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Technical Support with Dell

June 16, 2008

Is Dell’s technical support so amazing? I think not. Here’s how a chat session with them turned out.

Here’s just a quick summary: I took my computer to my friend’s house. When I plugged it in, a system message saying “Your AC Power Adapter type can not be determined.” came up. I did not change the adapter. When I brought the computer back home, the message persists, and the system refuses to start without the battery.

When I went through Dell’s tedious technical support chat, the agent immediately asked me for my telephone number, which I refused to give. After a very long session, the agent told me that their systems were down and could not look up information. Well, thanks a lot.

The next morning I tried again and I was told I would need to buy a new power adapter because my warranty was out. Sound reasonable? I guess it did, but not at one hundred dollars! I expect about twenty dollars at max.

Here’s the transcript of my three chat sessions. For you evil stalkers out there, that isn’t my real name.

And please don’t read it all; it’s very long. I’ve bolded the parts you probably want to read.

06/15/2008 09:59:55PM Session Started with Agent (Sandeep_183201)
06/15/2008 09:59:58PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Thank you for contacting Dell Technical Support. My name is Sandeep and my rep ID number is 183021. How may I assist you today?”
06/15/2008 10:00:13PM Brad Enderson: “Yes, I have a problem with the battery / power adapter.”
06/15/2008 10:00:36PM Brad Enderson: “Whenever I boot the system I get a message: Your AC Power Adapter was not determined….”
06/15/2008 10:00:57PM Brad Enderson: “I did not change anything, and all I did was take the laptop to a friend’s house. When I plugged it in, the message came up.”
06/15/2008 10:01:21PM Brad Enderson: “Now when I came back home, the problem persists. I am unable to charge and my battery is slowly being drained.”
06/15/2008 10:01:34PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Thank you for the information. I’ll be glad to assist you. Please give me 2 to 3 minutes to pull up your account information. In the meantime, may I have your telephone number, along with the area code to update our records? Also, I would appreciate if you could provide an alternate telephone number as well.”
06/15/2008 10:01:52PM Brad Enderson: “Why do you need such information?”
06/15/2008 10:02:21PM Brad Enderson: “I just want to fix my problem, not update my records.”
06/15/2008 10:02:27PM Brad Enderson: “I purchased the PC in 2006.”
06/15/2008 10:02:57PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Due to some technical issues on my side i cannot look up your record.Could you please tell me the model and operating system you have?”
06/15/2008 10:02:58PM Brad Enderson: “Please just fix my problem.”
06/15/2008 10:03:10PM Brad Enderson: “Oh, I have the Dell Inspiron 5150.”
06/15/2008 10:04:06PM Brad Enderson: “I have Google searched the problem but I do not think it has anything to do with the BIOS. It worked perfectly before and now it does not work.”
06/15/2008 10:04:38PM Brad Enderson: “The operating system is Windows XP, updated to Service Pack 3 a month ago.”
06/15/2008 10:04:53PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Thank you.”
06/15/2008 10:05:05PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Do you see green light on adapter?”
06/15/2008 10:05:11PM Brad Enderson: “Yes.”
06/15/2008 10:05:19PM Brad Enderson: “The power adapter is lighting up perfectly.”
06/15/2008 10:05:26PM Brad Enderson: “It does not appear to be a problem with the adapter.”
06/15/2008 10:05:50PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Check the power port on the back of the system for bent pins or cracks in the surrounding plastic.”
06/15/2008 10:05:57PM Brad Enderson: “Please wait.”
06/15/2008 10:06:03PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Check the wall cord for fraying, and ensure it is firmly connected to the wall outlet and adapter brick.”
06/15/2008 10:06:18PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Check the insulation near the AC adapter connector tip. Ensure that neither the insulation nor the connector tip is cracked or damaged.”
06/15/2008 10:06:28PM Brad Enderson: “The power port on the system is normal.”
06/15/2008 10:06:29PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Check the ID pin in the center of the connector tip to ensure it is not bent or missing.”
