HOW DELL DONE ME IN – Marilyn Armstrong

How a vague idea became real when the company you loved gives you the final boot. Dell, Apple, and why Apple has finally won the endless war.


I have been buying Dell computers for more than 20 years. Not only have I always loved how Dell’s were made, but they lasted a long time.

On the other hand, their customer service which had been great, was on a rapid downhill slide for the past 15 (or more) years. Above and beyond liking Dells because there’s no bloatware on them and they are designed to do a job, was their sturdiness. They were business machines for people who took their work seriously, even if their work was a hobby. I’ve used their equipment for work only, for work and play, for whatever I’m currently doing which you can call whatever you like. Dell did the jobs.

The old 14Z in its youth …

Many Dell’s I bought 10 years ago are still working. Some needed a reinstall of the operating system and a couple needed new hard drives, but that was small stuff, all things considered. I really use my computers. I push them hard, I make them work.

Until the past two — expensive — Alienware — machines. The one Garry has lost its battery after less than 3-years. The only other Dell that ever lost a battery lost it after 7 yeas and it was a cheap machine. I replaced it and it works again, though now it seems to be losing its monitor. It’s old. It doesn’t even have Bluetooth, so it has, I think, hit the end of its road. It doesn’t owe me a thing.

When the little old Dell was beginning to display not having enough video to do what I do, I got a new Dell with the biggest NVIDIA video card I could afford and passed the two-year-old Alienware machine to Garry. After which the battery died. It’s pretty new so the price of getting a new battery is high. The battery replacement was more than most laptops.

The old one works, as long as it’s plugged in, so I suppose you could call it a laptop-shaped desktop. It weighs more than most desktops at a solid 9-pounds including its brick.

My new machine is working fine and does what I bought it to do, but I’m out of service contract. The company got in touch (and back in touch, and back in touch) asking me if I wanted a one-year contract for service on the new machine.

Older Alienware

The price? I kid you not: $850 for a single year of service. I had tried to get service from them during my first two years with the computer and they were useless. No one had a clue how a dual hard drive machine worked and all the advice they gave me was wrong. I eventually doped it out myself, but I’m still not really sure it’s backing up the way it should. There are many things about this computer I love, but also a bunch that I don’t.

One of the problems is weight. The thing feels like two cinder-blocks. I have developed significant upper body strength picking it up and moving it off my lap to a side table. Taking it with me when we travel is just this side of a nightmare.

I’m sure most of the weight are the batteries which basically last for just over two hours. Which means effectively, even WITH a working battery, the machine is still a desktop.

I hate new computers. I hate moving material from machine to machine and moving the material from a PC to a Mac doesn’t sound like fun. I’m sure there’s an app for that and I will have to find it because all my photo and writing backups are for PC and won’t run on a Mac.

I’m not a Mac fancier. The loose style that has been typically Mac/Apple since forever annoyed me. I like orderly computers. I like knowing where stuff is, where it belongs. How to find it. Ironically, the recent changes Mac is making to the operating system is going to make them much more PC-like and PCs are making their OS slightly more Mac-ish. The world comes round and round.

Reality bit. I couldn’t keep hauling the big, brawny, 10-pounds of Alienware and moreover, I didn’t want to. I’m not getting younger. Garry’s machine, now that it has to be plugged in, is developing other signs of flakiness that make me wonder if it will survive.

I knew I could not buy another Dell. I’ve used other bloatware special PCs and I won’t go there. Also, I know what I need, which is a honking big piece of video ram and equipment I can pick up which will not dislocate my shoulder from its joint.

Apple.

Then they offered me the Apple Card. Zero percent interest. 18 months.

I got a Macbook Air — as high-end a version of it as you can buy. It isn’t their top machine but it comes with sufficient USB 3 ports and other connectors, like an SC reader slot. Sometimes, the newest machine on the rack isn’t your best choice.

