My agonising experience of Alienware (Dell's gaming brand)
To help future PC buyers avoid the seemingly endless catalogue of technical and service disasters that Alienware/Dell can cause for their customers, I would like to share my experience of the company. Although I still hold a considerable amount of anger towards Alienware/Dell, I have tried to focus on the facts. My purchase was of an Alienware Aurora R4, bought in June 2012.
Technical failures (which suggest no or limited product testing before shipping)
1. Faulty HDMI socket on graphics card - replaced following approx. a week of Alienware diagnosis 2. Faulty crackling/popping sound card - replaced following several weeks of Alienware diagnosis. Replacement also faulty 3. Faulty motherboard graphics card slot on arrival - replaced following several weeks of Alienware diagnosis 3. Multiple blue screen shutdowns on arrival - resolved following factory image restore after approx. two weeks of Alienware diagnosis 4. CD/DVD drive not functional on arrival - repaired after driver downloads provided 5. Unresponsive on switch, following engineer repair
Even with my 3 year next day in home repair warranty, the majority of these technical failures took approximately 3 months to resolve before a refund was agreed. This included me, at Alienware's request, having to complete countless hours of my own troubleshooting, based on their email guidance. This included 6 massively inconvenient and time-consuming factory image restores, and 2 complete re-installations of Windows. During this 3 month period, it was only after all of this and the sound still not being repaired, that my refund requests were even considered.
Service failures (which suggest that Alienware/Dell have little consideration for their customers)
1. The first Alienware Technical Support rep that I experienced was abrupt, and provided me incorrect information when asking me to re-fit my graphics card. Only after making a complaint about my Alienware machine and service on their Facebook page (which I strongly recommend that anyone experiencing a problem does), was my complaint escalated to someone with more experience and authority 2. The second Tech Support rep was considerably better, but the resolution process took approx. two additional months due to the number of faults and problems that I had, combined with Alienware's slow 24+ hour email response time 3. The one engineer who visited me was sub-contracted, and had no experience of Alienware. After he struggled to replace all of the faulty components, he fitted the processor and fan incorrectly, which resulted in the machine failing to start 4. When a refund was eventually approved and confirmed by email, after weeks of appealing, I purchased a replacement machine from PC Specialist. A week after Alienware confirmed the refund, and I had purchased the replacement, they then told me that the previously authorised refund may not now be possible. Only after worrying for two days about being stuck with two massively expensive machines, was the refund officially re-confirmed. 5. When finally arranging the collection of my machine for refund, I requested the required boxes for the Aurora, keyboard and mouse, after Alienware has asked what my requirements were. I also arranged the collection for a specific date so that I could arrange time off work. On the morning of the collection, I received a call that I would only be receiving the boxes, with the actual collection now arranged for the following day. I had to arrange another day off work, which just angered my more. Finishing my Alienware/Dell experience that I had become accustomed to, I then received two tiny boxes to pack my entire system in. So small that they wouldn't even fit my keyboard into. 6. Each Alienware/Dell department that I encountered seemed to instantly drop any ownership or in interest in my case, the moment it was passed onto the next department. As a result, it did not feel that the refund process was well managed.
Although I appreciate that technical faults can and do occur with any company, what I experienced was ridiculous, particularly when combined with painfully slow after-sales service. Although a minority of customers do rate Alienware/Dell very highly, they perhaps have not had the misfortune of having to deal with their technical support or customer service teams.
Based on this experience, I would strongly recommend against any purchase from Alienware/Dell. In my case, I purchased a replacement machine from PC Specialist who, like me, are based in the UK. In comparison to India-based Dell, they are considerably easier to contact and communicate with, which is critical when attempting to resolve any problems, or when seeking technical advice.
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