How To Prevent Getting Screwed by Alienware

Really only 3 things to do, although, not easy.

  • Upon receival of your order, ensure ALL items on the packing slip are included. Missing a Windows XP CD? You have 14 days to tell them, or tough $hI0t.
  • If anything doesn’t even remotely work perfect within the first 30 days, return it to get a refund. If you don’t, you won’t like the next item.
  • Keep calling until the problem is resolved.

That last one sounds pretty brief, and it is. It requires more explanation.

Alienware’s support system is pretty simple. Support on the other line MUST determine the problem with your laptop remotely. That means minutes to hours on the phone, with you phsyically following the directions from the support person on the other end. Rebooting, tweaking the bios, etc.

There is no “I want to FedEx this laptop to you guys”. You either deal with them on the phone to determine/resolve the problem, or your computer will remain broke, period. It’s black and white.

Once they find the problem, they’ll send you a replacement part, have you physically ship the system in to them to fix it, or if you ordered a special plan, they’ll send someone on site.

Again, NONE of those 3 things will ever happen unless you resolve it on the phone. My wife made 2 calls, and got cut off the first time.

I made 3, after getting cut off the 2nd, but dammit, I resolved that mofo!

Our personal experience: 2 months, 3 phone calls, and 7 hours worth of phone calls later, we found out what’s wrong with her majesty’s Area-51 (7700) laptop. 1 of the RAID drives went bad apparently. They are shipping a new replacement drive, and I have to ship them the defective one to remove an $80 charge on my credit card. I managed to sweet talk the guy on the other end to send me a Windows XP CD to install Windows since my copy here for another computer doesn’t work. We never got ours in the shipment (see list item 1).

If my putting the hard drive in doesn’t fix it, it’s off to the phones for another 3 hour remote-hardware debugging session.

If you buy an Alienware, be aware they assume you’ll either fix any hardware or software problems yourself, otherwise, you HAVE to deal with their support staff. Their support staff that I talked to are nice and patient mind you, I as a full-time contractor, however, don’t have time for that crap. Time is money for me, and support calls cost me more money than Alienware.

After reading Ray’s on going battles with Dell support, apparently the competition isn’t any better. Anyone know of a computer company’s support options that DON’T suck; mainly, I can just send them the computer and let them fix it? Until I give up my career in software and start learning hardware, I don’t have time to make support calls.


19 Replies to “How To Prevent Getting Screwed by Alienware”

  1. i have a Dell laptop and bought the topline support plan. Why, because like you I dont that crap and I would rather pay up front to know it will be taken care of. they have always been responsive, done a good job of fixing it, and not asked any questions; even when I have dropped it.

  2. I like computers and most of all laptops so i own some. HP support sucks extremely, sony support is incredible, IBM support is even more incredible and mac support in this country sucks big time.

    I learnt that the best option is to buy your laptop on a store instead of ordering it online. If you buy it personally you can make the store take charge of your problem.

  3. hehe Jess, I feel your pain, my Alienware experience has been well documented.

    I got lucky as in Australia the CEO of Alienware called me direct to sort the issues out. Recently I had a hiccup with the DVD drive and after playing phone-tag with the support, i ended up shooting an email off to the CEO and within the day a new DVD Player was shipped to my door.

    To me it says one thing: Executives want the issues sorted and Customer Experience in-place, I think they aren’t dumb and are aware of that.

    I do think that there must be a disconnection between the ‘values’ and the ‘support’. Either they are over-worked under budgeted or simply they just couldn’t care, just keep increasing UNIT sales and all is good.

    I’ve got an alienware laptop and a mate of mine has the Desktop (both the dearest ones)… to me, they are really over-rated?

    I’d go with Dell, they maybe crap but atleast their consistent at.

  4. Thanks Bill & Fernando, I’ll keep those advices in mind.

    Scott, I don’t really think my Alienware deskop is overrated. I mean, my specs for running games still rocks, haven’t bought a game I couldn’t play yet (which is insane considering my history of 4 games, next one = new comp to play. It blue screens at random times once every 2 weeks starting 4 months after I bought it, but so far not so recently (luck?). Enough that I still keep it. And I can run FlexBuilder + Tomcat + Flash + Outlook + Firefox (10 tabs) + Thunderbird + iTunes, and she works great.

    Her majesty really really dug her laptop when it worked, and the screen is unmactched. Granted, she really wants an iBook, but the screen the laptop has is big and clear… not sure where you can find that in a Mac, cheap. It is a Samsung made laptop technically, so maybe another model?

