option, but it just goes right ahead and boots XP

03/27/2007 01:11:04PM Agent: “Anthony, have you chatted with Dell about the issue with installing Vista?”

03/27/2007 01:11:27PM Anthony: “no”

03/27/2007 01:12:01PM Agent: “To ensure we are working with the correct system, are you chatting about the *DIME521* listed on your account?”

03/27/2007 01:12:10PM Anthony: “yes”

03/27/2007 01:13:13PM Agent: “I understand the issue you are having with installing Vista, I will do all I can to resolve your issue in my scope of support.”

03/27/2007 01:13:23PM Agent: “Are you currently on the system?”

03/27/2007 01:14:08PM Anthony: “yes”

03/27/2007 01:14:49PM Agent: “What troubleshooting steps have you done?”

03/27/2007 01:16:48PM Anthony: “i’ve checked the DVD-ROM drive’s firmware, and installed the latest update from your site, no change. I’ve tried booting from both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the Vista DVD Media, neither worked. I’ve gone into the BIOS options (F2) and set the DVD drive to boot before the hard drive, as well as hitting F12 during start up and telling it to boot from the DVD that way. In all cases, the DVD drive spins up for a second, but then the XP loader takes over and XP loads from the hard drive.

03/27/2007 01:18:23PM Agent: “Did you purchase your copy of windows from Dell?”

03/27/2007 01:19:12PM Anthony: “The copy of XP that is currently installed on the machine is from Dell. The copy of Vista is not.”

03/27/2007 01:20:40PM Agent: “Did you purchase your copy of windows from Dell?”

03/27/2007 01:21:22PM Anthony: “you already asked me that. The copy if Windows XP that is installed on the machine is from Dell. The copy of Windows Vista was purchased from Microsoft.”

03/27/2007 01:21:44PM Agent: “Okay thanks.”

03/27/2007 01:22:45PM Agent: “I will not be able to assist you with installing the third party software.”

RSS icon Comments



Dell just failed the Turing test. ;p

If you haven't used it yet, you should try running the Vista Upgrade Advisor under XP and see if there are any real incompatibilities...

Posted by golob | March 27, 2007 11:56 AM

i thought hipsters all used macs

Posted by brad | March 27, 2007 11:57 AM

Normally I would point out how craptacular Dell is, but right now I'm anxiously awaiting the UPS delivery guy with my new 24" Dell LCD. Soo.... I'll lay off them for a while.

Posted by Chris | March 27, 2007 12:02 PM

That actually looks like the most-coherent -- and SHORTEST -- tech-related customer-service call I've ever seen. You lucked out.

My last (and by last, I do mean final) service call with Dell lasted about 3.25 hours and went from here to Jakarta (I'm guessing), to California and then to a rep in Calgary, who asked how far I lived from the White House (because I live in Washington ... state). He then told me to remove Norton Antivirus, which fixed my death-screen problem.

Posted by horatiosanzserif | March 27, 2007 12:03 PM


Sorry to hear you are having issues upgrading Microsoft Windows XP to Microsoft Windows Vista on your Dell PC.

You might want to try a flat installation if all else has failed on your system and you are unable to boot from your DVD drive. Please see step eight in the following article:


Posted by Paul @ Microsoft | March 27, 2007 12:06 PM

The correct answer would have been, "yes, it was purchased from Dell. But not by me -- it was given to me as a gift, so that's why the purchase doesn't appear under my account. But it doesn't matter, because it's my computer that's not working, not the disc."

Posted by Mattymatt | March 27, 2007 12:08 PM

yeah you should have stopped her at the 01:11:04PM comment, once you're down the vista leg of the help tree it's hard to get over to my dvd drive isn't working. I would have just said I can't read dvds in the already running XP if that's the case.

Posted by dannygutters | March 27, 2007 12:16 PM

Stop now, there's still time. You can just NOT install Vista and save yourself even more headaches... I've been running XP for years and ended up getting a copy of Vista from a friend who works for MS. That resulted in me working over the last month to first get Vista to work, then another week or two (ongoing) to get everything set back how I like it after dumping Vista and doing a clean reinstall of XP. Wait until Fall 08 to install Vista, by then you'll probably be able to use all of your programs and hardware without too much cursing... For now the fancy Ultimate Edition box is going to collect dust.

Posted by repent | March 27, 2007 12:17 PM

If you think Dell's tech support is bad, try to get ahold of their accounting department to question a charge on your Dell Account. I was on the phone with India and Texas for over 2 hours. I will never buy a Dell again. EVER EVER EVER!!!

Posted by Andrew | March 27, 2007 12:19 PM

@2: We do all use Macs. Unfortunately, we have to test our websites on Microsoft's broken browsers, so we have to keep a couple PCs around. They get no respect, though--we name them after terrible diseases.

@3: I have that monitor, or an older version of it. It's sweet.

