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Dell Laptop Burns House Down

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the dude dept.

Hardware 405

Nuclear Elephant writes "The Consumerist is running a story about a house burned down by a Dell laptop. 'My 130-year-old former farm house was engulfed in flames, with thick dark smoke pouring out of the windows and roof... Hours later, after investigation the fire marshal investigator took me aside asked me if I had a laptop computer. Yes — I told him I had a Dell Inspiron 1200.' It was determined that the laptop, battery, or cord malfunctioned after its owner left for work, leaving the fire to spread through the entire house. All attempts to contact Dell have failed. 'I have tried to call Dell to at least notify them of my problems, but each time I have called I get transferred into an endless loop of "Joe" or "Alan" all speaking a delectable version of English I presume emanates from Bangalore. I have been outright hung up on each time I get someone who speaks a reasonable version of English, or sounds like they might be in charge of something. Promises of call backs have gone, of course, unreturned.'"

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Pshaw! (5, Funny)

Bwana Geek (1033040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969128)

That's nothing... An iPod killed my family!

Re:Pshaw! (5, Funny)

wirelessbuzzers (552513) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969134)

Well, we knew from the beginning that the iPod was Apple's killer app.

Re:Pshaw! (1)

jtfryman (1059608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969136)

Watch out for the knife-enabled iPhones and the fire-breathing cinema displays.

Obligatory Simpsons quote (5, Funny)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969194)

"Well, this is your problem right here -- this thing's set to EVIL!"

Re:Pshaw! (5, Informative)

penguinrenegade (651460) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969252)

Contact an attorney. They WILL be able to get ahold of Dell for certain. Not only that, but come back here and post an article on your progress. Get a petition going - Slashdot readers will sign it (online most likely) in droves. Contact PJ at Groklaw, she'll likely be interested in your story. With all of the talk of exploding batteries, you're likely to find an audience that will listen to an attorney.

Re:Pshaw! (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969552)

"you're likely to find an audience that will listen to an attorney."
I think you might have that backwards.

Re:Pshaw! (5, Insightful)

Popsmear (828416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969672)

Online petitions are a joke and a waste of time. To date an online petition has never changed anything. http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/petition/internet.ht m [snopes.com] I'm sure it will work great. :\

Re:Pshaw! (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969686)

This wasn't an "Ask Slashdot" article.

Re:Pshaw! (3, Funny)

ari_j (90255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969766)

Yeah, it was just a regular bitchfest instead.

Re:Pshaw! (4, Insightful)

try_anything (880404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969778)

Bah, this has nothing to do with looking out for his interests and getting fair compensation for his loss. His homeowner's insurance company is already handling it, and if he wants to recover damages not covered by his insurance, he knows the next step is to call a lawyer, not Dell.

So, if he knows this (and I think it's safe to assume he does), why is he calling Dell? A house burning down is not like a hard drive dying. Calling them on and the phone and expecting to have a casual chat about a matter relating to insurance claims and possible legal action is asinine and simply obnoxious. "Notify" them? Gimme a break. No wonder they hung up on him. It's the only safe thing to do when a guy calls you repeatedly and fishes for comments about an issue that may be discussed in court.

I'm sure the guy is taking appropriate steps to protect his interests. This stuff about calling Dell is nothing but entertainment; it's completely irrelevant to resolving the matter, and he knows it. He's just wasting their time and trying to embarrass them.

Re:Pshaw! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969190)

Get a lawyer and stop trying to call their customer support line, you tool.

Re:Pshaw! (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969620)

Seems to me that those Indian call centres are there to serve no other purpose than to keep the customer off the company's back. It would be more honest if they were simply to say "caveat emptor - no warranty". That's what they mean, anyway.

My worst experience is with three.com [three.com] , but that, I guess, is another story altogether...

Re:Pshaw! (5, Insightful)

Bin_jammin (684517) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969250)

That's nothing, a single mp3 put my whole family in the poorhouse.

Ouch (2, Funny)

somekids (1047140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969140)

And we thought the exploding batteries were bad..

Re:Ouch (0, Redundant)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969308)

And we thought the exploding batteries were bad..

