Unfortunate things happen with computers all the time. I understand that. But when a recommended Dell update bricks a Dell computer, I expect Dell to fix it.
My first “real” computer was a Dell desktop purchased in 1998 and since then I’ve been a fan. For over two decades I have purchased almost exclusively Dell and Alienware computers. In the last 20 years I’ve purchased over 20 Dell computers as a student, professional photographer, and then the owner of Fstoppers. I have never received a free computer, advertising money, or a review unit from Dell, but I’m sure you’ve seen countless posts and videos recommending Dell products. I’m a legitimate fan of Dell.
No computer lasts forever and many of my Dell computers have broken in some way or another over their life. Sometimes they break within the warranty window and Dell will pay to repair them. Sometimes they break outside of the warranty window and I have been forced to pay to repair them. That’s only fair.
But this situation is different. This time my computer is out of warranty, but Dell’s own software broke the computer, at least that is my take on the situation. Let me explain.
Patrick and I recently moved to Puerto Rico and we decided to bring our two Dell XPS 15 laptops and my older Alienware Aurora desktop. We specifically chose to bring this computer with us because it is significantly smaller and easier to pack than all of the other Alienware Area 51 desktops we own.
When we got here the computer was working fine but I decided to do a fresh install of Windows 10. After the update, I went to Dell’s website to download all of the recommended drivers. One of the recommended installs was a bios update. This bios update froze the computer during install and when I restarted the computer, it wouldn’t boot. The “update” had corrupted the software that runs on the motherboard itself.
I researched this problem and found other people with the exact same problem and to fix the issue, Dell had to replace their motherboards. I was annoyed at the inconvenience but was confident Dell would do the same for me. I knew my desktop was out of warranty but this was obviously Dell’s fault and they had always treated me fairly in the past.
After being transferred to the “out of warranty” department, I was informed that I would have to pay to fix the computer. They sent me a few options via email and the “onsite” option is “$149 + $171” and I’m not sure what that includes. Is that the cost for a replacement motherboard and a tech to install it? The email isn’t clear. It’s not a ton of money, but it’s the principal of the situation. This feels like some sort of ransomware; Dell recommends software that breaks your computer until you agree to pay them to fix what they broke.
At the same time, I do see things from Dell’s perspective as well. Computers break for all kinds of reasons and they certainly can’t afford to fix every computer they’ve ever made for free. Plus, some people are claiming that this is 100% my fault because “bios updates are risky” and I should have known what could happen. Others are saying that maybe the computer wasn’t actually frozen when I restarted and if I had just waited a bit longer this wouldn’t be an issue. Obviously, I don’t agree with these arguments but I’m sure Dell feels the same way.
What do you think I should do? Should I just pay Dell to fix the computer and forget about all of this? Should I continue to pressure Dell to fix my computer for free? Or, should I pull all of the valuable components out of this computer and put them in an OEM motherboard and case?