    Anyway, if Alienware had a support package other than the ridicolous default, I’d buy it. I think if I get a laptop, I’ll get a Dell and do what Bill said.

  5. I stuffed up my Acer Aspire 1800 while doing a BIOS update (never again). Would just make a horrible squawk when powering up.

    Took it into an authorised repair agent and got it back the next day.

    Funny thing is they didn’t have to do anything to it. It worked for them first time LOL! Although I did demo the squawk when I dropped it off. Must have needed a rest. But happy with their assistance and wasn’t charged anything (still under warranty) despite it being my fault. But seeming they didn’t do anything…

    Hope your problems are quickly sorted!

  6. What about voodoo pcs/laptops?

    I have a voodoo laptop and it runs pretty well .. though it does overheat and bluescreen at times …

    I’m wondering if overheading is common in laptops with lots of processing power … they crammed a p4 into the voodoo I have (so essentially I can use it was a desktop) … but it’s an older voodoo.

    I still like my g4 17′ pb, but when it came to Flash 2004, the g4 was too slow to work on.

    I’m debating whether or not to buy Flash 8 for Mac … since from what I hear both the IDE and player work a lot better on the Mac. If anyone knows for sure (aka they have a copy of F8 for Mac), please send me details. Thanks and sorry for getting off topic Jesse … I’d be interested in seeing an alienware laptop up close … maybe I’ll see one at MAX.


  7. I am a laptop guy, myself. And I love Toshiba, but I just recently purchased a Sony Vaio, and had to deal with their technical support. I was impressed at how much they wanted to get my issues resolved. Best thing, it takes less than a minute to talk to a support person.

  8. I think you’ll find good and bad experiences with any brand… at least you need to sample quite a few more before you can make a statistical case.

    Anyway, one correction: time != money;

    time == life

    You only have so much time to live… if time was equal to money then rich people would live much longer.

  9. Yeah. I love my toshiba laptop. 2 yrs and it is a really great laptop. It does have a minor heat issue but that is solved with a good targus laptop stand.

    I got mine from CompUSA and paid extra for the CompUSA warranty. Now granted, their inhouse support for laptops is non existant. they simply send it to an authorized toshiba place. I broke my screen. Very terrible and it was a simple accident. (it was behind my seat in my travel bag on the way to the airport. I moved the seat back and it crushed it.) I took it to compusa. Apparently, a common problem with laptops is people closing the lid with a pen or pencil on the keyboard resulting in a break. Needless to say they don’t care how it broke. They sent it in for $1000 worth of repairs. no cost to me. I did have a problem in that it took 6 weeks to get my machine back. Apparently it got lost in the todo pile or something. But i did get it back and the $400 compusa warranty was way worth it.

    thats my 2 cents.

  10. If you going to go mainstream retail check out Best Buy. They got what’s called a Service Plan. It’s like a warranty but it doesn’t JUST cover manf. defects. Covers something they call ‘Normal Wear and Tear’. Dust, Moisture, etc. What got me is they even cover kids…….WTH?!

    Anyway, for speed it’s cool. If something like a HDD or DVD-R Burner goes bad then they try and replace it off the shelf with like or better technology in store (at least for Desktops). Kind of cool cause I’ve seen many people get an upgrade in devices using their plan.

    They also got this No Lemon Policy thing where if you bring it in to be fix like 3 times, on the 4th time they’ll get you a new product. Now……..over the course of 2-3 years this rules cause they probably will not have your computer in stock any more and they’ll have to replace it with something newer. KICK @$$!

    For laptops it’s different though. They have to send laptops out if it’s within manf. warranty depending on what it is……(this may have changed). However, they still cover what manf. doesn’t in most cases and a weird thing with laptops is they cover the battery. The cost of the regular laptop plan is arond the cost of a new battery I believe, so that rules. Battery death is considered ‘Normal Wear and Tear’. If you NEED your computer for something important like….. I don’t know…. making money to PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE and PAY BILLS (got to keep that MMORPG subscription)! You can get this expensive freaking service plan that gurantees your laptop back in like a week at most fully fixed and they do like data recovery and all that (if it’s possible).

    Just a little plug. Don’t believe me then check it out at a store for yourself.