Meanwhile, Garry needed something. I thought long and hard about what Garry really does. After serious thought, I figured he could live his virtual life on an iPad with a keyboard. And enjoy it, too. Meanwhile, as long as the big Alienware works when plugged in, he has a full-size computer to fall back on.

My only question is why does this iPad have a mouse? You can’t use a mouse on an iPad. Even I know that. Did the photographer just happen to have a new mouse to show off?

In the end, you can’t take two heavy computer users and have only one fully functional computer in the house. It won’t work.

I need to point out to Dell that I was about as loyal a customer as you could find. It took them a decade to get me to where I couldn’t deal with their customer service department again. Ever. They did me in.


Mac/Apple did not win my custom. Dell LOST it. 

I’m pretty sure half of Apple’s new recruits are people who just gave up trying to stay with other companies and were driven screaming into the night.

I am one of them.

51 thoughts on “HOW DELL DONE ME IN – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. You actually FOUND a Dell? I was an HP (Hewlett Packard) girl, but the last time I went to buy a new computer, all that was offered in the store was ASUS. In the desktop arena anyway. I got one of two towers that was even available at all. And a fishy eye stare from the salesman, because he had just recently graduated high school (I’m sure) and didn’t really understand why I’d want something that sat on a desk and I couldn’t lug around with me. The OS was also tricky…I said I was not interested in anything later than Windows 7. This was in the grey time when 8 had been launched and 10 was on it’s way. The ASUS I bought had 7 on it, but the saleskid said he thought it would be too slow for me. The lap top I subsequently bought (which is an HP or IBM) has Windows 8. I’ve refused to get 10 and the more they push it, the less I want it. In the day (when hubby was alive) we had Dell computers. Hubby couldn’t program a computer, didn’t understand most of what it did, and if you’d said ‘mother board” to him, he might have been insulted. I insisted we have two computers though, because along with his lack of knowledge, hubby was a target for every virus that came down the pike. He opened ALL his email, even after I yelled and nagged and told him he was a twit and no Nairobi prince was going to send him ten million dollars… I got two out of self defense. And pass word protected mine so he couldn’t use it. Eh. Sorry. Got off track. I’m impressed you had Dell for such a span. I used Mac for my graphics work, but I’ve never liked the system. Celebrated when graphics programs became dual. And your line there “The World Goes Round and Round?” Reminded me of Harry Chapin’s song “All My Life’s A Circle”. Great post as usual!

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    1. Ten is better than 8. A LOT better, but if you are used to 8 and it works for you, go with what you find comfortable. You buy Dell’s — new ones anyway — from Dell.com. They don’t have shops. And they do sell desktops. They used to make the best machines anywhere. But i think since Microsoft more or less bought them out, that’s changing and I don’t like the change. I don’t ASUS from a hole in the wall and have no idea if they even have service … and my HP was a horror show. So I wound up with something I didn’t entirely want, but it seems to work so I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

      I had a desktop for years. After the heart surgery, though, I needed to keep my feet up (couldn’t do that in my office), so I got a laptop and abandoned my office. Desktops are still the best buy in town. And sevens are NOT slower than Win8. Your salesman was, as they mostly are, wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

            1. I think they bought it because Dell is THE premium seller of PC computers. They bought Dell because they are the guys who actually sell the best PCs on the market — or did. Dell was always the business computer. If you had work to do, a Dell would do it and keep doing it forever and ever.

              Aside from the horrendous customer service, there have been a LOT of changes in the Microsoft platform in the past few years. 8 was really bad and no one wanted it. Ten has been much better … but they went through 3 operating systems in less than 3 years and it has created a lot of problems, especially for people putting 10 on older machines. Everything runs on the operating system — Mac, PC, Linux, etc. — so if there are problems with the OS, there will always be other problems with applications that run on it. And Mac has been updating like crazy for the past few years and have similar types of issues. Too much operating system change too fast makes problems.

