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Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile? 380

Posted by Zonk
from the well-known-disruptory-rays dept.
WolfWings writes "Apparently Dell has decided that Ubuntu-based computers are ineligible for their famed CompleteCare service, or any form of hardware warranty what-so-ever. The news has only recently hit Dell's own IdeaStorm website, via a forum post describing an interaction with the company's customer service. Says the customer, 'I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other...do they?' After so recently decided to support Linux on their machines, including limited technical support, Dell seems to be squandering any possible good-will with this decision to leave purchasers of these machines high and dry for hardware warranty coverage." Update: 06/05 23:40 GMT by KD : many readers let us know that Dell has said that the omission of extended warranty and CompleteCare options from the configurator for Ubuntu systems was an "ordering system glitch." It should be fixed by now according to DesktopLinux.com.
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Dell Thinks Ubuntu Makes Hardware More Fragile?

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  • No Techs (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaveWick79 (939388) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:50AM (#19396565)
    The real issue is that Dell doesn't have any techs trained in Linux, and if you sent out a Tech with the average knowledge that the Windows techs have, the end user would probably be more knowledgable than the tech.
    They really have no way to solve software issues, which makes it extremely difficult to determine whether an issue is a hardware or a software problem. So rather than retrain or recruit thousands of onsite techs, and pour millions of dollars into creating new Linux checklists for India, they would just assume offer only limited support.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:25AM (#19397149)

    According to papers the Attorney General filed in court, Dell deprived consumers of the technical support to which they were entitled under their warranty or service contract by:
    • repeatedly failing to provide timely onsite repair to consumers who purchased service contracts promising "onsite" and expedited service;
    • pressuring consumers, including those who purchased service contracts promising "onsite" repair, to remove the external cover of their computer and remove, reinstall, and manipulate hardware components;
    • discouraging consumers from seeking technical support; those who called Dell's toll free number were subjected to long wait times, repeated transfers, and frequent disconnections;
    • using defective "refurbished" parts or computers to repair or replace consumers' equipment.
    source [state.ny.us]

    Two obvious observations [assuming the lawsuit's accurate]:
    1. Damn, now there's a loss.
    2. They rely on abusing users with limited tech knowledge and limited knowledge of their rights. This isn't exactly a group Linux users famously fall in to.
  • Re:Support (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:32AM (#19397339)
    The diagnostics program is also available as a downloadable, bootable .ISO image in case you have deleted the diagnostics partition. It can even be booted remotely over the network on servers with ERA, but when I tell the support people that these are "production" servers, they never insist that it has to be run.
  • Re:FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:49AM (#19397675) Homepage
    Actually you need to learn how to lie to tech support.

    All they are going to do is ask you to tell them the ifconfig/ route and possibly ping times. you can do all that from solaris, simply make them feel good by lying.

    I had to do it all the time with comcast, or I would get the "Our service does not work with linux or solaris."

    you have to remember that the tech support people really know nothing at all. they are reading a script and comparing your answers to the on screen multiple choice. if you deviate from the script they get confused.

  • Re:No, we're not... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:50AM (#19397699)
    and run into a hardware problem, how is Dell supposed to troubleshoot?

    By telling you to reboot and hold down ctrl-alt-foo until the machine beeps and boots their troubleshooting utility from their hidden partition. If you wiped out the hidden partition, they'll tell you to restore it from the CD, or better yet, you'd have gotten a bootable CD [dell.com] with it that had the utilities on it.

    It's one thing to tell you that if you made any changes you have voided your warranty, it's another not to give you a warranty in the first place.
  • by nanamin (820638) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:57AM (#19397845) Homepage Journal
    Dell doesn't seem to be advertising this thing at all, and the fact that you actually have to jump through some hoops on the website to even see that the option is available, makes me think that reason 2 isn't entirely impossible either. http://dell.com/ [dell.com] Not sure which dell.com you're talking about, but the first thing I saw while going there is a big advertisement saying "By Popular Demand Ubuntu has Arrived." After refreshing a couple times, I noticed that this isn't always what's displayed, but the fact that it's one of about four advertisements displayed on the front page suggests that they are doing anything but avoiding advertising it. Try refreshing a few times, they're advertising it just as well as anything else. . .right on the front page.
  • by div_2n (525075) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:05PM (#19398041)
    In a recent chat with a rep, I was given this phone number:

