Dear Dell

Arriving in my office at 8am to a blinking orange power LED on the workstation on my desk is not my ideal start to the week. Component failure affects all manufacturers, but the fact that I knew before even starting troubleshooting that a flashing orange power LED on an OptiPlex means a PSU/MB failure suggests that this happens more often than it should. The service manual for the OptiPlex 960 lists 23 different combinations of diagnostic lights. This is the only one I know by heart.

Next week I’m visiting a school that buys a lot of Lenovo. I don’t want to have to learn a new set of diagnostic lights, but I still haven’t quite forgiven you for all those cheap capacitors you used in the OptiPlex SX260 series. We shouldn’t have to fall out over ropey power supplies, but I won’t hesitate to switch  if I’m looking at another repeat of half my workstations failing 6 months after the warranty runs out.

Love and kisses,

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

18 responses to “Dear Dell”

  1. Terry says :

    We have Lenovo kit, I dream of the day we can get rid of them…

    Support is terrible, have to repeat yourself over & over again. Promises of an engineer out the next day, but doesn’t arrive. Say they phone you, but don’t.

    Have heard my old workplace luke them, but my recent experience is bad!

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Make no mistake, I’ll be asking serious questions about the support levels. Dell’s kit may be narking me with it’s failure rate, but it still only took me 15 minutes on the phone to have a next-day engineer replacement booked. That said, I do pine for the days when the phone support was in Ireland and it would have been done in 5 mins…

  2. TheCrust says :

    Hey AT – come and see our nice spangly HPs instead of seeing Lenovo.

    They work pretty reliably given the harsh environment they live in – the only snag I’ve found based on our experiences would be to advise potential buyers to not hold their breath if the expectation is that the relatively large quantity ordered from them earlier in the summer will be delivered on time!

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Did you just use the ‘H-word’? On this blog?!

      Seriously, I have been burned waaaaay more times by they-who-shall-not-be-named than any other manufacturer. Right now I’m still awaiting some movement on a support case on one of the ProCurve switches I inherited that has already drastically missed the NBD window they claim to provide.

    • Mr M says :

      Monday I wasted many hours of my life that I will never get back on the phone to a woman at HP who eventually told me the extended warranty that was PURCHASED separately for 5 new printers (that runs out in 3 weeks) had actually not been registered, and the school could therefore not claim a warranty call on ALL FIVE PRINTERS whose print head modules had broken the connector plates on the printer itself. Randomly. All at the same time.

      So wait, that’s:

      1. Really bad fault
      2. Refusal to honour a paid contract
      3. Waste my time on the phone.

      Yes, Angry Technician, why don’t you go and check out those HPs, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them!


  3. 17G33K says :

    At least he didn’t mention the two words that are forever outcast into the obis “Research Machines” (or RM as they are known). They have this name for a reason…… as in still researching how to build a reliable computer and a management interface that will actually make the technicians life easier not just block everything…. ARGHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Funny you should mention RM. Guess which supplier my new school was buying literally every piece of IT equipment from before I arrived?

      • 17G33K says :

        Judging by the wording of this post you put them right i assume. I am just glad you where spared the nightmare. They are getting better (in comparison to how cr@p they used to be but they couldnt really get much worse) but there is a long road to go and they havent quite realised yet that me coming to oxford for a course and being invited out for jollys dosent count for anything if the end product means i get fifty times more work because of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  4. webman says :

    Stop using multi-national corporate “brands” and start using “local” independent companies. From our experience it’s just much better quality and service.

    Our workstations cost less than £350 with a 5 year on-site warranty. They’re self-built (to specification) using *standard* components and include a hard-front LCD monitor, Intel C2D processors, 4GB RAM, and SATA hard disks and optional optical drive. Can’t go wrong.

    UK phone support, with usually either next-day delivery of a replacement component or an engineer visit.

    • Mr M says :

      No, don’t, because that’s a really terrible idea.


      Standard components? What, you mean like “CPUs” and “Motherboards” and stuff?

      Local PC builders may mean well, the prices may be better in the short term, but in the long run it costs schools money. I have seen this so many times. The company goes bust, they charge a fortune for replacement batteries, (why the hell did the batteries die after 6 months anyway? OH, because it was a cheap computer), and they don’t have reliable service offerings.

      NBD engineer on site? Maybe some do, but generally you don’t get this from local providers.

      And what about consolidating equipment under one service offering?

      Good management principles go to waste when you do things like that.

      • webman says :

        Yes, standard components, from PSU to motherboard. Can you buy Dell PSUs and motherboards from any PC component supplier?

        Once the warranty is up, we have the option to continue supporting them ourselves with off-the-shelf components. Can you do the same with Dell boxes?

        Replacement batteries? The only batteries our desktop machines have are the CR2032 motherboard batteries for the BIOS – this point is null & void. Our laptops on the other hand are Toshiba.

        Yes, we get on-site, *usually* NBD.

  5. Mr M says :

    Anyway, I was here really to say:

    “I still haven’t quite forgiven you for all those cheap capacitors you used in the OptiPlex SX260 series”

    I like how you successfully combine the type of emotional grudge usually reserved for an ex-girlfriend with some quite seriously geeky frustrations in that sentence.

  6. Karl says :

    AT – avoid the Dell T3400s too..heh. I’ve had boards, CPUs, power/riser boards and NICs all go on brand new kit..and the WD Caviar “Blue” drives in them have to have come from the reject bin…lost count of how many are intermittent/have totally failed since September, along with the E17FP TFTs.

    We had GX60s before that had that same PS issue as the SX260’s..70 out of 70 died. Had hells own game to get spares sent out in batches of more than 1, and a final admission to manufacturing defects on the TH-0N serialled units.

    • AngryTechnician says :

      We actually had a few of those at my last school and didn’t have any problems with them. However, I can only dream of being able to afford them now.

  7. LardyTechnician says :

    We have mixed kit, and I must admit that the RM kit is the most reliable – compared to a bunch of homebrew stuff a couple of rooms of Dell kit. Knock em for CCx all you want, but the hardware is pretty solid and well supported.

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