              I’m sure Microsoft bought Dell to keep them in business. Microsoft has never really sold computers. Dell has been the biggest sales organization and when they started sliding, they couldn’t really afford to let them disappear. Microsoft NEEDS Dell … and Dell needs Microsoft’s money!

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I have used an ASUS for some time, and love it. They do have service, but I’ve never had to use it. I upgraded from Win7 to Win10 — only problem is that Microsoft is continually upgrading Win10, and the computer sometimes goes a little wonky when there is an upgrade going on.

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    1. Sometimes it goes a LOT wonky, but it usually fixes itself in a day or so. Usually. I’ve heard pretty good things about ASUS but mostly, they don’t sell what I need which is a machine that’s very heavy on graphics. The photography I did really eats up video ram and none of their machines had a graphics card that would work for me. Otherwise, they’ve got good prices and I know a lot of people who have their machine. But. They don’t have what I need. If I would just give up photography, this would all be so much easier.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. NO — don’t give up photography! Yes — sometimes upgrades make everything a lot wonky — the last time they did a big upgrade, it took a couple of weeks to stabilize, but otherwise, usually overnight takes care of it!

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  3. Wow, Wow, Wow! I can’t believe you’ve become an Apple user. That Air should also have the new Retina display which will be really sharp for your photo work. My first actual computer was an Apple and I still have a couple old ones lying around here being used for various operations that they do better than anything else I’ve tried. I had PC and Mac at work but now that I’m retired, all I need is my Macs. Now don’t get me wrong, Apple pisses me off on a regular basis but I still like the simple way I can organize files unique to the Mac. The newer ones can actually read many PC files directly which has come in handy since I’ve been extracting music audio files for clients of my colleague who passed 2 years ago. I’m doing this for his wife since she knows nothing about audio. If you need help getting around your new machine, give me a call or email. Meanwhile, “Congratulations.”

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    1. I hope you know how I can convert saved photographs on PC external drives and move them to a Mac. I’m counting on you, my husband’s brother! Honestly, I didn’t buy a Mac because I thought it would be better but because I could get 0% on the interest AND I couldn’t cope with Dell again. They did me in. They took a faithful, loyal user and blew me away. And it isn’t that I didn’t try.

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      1. Don’t forget that modern Macs are running Intel chips. A colleague of mine passed 2 years ago and I recently had to transfer some of his PC files to my Mac to be able to work on them.., no problem. I just hooked up his external USB drives to the Mac and copied the files. One good Microsoft thing is that WAV files have become a universal audio standard.

        So, that being said I’m gonna step out here and say that a “JPG” is a jpg no matter the operating system. You will, of course, have to get a Mac version of any editing software you like to use. The only problem you might encounter would be with RAW files, but I find they are more connected to the camera than the OS platform so you may have to download a piece of software, onto the Mac, from Olympus, or Panasonic to read each camera system’s proprietary “RAW” files?

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        1. I know jpgs are the same regardless of where you run them. But my WD drives specifically say they won’t run on Mac. If you say they will, then I’ll first and foremost just plug’em in and see if they work. If it does, yee haw! Also, that would mean I wouldn’t need all new backup drives. Which can save me a lot of money. I already know my Logitech mouses will work as will my portable DVD player. The jpgs will run if I can get them onto the Mac.

          Unfortunately, PHOTOSHOP will NOT run and its too old to get a replacement for Mac. I think my Topaz filters will work on any drive, but I’m going to have to buy something for them to run ON — maybe ACDsee will give me a version that will run on Mac since I bought one for the PC. All of this stuff will get worked out over time. Real pity about Photoshop, though. I will REALLY miss that. I will also not be able to load all my photos onto the 512 SSD in the Mac. They will have to live on external drives and move on and off the computer as needed. But that’s how most photographers manage anyway, so it’s a matter of my getting used to it. Half my stuff is already only on backups.

          I sure do wish you lived next door!