    866-622-1947

    When I called it, the person that answered said they were the Dell Linux tech support group. So I think they DO have people in house to support Linux.
  • I'm the brick guy (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnotherCaptainTux (998873) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:22PM (#19398401)
    This is like my third post ever on slashdot. I read it often, though. I am the guy with the brick quote. Here is the whole story to be fair to Dell. On Friday, my laptop died. It was an Acer. The screen was damaged. Replacement cost of cracked screen is more than halfway to the cost of a new laptop. So I decide I will support the new Ubuntu Dell Laptops. I go online to Dell's Website and go to the Ubuntu page. I choose the E1505n. I upgrade to a GB of Ram, I get the Nvidia 256 MB graphics card, I get the DVD burner optical drive. So far so good. I am happy with the default processor and the screen. Now, another driving factor is that Dell has the nifty cool complete care (tm) plan. With this bad boy, a random brick can fly through the air, hit my laptop, shatter it to threads, and Dell will cover it. Think of it more as an insurance plan than a service plan. I have a friend with 3 kids who has had to take advantage of it not once, but twice. Both times Dell took care of them no questions asked. Now, the first time the Dell laptop had XP on it...the second time..gentoo. Still, no problems here. So, I decide to get it....just in case I get burned twice. On June 2, I get an email telling me my order has been acknowledged and I will get another email shortly giving me a order number (I also paid for next day shipping). Well, the rest of June 2 and all of June 3 goes by. No new email. I check my spam folder...nada...just the usual assortment of male enhancement and refi deals. So on June 4 I call Dell. They can see no order...they can see they debited my account...but no order. Hmmm...confusing. Very sorry, sir. Let me talk to my supervisor, please hold. She has no explanation for the lost order, but she will reprocess the order and I will get my next day shipping for free since I lost time. YAY! But wait! When we "build" my Dell, there is no longer a Complete Care (tm) plan for Ubuntu. She puts me on hold. She find out that my order was bumped out since they changed the policy on offering Complete Care (tm) on Ubuntu Dells. Why? She puts me on hold. Now comes the fun. "Sir, Ubuntu is a third party software and applications come from sources not from Dell." "Vista is a product of Dell?" "No sir, but we have a relationship with MS." "So you do not have a relationship with Canonical, the commercial company that sponsors Ubuntu?" "Hold.........Yes we do, but the software for other things comes from third parties." "So what if I buy a game for a Vista laptop from Best Buy? As that is a third party software..does that invalidate a Complete Care (tm) policy?" "No, sir." "What if I download an update from Microsoft to keep my Vista Current, how does that differ from an update from Ubuntu other than the fact the Ubuntu update actually helps my system?" "I do not know sir. See, sir, Linux comes from all over the place and as such cannot be supported." "I believe Redhat and even Microsoft differ with that opinion. I am not looking for support, that is another option I can click on another screen in your website. I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other...do they?" "No Sir." "Talking to your superior will not help my cause, do you have the phone number and email address of an executive do you?" She gave it to me. I wrote an email. I expressed my concerns politely and professionally. The next day-early this morning, I got a reply from a Dell Representative named Todd. Todd wrote,"Mr. Green, Thank you for your note and a chance to solve this issue. I am about to get on an airplane, but will get your issue to our executive resolution team. They should be able to resolve. If you are not satisfied, please do not hesitate to contact me again. Thank you for your business. Todd XXXXX" I will be honest, I thought it was a passing of the hot potato. However, earlier this morning I received a phone call from an executive in the resolution team by the name of Diane. She was very professional. She said she was unaware of the policy change. She discussed the
  • Re:I'm the brick guy (Score:2, Informative)

    by AnotherCaptainTux (998873) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:27PM (#19398491)
    I would also like to thank Fabian of the Ubuntu forums for passing this matter along to Canonical.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @12:50PM (#19398945)
    I saw such a notice on another company's web page:
    "Using Fedora Linux on the Desknote B532 laptop (local tradename for ECS-532) will cause mainboard failure. That is not covered by the warranty."
  • Re:Support (Score:3, Informative)

    by _KiTA_ (241027) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:11PM (#19399401) Homepage
    Yes please check dmesg | grep ERROR. Try saying that to someone who doesnt know what a shell is.

