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Beware Your DELL Warranty

Recently, in Kenya, Mary's brand new Inspiron Laptop computer failed to recognize her password. A prompt came up, after she typed in the password and hit Enter, that read "User Profile Service - Service Failed - the log on user file cannot be loaded." She was locked out of her computer.

Eventually, after we returned to Nairobi and got an email home, we got into her computer via function F8 and the Safe Mode, but in doing so we did a system restore which wiped out all of her loaded programs and over 400 gb of digital images! Fortunately, everything was backed up so we didn't lose the images.

However, just minutes ago I finally got off the phone with DELL, my blood-pressure through the roof with frustration. I got nowhere after an hour of being on hold, being flipped from one country (bless out-sourcing), and getting an explanatory run-around.

As I explained the problem for the second time to my latest 'helper,' I was told by my difficult-to-understand software assistan, that the problem was software and not hardware, so the three year warranty that I paid for when buying the computer did not apply. I told him that the computer was less than two months old and that the computer simply suddenly stopped recognizing her password.

After explaining to him multiple times that the password was a simple one and that the computer wasn't recognizing the password because we forgot that password and entered the wrong entry, and after trying several analogies, like a car suddenly and inexplicable not recognizing the ignition key to start the car, he told me the solution.

It was to purchase a $239 software solution package that would give me FOUR visits within the year. Further, each visit, and presumed solution, would have a three day warranty. Therefore, if a problem cropped up as just happened, and I didn't turn on the computer for five days, or if the computer worked correctly for five days, I'd be out of warranty for that visit or that solution, and would then need to use one of my remaining visits (of the four for the year). When I pointed out that days might elapse when we didn't turn on the computer (as happens when we're on safari or in a remote location), he said that he, or whatever technician, could then talk with a supervisor about that issue, and perhaps extend it.

I then asked, repeatedly, to actually talk with the supervisor, but I was refused because I didn't have a preexisting account. How do you get one? By paying $239 for the software solution package!

At that point, I once again pointed out the absurdity of this conversation. I again made the analogy where my brand new car, after 'recognizing' and starting up with the ignition key for two months, suddenly wouldn't recognize the key. I pointed out that a new car would be fixed for free, since something was obviously wrong with the ignition, and that it needed fixing. He agreed, and again told me that that fix would cost $239!

To the foreign Dell phone person's credit, he never lost his cool, but quite robotic-like continued to repeat his DELL position, while I was doing everything I could to keep from screaming my frustration!

Previously, I used a Fujitsu laptop computer and had no problems. It was loaded with Windows XP, while the new DELL has Windows 7, so maybe it is a Windows issue not a DELL. However, the frustration was DELL based, and I concluded my conversation with the tech, after again asking for a supervisor, by telling him that I would never buy another DELL laptop and I would spend as much time warning others about this 'software solution' solution as I had just spent wasting my time, and ageing, talking with DELL.

The laptop is working now, but Mary lost all of her programs and the first download of the images, but fortunately they were backed up! I asked, repeatedly, how to prevent this from happening again, and how, or why, did this happen in the first place. Why, I asked, did the computer work fine for two months and then suddenly not recognize her password? The tech's answer to all this was for us to contact DELL first, before trying to solve any problem ourselves, which I explained could be difficult when in Africa, or the Pantanal, or wherever we are at the time. Oh. His answer to losing the software was to either bring the disks along, or the serial numbers to reenter after downloading the software! Practical solution, perhaps, if you're connected to a high-speed line, but not where we often are, where we wouldn't want to risk our software disks or have access to any web line.

Finally, and for the last time, I asked what assurance I might have that this wouldn't happen again, and I again asked why did it happen in the first place. He understood my question! And gave his answer: For $239 I could sign up for the software solution program ..... I gave up, hung up, and wrote this posting.

It'd be interesting to hear if anyone has had this Password Recognition problem with other computer brands, or with Apple's MACs. As it is, there might be a solution to prevent this in the future by adding a second password, or perhaps in not having a password at all. I'll be interested in hearing anyone's thoughts on that at

In the meantime, beware buying from DELL and you might look into this problem further, and ask a sales rep some hard questions, before you make my mistake, too.





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