Yeah, this guy got fired.

Re:Ouch (2, Funny)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969694)

This is what Dell calls an upgrade ;)

First post?? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969142)

OMG first post on a /. article?? Must... mark... day... in... diary... *tear*

Re:First post?? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969198)

Don't go buying anything expensive with that 'first post cash'.

Guess they'll have to drop the upcoming commercial (5, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969146)

Burning Down the House may have been a poor choice for a new a theme song.

Agent for service of process (5, Informative)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969148)

Dell's a corporation. They're either a Texas or a Delaware corp. (Probably Texas.) They'll be registered with whatever the local equivalent of the secretary of state's office is. They'll have provided the name and address of a person or agency authorized by them to receive service of process (in the event they're sued or something). Send a certified letter to that person/agency. You'll get someone's attention right quick, without plowing through India.

You might also think about talking to a tort lawyer. From what I got from this article, you've probably got a pretty good consumer products liability claim. (Even if you're not interested in pursuing it, whomever insured your farm house -- it was insured, right? -- is probably interested in recouping their loss. And, enough of these exploding Dells have made the news of late, it might force Dell to be substantially more careful when designing their next round of laptops... But, then, I'm a trial lawyer, that's how I think. :)

Good luck, sorry to hear about your loss!

Re:Agent for service of process (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969184)

Excellent advice. OP should make sure to get documentation from the fire marshall/department and provide this to his/her insurance company.

Is this a first? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969262)

Is this the first Slashdot IAAL post?

Re:Is this a first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969322)

No

Re:Is this a first? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969352)

No, jackass.

bwoop, bwoop (4, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969324)

>You might also think about talking to a tort lawyer.

The parent, being an attorney, may be taking for granted that everyone knows about coordinating with insurance companies.

Read your policy, and look for fine print about attempting to recover damages on your own. You could seriously alienate your insurance carrier if you made a misstep in the legal system that blocked their chance of recovering money using their own lawyers.

Re:Agent for service of process (1, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969406)

It's very unlikely that he has a product liability case here. First, the whole Dell (Sony) battery catching on fire thing is old news. The defective batteries were all shipped from April - July of 2006. Second, Dell has issued a safety recall and anyone who has chosen not to participate is going to have a hard time winning a case. Third, the Inspiron 1200 wasn't one of the affected systems. Fourth, it's astonishing that hours after the fire the have such a detailed explanation of events. "Laptop failed." That kind of forensics process takes a lot longer than a handful of hours. While anyone's home burning down is unfortunate, putting the blame on Dell sounds very opportunistic. It'd be interesting to see where this guy stood on his mortgage payments....

Re:Agent for service of process (4, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969496)

Second, Dell has issued a safety recall and anyone who has chosen not to participate is going to have a hard time winning a case. Third, the Inspiron 1200 wasn't one of the affected systems.
So let me get this right. It's his fault because he didn't participate in a battery recall program in which he couldn't participate because his system wasn't on the recall list. You my friend, should consider running for public office.

Re:Agent for service of process (1)

Zanth_ (157695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969644)

No, he is explicitly stating that because he didn't send it back precisely because it was not on the list is a good thing. It means, that if in fact it was the battery that failed (and/or simply some other part of the Dell) that his case is so much stronger.

Re:Agent for service of process (1)

jrobinson5 (974354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969408)

Dell is based in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin.

Just curious... (3, Insightful)

AEton (654737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969544)

When you write "Good luck, sorry to hear about your loss!", to whom exactly are you saying that? The person who posted this Slashdot article isn't the same as the person who submitted content to the blog that Slashdot links to. You're talking to a wall, in other words, and odds are pretty high that the consumerist poster will never read these comments.

Too Bad, So Sad (-1, Redundant)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969150)

He should have sent his battery in for the recall instead of ignoring it and convincing himself it couldn't happen to him.

Re:Too Bad, So Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969240)

> He should have sent his battery in for the recall

And how do you do that when it is impossible to talk to anyone at Dell that either speaks English or does their job? We have more than four hundred laptops from Dell with dangerous batteries, but we haven't beaten them a single time yet in the battle to get the batteries replaced. They just don't care or try unless you're a huge customer with a large legal department. For us with only around 3,000 employees, they don't even pretend to care.

