Dell XPS 17: The Worst Support That Money Can Buy

Dell’s warranty process is an expensive ruse.

I have a Dell XPS 17, which has an 8-core 2.4GHz I9 CPU, 2TB SSD, 64GB memory, GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, and 17″ 4K screen in a very manageable 15″ package (very thin edges on the bezel). All of that power, and I still get about four or five hours on the battery as long as I am prudent with the screen brightness, fan, and attached accessories.

It has a good weight while still being very thin and having an efficient, medium-sized transformer block. I paid thirty-five hundred for it and several hundred more for the warranty. It is the most expensive laptop they carry. It is one of the most expensive laptops on the market. I am a very resource-intensive developer who is writing code for at least fifteen-hours on most days. I had just become sick of losing time due to insufficient resources. I wanted to have more space then I usually needed, more memory then I usually needed, and more speed then I normally needed, for once, while sticking to Linux (and just generally avoiding Apple).

Five months later, I noticed that I had somehow ended-up with the glass crushed at the bottom-right of my screen. I have no idea how it happened. Maybe uneven stresses on the glass near the hinge as I opened and closed the lid over time. Dell offered to send me a technician to replace the LCD. I remembered doing this in college several times (they would come to my dorm room) and I had had a good experience. That way I did not lose the laptop for a week or two while also avoiding the possibility of them insisting on replacing it before I had a chance to fully back it up. The technician was third-party, since Dell does not do it themselves. This might potentially add a layer of complexity but is otherwise fine.

The technician remarked about how densely-packed the laptop was, which led me to believe that he had never worked on any XPS before. The screen stopped working a few minutes after he left. It took another week for them to send another technician, whom never showed up. When their dispatch attempted to schedule another technician, they said that the previous technician had already claimed the box with the replacement screen, disappeared with it, and could not be found, so they had no part to send with another technician. It took me another two weeks to get another technician, who then fried my motherboard while he was installing the new screen.

I then spent several additional weeks of explaining and reexplaining the situation to their support department, which sucked over the phone, sucked over the website chat, and sucked slightly less via Whatsapp (it at least did not require me to keep the website open, and seemed to be a little more responsive). Every day, I got a different support person and a different manager from the other side of the planet. They would call me to confirm details, I would ignore their call because I would have no idea that one of the spam calls that I routinely got every day was actually Dell calling from India at 10pm, and there existed no way for me to return their phone calls. I was buried in bureaucracy. Finally, after telling me that they wanted to replace the whole laptop, they got an approval a week later. I had it within two or three days after that. Though, they ended-up sending me a refurbished laptop. It had a sticker on the bottom that said “refurbished”, which came apart when I tried to remove it. Awesome.

After the first week or two, I had ended-up buying an alternative, emergency high-end Lenovo laptop because I was a business owner who needed to travel and needed a functioning laptop. Dell was failing me on a pretty major level and I could not afford to be exposed to them ever again.

I had started with, basically, a new laptop, there was damage through normal usage that I could not be held responsible for, and I ended-up with a used laptop after losing a couple of months and part of my soul to their support process. Plus, I needed an extra high-end laptop from a competitor just to account for their incompetency in the future.

The XPS is a gorgeous laptop, with only the occasional touchpad problem, and yet the lack of respect Dell showed me both via their support process (an army of separate representatives and inexperienced support personnel) and quality of their warranty (refurbished replacement) makes it a terrible investment. A four-thousand dollar investment that my company depends on and no peace of mind to speak of.

Python: Substitute Values Into YAML During Load

There’s definitely a case to be made for automatically and efficiently applying environment variables or another set of replacements into a YAML-based config or set of instructions on load. This example uses PyYAML. We’ll use Python’s built-in string templating to replace tokens like “$NAME” with values from a dictionary. It will fail, as it should, if the name is not in the given dictionary.

import string
import yaml

def load_yaml(f, context):

    def string_constructor(loader, node):

        t = string.Template(node.value)
        value = t.substitute(context)

        return value

    l = yaml.SafeLoader
    l.add_constructor(',2002:str', string_constructor)

    token_re = string.Template.pattern
    l.add_implicit_resolver(',2002:str', token_re, None)

    x = yaml.load(f, Loader=l)
    return x

y = """\
aa: bb
cc: dd $EE ff

context = {
    'EE': '123',

d = waw.utility.load_yaml(y, context)


{'aa': 'bb', 'cc': 'dd 123 ff'}