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Review: Dell Refurbished Adapter

June 19, 2008

A few days ago, my trusty four-year-old laptop unexpectedly gave out on me and wouldn’t charge from my only AC adapter. The power drained to 79% before I desperately turned it off, fearing a dead computer forever.

Thankfully, I had a not-so-happy session with Dell’s technical support, and it ended up with me buying a totally expensive AC adapter for $40 dollars— refurbished.

Well, a few days later (today), the package has arrived, and I have promised readers to offer a review on how the refurbished adapter does.

PRO: Probably the most important thing that I got from the adapter was that 1) it worked and that was made me really happy. If I had spent $40 dollars, not to mention any amount of money for a piece of junk that didn’t work, it would had made me really mad. But it works, and for that I am very happy. I’m writing this right now on my laptop.

CON: When I climbed up the stairs to plug it in, however, it dawned on me that 2) it was missing a part. I hate it when things are missing parts. On closer inspection, however, it was NOT missing a part but instead it just didn’t come with the part. What I’m talking about is the wire from the power plug to the adapter. Thankfully, I still had that from my old adapter, and it worked.

PRO: Looking at the two, I realized that 3) they were different and that one looked different from the other. It had a different label and a more modern and glossy (not very, but still a little bit more) finish than the old one. I suppose it means I got a newer model of the same thing, so I suppose that’s a good thing.

CON: Since this is a review and not a blog post, I think I probably have to mention that I still think the 4) price is too high. I checked HP, and their prices are comparibly the same, with only a five to ten dollar difference. I think the entire laptop component industry needs to tone it down with all these mental prices. It came for free with the computer. A normal non-refurbished adapter from Dell would have cost me 100 dollars. Does that mean that if I had a $1000 laptop, it would actually be worth $900 because the adapter is 100 dollars? The price is probably just companies trying to steal money from my wallet. Not a good thing.

So, guess what? The pros and cons came out even. Interesting. Still, I have to give my rating on a scale.


80 / 100: Good

It’s not the best, or the price I was hoping for, but it works, and sometimes thats all that matters.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. cbear2021 permalink
    June 30, 2008 4:48 am

    Hey – with regards to your power issue – I’ve had that issue since the last…..10 minutes. I literally just woke up, powered up my pc, and bam – power type could not be determined, yadda yadda. However, when i’m in windows – it’s fine – windows detects it and it’s charging okay. However this is a little worrying – I know where I could buy power adapters for like 20/30 pounds (i’m in the uk) but this shouldn’t happen, I’ve had the laptop less than a year and it’s already screwing up. You should see how much they charge on the UK site. £120. so thats about $240 give or take. For a damn power plug. Hope it all works out for you, i’m going to try to fix my own.

  2. June 30, 2008 9:16 am

    @cbear2021 (1): Yeah, if your laptop is Dell, than you’ll need to buy a new power adapter, because Dell has a long-lasting line of quick-to-break power adapters.

    Before you do that, make sure none of the cables are frayed and the ID pin in the very top is nice and straight and not bent or not there. If that’s all there, and it still doesn’t work, you’ll need a new power adapter.

    You can buy a refurbished power adapter from Dell’s site for cheaper than the current price, and if it doesn’t work you can get a new one. If you really want to save money, you can buy a generic one from or somewhere with cheaper ones.

    I don’t understand you when you said Windows screwing up… do you have multiple operating systems on your laptop? If you meant once you ignored the statement and got into Windows, it worked, then sorry to say but you probably still need a new power adapter.

    If it’s a desktop computer and not a laptop, then I have no idea what went wrong. Try changing a power supply from a shop nearby that lets you return within 15 or 30 days without a refurbishing fee. That way, if it still gives you the message, you can just return it.

    Hope this helps, but I can’t guarantee anything here, so try to get with technical support via chat or something (usually bigger companies offer it for free).