Re:Too Bad, So Sad (2, Informative)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969320)

You don't need to talk to anybody at Dell or negotiate anything to exchange a defective battery. It's a simple process, just fill in your information at Dell's battery recall site [dellbatteryprogram.com] . I hope this helps you out, as I can imagine how difficult it must have been for you to try to call dell once for each one of your four hundred batteries. The funny thing is that I found this site after only a few seconds of googling.

Re:Too Bad, So Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969380)

And why would you assume we haven't already tried that? I found that site from a post here when Dell first did the recall. It's just impossible for an individual or small business to fight Dell. Our salesdrones change every few weeks and while we at least now have morons that don't speak English that are based out of Texas rather than complete idiots that don't speak English based out of India, nothing still gets done. I'm about ready to start looking for an employee that speaks Mexican (I'm not calling it Spanish since an employee from Barcelona simply can't understand the Dell guys in Texas) so we have more of a hope of getting orders completed correctly. I just don't know anyone that speaks that slang-version of Spanish well enough to communicate with them.

Re:Too Bad, So Sad (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969362)

So you couldn't figure out how to go to the dell battery recall site enter the battery serial numbers? Put all the numbers into their site along with an email address and the batteries show up in the mail. Stick the old batteries in the box and drop them at the post office. Yeah, it's a pain in the butt to collect the battery serials and swap batteries, but getting Dell to send batteries was dirt simple. (Replaced 50 at my site).

Re:Too Bad, So Sad (3, Interesting)

thopkins (70408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969386)

His computer isn't on the list of computers with affected batteries.

Re:Too Bad, So Sad (3, Insightful)

towsonu2003 (928663) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969456)

He should have sent his battery in for the recall instead of ignoring it and convincing himself it couldn't happen to him.
You don't have many friends outside the geek community, do you? Me neither but I know at least three people who owned a Dell laptop and knew nothing about the battery recall. When I told them about the recall, they got really surprised and worried, went online, checked with Dell, and it turns out that their batteries were eligible.


Summary for easy understanding: Dell did not do enough to tell its consumers about the battery recall.

I see the future (1)

towsonu2003 (928663) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969468)

Just so people don't have to over-type:

Dell did not do enough to tell its consumers about the battery recall
what else could they do?
I don't know, they are a multi-million corporation, they sure have resources ($$$) to find a nice solution.

conspiracy...? (1)

uber-human (842562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969152)

perhaps.

Dell Tech Support? (5, Insightful)

jkj5301 (660159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969156)

So what do you want "Alan" to do about it? Send another replacement parts?

It's not a bug, it's a feature! (4, Funny)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969172)

This is the new combined security and power-save model in Vista. Your PC can't get infected by spyware, no one can hack your home network, and you won't use any power, if the computer just burns the whole place to the ground.

I think it's in the Screen Saver settings someplace:

"[x] Enter Burn-House-to-Ground mode after [ 30 ] minutes of inactivity."

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969344)

Enter Burn-House-to-Ground mode after [ 30 ] minutes of inactivity

Try to connect to home through your VPN and get computer on fire instead of printer on fire [eeggs.com]

Re:It's not a bug, it's a feature! (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969740)

This feature has been around in *NIX since at least the '40s. I can't believe M$ is just now catching up with the rest of the computing world! I mean seriously, how difficult is it to issue an HCF [wikipedia.org] instruction?

Slashdot fixed it! (4, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969174)

I had some problems with getting Dell to complete my order (some recovery CDs were missing). I posted about it on Slashdot a few months back and got a reply from a US Dell employeee telling me to drop him a line and he'd help fix it (I'm in the UK) and try to his word after a couple of phone calls everything was sorted out and dandy.

So before everyone starts ragging on Dell, remember there are at least a couple of good apples there.

Re:Slashdot fixed it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969232)

No. I don't want to switch to a Mac.