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          1. If you have an extra drive with nothing on it you may be able to re-format it to the Mac standard. There are big WD drives that can be formatted for Mac using the internal utility already on the Mac. Transfer some of the photos to your Mac and then onto the back-up drive. Do it again until all photos live on that drive. I highly recommend you use drives that are “RAID”(2 or more drives in a single housing) capable.

            The other three brands I like for Mac is Lacie, G-Technology, and my fav, Glyph Drives. New, these already come formatted for Mac or can be formatted easily. I use Glyphs for back-up of my Audio stuff. I carry a small Lacie 2T with me to back-up after I record a performance, then transfer that to the Mac editor (MacPro tower) directly and to an external Glyph 1T Raid drive. I thought a terabyte was big but I can tear through one in no time.., so now I’m looking at even larger drives. I also had a 500GB SSD drive installed on my MacBook Pro laptop, especially for recording. The SSD really boots up fast too. The sad truth is that nothing lasts forever and even SSDs have their limits but are more reliable than disk drives. The Raid drives, in mirror configuration, at least, give you a built-in second back-up so if one drive fails it can be replaced and data from the good one will automatically be loaded onto the new one. This based on the theory that both drives will not fail at the same time, same time, same time, same time…..

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  4. We are two computer users with different requirements. We have made our experiences on various products. Even a Dell was one of our machines, although not mine. It was the thing to have at the time. We both have only laptops and are satisfied with our Acer Nividias, just an average good computer. We also both have an Apple, although mine is one of the best. I like both Microsoft and Apple. The Acer is always plugged in as the couple of hours without power are not enough. My MacBook runs comfortably on its battery for many hours and it is recharged very quickly.

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    1. I had Apples long ago and for at least 10 years. Then I gave up trying to maintain two systems and went to PC. It was the business computer and I was in business. I like the organization of the PC, but I needed a good, solid high vRam machine and there aren’t that many choices in the market. And I got 0% interest. That really mattered!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My wife has an MacBook Pro laptop and I have a Dell I got about a year and a half ago. I hate my wife’s Mac and love my Dell. The Dell replaced a 2-year old HP that was a POS since the day I got it.

    I’m expecting my Dell to last a long, long time since I only turn it on every 2 to 3 days because I’m mostly using my iPhone for most of my computing needs. That said, though, my experience with Dell has been mostly positive…so far, anyway.

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    1. Dell was a great company that made the best computers anywhere. But since they stopped having a real tech support department, they have a bunch of $2/hour Pakistani or Indian or Malaysian or something like that people who never know anything. Worse, whatever you need to know, they can’t help because “that’s part of Windows and they don’t do software” — except everything on a computer is based on the OS and that’s Windows. You can’t talk about software without talking about the operating system.

      I’m not thrilled with the Apple system either and I’ve avoided it for years, but Dell has screwed me one time too many. Also — an $1800 computer should NOT start to fall apart in 2 years. I’ve had Dell’s that have lasted for 10 years and ARE viable machines. Built-in obsolescence has come to Dell as it has to everyone else and I’m pissed.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember you getting that last laptop. I nearly bought a Dell myself when I needed a new one but in the end went for an ASUS which has been trouble free so far (2 years) although I do tend to plug it in when using it in the living room. Luckily there is a convenient power point above the couch but the weight of it does make my legs go numb after a while. My now nearly 8 year old no name desktop is still running and I still prefer it for photo editing although I probably don’t do anything as complicated as you do. I’ll be interested to hear how you go transferring your photos and other work to the Mac in case I ever have to go down that road.
    It seems like so many products no longer last as long or give the service they used to and fewer salespeople are actually knowledgeable about the products they sell.

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    1. Most salespeople and tech staff seem to know less than I do about products they supposedly sell. At least with a PC, I know enough techs to get help … but Dell made me REALLY unhappy this last two times around. It was time to make a change. I’m still trying to figure out how to move my pictures from PC external drives to MAC external drives. If there IS no way, i’ve got 110.000 pictures i can only use on a PC.

