Alienware End Of Life – What? So Soon?
Date Published: 09 January 2007
I own an Alienware m7700 17” beast of a notebook computer. I bought it in December of 2004 as my big splurge after returning from a tour in Iraq (my buddies were all buying cars and Harleys, so I figured a laptop for work and games was pretty conservative in comparison). It worked as advertised, and was fabulous for playing Counterstrike and other games throughout 2005 and as a development machine (2GB of RAM helped here). I figured when I bought it that, being top of the line, it should serve for 2–3 years as a primary machine and then could live out its days as a secondary machine to use if a friend came over to game or I needed a machine to use as a test box or whatever.
In November 2006, itching to install Vista and tired of the weight of the Alienware, I bought a Dell Latitude D820, with which I’m quite pleased. My plan was to carry that to and from work every day, but keep the m7700 as my home machine for dev work and gaming (and minimal carrying around, as it’s quite heavy). However, in mid-December the Alienware started getting a bit flaky. It would lock up periodically. Sometimes it would stay locked up for a while and reboot, other times it would just stay locked up. Sometimes this happened in Windows. Sometimes it happened while booting, before the Windows splash screen even appeared. December being a busy month (I was on the road two weeks of it) and since I had my new Latitude, I didn’t sweat it too much. Eventually I pulled out the hard drives and the battery (I have a Dell Inspiron 6000 that once had weird issues that were linked to a particular, old, battery) and ran ERDCommander to see if I could reproduce the behavior. It didn’t take long before it locked up, even in this scenario, so clearly the issue was not a software or hard drive issue.
I emailed Alienware with the details and was told:
Dear Mr. Smith,
We thank you for contacting Alienware.
In this case, you may call our Customer Service department and arrange to have your system sent to our Repair Center. Our agents will need to charge you in advanced for 2 hours labor and the cost of sending the computer back to you. Once the computer is diagnosed, we will contact you back in order to inform you about the replacement parts required. Our phone representatives will inform you about the costs associated with this repair service, since we are unable to provide prices by email. Our staff is available at 1-866-287-6727 (option 4) from 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. EST.
Once again, we thank you for choosing Alienware and invite you to visit our Knowledge Base at http://support.alienware.com. There you will find an array of easy to use troubleshooting articles.
Fair enough. I was pretty happy to pay for the out-of-warranty cost to diagnose the issue and put things aright. I figured the total expense would probably be a few hundred dollars once they diagnosed and repaired the machine. It cost several thousand new, two years ago, and is still a decent machine (when working).
So, yesterday I called Alienware support. The representative I got was very courteous and tried to be helpful – I’m not saying anything negative about that part of the experience. However, I think she was set up for failure. For one thing, I have an Incident number on my support email which I offered to help her look up my issue. Unfortunately they can’t look up customer accounts that way. Funny, that. So I located my Alienware Account Number at her request and she asked me to please hold so she could do some “research.” This took several minutes, which to me means either their systems are really slow, she reads really slow, or Alienware knows way too much about me. Eventually she came back, having found my account. I recounted my experience briefly and explained I just wanted to know what it would cost to repair my laptop. She asked me, politely, to please hold so she could do more “research.”
Another few minutes later, she returned to inform me that this unit was End Of Life. I wasn’t sure exactly of what that meant (though I suspected), so I asked in no undertain terms if that meant it was not serviceable, even for a fee, by Alienware. She confirmed to me that this was so. A little bit shocked, I asked her when, exactly, it had entered into this End Of Life status. She asked me to hold so she could, you guessed it, research the question (to be fair, she always came back with useful information, so I can’t fault her research capabilities). A few minutes later she returned to inform me that it had reached End Of Life 3 months ago (so, 8 January – 3 months = 8 October 2006 or so). Apparently, my laptop has been leading an undead existence since early October! Unfortunately, it’s not very animated at this time. She did explain that the reason this was so is because Alienware is constantly updating its systems ensure they have the latest capabilities.
The part that just floors me is that Alienware (or any other computer manufacturer) would declare a system complete unsupported and unserviceable 22 months after it was purchased as a brand new top-of-the-line item. I asked around to see if anybody else thought it was strange, and I got all kinds of responses about people with computers from the 90s that are still working fine and, in many cases, still supported. I personally have that same Dell Inspiron 6000 that I mentioned above, and it’s still working fine. It’s from 2000, and I’m pretty sure I could get it serviced by Dell if I needed to (though I haven’t had anything done to it in a couple of years — I know I did have stuff fixed when it was more than 2 years old, though).
I’m hoping that since Dell now owns Alienware, their support philosophy will carry over there. This wasn’t the first issue I’d had with Alienware Support. It’s hardly a good customer experience to sell high-end machines, as Alienware does, and then not support them beyond 22 months’ time. What do you think? Leave me a comment – I’ll be sure to point this
post out to Dell so it’ll get read.
[categories: alienware, hardware, dell, laptop]
Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing currently on ASP.NET Core and Domain-Driven Design.