The Realm of the Verbal Processor

Jarvis's Ramblings

Computer Warranty: Dell vs Apple

A year or so ago a co-worker of mine had his Dell Latitude laptop at home. He had a webcam hooked up to it and was attempting to get his infant son to smile/laugh/something into the camera so that his grandmother on the other end could see it. So he is bouncing the kid attempting to get the smile/laugh, and the kid throws up on the laptop…just puked all over it. He quickly puts the kid down, unplugs the computer, takes it apart, cleans it out, but it was too late…it was toast. The next day he calls Dell’s tech support and told them exactly what happened…didn’t even try to fudge it…”my kid puked on the computer.” The response? “Let’s see…you have CompleteCare. No problem. We’ll send the parts to the technician, and he’ll come to your house to fix it tomorrow.” No questions asked…simply “we’ll fix it.” Very nice!

A couple of weeks later my co-worker was in a meeting with our corporate Apple rep. I’m pretty sure that it was our Apple rep along with the regional sales manager also, but I’m not totally sure about that aspect. Anyway, my co-worker told them about what happened with his computer and how Dell responded. He then asked them, “What would Apple do in this situation?” Apple’s response?

“We would sell you a new computer.”

Let me repeat that in case it went by too fast for you…

“We would sell you a new computer.” No apologies. No qualifications. What awesome customer (no) service!

I like the fact that the computer that I am writing this on (Latitude D830) has complete warranty. If something flips out, I will have someone coming to my location the next day to fix it, and I’ll be back up and working. I depend on my computer too much to risk being unable to do my job while I ship the computer off for repair service. For that matter, I had another co-worker who was on his way out of the country one time and had the following experience. This next quote is a correction from my original post. He saw my original post and replied with the correct story via e-mail. I copied in his email with his permission…and left his name out per his request.

“I was flying to Japan. The night before, in Orlando, certain keys would no longer work – to the point where I couldn’t even log in to the machine. I did what I could that night but couldn’t fix it. The entire keyboard was hosed. I called Dell during my layover in Dallas and a tech came to the residence I was staying at in Portland. He replaced the keyboard before I flew out of the country the next day.

“Obviously I don’t believe Dell is perfect b/c, as a veteran tech, I have had my share of frustrating experiences with them. Still, this is one of my favorite stories about excellent customer service.”

Oh…and before someone replies with the tired old comment of “Macs don’t break.” Just stop. We all know that’s not true. Don’t even think about throwing that garbage around. I work around entirely too many of them to believe that.

Now…I know this story is likely to annoy a few Mac fanatics. I am not trying to flame bait the Mac community. This post is simply relaying actual events and actual conversations that my company has had with Dell and Apple. But based on the response to my previous posts that highlighted a security issue with Leopard and the attitude of certain Mac users, I know that a bit of flame response is a possibility. If you feel you must…go ahead…I have thick skin; I can handle it.


December 19, 2007 - Posted by | comedy, computers, kids, tech | , , , , , ,


  1. In the theoretical example with the Apple rep, had the person with the f–d up laptop purchased the Apple Care plan?

    Comment by Matthew | December 19, 2007

  2. Did that guy not mention AppleCare?

    Comment by Jason | December 19, 2007

  3. To my knowledge the Apple rep did not mention anything about AppleCare.

    Comment by Jarvis | December 19, 2007

  4. I was there, and I think that AppleCare would have allowed him to send his laptop to Apple. Hopefully he would have had it back in about 2 weeks.
    Which is the main reason that I don’t have a Mac. I love Dell’s Complete Care. I was on vacation in Boston and dropped my laptop. Dell was going to send someone to my hotel the next day to fix it. I just had them wait until I returned.

    Comment by Karl Kranich | December 19, 2007

  5. Probably my only big gripe with the Mac is the one year warranty.

    That said, I’ve purchased AppleCare on my last few machines and it’s worth its weight in RAM.

    I took an older iMac into my local Apple Store after my fiancee noticed something on the screen (which I could not readily see). They replaced EVERYTHING that might affect the issue: screen and motherboard. Have you priced out replacing those lately?!?

    Comment by Paul Greatbatch | December 19, 2007

  6. Apple would have said sorry and sold you a new laptop! I have been on Apple for years to add accidental to Applecare, but they won’t do it. If damage is reported as abuse in this case it would be abuse then AppleCare would not have covered it.

    Dell does beat Apple in this area in warranty service!

    I’m curious what Dell would have done if the user didn’t have the Complete Care and just a standard warranty like AppleCare?


    Comment by Dan | December 19, 2007

  7. Kia’s have a 100,000 mile warranty. BMWs have a 50,000 mile warranty.

    Despite the better warranty, I’d prefer a BMW.

    (this comment typed from my Mac)

    Comment by Donny Pauling | December 20, 2007

  8. Dell CompleteCare is amazing, but very expensive. And if you didn’t have it you would have gotten nothing from Dell.

    My complaint about Apple (iPods, iPhone, Mac’s, etc, etc.) has long had little to do with their technology but the way they treat their customers. DRM on iPods (what do you mean I can’t take my own recordings off the device?), batteries on iPods / iPhones. Lack of CompleteCare like services.

    I think Mac’s are great PC’s I honestly wish I would have gotten one for my mom. I think it might be more intuitive for here.

    Comment by poseidon2600 | December 20, 2007

  9. Dell CompleteCare sounds like a terrific policy, and I wish Apple would offer something like it. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t give up the daily pleasure of using a Mac just because AppleCare doesn’t necessarily cover keyboard spills, or provide in-home service.

    Comment by Brett | December 20, 2007

  10. Dell sells most of it’s gear to corporations. They’re not really selling you a single object as much as a collection of widgets – each of which can be replaced. Corporations require this. So do tinkerers. Their volume allows them to do things like swap out a whole machine, or send a guy in to swap parts.

    Apple sells most of it’s gear to end users. They sell a computer like a car. It’s a single object, and each one is personal to it’s owner. Like a car, they won’t just swap out the whole thing, and they won’t send someone to your place to replace broken parts. You have to bring it in to the dealership. If you don’t make an appointment, there may be a line. You drop it off. If you’re lucky it will be a warranty repair. They tell everyone that drop off their machines that it will take 7 to 10 business days, even if it ends up only taking one.

    This behavior would go over like a lead zeppelin with a corporation (or a geek used to corporate purchasing) but seems to be the “secret ingredient” to non-computer-hobbyist end users.

    To quote the theme from “Diff’rent Strokes”, what might be right for you, may not be right for some.

    Because in the 90s the lions share of desktop and laptop computer sales went to corporations, it baffles people that non-corporate end users have different needs and different priorities.

    Apple could use it’s profits to pay more people and give you same-day no-questions-asked-swap-outs, or they could spend it on R&D for things like the iPod and iPod touch.

    It’s five year growth streak seems to indicate that not every hardware maker has to adopt the Dell business plan.

    Comment by Gerald | December 20, 2007

  11. Donny,


    Comment by Matthew | December 20, 2007

  12. heh…mac’s are for yuppies who want to be in some kind of clique….’the pleasure of using a mac’ rofl

    i have more pleasure using xp and knowing that i can install ANY os on my pc including os x, and run my DVB-S card in my compy and watch satellite tv on it…but that’s just the pleasure of owning a FULLY customizable pc ^.~

    ahhh freedom *stretch*

    Comment by michelle | December 27, 2007

  13. Interesting.

    Times are a changing.

    I like XP but it can be tough to fix sometimes. (But it is still easier for me to understand than NT!)

    Thanks for posting.

    Comment by Ann PC | September 17, 2009

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