  3. March 25, 2009 6:53 pm

    Hi chaotic tech,
    New subscriber here. Excellent blogs…Lots of technology consumer advocacy information, UNBIASED reviews and things I’m better off knowing. 😉

    I found your blog awhile back via this thread on your “bradr” reply to “Dell Bill” about the adapters with ‘serious design flaws’ that Dell (imo) KNOWINGLY shipped to new buyers and customers still under warranty:

    At the time I’d been researching, connecting the dots and fighting Dell for months due to their bizarre resistance to give me a decent adapter for my 11 month old laptop. (While dealing with the ongoing problems this ‘crap adapter’ caused I too suffered many non-productive tech support/customer service calls like the one you detailed.) From day 1 Dell wouldn’t even CONCEDE there WAS a problem with their adapters….Even though I painstakingly described how the adapter was too loose to stay securely in place when the laptop was moved, and the repeated “adapter undetermined” message I was getting on start-up, which led to the eventual ‘battery not recognized’ issue which caused further pc damage.

    So when I first read “Brad’s” comment to your blog I saved it to a word doc because I wasn’t sure if ‘poster names’ or comments here can be changed by the author after the fact. Quote “Brad” (probably aka “Dell_Bill”): “if your laptop is Dell, than you’ll need to buy a new power adapter, because Dell has a long-lasting line of quick-to-break power adapters.” This line was the 1st admission that this was common knowledge and Dell most likely was sitting on a truckload of faulty adapters and shipping them out to customers who didn’t know any better.

    The point of my comment here?? That Dell should have owned up to the faulty adapter problem when the thousands of calls started coming in. It was easy for Dell techs to brush me off during every call–I’m not that tech savvy…yet. I’m no $$ pc customer, just an RN/grad student, the Dell laptop and ENTIRE desktop set-up I bought cost me under $3,500. So far I’ve only purchased 3 computers in my life. (All Dells btw) Sure it’ll be a few yrs before I can own all really the high end tech stuff I covet.

    BUT even as an RN/grad student without a lot of purchasing power, Dell customer service and tech staff should have LISTENED and given my frustrating problem proper attention. (Students are poor but that doesn’t mean we don’t have relatives/friends with lots of business/home computing needs.)

    Please allow me to pass on one tip. For any other ‘tech virgins’ or ‘geek wannabes’ like me who may come across this blog I’ll pass on something I learned that’ll be obvious to techies: When you do the research before buying your next pc, don’t trust all the “Review sites” or even some forums out there with owners giving ‘testimonials’ about their computers. Some of these sites are edited, monitored or even moderated by ppl connected to Dell. For example, when I wrote proper (albeit negative) “customer reviews” warning of the continual problems I was having with my laptop on 2 sites….The polite negative opinions I offered were deleted.

    Seems some sites allow reviews that mention 1 or 2 negative product issues as long as the problem is very minor, a matter of personal taste or has an easy, existing ‘fix’. (That’s what made me think they were legit unbiased consumer product review sites.) One of the review sites that deleted my ‘honest’ review was the very site that swayed me when I was deciding between Dell and another brand of laptop.

    The comment above is obviously ‘my opinion’ but it was garnered from a LOT of research into the experience of other many consumers. To others dealing with this (thousands have been affected) there are links to articles about the faulty Dell adapters on the many forum threads complaining about this issue on But no one from Dell has answered any posts about this on that forum in months. On Dell’s own forum they have completely stopped addressing this complaint.

    Thanks for advocating for consumers on that thread Brad. I’ll keep reading your blogs and learning.

  4. Foo Bar permalink
    June 7, 2009 7:52 pm

    My last 4 laptops have all been Dell… and every single one has had problems with the power system. I’ve had to replace 4-5 AC adapters that failed with the dreaded “run slower and won’t charge”, and I’ve had to replace 2 motherboards where the power circuit on board failed.
    I read in a blog by a former Dell employee that Dell has an official policy that tech support people must NOT acknowledge any problem that is not in the official database, even when every single person in the call center has heard about it dozens of times. In fact actually trying to HELP a customer with an unacknowledged problem gets them fired. So don’t blame the rep for acting stupid, chances are he knows all about your problem but just can’t afford to lose his job.
    Soo… I’m done with Dell. I won’t buy a Dell again. But are there any other brands that can be trusted?

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