Doug's Blog

Full circle

So, yesterday I received the following email from Dell:

Hi Doug,

From the Tag information I see the system has an In Home service warranty. We will go ahead and send out an engineer with the parts.
The service call is booked under the reference number : 321808235.
Kindly note that the Onsite technician will contact you to schedule the appointment once he receives the parts. Please go ahead and have the appointment scheduled accordingly.
Note : The Service is subject to parts availability and the working hours of Onsite technician are from 9am-6pm Mon-Friday.

Farooq Ahmed
Social Media and Community Professional

This is rather easy to say, since the person saying this is in another country and probably has no idea of where Whitehorse is, to say the least of knowing whether or not they actually have someone here to service the computer. This is the third or fourth time I’ve been told I get onsite service.I responded with:

Interesting, since I don’t think you have an authorized technician here and haven’t for about 10 years.

This morning, I get this:

Hi Farooq,

As our customer, Doug Rutherford, stated previously (please review his original Dell Community Forum post below), there has not been a Dell technician in his area for the last 10 years. Unless you have a definitive contact that can service Doug’s system, please arrange for his system to be returned for the Repair Depot and please schedule a box to be sent for his convenience.


Lorna McNamara
Customer Support Specialist
Dell | Social Media Support
USA Customer Care Board<>

I get two things from this email. First, they obviously can call for onsite service without actually knowing whether or not there is someone onsite. How do you do that without having a specific contractor to choose from? Two, someone else is “sending me a box.”

We’re now in a loop, and this is the fourth or fifth person to say “we’re sending a box.” Just like they did the first time, on the morning of September 9th…

Why would you own a Dell?

The official Dell apology count is now 9. This, however, brings me no closer to having my system replaced or repaired.

Apparently, the two last conversations, one with a social media rep and one with the person who handles their community forum, have led to me to believe that the warranty expires next August and they’re trying to hold out until then. (That’s being facetious, but I suspect that will be the end result.)

My service file was indeed closed. Apparently, this is because I didn’t send it back within 10 days of it being booked. Since I am still waiting for the packing box and information they told me I had to send it in for a month now, I’m not that willing to accept the blame for that and pointed it out. I have yet to hear back on that one.

Also, the forum manager has said no refund since I’ve had the unit for more than 30 days. The fact that it arrived on the 15th of August and I’ve been trying to get it repaired for a month seems to have no relevance to that at all. I’ve asked to have it escalated to someone who has the authority to override that. I have yet to hear back on that one, too.

Oh, well. I’ve already ordered my new laptop. I pick it up Tuesday morning. I have, however, gotten rather tired of backing up and reconfiguring new computers in the last little while, though.

As I note, I did check my warranty. I am supposed to have next day, on site warranty repair. Maybe I should be insisting they send a tech from Vancouver or Prince George to repair it…

Laptop status report

In my last post, I outlined some of the issues I have been having trying to get my laptop serviced. I suppose the first thing I can point out in the definition of how successful I’ve been is that the laptop is still in my living room.

I posted my woes on the Dell Community Forums. I actually did get a very noncommittal response from someone who states at the outset that she is not very technical and can’t help with diagnosing my issues. This makes me wonder, since my complaints are not with the diagnosis of the problem. This was settled at the very beginning and, one would assume she should have noticed that.

At no point in my complaint did I mention what the technical issue was… just that there is no definitive way I’m supposed to send it back and the lack of follow through on the shipping of the laptop itself.

“Please note, I am not technically inclined and will not be able to troubleshoot your system. If your case has already been referred to our Executive Escalations Team, I will not be able to intercede on your behalf, as their authority supersedes that of my department.”

Has it been escalated? I haven’t got the faintest idea, and don’t know if I have to deal with that myself or will they do that based upon the message.

I pointed out the problem lay with having it returned for service and the oddly competitive nature for how it gets returned. Since the first message took almost 24 hours to get a response, I don’t know what this will yield. I did state that I am no longer interested in dealing with the poor level of service I’ve received and want to return it for refund.

That being the case, I have already found its replacement. No, it’s not a Dell computer. But, if there is no really fast resolution, I’ll just write my computer off as a bad decision and pick up a new one.

I suspect one of my students will have a new tear apart computer by the beginning of next week.

As an aside, you can go online using your service dispatch file number and determine where your service issue is at. I entered mine and was told the file doesn’t exist. Dell sucks…

Adventures in tech support

I’ll preface this with the fact that, to my students over the years, I have constantly referred to Dell as the gold standard of customer support. That’s not just a reference to the computer industry, but customer service overall. I have stayed at some rather nice hotels over the years and they didn’t treat as well as Dell support has in the past.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

My old Dell Inspiron laptop, a 2010 model, finally started showing signs of moving on to that next plane. For example, when you open the optical drive, part of the physical drive carrier droops down. Yes, it’s been dropped.