Re:Slashdot fixed it! (5, Interesting)

thestuckmud (955767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969370)

Maybe not, but I walked into a busy Apple store yesterday with a failing MacBook Pro battery, explained that it had a bulge, and walked out with a free replacement 15 minutes later. Makes me feel a little better about paying premium prices. BTW, they required me to show them the laptop.

Re:Slashdot fixed it! (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969312)

So before everyone starts ragging on Dell, remember there are at least a couple of good apples there.

I used to know a guy who worked for the local council cutting grass. One day he was driving to a job and noticed someone trying to cut a big site full of high grass with a small domestic lawn mower. He stopped, unloaded the slasher, did the job as a favour and was on his way in five minutes.

All was fine until the guy with the mower called the council to publicly thank the employee who had helped him, wherupon all hell broke lose.

So whatever you do don't ring Dell to report this guy for being good. Dell don't want to be good and we should judge the company by its official actions, despite the fact that 99% of the people who work there are nice people who rescue kittens, etc.

Re:Slashdot fixed it! (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969490)

The lesson here: No good deed goes unpunished, so if you're gonna do a good deed, be sure to do it anonymously. :-)

Re:Slashdot fixed it! (3, Informative)

Silver Gryphon (928672) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969770)

Fixing someone's computer and/or order is one thing. Using a piece of machinery capable of flinging metal, rocks and glass 500 feet is another. Here in the USA, the government office would have been worried about being sued if that mower kicked a rock up and smashed someone's windshield, causing them to fly off the road at 70mph to a gruesome death. Unauthorized work isn't covered by insurance, and that includes favors.

The "could haves" rule in the world of insurance (refuse to pay) and injury law (awarding damages). For that reason, the guy whose house burned down could convince a jury that he "could have" been asleep in bed with the flu and would have died in the fire. If the laptop is at fault, he could be awarded damages in the millions for a 130 year old tinderbox, unless their lawyer argues he ignored a recall/warning.

And trust me, any 130 year old farmhouse is a tinderbox, especially if it still has heart pine flooring/ceiling joists. Heart pine is from the heart of a very old pine tree, rich with sap that has turned to turpentine (aka paint thinner)... quite flammable.

Re:Slashdot fixed it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969584)

"So before everyone starts ragging on Dell, remember there are at least a couple of good apples there."

I didn't want to settle for just "a couple" of good apples, so I've been buying Apples.

This is what they meant... (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969180)

...in their advertisements by "blazing fast processor speeds"

But seriously, I hope that Dell will offer to pay for things if this guy has no insurance even if for no other reason than good PR. A new laptop would be nice too - ha ha.

Re:This is what they meant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969358)

A new laptop would be nice too

As long as it's not another Dell. Otherwise, it would just be mean.

calling Dell.... or a lawyer? (5, Insightful)

BugDoomBug (965033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969182)

At this point I believe the best thing would be to call a lawyer who has experience handling cases such as this. While this one is possibly a first, I am sure there are a slew of them out there who specialize in suing companies due to damage caused by faulty manufacturing or defective parts.

In the event that this was not faulty manufacturing or parts, for example if the man frayed his cord and left it damaged, then he doesn't have a leg to stand on, otherwise it should be pretty straight forward if it shows it in the report on the fire.

Re:calling Dell.... or a lawyer? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969300)

Agreed.

Pose this question at a place where there are people who have something other than "IANAL" following their name.

- RG>

Dell Laptop... or Sony Battery? (2, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969186)

I know it's not a model listed on the https://www.dellbatteryprogram.com/ [dellbatteryprogram.com] website, but they do state many batteries were sent out as replacements too. Guess it'll be difficult to read the battery pack serial number now...

Re:Dell Laptop... or Sony Battery? (2, Interesting)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969304)

I know it's not a model listed on the https://www.dellbatteryprogram.com/ [dellbatteryprogram.com] website, but they do state many batteries were sent out as replacements too.

Dell records the serial numbers on every single item they send out - computers, power bricks, batteries, software bundles - it's all there on their pick lists. Why is it that consumers have to contact Dell to find out if a particular item is under Recall status, why aren't Dell actively contacting them?

