Saga of trying to buy an Ubuntu Dell with CompleteCare (tm) support

On Friday, my laptop died. It was an Acer. The screen was damaged. Replacement cost of cracked screen is more than halfway to the cost of a new laptop. So I decide I will support the new Ubuntu Dell Laptops.

I go online to Dell's Website and go to the Ubuntu page. I choose the E1505n. I upgrade to a GB of Ram, I get the Nvidia 256 MB graphics card, I get the DVD burner optical drive. So far so good. I am happy with the default processor and the screen. Now, another driving factor is that Dell has the nifty cool complete care (tm) plan. With this bad boy, a random brick can fly through the air, hit my laptop, shatter it to threads, and Dell will cover it. Think of it more as an insurance plan than a service plan. I have a friend with 3 kids who has had to take advantage of it not once, but twice. Both times Dell took care of them no questions asked. Now, the first time the Dell laptop had XP on it...the second time..gentoo. Still, no problems here.

So, I decide to get it....just in case I get burned twice.

On June 2, I get an email telling me my order has been acknowledged and I will get another email shortly giving me a order number (I also paid for next day shipping). Well, the rest of June 2 and all of June 3 goes by. No new email. I check my spam folder...nada...just the usual assortment of male enhancement and refi deals. So on June 4 I call Dell. They can see no order...they can see they debited my account...but no order. Hmmm...confusing. Very sorry, sir. Let me talk to my supervisor, please hold. She has no explanation for the lost order, but she will reprocess the order and I will get my next day shipping for free since I lost time. YAY!

But wait! When we "build" my Dell, there is no longer a Complete Care (tm) plan for Ubuntu. She puts me on hold. She find out that my order was bumped out since they changed the policy on offering Complete Care (tm) on Ubuntu Dells. Why? She puts me on hold. Now comes the fun.

"Sir, Ubuntu is a third party software and applications come from sources not from Dell."

"Vista is a product of Dell?"

"No sir, but we have a relationship with MS."

"So you do not have a relationship with Canonical, the commercial company that sponsors Ubuntu?"

"Hold.........Yes we do, but the software for other things comes from third parties."

"So what if I buy a game for a Vista laptop from Best Buy? As that is a third party software..does that invalidate a Complete Care (tm) policy?"

"No, sir."

"What if I download an update from Microsoft to keep my Vista Current, how does that differ from an update from Ubuntu other than the fact the Ubuntu update actually helps my system?"

"I do not know sir. See, sir, Linux comes from all over the place and as such cannot be supported."

"I believe Redhat and even Microsoft differ with that opinion. I am not looking for support, that is another option I can click on another screen in your website. I am looking for protection from bricks. The laws of physics do not differ from one OS to the other...do they?"

"No Sir."

"Talking to your superior will not help my cause, do you have the phone number and email address of an executive do you?"

She gave it to me. I wrote an email. I expressed my concerns politely and professionally.

The person I contacted replied to me the following:"Mr. Green,

Thank you for your note and a chance to solve this issue. I am about to get on an airplane, but will get your issue to our executive resolution team. They should be able to resolve. If you are not satisfied, please do not hesitate to contact me again.

Thank you for your business.

Todd XXXXX"

I will be honest, I thought I was being tossed about like a hot potato. Earlier this morning I received a phone call from an executive in the resolution team by the name of Diane. She was very professional. She said she was unaware of the policy change. She discussed the issue with her peers and they do not understand the logic of this policy. She agrees that the OS does not have any bearing on hardware issues covered in the complete care (tm) offering. She is going to move further up the food chain to investigate this (along with the reduced normal warranty) and call me back later today.

I am actually beginning to get hopeful here. I will say that no one at Dell that I have spoken with has been rude. They have all been professional, but I need to keep going up the chain until this can be offered to Ubuntu Dell consumers again. I will keep you all updated.

I would like to thank Fabian at Ubuntu for passing this up the food chain to Canonical, the Ubuntu community, and the idea share community.

More to come,

Cheers

Patrick

Follow-up to the story

I received a follow up call from Diane from Dell on my way home from work today. She told me that when I had called, the assumption was that marketing had made a decision. However, since she agreed with me, she was not in her words, "tell a customer who wants a service from us that he cannot have it based on a theory." She pushed my case up to a VP who got back to her ten minutes after they released the the press release regarding their explanation. I do not know why I was told what I was told in the initial call. Simple fact was, everyone was polite, everyone was professional, and they responded in my (and all Ubuntu buyers) favor. My new Dell is ordered and should be here soon. Today, they earned my money.