I purchased a new laptop at Staples but returned it the next day because it had been used. Used, and not wiped, by the way. At that point, I decided that ordering a new one from Dell and waiting until it was shipped may be a better choice.

“May” is a very powerful word. After about five weeks, I started getting warning messages that the computer could not recognize the AC adapter and would no longer charge. This is where warranty service comes in, and armed with several previous dealings with Dell service support, I figured this would be pretty quick and dirty.

I’ll break this up by mentioning that Dell now outsources its call centre to somewhere in India. Many such centres use what is called by some outsourcing agencies as a “pay for performance” model. In short, when I submit my computer for repair, the person from the centre who convinces me to do so gets a commission.

So far, I have been given five different options for resolution and these have come from about 10 different techs. However, each of these wants me to acknowledge to them that I intend to go through with the repair, meaning, of course, that they will be the one who gets the commission. They actually have been, basically, competing to be the one who gets paid for this.

My options have been:

1. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via FedEx.
2. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via Purolator.
3. I’ve sent a shipping box and you are to send it via the mail.
4. I can arrange for onsite repair.
5. You have to provide your own shipping box and send it using a waybill I will send you.

Some of the others have provided the same suggestions, but have also asked that I confirm which one I will use with them specifically. A lot of these conversations have taken place through Twitter and their Dell Cares account.

As a note, I’ve found the Dell Cares account is just the technicians and any real social media manager for a major company should be having fits over the level of conversation conducted using their brand name. For example, I pointed out after the first (I’ve had several from several different people) mention that my warranty is supposed to provide onsite service. Dell hasn’t had an authorized technician here for years.

When my last Dell laptop needed a new keyboard under warranty, I did manage to convince the tech that I was able to replace it myself after he had spent about 20 minutes trying to find someone to replace it. I pointed this out and I was somewhat rudely informed that I obviously had access to a technician since my warranty called for onsite repair. Also, they certainly wouldn’t have sent a technician to replace a keyboard anyway, since the user would be expected to do that. I don’t quite think he or she understands the difference between replacing a desktop and laptop keyboard.

I seriously doubt that Dell is going to pay to send a repair tech from Prince George or Vancouver to come and replace my motherboard.

I got enough of both rude and repetitive from Dell Cares that I actually blocked their Twitter account. There’s probably enough Norse blood in my dating back from 1,000 years ago that I can go with burning the odd bridge every now and then.

So currently, I’m at the point where I don’t know which choice is actually the right method for sending it back, and quite frankly, I’m still not that sure where it’s supposed to go. I can think of a suggestion of what someone could do with it, but that may be anatomically difficult.

I have twice asked to deal with a supervisor, through the Dell Cares account and through their Facebook page. Times were arranged for them to call on two separate days, but no one called either time.

I do get a kick out of the attempt of one of their techs to blackmail me, namely, that he would arrange for a supervisor to contact me in a few hours, but first I should confirm to him that I was sending the computer back through arrangements he would set up.

In short, the concern is not how to best service my brand new laptop, but how to ensure that you are the one who gets the commission for getting it serviced.

A suggestion: unless you can be guaranteed that the computer will never need warranty work, you probably don’t want to buy a Dell computer…

Another month, and the end of another summer

Hic est September, to paraphrase my poorly retained high school Latin.


Late August light.

In the Yukon, September is fall. Let’s face it, fall starts in August with the change in light, the turning of the leaves, and the descent into cooler, wetter weather.

I grew up on the east coast, where fall was a riot of multicoloured leaves and cool evenings but warm days through into October. I remember walking the Clyburn valley one late October weekend with the temperatures above 28°C.

That extreme a temperature is not going to be found here. By September, we tend to be rainy and cooler. Currently, it’s trying rather hard to rain and 10°C.

This time of year is a reminder that those chores that need good weather are needing to be done soon. Any painting, siding, etc., that you’ve put off should be moved up the to do list rather soon. I will not be going this weekend for Labour Day, since I wouldn’t get a site this late and I have things to do that a long weekend allow me to approach with plenty of time, and according to the forecast, plenty of good weather.

However, I do have a fondness of fall camping. Actually, it’s a fondness for fall lake trout fishing with camping thrown in to season the adventure. It’s rather nice to go a lake close to home and commute this time of year. It’s still relatively light to make early morning drives a lot safer and there are campgrounds within a one-hour commute from home.I have a friend who, along with her husband, doesn’t even start camping until the Thanksgiving Day weekend in October. I’m considering extending my season until the end of October if possible this year, myself. And, with that in mind, I probably won’t miss summer that badly.

So, all things being equal, I’ll probably be out camping the weekend coming after this one. After all, there is wine needing to be consumed around a campfire, marshmallows needing roasting, and fish needing to be caught and fried up. Keep that in mind, since we do like company…

Kusawa Lake campground

August 11

We came out after 5 PM and it was a nice drive. Clara sat on the passenger seat with Furball on her lap as a bit if an experiment to see if he found the trip better that way. Darcy had her seat belt harness on in the back seat. All went reasonably well until the halfway mark when Furball left Clara, headed into the back seat, made a few mournful meows and promptly up chucked.

