Way back in 2000, I purchased a DELL laptop over the web and, once it arrived, I was very happy with it. Given I was using it all the time for my work, I took out a 3 year "Next Business Day" onsite warranty. Perhaps the luckiest thing I've done in quite a while.
After about a year of operation, I started to experience problems with the keyboard. The 8, I, L and . keys would just stop working - nothing - all the other keys were OK but those would just not produce any characters. I cleaned it out, tried again, same problem. Eventually, things would work again. I called DELL support and they decided to send over a replacement keyboard. This seemed to help for a month or so, then the problem came back.
Over the next few months, DELL replaced the motherboard, keyboard, RAM, etc a number of times. Eventually, they told me that they would be giving me a free warranty replacement unit as they were giving up trying to repair it.
Not bad - I can put up with that...
About a year or so after getting the new replacement laptop, the mouse buttons near the bottom of the trackpad start to come loose. Out comes a DELL service tech to replace the wrist guard and touchpad.
Some time later (about 1.5 years after getting the new unit), I start experiencing new problems. Strange behaviour, etc. After a few calls to DELL, I'm able to catch the problems "in the act" and get concrete evidence for tech support. They send out a new motherboard and RAM.
All seems fine for a while, then the mouse buttons near the bottom track pad start to come loose again. Call DELL, explain the problem, out comes tech with new equipment.
At about the two year mark, the CD/DVD-player in the laptop just ain't cutting it. I'm trying to rip my CD collection to MP3 for my home system but can't read the majority of them (they work fine on other equipment). Call DELL, try a few things, out comes a tech with a replacement CD/DVD drive.
Now, a little over two years since I first received the laptop as a replacement, it looks like the hard disk has packed it in. I started getting Windows XP blue screens with spontaneous reboots. Call DELL and they advise it could be new software, convincing me to use System Restore to roll back the config to before these problems started.
I've done that, but it's made no difference as I've had the blue-scren+reboot thing a few times. It's also come up "No Boot Device" a few times. Now it just won't boot at all :(
So, in short, DELL's tech support service is really really good (especially when you've got a good warranty :) but their products are absolute shite! I've had more go wrong with these two units over about 4 years than I've had across *ALL* the other laptops and desktops I've ever owned.
As the Technology Manager for one medium sized organisation and the Technical Director of smaller one, I'm able to influence the buying decisions of a lot of people & systems (plus I'm always being asked by family & friends re: recomendations, etc). Suffice it to say that I'll not in any way be recommending DELL equipment! At one location, we've ordered a total of 12 laptops in the past year or so - they've all been Toshiba - funny that.