    That's easy.

    "Ok Ma'am, what I'd like you to do is type this exactly how I say it, ok? Since we're in the command line, we can't use the mouse, we have to type right on into the screen where the cursor lays.

    What we're going to do is we're going to type in a command that will display all the error messages that have come up since the most recent time you turned on your computer. The Debug Messages file holds all these, and will let us know if there's any warnings popping up.

    Ok, now what I want you to do is type D like in Debug. Oh, yes, we need this whole line to be lowercase unless I say different, ok? So, D like in Device or David. Then M E S G, that's short for Message. So Mary, Edward, Samuel, Gregory.

    Then I want you to hit space, just one space. Ok, awesome. Now we have to type a pipe character. That's pretty easy, do you see the two slashes on your keyboard? Well, one has a question mark on top of it, the other has a pipe. Yup, that's what they call that. I donno either, 1970s computer geeks were a bit weird.

    Ok, after the pipe, please hit spacebar again. Ok, now we have to type "grep". No, it's not a real word, it's spelled G for Greg, R for Rabbit, E for Edward, P for Poppa. No, I don't think it was the same 1970s geeks, but I do think they liked to email each other on the old internet.

    Then hit space. Now here's where it gets fun, I need you to type ERROR in all caps. Big letters. Ok, can you read that back to me now? Great! Now go ahead and hit enter, and tell me what pops up on the screen."

    Not that hard really, certainly no harder than, say "netsh int ip reset log.txt" or "Please go into the registry, we need to delete some things called the "Upper and Lower Filters", they're the Windows XP CD Burning Plugin systems are stored... the problem is they're ran every single time the CD is accessed, so if they're corrupt, the computer starts acting a little... weiiiiird."

    (Said registry key is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Contro l\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318} btw. It's usually smooth sailing until I have to explain the 4 David 3 6 Edward 9 6 5 dash Edward 3 2 5 bit...)
  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:40PM (#19399935)
    1. Lack of diagnostics. Train your support crew to use two different sets of diag tools costs money.
    2. Yes, linux drivers can crash hardware. I crashed my nikon film scanner using a beta SANE driver. Read the warning; chose to ignore it, drove the scan head off the end of the screw. $2000 broken toy. This was a few years ago, so may not be true anymore.
    3. Dell would prefer to be seen as more friendly towards windows. If they say, in effect, "We support PCs with windows. We'll sell you a PC and even preload a GNU distro, but that's strictly your responsibility", they're keeping a major supplier happy.

    Hey, they're good *business* reasons.
    They may not coincide with your personal ideology, but why should they?
  • by tknd (979052) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:43PM (#19400013)

    My guess at the whitespace (nothing has been modified except whitespace):

    This is like my third post ever on slashdot. I read it often, though. I am the guy with the brick quote. Here is the whole story to be fair to Dell.

    On Friday, my laptop died. It was an Acer. The screen was damaged. Replacement cost of cracked screen is more than halfway to the cost of a new laptop. So I decide I will support the new Ubuntu Dell Laptops. I go online to Dell's Website and go to the Ubuntu page. I choose the E1505n. I upgrade to a GB of Ram, I get the Nvidia 256 MB graphics card, I get the DVD burner optical drive. So far so good. I am happy with the default processor and the screen.

    Now, another driving factor is that Dell has the nifty cool complete care (tm) plan. With this bad boy, a random brick can fly through the air, hit my laptop, shatter it to threads, and Dell will cover it. Think of it more as an insurance plan than a service plan. I have a friend with 3 kids who has had to take advantage of it not once, but twice. Both times Dell took care of them no questions asked. Now, the first time the Dell laptop had XP on it...the second time..gentoo. Still, no problems here. So, I decide to get it....just in case I get burned twice.

    On June 2, I get an email telling me my order has been acknowledged and I will get another email shortly giving me a order number (I also paid for next day shipping). Well, the rest of June 2 and all of June 3 goes by. No new email. I check my spam folder...nada...just the usual assortment of male enhancement and refi deals.