Simple. Caveat Emptor (paraphrased) (5, Funny)

heptapod (243146) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969476)

Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of laptop batteries in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

Re:Dell Laptop... or Sony Battery? (1)

Mex (191941) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969512)

Good point. Will they wait until someone dies?

After Ford's fiasco with firestone's tires, I have been practically chased by Ford agents sending me letters and calling me to take in my truck for some minor readjustments, like modify some random rubber tube in the vehicle.

I have 2 dell laptops and I feel pretty bad about my purchase. Should have gone Toshiba :(

Thankfully, I haven't experienced any explosive performance out of them ;)

Let's assign blame accurately (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969216)

I would like to know if the battery in the defective unit was one of the batteries subject to recall. If it was, then the owner bears some responsibility.

But more than this, the maker of the battery was likely of Sony origin and quality.

And really, what is Dell supposed to say to claims of "you've burned my house down?"

Re:Let's assign blame accurately (5, Funny)

hwyengr (839340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969272)

And really, what is Dell supposed to say to claims of "you've burned my house down?"

"Dude, you're getting a fire extinguisher!"

Re:Let's assign blame accurately (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969274)

1200 didn't ship with Sony batteries - something or other made in China, not Japan.

Inspiron 1200 NOT part of recall (5, Insightful)

Foerstner (931398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969374)

Let's get this one out of the way first: the Inspiron 1200 was not one of the models listed in the recall program.https://www.dellbatteryprogram.com/ [dellbatteryprogram.com]

I would like to know if the battery in the defective unit was one of the batteries subject to recall. If it was, then the owner bears some responsibility.


IANAL (and this is not legal advice, yadda yadda...) but I think that, in order to prove that in court, you'd have to prove that A) the battery was one of the Sony recalled batteries B) The customer could reasonably be expected to have been aware that the battery in his laptop was one of the recalled batteries C) Despite knowing that the battery was dangerous and subject to recall, the customer did nothing to get a replacement

But more than this, the maker of the battery was likely of Sony origin and quality.
Which would only add a co-defendant in the lawsuit, if the guy were to go down that road.

And really, what is Dell supposed to say to claims of "you've burned my house down?"

Excellent point. If someone accused me of that, all I'd say is, "No comment." The next thing I'd say is, "Let's talk confidential settlement. Howzabout I give you a million dollars for your house, without admitting any liability?"

Re:Let's assign blame accurately (1)

adrianmonk (890071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969722)

And really, what is Dell supposed to say to claims of "you've burned my house down?"

How about, "We take our responsibilities seriously and will be more than glad to compensate you if we are truly at fault, but we will require some proof that this was really due to a defect in our product."? And when provided with solid proof, they should say, "Please supply us with documentation of your house's value, and tell us where we should send the check."

Let the insurance company handle it. (5, Insightful)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969246)

Let the insurance company handle it. That is what you pay them for, they don't want to pay the claim themselves and the insurance company has the deep pockets to cover legal fees.

Re:Let the insurance company handle it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969746)

I'm guessing, since he wrote to Slashdot, that he didn't have insurance.

Our house Our house Our house burned down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969254)

Whats the problem? Just kick those nerds out of their house and take it over!

er.. oops..

A humble suggestion (5, Informative)

Androclese (627848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969260)

First and foremost, I am sorry for the loss of your home. The best suggestion I can give you is:

Get a copy of the Fire Marshal's report that specifies the source of the fire being the laptop in question, deliver it to your insurance company, and then go talk to a lawyer.

It sucks, but as an individual, you have less a chance of gaining the attention of the company in question (never mind the /. post) than the lawyer pool of your insurance company will.

Good Luck

Re:A humble suggestion (0, Troll)

AEton (654737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969532)

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the submitter of this Slashdot article isn't the narrator of the original. You're not talking to anyone, and your helpful advice has no audience.

Re:A humble suggestion (3, Insightful)

Babbster (107076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969564)

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but people often do find out when stories about their life make it onto Slashdot, it being a fairly well-known site. Your helpful information is just arrogant nitpicking.