06/15/2008 10:06:35PM Brad Enderson: “It is connected firmly.”
06/15/2008 10:07:00PM Brad Enderson: “The power cord is not different.”
06/15/2008 10:07:13PM Brad Enderson: “The ID pen is there and is not bent.”
06/15/2008 10:07:30PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Check the status of battery in battery health meter.”
06/15/2008 10:07:41PM Brad Enderson: “Should I boot up the system to do this?”
06/15/2008 10:07:58PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Are you chatting from same system?”
06/15/2008 10:08:01PM Brad Enderson: “A few minutes ago, I checked it and it is “Discharging” (when it was turned on).”
06/15/2008 10:08:03PM Brad Enderson: “No, I am not.”
06/15/2008 10:08:18PM Brad Enderson: “I am using a neighboring computer next to the laptop.”
06/15/2008 10:08:35PM Brad Enderson: “I am not using the laptop for fear of wasting the power, since it cannot be charged anymore.”
06/15/2008 10:08:35PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Did you tried to charge the battery from good known adapter?”
06/15/2008 10:08:45PM Brad Enderson: “I have only one adapter; the one shipped.”
06/15/2008 10:09:12PM Brad Enderson: “With the system when it came, in 2006.”
06/15/2008 10:10:26PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Check the status of battery in battery health meter.”
06/15/2008 10:10:33PM Brad Enderson: “I am now booting the system.”
06/15/2008 10:10:44PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Okay.”
06/15/2008 10:11:18PM Brad Enderson: “The same warning before has come up, along with the same two loud beeps.”
06/15/2008 10:11:28PM Brad Enderson: “I am “continuing”.”
06/15/2008 10:11:52PM Brad Enderson: “Do you think the system should be rebooted? (I hibernate my computer.)”
06/15/2008 10:12:17PM Brad Enderson: “It is discharging.\”
06/15/2008 10:12:42PM Brad Enderson: “I have placed the system in standby to conserve power.”
06/15/2008 10:13:11PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “What does health meter say about battery?”
06/15/2008 10:13:15PM Brad Enderson: “Health?”
06/15/2008 10:13:18PM Brad Enderson: “What health meter?”
06/15/2008 10:13:46PM Brad Enderson: “There is no health meter.”
06/15/2008 10:13:55PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Battery health meter.”
06/15/2008 10:14:37PM Brad Enderson: “I know; I have opened the “Power Meter” box and clicked on my battery, but it does not say anything about a “health meter”.”
06/15/2008 10:14:55PM Brad Enderson: “Do you think I should go into BIOS?”
06/15/2008 10:15:25PM Brad Enderson: “When I looked there, there was a battery meter of some sort, but I did not look very closely.”
06/15/2008 10:16:13PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Does the system work fine on adapter alone?”
06/15/2008 10:16:20PM Brad Enderson: “No.”
06/15/2008 10:16:27PM Brad Enderson: “The adapter is “unknown”.”
06/15/2008 10:16:46PM Brad Enderson: “But I have not tried just adapter. I have tried just battery and battery and adapter.”
06/15/2008 10:17:15PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Are you sure you are using the same adapter?”
06/15/2008 10:17:28PM Brad Enderson: “There is only one laptop in our home and therefore only one adapter.”
06/15/2008 10:18:16PM Brad Enderson: “The system refuses to start with just the adapter.”
06/15/2008 10:18:26PM Brad Enderson: “I am inserting the battery…”
06/15/2008 10:18:53PM Brad Enderson: “With the battery, the system boots fine, but the message still appears.”
06/15/2008 10:20:33PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Can you please contact us tomorrow because our tools are down and i cannot check the details of your system.”
06/15/2008 10:21:04PM Brad Enderson: “Tommorow? I can tell you some specs of my system right now, because I really need the problem fixed.”
06/15/2008 10:21:59PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “I understand but it is not only specs. we need to look lot of things.”
06/15/2008 10:22:18PM Brad Enderson: “Is there any chance I will get a replacement laptop (a newer model) or replacement parts?”
06/15/2008 10:22:19PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “I will suggest you to call tomorrow.”
06/15/2008 10:22:30PM Brad Enderson: “I can only communicate through chat.”
06/15/2008 10:22:43PM Brad Enderson: “But I will re-attempt to communicate tommorow. Thank you.”
06/15/2008 10:22:52PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Okay.”