    So on June 4 I call Dell. They can see no order...they can see they debited my account...but no order. Hmmm...confusing. Very sorry, sir. Let me talk to my supervisor, please hold. She has no explanation for the lost order, but she will reprocess the order and I will get my next day shipping for free since I lost time. YAY! But wait! When we "build" my Dell, there is no longer a Complete Care (tm) plan for Ubuntu. She puts me on hold. She find out that my order was bumped out since they changed the policy on offering Complete Care (tm) on Ubuntu Dells. Why? She puts me on hold.

    Now comes the fun.
    "Sir, Ubuntu is a third party software and applications come from sources not from Dell."
    "Vista is a product of Dell?"
    "No sir, but we have a relationship with MS."
    "So you do not have a relationship with Canonical, the commercial company that sponsors Ubuntu?"
    "Hold.........Yes we do, but the software for other things comes from third parties."
    "So what if I buy a game for a Vista laptop from Best Buy? As that is a third party software..does that invalidate a Complete Care (tm) policy?"
    "No, sir."
    "What if I download an update from Microsoft to keep my Vista Current, how does that differ from an update from Ubuntu other than the fact the Ubuntu update actually helps my system?"
    "I do not know sir. See, sir, Linux comes from all over the place and as such cannot be supported."
    "I believe Redhat and even Microsoft differ with that opinion. I am not looking for support, that is another option I can click on another screen in your website. I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other...do they?"
    "No Sir."
    "Talking to your superior will not help my cause, do you have the phone number and email address of an executive do you?"
    She gave it to me. I wrote an email. I expressed my concerns politely and professionally.

    The next day-early this morning, I got a reply from a Dell Representative named Todd. Todd wrote,

    "Mr. Green, Thank you for your note and a chance to solve this issue. I am about to get on an airplane, but will get your issue to our executive resolution team. They should be able to resolve. If you are not satisfied, please do not hesitate to contact me again. Thank you for your business. Todd XXXXX"

    I will be honest, I thought it was a passing of the hot potato.

    However, earlier this m

  • by MagicFab (7234) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:52PM (#19400167) Homepage
    Hi

    Actually I work for Canonical full time at their global support centre. I also happen to volunteer in the forums and I saw this post in several places. I forwarded it internally to Canonical Staff and it's been passed to Dell.

    Cheers,

    Fabian Rodriguez
    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/FabianRodriguez [ubuntu.com]
  • by gnuman99 (746007) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:02PM (#19400385)
    Then you post as "Plain Old Text" mode.

    See. This is on another line

    And so is this.
  • Re:I'm the brick guy (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnotherCaptainTux (998873) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:41PM (#19401075)
    I shall. For the record, this is not a screw you to Dell, I appreciate them offering Ubuntu as a preinstalled option. As a consumer, I want the same hardware offerings via the CompleteCare plan that I would receive if I had purchased a Windows machine. The people at Dell have been very friendly and professional. BTW, my apologies on the whitespace, I should have been more careful. Cheers
  • Re:I'm the brick guy (Score:2, Informative)

    by AnotherCaptainTux (998873) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:44PM (#19401115)
    That is a good point. However, what you bring up is part of the standard hardware warranty plan which Dell does provide for 1 year standard. The Complete Care is an additional accident protection plan. In other words, bricks, coffee spills, children, carelessness, etc. Think of it more of a collision insurance policy.
  • by JBatDell (1111903) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:49PM (#19403051)
    Due to an ordering system glitch during the weekend, we inadvertently removed extended warranty and CompleteCare options from our Website. We're working to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible and those options will be reinstated this afternoon. If customers ordered systems when extended warranties weren't available, they will have the option of upgrading at the original price. There will be more details on that program soon. For more details visit http://direct2dell.com/one2one/archive/2007/06/05/ 17450.aspx [direct2dell.com]
  • Re:I'm the brick guy (Score:4, Informative)

    by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @05:52PM (#19403997) Journal
    I have a Dell laptop, and I'd like to point out that when you send in a broken laptop to be serviced under their complete care plan, you get to keep the hard drive and battery.

    That means, they never have any idea what OS you're running.

    So, currently, even if the laws of physics do change while running Linux, Dell has no way to know what OS you're currently running.

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