@5,6: I eventually worked out the problem myself. Despite instructing it to boot from CD/DVD, it still required pressing a key to make this happen. The message saying so went by in the blink of an eye. I just hit the space bar repeatedly during the boot process until I triggered it.

Oh, and the rep was completely wrong. Regardless of the source of the copy of Vista, this was obviously a hardware/firmware issue, not a software one. The "third-party software" hadn't even been run, let alone installed. I bailed out because it was obvious it was going nowhere.

Posted by Anthony | March 27, 2007 12:21 PM

I agree, you got off very lightly with only fourteen minutes. Like Andrew, I have also spend many, many fruitless hours with Dell accounting, which is apparently a separate company in some ways but not others, all in order to get them to BILL ME so I could pay for a couple of servers ordered and shipped in November by the end of December. SEND ME A FUCKING BILL was all I wanted, but no, after three hours and three continents I was finally told by someone, somewhere, to just make up a dummy invoice and pay off of that.

They then proceeded to send me a bill for zero dollars every month for another year, accompanied by dire warnings that this matter was going to be automatically converted to a high-interest loan. For zero dollars.

Unlike some people I've never had a problem with their equipment, especially screens, printers, and server hardware; but there has never been a more difficult COMPANY to deal with.

I'd wait until 2010 for Vista, myself.

Posted by Fnarf | March 27, 2007 12:34 PM

Hm, I was just thinking about getting the Vista upgrade for the new Dell laptop we recently purchased for my office, but now I'm not all certain I want to even attempt it.

Posted by COMTE | March 27, 2007 12:53 PM

why not just virtualize? if all you're doing is browser testing then a vm should be fine. or use browsercam's service:

Posted by virtual me | March 27, 2007 12:56 PM

not to mention IE7 runs on xp

Posted by virtual me | March 27, 2007 12:57 PM

Sheesh. Get a Mac already.

Posted by Lola | March 27, 2007 12:58 PM

If your Macs are Intel Macs, just run Parallels -- then you can test the Windows stuff right there on your Mac.

Posted by litlnemo | March 27, 2007 4:41 PM

After you install Parallels, buy a shotgun to blow your brains out.

Posted by macfan | March 27, 2007 4:55 PM

I received the 24" LCD. It is now hooked up to my PowerMac. It is AWESOME.

Posted by Chris | March 27, 2007 5:18 PM

Since the issue was firmware -- getting it to boot off of any DVD, you could have gotten Dell tech support by attempting to install the Dell Windows XP from the DVD. You could have bailed out of the installation by the time you got past the problem by them giving you instructions on how to boot from a DVD. Then switch to your Vista disc and enjoy the awesomeness of Vista on your beloved cutting-edge Dell.

You do realize that if you had called Microsoft, they would have said to call Dell, seeing as the problem wasn't with Vista? It's funny because it's true.

Posted by elenchos | March 27, 2007 6:41 PM

it actually sounds like the vista disk is bad.

Posted by poornbroken | March 27, 2007 6:56 PM

After reading through the full chat transcript I noticed that Anthony could not boot from the windows vista cd. Using all the methods that he mentioned I concluded that there is a strong possibility that what was happening in this situation was that he may not have been striking a key at the 'press any key to boot from cd . . . .' prompt.

That simple. I promise.

As far as vista being third party software, isnt that kind of a no-shit statement?

Microsoft makes windows vista. Dell makes Dell computers. Dont assume that I am backing up Dell just to back them up but the situation does seem a bit blown out of proportion.

Pretend I have a new car and I want a new cd player in the car. I could purchase one from the manufacturer of the car or I could purchase one directly from the manufacturer of the cd player.

If I purchase this device from the manufacturer of the cd player. Whom should I call for support?

Does this logic make sense to anyone?

Third Party (wikipedia) A third-party developer is a developer not directly tied to the primary product that a consumer is using. The primary product may be hardware or software.

(*full disclosure - I currently offer support for Dell computers. I'm outsourced, but work for dell indirectly *)

Posted by Holden Caulfield | March 27, 2007 7:30 PM

Holden - who would you call if your CD player was hooked up, but it still wasn't getting any power from the car? Could be a car problem.

I use Dell myself, but no way am I turning to them for help; absolute nightmare stories. Better help can be found online.

Posted by him | March 28, 2007 2:37 PM

This is a Microsoft issue, not a Dell one - some Vista DVDs don't display the "press any key to boot from DVD" prompt for more than a nanosecond. The message is there, but unless you do what the original poster finally ended up doing and repeatedly hitting the space bar, you'll never see it - it's an eyeblink. I've seen this on both whitebox and HP systems, not just Dells.

Posted by Geni | March 28, 2007 3:19 PM


Not sure if you've seen this, but this was cross posted and the geeks on consumerist are more or less all tearing you apart.

I'm still on your side here. If you're using the OS that came with your Dell and you can't get to step 1 of installing a new one, the problem is with the system you bought from Dell, not the disc you're trying to get to work... Oh, and I had the exact same problem when I installed Vista, that message goes by too quick for my muddled wits.