06/15/2008 10:23:03PM Agent (Sandeep_183201): “Thank you for choosing Dell Technical Support. Have a nice day.”
06/16/2008 08:53:59AM Session Started with Agent (Vikram_127796)
06/16/2008 08:54:02AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Thank you for contacting Dell Technical Support. My name is Vikram and my rep ID number is 01127796. How may I assist you today?”
06/16/2008 08:54:18AM Brad Enderson: “Hello, I have a problem with making the system boot.”
06/16/2008 08:54:30AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “I understand your concern and I will personally attend to the issue. I assure you that I will do my best to provide you quality service. Please give me 2 to 3 minutes to pull up your account information.”
06/16/2008 08:54:32AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Also, may I have your telephone number, along with the area code to update our records?”
06/16/2008 08:54:42AM Brad Enderson: “Yesterday I contacted Sandeep from your department last night.”
06/16/2008 08:54:53AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Thank you for waiting. I see that this is a Inspiron 5150 with windows XP on it. Is this the computer you need assistance with?”
06/16/2008 08:55:02AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “I see.”
06/16/2008 08:55:22AM Brad Enderson: “This is not the system. The system needing fixing is next to the computer I am now chatting to you with.”
06/16/2008 08:55:38AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Okay.”
06/16/2008 08:55:54AM Brad Enderson: “The problem was that yesterday I took out the laptop to someone else’s house. When I plugged it in with the same adapter and laptop, a system message appeared.”
06/16/2008 08:56:09AM Brad Enderson: “It said “Your AC Adapter Type could not be determined.””
06/16/2008 08:56:25AM Brad Enderson: “It would refuse to draw power from the AC Adapter.”
06/16/2008 08:56:45AM Brad Enderson: “When I came back home and plugged it in, the problem persisted, even with the same adapter / laptop combination.”
06/16/2008 08:57:08AM Brad Enderson: “My laptop is now living on battery power, and I fear when it is drained of power, I will not be able to recharge it.”
06/16/2008 08:57:16AM Brad Enderson: “That is my problem.”
06/16/2008 08:57:22AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Brad, the issue can occur due to the adapter going bad or the pin inside the power port of the computer getting bent or breaking off.”
06/16/2008 08:57:53AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Brad, the computer shall be able to work with the power adapter only but shall not charge.”
06/16/2008 08:58:04AM Brad Enderson: “It does not work.”
06/16/2008 08:58:19AM Brad Enderson: “It does not work with just the power adapter. The computer does not start.”
06/16/2008 08:58:26AM Brad Enderson: “With the battery, it will start.”
06/16/2008 08:58:35AM Brad Enderson: “Regardless of whether the adapter is plugged in or not.”
06/16/2008 08:58:45AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Have you tried getting the battery off the computer and check if it powers on without the battery?”
06/16/2008 08:58:47AM Brad Enderson: “But when the adapter is plugged in, the message appears.”
06/16/2008 08:58:57AM Brad Enderson: “Yes, I tried that. It refuses to start.”
06/16/2008 08:59:29AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “It give the option to boot after pressing a button. Have you tried it?”
06/16/2008 08:59:35AM Brad Enderson: “The green light appears on the power adapter. It is plugged in correctly. The pins are not bent.”
06/16/2008 08:59:42AM Brad Enderson: “I can boot the computer by pressing F1.”
06/16/2008 09:00:03AM Brad Enderson: “But it does me no good in terms of power. I don’t want to turn it on too long because it is unable to charge the system.”
06/16/2008 09:00:28AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Brad, there is no other option than changing the power adapter at this time.”
06/16/2008 09:00:43AM Brad Enderson: “How can I change the power adapter?”
06/16/2008 09:00:53AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “You shall have to buy a power adapter as the warranty on the computer has also expired.”
06/16/2008 09:01:08AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “Kindly contact sales department at 1-800-915-3355. They are open from Monday to Friday between 8AM to 8PM CST.”
06/16/2008 09:01:15AM Brad Enderson: “Okay.”
06/16/2008 09:01:23AM Brad Enderson: “Thank you for your help.”