Re:A humble suggestion (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969774)

IMHO, your next step is to contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If that doesn't get results, then hire a lawyer.

One wonders where the liability is (3, Insightful)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969264)

At first glance I had thought this was the poster child for what could go wrong with the ill fated battery debacle that Dell and others had gone through, but, FTA:

I told him I had a Dell Inspiron 1200.

His model isn't on Dell's official list [dellbatteryprogram.com] of affected models. So, one wonders, was it the "laptop, battery, or cord" that started the fire? I would imagine that if the cord wasn't severely mangled, and assuming the laptop itself didn't have a very serious manufacturing flaw (that probably would have prevented it from working in the first place), perhaps the transformer was at fault.

Reading the article though, I found it very... unsatisfying. It seems more that the real news is the writer's inability to get any meaningful correspondence with Dell about this particular issue... but then again, that isn't really news.

Why do so few buy quality hardware? (-1, Offtopic)

user_ecs (878826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969278)

Quality hardware and software is not that expensive. It only costs a little more. For example ECC memory. Why are so many paying for glitz while scrimping on the important stuff.

I encourage others to switch to eComStation on good hardware. Join other eComStation users

http://www.os2voice.org/ [os2voice.org]
http://www.os2world.com/ [os2world.com]

eComStation, much more stable and secure than windows yet much easier than Linux.

I finally found good hardware at a place that would pre-load my preferred OS, eComStation.

The vendor's web site is real basic because he puts his time and money in have the best product.

For Christmas I bought a system from CSS.
http://www.curtissystemssoftware.com/preloads.htm [curtissyst...ftware.com]

It came preloaded with a OpenOffice.org. Has quality hardware (instead of the Dell's lowest bidder components). Even had ECC memory

Even with out anti-virus software it is immune to all the windows virus/trojan/worms/.. crap. I also don't have to worry about the vendor shutting down my OS or apps remotely in the future.

Re:Real English! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969698)

All attempts to contact Dell have failed. 'I have tried to call Dell to at least notify them of my problems, but each time I have called I get transferred into an endless loop of "Joe" or "Alan" all speaking a delectable version of English I presume emanates from Bangalore. I have been outright hung up on each time I get someone who speaks a reasonable version of English, or sounds like they might be in charge of something. Promises of call backs have gone, of course, unreturned.'"
That is another good point. I want to be able to understand the tech support people. I am willing to pay for tech support I can understand.

CSS is totally U.S. based. No offshore tech support.
http://www.curtissystemssoftware.com/preloads.htm [curtissyst...ftware.com]

No surprise... (4, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969288)

I imagine this has happened many times before. It can just be hard to narrow down the cause to a single source.

5 years ago, 6 out of 100 of our new 17" Dell monitors went up in flames, over the first 3 months. This was fortunately an office building with very high ceilings, so there was little risk. I've long imagined just how bad that could have been in a private home, with a low ceiling, and wall nearby. That experience alone stopped me from ever buying anything from Dell.

All the articles on Notebook fires are very old news. Dell's been having fire problem with their entire product range for about the past 10 years. Passing it off as Sony's fault ignores Dell's long history of similar ocurances with all of their machines.

Since it happened to me, I've been wonder when I'd hear about a class action against Dell, but it's never been forthcoming. I guess residential building fires can cover up the evidence pretty well. Sooner or later, it's going to have to come out.

So your laptop was destroyed in the fire as well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969340)

I'm sorry to hear that, sir... that's another reason why Dell won't be able to honor your request for a rebate.

Get a lawyer (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969342)

You're never going to get compensation from Dell by calling them on the phone. There're not going to give you the time of day until they get served. Seriously. Start shopping around for a lawyer who has some experience with tech companies and or liability cases.

Why bother? (3, Informative)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969360)

Why do you want to talk to Dell?

This is why you get a lawyer and let him/her to the leg work... this is going to turn into a legal issue anyway, why screw it up before it starts by giving Dell some words or description of the events that they can use against you.

All it takes is one "maybe" or "possibly" or "it could have been the cat" and your case is gone with your house.

You posted this on /. - you should be safe, nobody reads this.