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            1. I KNEW there was an app. There’s an app. Migration Assistant.

              For me, transferring data wasn’t the REAL problem. It was some expensive applications that won’t run on a Mac, particularly Photoshop. My version is too old to get a Mac version of it for free, either, so either I’ll have to actually sign up for it online, or use a different product. I’m not thrilled about either.

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    2. I should point out that I’m not having any problems with my newer Dell. It’s the one i had before that is having a lot of issues. The dead batter being the really BIG one. But it had a lot of odd little issues from the beginning — an ethernet connection that sometimes didn’t (and still doesn’t) always work. A tendency to lock up for no special reason. Not nearly enough video ram for the kind of work I do/did/plan to do. And a very dodgy NVIDIA graphics card. I think when I got this new one, a lot of the problems of the first one were fixed. I’m hoping this one keep working for a LONG time. I still need a lighter machine. At a solid 10 pounds, this computer is not really portable, at least not for me. It’s okay at home where it’s a slightly portable — for very short distances — laptop, but on the road, it’s just too much to handle.

      The new Apple will NOT replace this machine. It doesn’t have enough vRam in it to do the hour after hour graphics work i do … and that’s just for fun. This computer (the newer Dell) is not as fast as some of the new ones, but it’s entirely fast enough for what I need to do. Might not be fast enough for some games, but for processing pictures and writing, it’s fine. I got a slower but steadier chip for it too — the 5 not the 7 because the 5 is more stable and the speed difference is nominal.

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    1. I’m not entirely thrilled either. I WAS a Mac user before I slid over to PC and stayed there. But from what I understand of who Apple is changing their OS, it isn’t going to be all that different from a PC in the near future.

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      1. It’s not really all that different now. Things just have different names that you need to learn. App availability, and soft skin batteries might take a bit of getting used to though. I think you’ll do just fine.

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        1. Yes, but HOW do I download all those PC stored photographs to an Apple? I’m waiting for someone to tell me there’s an app. Tell me there’s an app!

          HOW are you doing? I don’t like to bother people who are going through stuff. I know I got awfully tired of answering the same questions over and over … so you don’t have to answer. I’m just hoping you are doing fine.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m doing good. Thanks for asking. I have a few lingering side effects that I wish would go away, but if I complain no one really cares (‘cept maybe my Sweetheart). You guys seem to be muddling through OK. Give my best to Garry.
            You should be able to transfer those files using “Migration Assistant” or the quickest way would probably be a direct ethernet connection. Some Apple retail stores also offer a transfer service – you might want to check that out too.

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            1. If you had surgery, it can take a very long time for the pain to disappear and sometimes, it never entirely goes away. My doctor said that isn’t so unusual. When they remove a big piece of you, especially a lot of muscle, you just live with it and after a while, you sort of get used to it. It’s not that you don’t know it’s there, but it’s not alarming. You just deal with it. The older we get, the more stuff we wind up dealing with.

              I’m betting Migration Assistance is built into the Mac. It has that sound of “system.” All those files are on external hard drives. Really, they could live there forever if I could just download what I need when i need it. I don’t really NEED 110,000 photos and the new computer only has a 512 GB SSD, so it couldn’t handle that much data anyway. I’ll work it out. If I can’t, I’ll drive down to Tom’s house and make him figure it out. He’s really good with stuff like that 😀

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  7. I would probably never have any idea if the battery in my laptop was dead because I almost never have it not plugged in when I’m using it. The main benefit of the laptop for me is that I can be on the computer wherever I happen to be in the house that has access to electricity… usually in the kitchen (like now) before work. But there’s an outlet by the table, and it stays plugged in…

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    1. You are supposed to let it run down now and then. I’ve never much worried about it, but suddenly, now I’m worried about it. Damn. And before, I figured “just plug it in” and everything will be fine.

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