06/16/2008 09:01:40AM Brad Enderson: “Will I be able to return / keep the power adapter if it does not fix my problem?”
06/16/2008 09:02:16AM Brad Enderson: “For a refund?”
06/16/2008 09:02:24AM Brad Enderson: “And how much will the power adapter cost?”
06/16/2008 09:02:31AM Brad Enderson: “Does the power adapter come with a refund?”
06/16/2008 09:02:35AM Brad Enderson: “Or warranty?”
06/16/2008 09:02:51AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “It has a warranty.”
06/16/2008 09:03:17AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “You can know the terms of use and purchase from the Sales representative.”
06/16/2008 09:03:32AM Brad Enderson: “Okay.”
06/16/2008 09:03:37AM Brad Enderson: “Thank you for your help.”
06/16/2008 09:03:43AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “I can transfer the chat to sales as well.”
06/16/2008 09:03:46AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “You are welcome.”
06/16/2008 09:03:51AM Brad Enderson: “If it is possible.”
06/16/2008 09:03:54AM Agent (Vikram_127796): “We have a specialized department for sales. Could you please wait for 1 minute, while I transfer you to right department?”
06/16/2008 09:04:05AM Brad Enderson: “Transfer the chat?”
06/16/2008 09:04:06AM Session Ended
06/16/2008 09:05:13AM System: “Thanks for choosing chat for your Dell Purchase needs. A chat agent will be with you shortly.”
06/16/2008 09:06:20AM Session Started with Agent (E&A_Ernest)
06/16/2008 09:06:31AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “Thank you for choosing Dell Consumer Solutions Sales Chat. My name is Ernest. How can I help you today?”
06/16/2008 09:06:49AM Brad Enderson: “Thank you.”
06/16/2008 09:07:15AM Brad Enderson: “I was transfered from technical support here to buy a new power adapter for the Inspiron 5150, due to a faulty old one.”
06/16/2008 09:07:32AM Brad Enderson: “Can you give me some information in terms of price, warranty, and other details?”
06/16/2008 09:07:34AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “I see, did they give you a part number?”
06/16/2008 09:07:39AM Brad Enderson: “No, they did not.”
06/16/2008 09:07:53AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “Ok, let me just check for the power adapter for your system. One moment please”
06/16/2008 09:07:57AM Brad Enderson: “All I know is that I am supposed to buy a new power adapter for the Inspiron 5150.”
06/16/2008 09:08:16AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “No problem, let me check for it”
06/16/2008 09:10:09AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “We have here a Dell 130 Watt 3 Prong AC Adapter with 6-ft Power Cord for Dell Inspiron 5150/ 5160 Laptops for $99.99 and this includes a 1 year limited warranty.”
06/16/2008 09:10:26AM Brad Enderson: “For one hundred dollars?”
06/16/2008 09:10:46AM Brad Enderson: “That seems a bit expensive for a power adapter.”
06/16/2008 09:10:59AM Brad Enderson: “Is there any option that may be cheaper?”
06/16/2008 09:11:03AM Brad Enderson: “But offer the same service?”
06/16/2008 09:11:24AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “We also have the Dell 65 Watt Slim Combination Adapter for $79.99”
06/16/2008 09:11:49AM Brad Enderson: “Will that work as well?”
06/16/2008 09:12:21AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “Yes, and you can also use this in a car or airplane as well as AC outlets.”
06/16/2008 09:12:57AM Brad Enderson: “I realize.”
06/16/2008 09:13:19AM Brad Enderson: “But 79.99 still is too expensive for my price range. Is there a option below 20.00 or any close to it?”
06/16/2008 09:14:01AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “The lowest we have is a Refurbished: 130-Watt AC Adapter for $49.99”
06/16/2008 09:14:22AM Brad Enderson: “Does the refurbished come with a warranty?”
06/16/2008 09:14:53AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “This comes with a 90-day warranty.”
06/16/2008 09:15:13AM Brad Enderson: “Okay, I understand.”
06/16/2008 09:15:15AM Brad Enderson: “Thank you.”
06/16/2008 09:15:37AM Agent (E&A_Ernest): “You’re welcome. Will you be purchasing the item today?”
06/16/2008 09:15:43AM Brad Enderson: “Unfortunetly, I am not able to purchase anything at this point and will have to consult information as to whether I can buy it or not.”
06/16/2008 09:15:57AM Brad Enderson: “If I do buy it, I will call or order from your website.”
06/16/2008 09:16:00AM Brad Enderson: “Thank you.”
06/16/2008 09:16:08AM Session Ended