It took a few minutes on the side of the road to clean up and the poor little guy was pretty clingy at that point. He spent most of the rest of the drive on the console between the driver and passenger seat with his head on my lap. By the time we reached the campground, he seemed much better.

This was a first. He’s normally a road warrior, although he does meow quite a bit on the way. That being said, he normally is rather talkative, since he has a fair bit of Maine Coon in him and they can be rather vocal. I suspect that being on Clara’s lap and being exposed to all of the scenery may have been a bit overwhelming.

We got to the campground and got set up quickly. There were a few things to get done that I hadn’t been able to do at home. We barbecued a quick dinner and settled down for bed at a relatively early hour. First, though, I introduced Clara to the game of Yahtzee. I beat her rather soundly in a few games before we went to bed.

The weather was overcast and it rained a bit. I opted not to set the alarm  in hopes of catching some of the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. I’m hoping for better conditions tomorrow night.

August 12

Today could be summed up in one word: windy. It was far too rough to take the boat out, so we did a few things around the campsite. We read and I took the cats for a walk on their leads. We barbecued dinner. All told, a rather relaxing day.

I did stay overcast again so there wasn’t much hope of seeing meteors. However, it did get up to 23° so it was shorts weather. I’m not going to complain too loudly. There have been many years where I would have put my shorts away for the year by this point so it’s not that bad a thing.

Before going to bed, we discovered that Clara’s skills at Yahtzee have vastly improved and she won the majority of games from today.

August 13

I didn’t sleep well last night, so when 7 AM came around, and it was dead calm, I opted to go back to bed. By 11 AM, it was rather windy.

I did head out with the boat but really only made it as far as the second campground which is still partially sheltered. I trolled in front of it and the first campground loop for two passes, but there were very few fish on the fish finder. The ones I saw were all on the bottom, probably not feeding. I’ll try again after supper if the wind has dropped a bit.

Other than that, we spent the day reading and I took the cats out on their leads. Furball managed get under the motorhome and wrap himself around three struts and brackets before becoming completely stuck. Fortunately, there is enough ground clearance to rescue him easily enough.

I cooked dinner in the motorhome stove rather than barbecuing. It made for a nice dinner and a nice change. The wind did not drop off any over the rest of the day. In fact, it blew a bit harder by early evening. I’m going to have to set the alarm to try for about 6 AM and see if I can get down the lake a bit.

We played five games of Yahtzee. I only won the first one.

August 14

Today started with the wind. Over the course of the evening, Darcy became fixated on a moth on the window screen and tried to go out the screen after it. This involved jumping on me in the process. It took over an hour to calm her down and it was 3 hours before I got to sleep. Yes, I set the alarm for early fishing. No, that didn’t happen.

Because of the weather, we hung around the campsite. Much Yahtzee ensued, with Clara whomping me in some horrible example of how wedded bliss is not supposed to work.

That being said, Clara suggested the improbable  game of sequential Yahtzee, where you get the required matches in order. I clobbered here, including getting Yahtzee in the allotted roll. Try this sometime. It’s a riot.

By after dinner, the wind had died down in front of the campsite, so I did go out for an hour to try fishing at the point and in front of the first campground. I had a nibble but that was all. I am jinxed this year. It has been almost three years since I caught a fish in Kusawa Lake, where I have almost always been successful.

After fishing, I did put some of the campsite away. I figure that that will let me get away a little earlier, since it is Mom’s birthday and I would like to get home at a reasonable hour to call her.

By 10:15, it was starting to actually get dark. There are some clear patches so we may see a meteor or two before all is said and done. I think it’s been too cloudy to see the Persieds here for four or five years.

August 15

No meteors. We get up and headed back. Furball was fine. Darcy rode willingly in her crate along the Kusawa Lake Road. In fact, she walked into it herself. When we got to the Takhini Burn rest area, I let her out and she got into her normal favourite spot on the dash. There she rode like a little sphinx. However, I did learn something just outside of town. Rain landing on the windshield you’re resting against is apparently rather disturbing to little cats…




The leveling blocks

I finally got to building new leveling blocks for the motorhome. I opted for low-tech, and built them from lumber.

I used three levels, rather than the four I was originally considering, each 6 inches longer than the other. I also used preserved wood, although it’s a bit more than is needed since my blocks tend to break long before they rot.


I went with three levels each, since the highest number of blocks I’ve needed was three. Also, if I was to need more, I could place a single block under the new ones.

Also, to keep me from rolling off unnecessarily, I added the 6″ pieces I was going to use as the top level on the end as a stop. You should feel hitting these if you go too far.

So, with the cut ends treated, here is the finished product. Next week, I get to find out how well the work…