Dear Slashdot Poster (2, Funny)

Leuf (918654) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969622)

Please refrain from impugning our client regarding this incident, or we will be forced to take action against you.

Sincerely,
The Law Offices of Fluffy, Lightning, and Mr Jingles

I almost feel compelled to donate some money. (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969382)

Would someone like to post a link before I have a change of heart?

I'm confused... (1)

Ibanez (37490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969398)

How is this automatically Dell's fault?

Insurance (5, Insightful)

SamBeckett (96685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969416)

Presumably you have insurance? If so, this little stunt could cost you your claim...

Insurance policies have a clause in it re: subrogation. E.g. If Dell is really at fault--the insurance company will pay you directly, and then go after Dell for the money..

BUT your policy also has a clause in it saying that you must not do anything to obstruct the insurance company's ability to subrogate. This little slashdot stunt and posting your story online may just do that.. You may have fscked yourself twice over.

Re:Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969580)

posting here has enacted no legal action, nor has it contacted any dell representative, nor bound to any agreement, nor arranged for any payment- nor is there any real proof of who posted the story- for all we know it could be fake. I doubt this post will have any effect whatsoever (in either favor).

Power Trips (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969452)

When Dell recalled its Inspiron power supplies last year (or the year before?) I found that I had two that matched model#/serial# ranges. I used the Dell web for getting an RMA for each one. I never heard anything more from Dell, certainly nothing to return them.

But then, I don't live in a 130 year old farmhouse. Maybe that means I'm still covered by the warranty, so they're not replacing mine.

130-year-old farm house (1)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969460)

I suggest you take the compensation from the insurance, build a new house and sell it before the housing market crashes.

Is this real or a hoax? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969462)

I wonder if this is a hoax. The Portland News site does not say anything about the cause of the fire. It does not even name the owner of the house. All we have is some guy named Dan (no last name) writing a letter to a blog claiming a Dell laptop burned down his house. Has anyone bothered to check the facts?

Am I the only one who doesn't believe? (3, Insightful)

bgfay (5362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969484)

This may have happened, but the whole thing sounds like a load of crap. It's the sort of thing that usually arrives in my email inbox with "FWD" appended to it.

Seriously, has this been sourced?

laptop charging on the sofa? (3, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969494)

I had left the laptop in sleep mode with the lid closed on the edge of the sofa in the living room

I'll take the odds that the sofa was the most flammable piece of furniture in his house. We do this all the time, but still...we should know better. I would probably also be asking whether there were functioning smoke detectors or a more sophisticated alarm system in place. Something very basic, but, again, too easily forgotten.

quick contact with american support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969518)

michael.dell@dell.com

Put your number and reason for request in the email and you should be called by american tech support with in 24 hours, sad fact but its the only way to get dell to actually deal with any problems anymore.

Vista? (1)

ScottSCY (798415) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969592)

Maybe he tried to install Vista on it ;-)

Duh! (5, Funny)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969598)

He obviously forgot to install a "firewall".
... Ok, I'm leaving.

Something fishy... (3, Informative)

Ochobee (672000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969616)

Part of that account by the owner of the house sounds a bit funny to me:

"Hours later, after investigation the fire Marshall investigator took me aside asked me if I had a laptop computer. Yes -- I told him I had a Dell Inspiron 1200..."

Since when does the fire department conduct an investigation into a fire that determines the source within hours of the fire taking place. Especially with something that would be hard to determine- such as the fire being started by an electronic device that presumably would have been fairly well destroyed if it was as small as a laptop and made of the less than tough plastic and other materials that laptops are made of. The account seems to be fairly short on details to be pointing the finger at Dell. And as others have pointed out- why isn't this guy calling his insurance company instead of Dell? They are the ones who would be paying him for the house.

Re:Something fishy... (2, Informative)

Ochobee (672000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969638)

And after following the link in the Consumerist article to a local news story about the incident it says officials are trying to determine the cause of the fire. So which one is the real story?

Re:Something fishy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969712)

I am calling BS!