I don’t think I will be getting another Dell anytime soon.

Update: In the meantime, I will write a new post when the refurbished adapter arrives. It’s supposed to arrive around the 21st.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug@Dell permalink
    June 16, 2008 1:20 pm

    Hi, Brad – I just stumbled across your blog here. I am a Dell employee, though I am not in Customer Support. I’m not speaking on behalf of Dell here, but just on my own.

    Sorry you had a bad experience with the online tech support. I’ve sent a link to this post to the folks inside Dell who handle such things, so hopefully they’ll be able to help you out.

    If you do end up having to buy a new adapter, I’d note that a Google search for ‘ac adapter for dell inspiron 5150’ shows results from 3rd party vendors as low as $23, which might be more in your price range. Obviously, Dell won’t support something you buy from a 3rd party, though.

    One final note – if you are considering the 65W travel adapter – be aware it’s meant for traveling and not as the primary charging source at home. (Your laptop will pop up a warning box each time you use it saying that the processor will run slower and it will take longer to charge than a 90/130W adapter.)

    Hope this helps!

  2. June 17, 2008 9:13 am

    @Doug: Thank you very much. We ended up buying a refurbished adapter so that the computer can still work. If that doesn’t work, your refurbished return policy states that you can only return it if it is broken. If it’s not the power adapter that’s faulty here… well, I suppose I’m running a risk.

    I am looking to get a new computer, but after a few customizations, I ended up at around one thousand bucks, also out of my price range.

    But thank you for your help, Doug.

  3. Dell-Bill B permalink
    June 17, 2008 1:16 pm

    Hi, Brad.

    Just following your blog. Please post back and let us know how it goes with the refurb adapter.

  4. June 19, 2008 9:11 am

    @Dell-Bill B (3): I have posted an update to the post stating that I will be writing a new post on the details of the refurbished power adapter that is supposed to come in a few days.

  5. June 19, 2008 1:40 pm

    I’ve posted a review on my Refurbished Adapter and it’s up and readable here:

  6. Vaibhav permalink
    July 30, 2008 10:51 am

    Hi Brad.

    I do not see anything wrong with the two chat sessions you have had.
    The troubleshooting performed, was fine. I do realize that you had to contact Dell twice, however since things tend to break-down, networks are not fool-proof either. The rep was honest with you and came straight away that he was unable to pull up the system details and thus asked you to help him out with the system model. For you, it may just not be important, however from the point of view of a technician, who has to give you a resolution when t/s is complete, it is crucial. You can note that tech suggested contacting again after he had to either advise you to buy an adapter – warranty of your computer being expired, or replace it for free had it been under warranty. Since he can not check the system details – hence the warranty as well – he is unable to commit to anything. He did try troubleshooting and tried to resolve the issue if a replacement was not necessary…

    Most of the companies will even charge you for any assistance once the warranty is over. If you are considering an 100$ adapter to be expensive, try paying an initial fee of 30-40$ just to assist you in determining that the adapter was faulty.. and then selling the 100$ adapter.. Most companies would that – and also a lot of local computer shops…

    As per your privacy concerns, probably only to save time and to keep an updated shipping address if you are being shipped something later.. If you are not comfortable about it, you say no, as you did.. They did ask “may I” did they not…

  7. July 30, 2008 11:29 am

    @Vaibhav: Thank you for your overwhelmingly long comment. I realize that you work for Dell (your IP address points to Dell) and that you are willing to vouch for your own company.

    Everything I said is an opinion, because personally I think that a $100 adapter is very expensive. I applaud the fact that Dell, along with virtually all other major computer companies, offer free technical support.

    As concerning my privacy concerns as you mentioned, that was what I assumed at first, but I soon realized that it did not give me any help with shipping, and is merely for the convenience of the company. I was not offered an automatic one-click shipment to my home, I was told to visit Dell’s website and search for the adapter and buy it, as all other customers would.

    Furthermore, I realize that the rep was honest; he never lied, nor was he much help either. The fact that he or she cannot bring up system details was annoying, although it was expected after five years.

    So thank you again, and I enjoyed the flaming comment from a Dell employee.

  8. James permalink
    November 23, 2008 6:54 pm

    This problem with Dell laptops is becoming widespread, and, I’m glad to say, is rightfully turning people away from ever buying a Dell again. Sensible!