Posted by sorry | March 28, 2007 5:02 PM

The reason is dells crappy bios wont set the dvd rom to read during boot.. it only does the cd rom.. and you cant change it from the bios.. what you have to do is physically swap the drives in the computer.. and connect the wires that are hooked up to the cd rom to the dvd rom.. and the wires hooked up to the dvd rom to the cd rom.. problem sloved your dvd disk will boot now..

Posted by Jay | March 28, 2007 8:12 PM

One last thing.. its not as hard as it sounds takes like 2 min to do.. keep me posted... any problems or questions just let me know..

Posted by Jay | March 28, 2007 8:15 PM

Dell's tech support is Dependant on what queue you get in. I work for a large corporation and we get Gold Support. So we get access to a better support lines. we always get a us call center and we always get excellent support. As for Vista. I'm dual booting it now on my Dell and it's a mixed bag. If you're going to live on the cutting edge of technology sometimes you're going to bleed. Overall, I'm not very impressed with Vista. From problems playing BF2142 (you need to run it as an administrator and you still get problems) to the massive change in sub architecture (I can't disable my wireless card in my docked profile). It's a pretty massive change and at this point not for the good. I'm dual booting only b/c I do provide tech support and unfortunately some clueless user(ie my family and friends, I can control what gets installed at the office) will need help and I need to know what to do.

Posted by Mike Lee | March 28, 2007 9:51 PM

Same thing I just posted on The Consumerist...

Another Dell Tech agent here....

First off - the 3rd party/scope of support thing. Any one of our calls could be monitored, and rated from the QA team for factors such as staying in scope, verifying account information, etc. Currently, Dell cares a heck of a lot more about getting a good email address from you than fixing your problem. We don't follow that policy, we potentially lose our jobs. That policy includes not supporting any 3rd party hardware/software. Most agents, at least in my center, will at least give it shot. But if it looks like it will be an involved process (i.e. - take more than 5 minutes), you'll get punted to the hardware/software vendor. They understand their product a heck of a lot more than we do. Even in the XPS support queue (where I am), we have massive amounts of scripts. We have some wiggle room, but a lot of techs will follow that script word for word out of fear of losing their job.

Dell Vista vs. MS Vista - yes, there is in fact a difference. Just because the DVD may look the same doesn't mean the information contained on it is the same. It's not as big of a deal with notebooks, but desktops can be, mainly due to the SATA/RAID drive controllers. Dell OEM copies of Vista include the proper drivers on the DVD itself, drivers that are needed to even begin the install process.

Not seeing the "press any key to boot from CD" message - That is a MS issue. It has absolutely nothing to do with Dell or the Dell hardware. Need proof? Pop in the Resource (drivers and utilities) CD. Boot from it. You get a menu asking if you want to boot from CD or HDD. The Windows setup images include the "press any key" part, and automatically switch to booting from the hard drive is there is no input from the keyboard. There is supposed to be a several second delay before that happens, but I've seen several copies of Vista that have less than a 1 second delay. THAT is an image issue, which is a MS problem.

The way the agent handled the call - Anthony stated in his own blog that he cut the call short because he felt the call was going nowhere. Nearly every day I get a call from someone pissed that their brand new computer won't copy movie DVDs. I inform them that that is out of scope, which usually results in the people immediately jumping down my throat. The ones who don't quickly learn that it outside the scope because it is illegal (and grounds for instant termination if an agent is caught), but that I am more than happy to ensure that the CD/DVD burner is functioning properly.

What is and is not covered under the service agreement is clearly stated in the paperwork that is included with every new Dell computer. It is not the fault of Dell or the tech support agent when the customer does not read it, and rather just assumes about what is covered (which usually results in the customer believing that anything and everything they could possibly dream up doing with the computer is covered).

Posted by Kupo | April 3, 2007 7:18 AM

AMEN! In the transcript of that call he states himself that other CD's work, but Vista doesnt.. That alone lends itself to being a MS issue. In the intrest of providing service to other people that are holding with legitimate issues I wouldn't have assisted him either. In fact, this person calling in for this issue made no sense.. he already knows based on the text that its an issue with the CD: " Iíve successfully booted from CDs in the drive, but the Vista DVD media wonít boot." SO WHY CALL DELL? What the crap do you expect them to do? Wave a wand and suddenly have all the training necessary to fix an issue that MS would need to deal with? I dont work with dell, but I am in a techsupport capacity for another company.. and its the same everywhere.. if customers employed a bit of common sense it would save both parties a lot of effort.

Posted by Raith | April 5, 2007 12:26 AM

The guys an idiot its not dells problem if he wants to buy software from someone and expect dell to spend there time and money fixing it because he cant. If another cd/dvd boots chances are its not the drive.

Posted by Gary | April 7, 2007 1:30 PM

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