When it was submitted (cut and paste it looks like) it said: "I told him I had a Dell Inspiron 1200.' It was determined that the laptop, battery, or cord malfunctioned after its owner left for work"

Now the linked story says: "I told him I had a Dell Inspiron 1200.' It was determined that the laptop, battery, or cord malfunctioned after I left for work"

Looks like someone was picking an pasting not simply telling their own story AND that the linked story was edited.

And the part about not getting a hold if Dell is also BS. If this really happened and he had a report from the fire department (or whatever state agency does such things) he would have a laywer call Dell.

Jorgie

Indian tech support doesn't have to be this way! (2, Interesting)

ringmaster_j (760218) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969634)

I'm Canadian, but I got to school in India. Almost everyone I meet speaks amazing English, with just a little bit of an accent. These are all people who are from Bombay or Bangalore, never left the country before (at least to go as far as North America) and havde really good technical skills. Yet instead of picking the well-educated, English-speaking middle class, these call centres instead hire slum dwellers and give them names like "Frank", and attempt to teach them how to speak like us. This training costs a lot, and is really unproductive. If they made an attempt to seek out my classmates, they'd have to pay them more, but they'd have to invest practically no time in "educating" them- they'd save money and produce a better product! GAHHHHHH!!! It's so simple, people!!!

Re:Indian tech support doesn't have to be this way (1)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969692)

If they were to pay them more, they'd rather house the call centre in the US and save on the outsourcing distance!

Also, how many of your classmates want a job as tech support for Dell?

Re:Indian tech support doesn't have to be this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17969718)

I think the author wasn't trying to denigrate the Indians, but rather report that his phone efforts didn't get within several thousand miles of people at Dell's HQ in Austin, TX who possibly were in a position to help him, or be helped.

Good luck! (3, Interesting)

Boltronics (180064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969720)

I purchased a Dell XPS 1210 in Australia in November last year, with 3 Years (CompleteCover Guard) Theft insurance. I was typing on the laptop while sitting down at a local restaurant at a fancy part of town, when two big guys came running past the table and grabbed the laptop from behind.

I chased the thieves two blocks before they were able to give me the slip. The whole thing was on security camera (in daylight), and the police informed me that they had a clear picture of the entire incident.

When I reported the incident to Dell, they replied to me the next day via e-mail and said that my claim was rejected because there was no sign of force to the premises. I was stunned, and so went to read the policy. Yes, it said that "Theft of attempted theft not accompanied by forcible and violent entry" was excluded. I then noticed that the policy on the Dell website was somewhat different to the policy provided to me via hardcopy, but they both had a similar clause.

Finally, I decided that if they wanted to get technical, I'd do the same. After carefully reading *both* policies, I noticed that they both had wording similar to "CompleteCover Service is only available with the purchase of a Dell Latitude or Inspiron portable computer, or Dimension or Optiplex or Precision desktop computer, or Axim PDA (The "Product") but is not necessary that you purchase CompleteCover Service to buy a Product from us."

So what did I purchase? Obviously they had no document explaining exclusions for my XPS, since it appears they didn't have a valid policy!

At one point, I was verbally informed that XPS was a Latitude. When I captured many screenshots of the website as evidence against this, Dell denied that this was ever stated.

There were a few other arguable points I could have made, but in the end Dell just wouldn't listen. I only ever spoke to call centers in Asia where the accent was so thick it was hard to understand. I had one e-mail admit there might be a problem with the policy and they will try to fix it in the near future, and many apologies, but every e-mail always quoted "There was no theft of attempted theft not accompanied by forcible and violent entry". E-mails were sometimes hard to read due to invalid sentence structure.

I have been advised not to try and fight this. I am quite broke (my wife is out of work, I am on a small income and only just paid the stolen laptop off), and feel powerless to do anything. I feel the best I can do is encourage people not to purchase anything from Dell. It sure seems like I'm not the only one with a bad experience.

product liability lessons forgotten (1)

Wansu (846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17969732)


There were a bunch of lawsuits over house fires started by TV sets in the 60s. I guess it's been so long ago, most of todays corporate executives have forgotten. I reckon they'll be gettig a reminder real soon.
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