    The issue seems to be due to a money-making ploy much along the lines of what Epson did with their silly microchipped cartridges, whereby they claimed that putting the microchip (a simple counter, basically) from inside the printer, and putting it onto the cartridge instead, somehow improved things for the customer (just imagine a political spindoctor telling you why you’re better off financially when taxes go up). Of course, the only benefit was for Epson, who wanted to stop us dastardly proletarians from refilling our cartridges, preventing them from making hideous profits at our expense.

    The Dell money-maker is somewhat similar in that they add technology to their product which inhibits the users of the product, whilst claiming that the technology is there for our benefit (I wonder if the Dell workers have had to have training in Orwellian doublethink?) and we – the end users – suffer as a result, noticeably financially when paying $100 for their $6 charger unit. Strange that the technology they adopt for our benefit seems to benefit them financially, isn’t it?!

    From what I have gleaned about this unscrupulous company, they have added a microchip to an otherwise simple switch-mode power supply (cheap to manufacture, don’t you believe the $100 price tags – dime a dozen from China, I know; I repair electronic goods and source spares), with the microchip sending a signal down the positive pin of the adapter plug. The signal tells the Dell laptop that the adaptor being used is an original, and so the Dell laptop then works properly (as it WOULD with any 19.5V adaptor of the correct, or higher, current rating, if not for the microchip’s signal being absent).

    Should that signal be absent, the laptop goes into “make this infidel suffer – how dare you buy a cheap universal adapter instead of buying our Dell $100 ($6 to produce) one!’ mode. Yes, that’s the technical name for it. Yes Sir. Although sufficient power is available in amperes (check, you’ll find most universal go higher than the original adapter in wattage) the lack of signal causes the laptop to go into a reduced performance mode – the screen is dimmer, the CPU is clocked down, and the battery won’t charge (this is the killer – bet the Dell engineer who thought of it got a bonus! – because it affects the most important feature of a laptop: it’s portability, for no good reason), amongst other things. Dell claims this is to protect you! Yeah; should you believe that, then please email me about a great bridge I have for sale, it’s in the USA, it’s only £1 million, and you collect.

    Put simply, it’s a ploy to force people into buying an original Dell adapter; buy anything else and the laptop won’t work properly. So Dell reap the rewards of their clever, but evil, greedy and disingenous, plan. When buying anything (Epson, Dell…) use your brains and then maybe this terrible treatment of the public will stop. Act and put up with things like morons, and you’ll be taken advantage of like morons, by greedy, unprincipled creatures whose primary goal is to live the good life at your expense. When you see that a product somehow limits what you can do with their product, what you can use with it and who you can buy things from to use with it, be very wary. If they claim you’ll benefit from ink cartridges that can’t be refilled and will have to buy only theirs, or laptops that stop working if you use an adapter other than the one they sell, smell a lucrative scheme being employed and use your power: buy from someone else. If unfortunate to have been duped, use your power again: never buy from the disreputable demons again.

    Now, here’s what can go wrong, amongst other things:

    – The signal stops being supplied by your original Dell adapter because it’s probably been engineered to use parts that cannot handle the circumstances they are presented with and so have a finite lifespan that can be predicted fairly accurately, forcing you to buy a spare from Dell and bloat their finances even more.
    – The lead can become damaged and although the voltage travels down the cable quite happily, weaker flows like a signal get weakened or distorted and the laptop ignores them.
    – The components on the motherboard that handle the signal from the adapter fail, meaning any original Dell adapter you use will fail to bring the laptop to its proper functioning. I have a Dell laptop currently suffering the problem mentioned in this blog, and after discounting the adapter, I will dismantle the laptop itself, find the associated circuitry for the signal, then see if I can fault find to component level. I hold out no hopes for this, as I expect I will find an IC (microchip) responsible, one that will be custom, programmed, or very hard to source – although my chinese suppliers seem to be able to get me anything (hey, they normally only supply to manufacturers in bulk quantities, but they’re very friendly and make an exception with me. Got to love their desire to break further into the West).

    Anyway, from my Googling, it seems that motherboard failure is the most common cause of this fault, and Dell just recommend buying a very expensive replacement from them. Whether they have purposely designed the circuitry on the motherboard to fail after some time so that they can sell some very pricey boards, I don’t know. Maybe this kind of fatal failure of a major system part was unforeseen, and therefore they didn’t realise the full extent of the consequences stemming from using this silly signal line from the adapter to stop cheap universals from being used. Whatever the facts behind their thinking, there is only one loser – the end users, the public.

