Saving $50 the Hard Way

I’ve been purchasing Dell monitors ever since I can remember. The first monitor I vividly remember purchasing was a Dell 2007WFP. I loved it so much I eventually ended up with three of them.

More recently, I was exposed to the U3417W 34" Dell curved widescreen monitor. I initially thought it was ridiculous until I pulled up a giant set of Splunk query results on it and realized I could comfortably tile four different virtual machine desktops across the screen. I was provided one in my workplace and quickly purchased one for home as well.

More to the point, I also wanted a smaller, quicker monitor for gaming. The Dell S2417DG caught my eye and I snagged a new (open box) model on eBay from a seller with thousands of positive feedback. As soon as it arrived, I opened it and it quickly became apparent that this monitor was not new. The plastic wrapper had been removed from the Dell logo, the back of the stand was covered in beige colored dust, and the screen had a fair number of fingerprints.

If you’ve used eBay, none of this is surprising. I’m fine with cleaning things up and using them, so I went ahead and plugged it in to test it. The first thing I noticed was a bright green patch of dead pixels in the lower lefthand corner. I suddenly understood why I was able to buy the monitor at the price that I did.

I double checked the auction page for details, and there was no mention of a dead pixel anywhere. After digging through the packaging, I found a return slip from a previous buyer:

This seller decided to completely ignore the fact that the last buyer returned it as defective and went ahead and re-listed it anyways. It’s hard to explain this scenario in 120 characters of negative eBay feedback, but I try anyways.

I consider returning it, but I’m aware the seller will just resell it to some other unfortunate soul. Determined to make the best of the situation, I decided to see if the monitor was still covered under warranty. After being disconnected from two different CS reps (who neglected to ever call me back — why do they even ask for a callback number?), I was finally able to get through to someone. After 30 minutes of figuring out how to get the monitor in diagnostic mode and taking down details, my rep said that I would have to reply to an email he sent me with a copy of my invoice and take a picture of the service code with a piece of paper containing my name, the date, the time, and the service request number.

10 mintues after that, I was still waiting for his email to come through. I had him try an alternative email address, but still no luck. Finally, after close to 18 minutes, the email arrived and I replied with the information. At this point, I had already been on the phone for over an hour.

Every 5 minutes, the rep would tell me that he had not received my response yet, and I would try sending it again. Finally, after close to 20 minutes, the rep received my response. 40 minutes to exchange two emails. Somehow I doubt the issue is on the Gmail side of the house.

For the next 60 minutes, I sat on hold while my representative struggled to push through my warranty request. He mentioned a mixture of encountering errors, having to talk to the warranty team, and attempting to push the warranty though. I have no idea what the issue on his end was, but I can’t believe such a simple common request was so difficult to complete.

Two hours and three minutes later, I told my rep to call me back if he needed any additional information from me. We were both calm and polite during the entirety of the call. He was apologetic and I told him I understood that sometimes things break, and that it was fine.

An hour later, I received a dispatch number tracking the warranty return. A few hours after that, the dispatch page shows a message saying “This item is no longer covered by Dell warranty”. Not exactly reassuring. The @DellCares Twitter account assures me that this is normal:

At 11:30am the next morning, I receive a call from my rep informing me that they can’t move forward on the warranty exchange because the screenshot of the invoice I sent them does not have a date on it. Never mind the fact that I have shown ample proof that I currently own the monitor and have already sent a copy of the invoice, the rep informs me nothing can move forward without this exact piece of documentation.

At this point, I feel the blood rush straight to my head and the pressure pressing on the back of my eyes. I tell the rep that I will provide him with a date, but that I expect a tracking number by the end of the day.

I’m puzzled by how Dell is capable of building quality monitors, but exchanging a defective monitor seems to be a paramount task.

To make a long story short, despite shady eBay sellers and horribly frustrating and drawn out customer service sessions, I finally have a replacement monitor on the way, and the cycle of people buying and returning this defective monitor has been broken.

All of this to save $50.