  11. I havent had any problems with toshiba service. I once had a problem with my laptop. I called the regular 1800 service # and since we couldnt figure out the problem over the phone, they gave me the address of a local authorized computer repair shop. The place was really nice and people were friendly, they really understood that I needed my laptop and within 4 days (mainly because they had to request parts) my laptop was back to normal.

  12. I’ve got very good experience with IBM laptop, x22, R30 and recently x40.

    take x40 for example, motherboard died the other and it just can boot, bring it in to the IBM shop, 5-minute talk to the techie, leave it there, they called me up next day @ 10:00AM to take it back (with brand new MB installed), they even cleaned the whole machine (screens, keyboards and mouse….)

    what can i say anymore ? brilliant service.

  13. i had no problems with my laptop (the alienware) overheating, and it never blue screened. It ran perfectly. We are not sure why it is having problems, and if it was the Hard Drive, why it went out… :(

    It comes with a lot of fans underneath :)

  14. I concur 100% with Jess regarding Alienware. I’m currently in a battle with them over the exact same laptop. It’s currrently back at the repair after I sent it there the first time and they returned it not only not fixed, but also missing a hard drive. I don’t have a lot of confidence it will be fixed when I get it back. I’m not sure about your issue Jess, but one of my hard drives was bad from day one and there is some kind of problem with booting from a cold start. I was instructed to reformat and reload Window to the remaining good hard drive and everything seemed fine. But after it was shut down for a few hours I restarted it and got ‘Operating System Not Found’. I hope the repair guys read the note I enclosed with the machine.

  15. SAW, I posted this article October 1st of last year. As of this comment, it’s now June 27th of 2006 and there is an update.

    Her majesty has some hardware guys at work. They took it in to see what they could do last weekend. Apparently, the extra hard drive Alienware sent me, plus the other 2 drives are just fine. The problem was the keyboard was fried. Apparently it takes 3 days for a Dr. Pepper spill to saturate the circuits enough to f it up.

    Had they just taken the laptop back, they wouldn’ve known the beep was not the laptop, but the keyboard key enterally pressed beep. I’m not a hardware guy, so didn’t recognize that for what it was, but her majesty’s friend at work did. After removing it, straightening out some harddrive pins, fixing my jumper settings, and testing with an external keyboard, she works fine.

    The keyboard is about $100, and won’t be made for much longer. We’re letting him keep the $80 extra hard-drive (pluse another small gift) as thanks and compensation.

    So, apparenlty the laptop lives again, and Alienware tech support, while the ladies and gents I talked to are nice, have no f’ing clue how to remotely debug your problem. The fact that you had yours actually sent back and then sent back to you broken removes any faith that they would of found the keyboard problem had I managed to get them to take it back.

    In the end, I’m glad my wife can play Counterstrike with me again, but like you, I’ll never ever do business with Alienware (or Dell for that matter) again. I hope things work out for you positively, bro! Good luck.

  16. I have a voodoo laptop which overheats and shuts down. Have purchased the Voodoo warantee which they refuse to honor. They play the game of having you pay to ship the notebook to Canada and then run up a bill and claim it is a software issue which of course is not covered under the warantee. Then they completely reinstall Windows and send it back. Funny thing is it still overheats and shuts off.

  17. I wish I hadnet bought an Alienware now. My alienware is overheating and shutting off. I think its the graphics card. I have spoken with alienware for over 2 months on this problem, and their tech support is terrible. WORSE than terrible. I have had a tech guy sent from them… he couldnt fix it. I sent it back… TWICE, and they sent it back broken. no kidding STILL BROKEN from their tech department. I want to throw this out the window. DONT BUY ALIENWARE!

  18. I’m on my third Alienware computer. I bought my first when the company was in startup mode, great computer, good support. Second Alienware, good computer, fair support. This last computer bought 2 years ago, poor computer, non existant support.
    For all their claims about thoroughly checking out your computer before it’s shipped. Mine arrived without the secondary hard drive being formated, and basic hardware needed to be updated, even though the updates were months old.
    Every time I called support about a problem, I was told to update the motherboard bios and reformat the hard drive. I ended up finding solutions on my own.
    I bought a three year warranty, and my video card has gone bad, it’s been three weeks and they still have not shipped a card. Their excuses range from, supply problems, (huh?) for a gForce 6600 or 6800, to ‘we have to have the card shipped to us for extensive testing and then we ship it to you.’ YEA RIGHT…..
    Needless to say, this is my last Alienware computer. I will take the premium price they charge and apply it to a class to learn to build my own computer.
    My .02…..

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