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Dell replaces broken PC with one that's refurbished

Q: I've been having all kinds of trouble with a Dell 9100 computer that I bought last September for $1,675. It ran great for the first six weeks that I owned it, but hasn't been right since then.

I tried to get support for which I paid $346 and was given an 800 phone number, which is a recording that refers you to another recording and then another . . . When you finally get to talk to a real person, you are speaking with someone in India and it's very hard to understand the representative.

My problem was diagnosed as a bad monitor. They sent me a refurbished one and I had to return my new one. That didn't solve the problem. A tech was sent out and he replaced three or four components in the computer and said if that didn't work, it could be the keyboard. I bought a new keyboard for $60 and that didn't correct the problem.

The problems continued. Between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3, my computer was frozen and I could not use it at all. A tech in India said it could be the mouse, so I had to buy a new mouse for $30 because the one they sent me had the wrong connector. Still, the problem isn't solved.

The hard drive has been reformatted twice and still isn't right. I can't view photos of grandchildren that I had backed up on CDs.

This is the second computer I have purchased from Dell in the last year and I am very frustrated because you can never talk to anyone about a refund or a new computer.

- James A. Telesco, Tonawanda.

A: The complaint you'd already filed with the Better Business Bureau, coupled with our call to Dell's corporate offices in Round Rock, Texas, led to you receiving a refurbished computer on Feb. 14.

Dell spokeswoman Jennifer Davis said the company was committed to resolving the matter to your satisfaction.

Initially, you told us you were satisfied two days after receiving the refurbished computer. "All I wanted was for it to work. It's working perfectly as of now," Telesco said. "Evidently, it was right in the computer/tower. Now everything has improved and I'm satisfied."

However, a short time later you changed your mind and demanded a new computer from Dell instead of the refurbished one.

Dell won't budge, saying that it considers your case closed. "We stand behind our policy and feel confident in that," Davis said.

Dell stood firm, insisting it is following company policy in situations such as yours. "He got a computer that works," Davis said. "We've resolved his issue and replaced his unit with a refurbished computer comparable to or better than the original one he purchased last fall."

Even though you're only partly satisfied by that response, that seems to be about the most you will get. A technical problem that would lead to an authorized exchange of a new system would have to occur within the first 21 days of purchase, according to Dell's return policy.

The vast majority of Dell's refurbished computers are "practically new," Davis said. The refurbished units are put through a rigorous testing process, she said.

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