Dell customer service sends damaged, refurbished products for replacements

Andy Merskin
May 10, 2017 · 6 min read

With income tax season on its way, I figured I would treat myself to a shiny new monitor for making my time working at home and on personal projects even more pleasant. Before, I was rocking an old 27-inch Samsung display with 1080p resolution, which didn’t offer the same real estate as the glorious 1440p Thunderbolt display at the office.

So, with any electronics purchase, I immediately jumped onto The Wirecutter to see what they had to recommend. Lo and behold, their #1 recommendation was the Dell U2715H (at the time), but they also mentioned they were still reviewing its successor, the U2717D.

When I checked for the latter model, I found an Open Box deal for it for $330 (which was a good $130 off!). Its condition was “Like New”; what did I have to lose? Dell monitors had always been really great for me in the past, so I bit the bullet.

Two days later, it got here and with great excitement I opened the box, hooked it up, turned it on, and found, uh… this:

Not to mention, the edge bleeding was seriously awful with darker colors on screen.

Well, it’s an open box, right? No biggy, I’ll just have Dell replace it. It came with a kick-ass 3 year warranty.

I hopped on their tech support chat and explained my issue. He requested a photo of the issue, so I sent him the photos above. He immediately approved the return request and asked for a shipping address to send the replacement to, and said the replacement would be there in 2 days. Great, that was painless! Wow, Dell’s support is really on top of things!

1 week later…

The replacement hadn’t arrived after 2 days. I get an email from the representative requesting proof of purchase and the serial number of the monitor. Why didn’t he ask for this in the first conversation? So I sent those, and everything was set again.

2 weeks later…

The replacement finally ships and gets delivered to an address in New Jersey. I live in Colorado. I gave them my full shipping address. Alright then! I called support and told them they shipped it to the wrong address. They were “very sorry for the inconvenience” (I’m surprised this isn’t pre-recorded by now), and setup another replacement dispatch.

Another week goes by…
(since it needed to ship over the weekend)

And after a little over 4 weeks, the first replacement finally arrives in a Dell-branded box. Keep in mind, my return period on Amazon is now past its 30 days. I opened it up and got everything setup again to find… a nice, bright 1 pixel blue line going down the screen. Great. Another defective unit. So I called up support again and reported the issue and requested another replacement, only this time, they didn’t request any photos or documentation and processed everything immediately.

A few days later, I get the second replacement. Same drill. Set it up, and this time, it has even worse edge bleeding and a dead pixel right in the upper-right region of the screen.

I called support again, this time feeling pretty livid, but I managed to keep my cool with the representative (it isn’t their fault that Dell’s quality control is out of control). This time, the representative requested another photo of the issue. At this point, I’m fairly sure 1 dead pixel wasn’t going to be enough to ask for another replacement. The real issue was the majorly inconsistent back-lighting across the whole screen. Playing a dark video game on this thing would be downright distracting!

Well, I kept my cool until that and said, “You know what? Forget it. I want a refund. This is the third defective monitor I’ve been sent and I’m not counting on any better replacements here.”

His response: “Unfortunately sir, your 30-day return period is up.” Oh yeah? Want to know why? Because your team spent a month processing my first return alone!

For a moment, I thought I was talking to Kumail Nanjiani who plays a variety of hilarious roles in customer service for scammy businesses where he’s forced to churn out their corporate, anti-consumer drivel in one of my favorite shows, Portlandia.

By the end of it, I went through my credit card company to process the return since they have a 90 day return extension for purchases made on it. Phew.

But this isn’t quite the end, it gets better

I still needed a monitor, so I decided to buy The Wirecutter’s original recommendation, the U2715H. It has over 1,000 reviews averaging at 4.5 stars on Amazon. Surely all these customers have had better luck, and heck, if I buy it “New”, everything will be fine! So I went ahead a bought it.

At first, everything about it was perfect. It was brand new and without a single blemish. It really is a great monitor!

About 3.5 weeks in, I got started with a new side project and spent part of this past weekend working. Somewhere in the middle, I was using my phone for a little while and when I looked back up at my screen, there was a nice magenta line going down the middle, just like the blue one from my first replacement.

Sigh. Seriously?

What did I do, you ask? I called support and asked for a replacement. Surely it will be better this time.

Dead wrong.

As you might guess, they needed another photo. He approved it and had another one shipped right out, and I got it today! Yaaayyy! Wait…

This is what they sent me.

  • Unofficial box from a local Dell partner repair facility. Check.
  • Refurbished. Check.
  • Scratched display surface. Check.
  • Scratched base. Check.
  • Smudges and fingerprints. Check.
  • No testing or quality checks. Check.

I didn’t even hook it up. This thing is going back to the technology hell where it came from that is Dell, and I’m returning the original to Amazon stat.

This is why I’ll never buy another Dell product again. Buyer beware, you’ve been warned. This is how you will be treated.

If you’ve experienced the same nonsense from Dell, feel free to practice the cathartic bliss of rage-commenting about your story below. I’d be relieved to hear I’m not the only one! If you haven’t, I’m glad I could provide reassurance that Big Corporate Customer Support™ does exactly the opposite of what it was intended for.

On a lighter note, does anyone have recommendations for a good monitor with these specs?

  • 1440p resolution
  • IPS or equivalent, high color reproduction (this will be used primarily for design)
  • DisplayPort
  • Adjustable height, tilt, and swivel
  • The smaller the bezel, the better

Onward to better things, and hopefully to better monitors.

Andy Merskin

Written by

Adventuring & helping others heal and realize their potential.⚡ INFP ☕ + 🌧️ coffee & rain lover 🎮 gamer 🖱️ UX engineer 🙏 not of this world: John 17:14–16

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