The Codebreakers, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a link to the first episode of a BBC two-part series called, "The Codebreakers", whose focus is FOSS, or Free and Open Source Software. Some fascinating stuff here and well worth watching. You can view the second part below.

Sue Me First, Microsoft

Want to get sued by Microsoft? Then read on. At the end of this post, you'll have your opportunity. By now, you've no doubt heard the story that Microsoft claims that Linux and FOSS violates at least 235 of their patents. Once again, Microsoft innnovates through intimidation and litigation. Does anyone really think they'll come clean as to which patents Linux supposedly violates? To quote Ballmer, "What's fair is fair." Well, fair comes with a price, even for the mega-rich like Mr. Ballmer. If he honestly means what he says, that is. In that corner wherein our wildest imagination wanders about, can we even begin to conceive that Microsoft might allow their closed source to be examined for the patents it might violate?

Among my favorite lines in the article is "The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's patents." In other words, only commercial software could be of high quality so if free software is good, it must have stolen from non-free software. If it's got to be commercial to be good, then you have to wonder what their excuse is for putting out so much crap.

Well, Christian Einfeldt, over at the Digital Tipping Point, has thrown down the virtual gauntlet and started an online petition where signees request that Microsoft sue them first. Or to put it another way, "Hey, Microsoft! Put up or shut up!" To add your name to Christian's list, head over to his Sue me first Microsoft list.

Codebreakers

In May 2006, the BBC aired a documentary it called "The Codebreakers". This two-part series looked into the adoption of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) and its impact on the so-called digital divide. Some nice history and interesting interviews make this worth watching. Enjoy!

Soon, my pretties

Soon, my pretties, I shall join the lush tropical landscape of Ubuntu, and leave behind the frigid wastelands of Fedora. Long have I camped in the lands of Red Hat, but after using Ubuntu and having things "just work" (like MIDI) without requiring Herculean efforts, I have opted to try Ubuntu on my main machine. Soon... very sooon... :)

Facebook WFTL-LUG

This LUG lives mostly via the wftl-lug@salmar.com mailing list, but it doesn't stop us from having a presence in a whole lot of other places. So, why not join the Facebook version as well. Just click here to join and let the Facebook world know about the WFTL-LUG.

FC6 Wireless

I have been using the 64 bit edition of Fedora Core 6 for a few weeks now and I am really impressed with the speed of it all. The main problem I had was getting the wireless adapter to work, I had gone into The #fedora channel for some help, and all I got several times on different days was "use Ndiswrapper" after telling them that that was what I was trying, I was ignored. This is the problem in Linux, and the reason I try my hardest to support it. When people get flustered with it, they are flustered with you, and you may nit be the problem, that is why when I get that way, I stop working on what I has flustered me and go onto something new, or I just play a game.

When people confront me when they are like that I have to be very careful how I answer them as I may come across as being smart or smug. I have to remind myself to always say I realise that you may have been asked this, but have you done this. This is what the Linux community needs to work on as that is the main complaint I have recieved through all of my conulting. Other than that.... KEEP UP THE HARD WORK!!

When are CEOs going to get ticked off?

In my opinion the computer hardware industry is being pushed around by the gamers and multimedia markets. I have a TV for watching video content and a radio for music. I do not NEED a multimedia computer at home, (but it is nice if I can) but it is certainly not necessary in the office environment.

Why are there no computers made for the business environment? Thin clients are an alternative. Marcel Gagne has written an excellent chapter about thin clients in his book "Moving to the Linux Business Desktop". There is also an article he wrote about a specific installation of thin clients but I can't find it now.

It would be refreshing to hear that some key players in industry took Intel and AMD plus DELL and Lenovo to task and told them that industry needs a sub $150.00 workstation. They can do it. Just keep producing P3 750 MHZ boxes. The R&D has been paid for on this equipment, just keep cranking them out. I have one of these and it runs Linux and lots of apps just fine (including video)

I can hear the "it is not that much argument" now. My reply to that is "we have not that muched" ourselves into national debts that we have no idea how big they are. So come to think of it, all agencies that are supported by tax dollars need sub $150.00 workstations as well.

To get an idea of how much a company can save by using older less powerful equipment go to: http://news.com.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html
The businessman in this article found some real advantages in supplying his workforce with the equipment and software that they needed to get their jobs done.

I am not criticizing the purchasing choices made today by anyone in IT. I believe that for the most part they do not have much choice. They are boxed in by the offerings of the computer equipment companies.

I wonder if a few CEO's of some large corporations can make the sub $150.00 workstation happen? Depends, if they get ticked off enough about their IT equipment expenses.

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