    Dell should hang their heads in shame for jumping on the Epson bandwagon and joining the devil in scrounging every last penny they can from the very people who keep their private jets, huge mansions and lavish lifestyles funded in the first place.

  9. paul permalink
    December 28, 2008 10:36 pm

    I have had the same set of problems and will not consider buying another Dell product, there should have been a simple fix provided by Dell.

  10. Nita permalink
    January 10, 2009 6:52 am

    This is my very first Dell and I am vey disappointed, 3 or 4 day right after the warranty ran out i started to have all sort of problems one beigh Ac adapter can not be determind. I have had serveral laptop computer and never had all this problem like right after the warranty is over. This is just a poly to make money how can so many people have the same problem at the sametime, right after the warranty. I looked at the adaptor and ther is nothing wrong with it the Green light is on, they sent me a new battery. I will not by a 100 dollar adapter I was told that Dell was a good companies but I am just having problem after problem. Can someone help me with this problem of the Adaptor???

  11. March 2, 2009 1:37 pm

    i have issues with dell EVERY time i call, becasue i end up in india, but take away that aspect of my relationship with dell and i’m happy with the hardware

    i have an xps laptop, nearly coming to the end of the warranty (opted for the 3 years) so maybe i’ll start to experience a few things soon, but after having it for about a year the power unit died on me – i phoned up technical support, spoke to a nice guy in ireland and 3 days later i had a new power supply – more than satisfied

    about a week ago i was thinking about getting one of those mini 9’s and my rep in sweden said it wasn’t possible with ubuntu (in sweden only) – so i email in, not complaining but suggesting that if something is available in the uk it should be available in sweden seeing as everything is coming from ireland and the very next day i’ve got my rep on the phone telling me i can have it – becasue they’d received an email from the US – off the back of my email

    my experiences with dell are 50/50 and i understand the frustration but i’m now expecting my 5th dell machine to arrive (the mini 9) in about a week and i’ve never actually had a problem that wasn’t fixable over the phone or by them sending a replacement part (the power supply) and i’ve had loads of issues with other machines

  12. April 18, 2009 2:41 am

    I have the same Laptop suprisingly, and I just encountered a similar Problem. However I think it may have been fixed. It seems that the AC Adapter is only recognized at random interverals. For instance, I just booted my laptop(which has a broken backlight, so I have to use it with an external moniter *grumble*. THIRD BACKLIGHT TO GO BAD.) and it is reading the AC Adapter. However, when I first searched for this problem it would not be found, causing my initial worry. Now that I booted it, it seems to be working fine, but there are still some things in the blog that should be Addressed.

    1. Yes, ALL TECHNICAL SUPPORT SERVICES ARE HORRIBLE. Not because of the people, but because nearly 99% of the time you get stuck with a machine, and then on hold, and finally to someone who can barely speak English(Raj I am looking at you)

    2. Yes, the Inspiron 5150 has Issues with its power supply, HOWEVER most of the time this can be fixed by simply turning off the laptop, removing the battery, switching the outlet of the AC supply to another confirmed working Power Outlet, and powering it on after re-inserting the battery. Sadly, this is usually a Issue with Overheating. Anyone who uses a 5150 as a Laptop seems to experience this problem a great deal. I use it myself as a Desktop, and keep the Fan revealed at all times to allow great air flow. Stuff happens sometimes, software errors, hardware errors, there are a great deal of issues.

    3. No, just No to the Comment Above me about some Corporate Scheme to oppress the Working Class. Take your Troskyist Idea and throw it to the wind. This is simply the work of three things. Capitalism, Software Errors, and Shoddy Manufacturing. There are no extreme plots to conquer the world, or oppress the people.

    Should anyone here read this comment, and wish to have some help with their I5150, and their warrenty is expired. Shoot me an Email at getitwithyourhands [at] . I am just a hands-on-nerd with a great deal of spare time. If I can’t help you with your problem, I probably can find someone who will. Afterall, “comrades” have to stick together amiright?


  1. Review: Dell Refurbished Adapter « chaotic tech

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