Dell XPS 8930 Woes

As much as I would like to say my experience with the new Dell XPS 8930 tower computer has been uneventful, I can’t say that and regret this purchase after my experience with Dell support and their attempted repair. The issue started at the end of May when the built-in SD Card reader quit working. I had just used it the week before to inventory a bunch of cards I had lying around. And better to know I can reformat them in the camera without worry I that had not yet imported them into Lightroom. The only updates applied to the system through Windows update or the Dell Support Assistant application. One of the Dell updates, probably the Bios, made the card reader quit working. On June 6th, I called Dell support and they had me try things and one was to kick off diagnostics on the card reader through the Support Assistant program. The test failed and Support made a remote connection to my system for further troubleshooting. By the time support gave up, the card reader could not even be located by Dell Support Assistant diagnostics as the device no longer showed as a testable device. Support left me to try a system restore to try and bring the device back. That effort was a no go initially, as Windows wanted the system is a special boot mode to do the restore. Once the restore was complete, still no card reader. I felt sort of abandoned by Dell Support and they finally sent an e-mail inquiring on the situation and I responded that the card reader was still missing. They gave me the last option of sending it in for repair stating the motherboard that provided the connection for the card reader was bad and would be replaced. I sent the computer to Houston for service and status updates were nil until they had the device several days. Finally, the status moved to diagnostics and repair phase and stayed in this status for almost a week. Finally, I get notified that the repair was complete and the system was about to be shipped back.

I got the system back on Monday, July 6th, and reinstalled my data drives. Upon booting the system, I was greeted by the initial Windows 10 setup prompts as the OS had been wiped and reinstalled. No biggie, I had my data drives and backups if needed. The real shocker here was all of the Dell provided support programs like Waves Maxx and Dell Support programs like Support Assistant were no where to be found. I visited Dell Support on the web and there were no needed driver updates, so I decided to test the SD Card Reader. I inserted a card and waited for Windows to recognize the card insertion only to never have that notice appear. I go to the Dell support website so I can get Support Assistant back and open it so I can check the card reader diagnostics, guess what? The card reader is not detected and therefore not present in the list of devices Support Assistant can troubleshoot. This is my photo imaging workstation and loses a lot of convenience when I have to give up a USB 3.0 port and deal with an external reader. All of my previous builds, I bought 3.5″ internal readers to mount within the front bays on the case for convenience and not dealing with an USB reader.

At this point, I am beyond frustrated. I read the Dell repair sheet that came back with the computer and it says they replaced the I/O daughter board for the card reader. Unless my 35+ years of being an IT guy supporting desktops from before Windows and now as a senior forensic analyst for a fortune 50 insurer has left me brain dead, there is no daughter board to be had on this computer. The only thing I can think they may be referencing is the actual card reader slot itself which is directly connected to the motherboard and provides nothing but the connection for the card via the slot. Unless I am mistaken, the brains for the reader are on the motherboard as support stated several times that the reader was part of the Intel chipset.

I vented with a #dellsucks tag on twitter and got the attention of @DellCares and now I have new support ticket. Not sure what they think I am going to do to assist them. I am pretty disheartened with my efforts and the non-repair of the system after shipping it to them and waiting. While some may think I am just using this experience to bash Dell, I have a Dell XP laptop that I was still using to program Ham radios until I virtualized it in May. I use a Dell Precision dual Xeon system as my on-net corporate forensics tower at work and it’s been very reliable and the company has moved from HP’s to Dell for all our endpoint PC systems. Other than quirks trying to boot systems via USB Linux so I can get a forensic image of the internal drive, these systems have been pretty solid in the first year of the transition. I guess the biggest unknown for me now is trying figure what Dell is going to want me to do next. I honestly don’t have the patience to deal with the situation and have bought a USB card reader so my photos can get imported. If Dell doesn’t offer a solution that requires more than minimal effort, I will investigate returning the system as defective to Costco or let the Costco concierge team deal with Dell to get a replacement.

UPDATE:

As I stated, @DellCares opened a Dell Service ticket for me on the matter and I checked the status and asked for an update today, only to check the ticket a few hours later to find it closed. WTF #DELL. #DELLSUCKS more and more each day I deal with this no service response. @COSTCO needs to step up to the plate and make it right or quit selling #dell. I get your a large behemoth that probably doesn’t give a flip about the consumer market, but when I spend my hard earned money on something I expect it to work; especially if I have made the effort to return it for repair and it comes back still broken. #DELLSUCKS I am in #DELLHELL! (and I didn’t even know about Jeff Jarvis until I googled how bad Dell’s customer service reputation actually is.) @DellCares on twitter responded to my most recent post and DM about the ticket getting closed and this is what they asked:

DellCares

Hi, I am sorry for the confusions. Let’s run diagnostics on the system to check for any hardware failures. This video will guide you: https://dell.to/2WCTgwk. If you see any errors, capture images and share them with me. Note: Keep the charger connected to the system during the test. Also, click ‘No’ when prompted for extended memory test. -Pratheepan.

My Response: “If you go look at the ticket support closed without speaking to me, you see I posted screen captures showing Support Assistant can’t do a diagnostic on the card reader because it doesn’t seem to exist as a hardware device anymore. It doesn’t show if I say show hidden in device manager. I am not trouble shooting it anymore. Please have a Dell support manager contact me.”

Dell Response:

DellCares

I am extremely sorry for this inconvenience. Please allow me few minutes to get this reviewed with the experts. -Pratheepan.

Here is the information from the service request opened by DellCares. I am pretty sure the the numerous null entries is Dell’s way to keep their entries private, but still use the same support ticketing system as normal request. That is not very transparent if you ask me.

Almost as soon as I asked for the update, the request was closed. I made a couple more social media post about the lack of customer service from Dell.

UPDATE 2:
So, I decided it was probably in my best interest to resolve this issue before I get an ulcer or have some other stress related illness set in. For $50, I was able to upgrade my warranty be on-site after remote diagnostics. Once I could see the new warranty was in place, I made the call to Dell Support. The tech I spoke with saw the closed social media initiated ticket and re-opened it. I did not have to go through all of the diagnostics and other steps to confirm the card read was not working. He took my word for it and set me up for a visit from a repair technician, which was scheduled the next day. While my initial visit was estimated to be between 9am to 1pm, it ended up being more like a 6pm visit, but the technician either called me or sent e-mails to keep me updated throughout the day. Kudos to Curtis from Worldwide Technical Services for his efforts and installing the replacement motherboard while I bent his ear talking about forensics and computers in general. We have both paid our visits to state prisons to do tech work in our careers. Once the replacement motherboard was in and various connections remade, the first power up had me a little nervous as booting Windows failed, but that was expected as the new board needed the service tag and other information to configure the initial boot. Second time is a charm and I was prompted to login; all the drives were present and everything looked good. The final test was inserting a SD card into the internal reader… and it took a few seconds for Windows to prompt me what I wanted to do. I opened file explorer and the SD card was there and I was able to read the contents in file explorer without issue. At this point I am happy I spent the money to upgrade the warranty, but Dell should offer to compensate me in some fashion after the experience of sending the system in and the repair not being made the first time.