Voided Warranty?
October 5, 2009 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Is a Dell technician going to discover I've opened the computer before?

The video card on my Dell XPS M1330 has crapped out. It's under warranty, so a quick chat with Dell support has them sending a technician out to replace the motherboard in the next few days. I just remembered, however, that I've opened the laptop a few times to clean dust out of the fans and adjust a cable that was being pinched. Will the tech be able to tell, and more importantly, will they refuse to service the laptop or charge me under the grounds that I've voided my warranty?

The problem I'm having with the M1330's video card appears to be widespread (see: "colored vertical lines" problem), so it's unlikely that i caused or affected it in any way by opening it up.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
So here's a great story about Dell technical support:

We had three systems in the office that each had GeForce GT8800 video cards. These are better cards than the three of us have at home, and we don't play games here so, score, free upgrade.

I brought mine home no problem, swapped in my Radeon, off to the races.

My friend opens his case and tries to pull the card, no luck.

I give a try. The PCI-X is a bitch to extract as it has a clip you have to negotiate away and things in the way can make that difficult. So I reach in and pull, using normal strength, after the clip is out of the way.

The card proceeds to rip the entire slot off the motherboard. All that's left are bare pins where the PCI-X slot used to live.

I called them up and told them same, it was under warranty; had a tech out in 24 hours, motherboard in hand, who reinstalled everything for me. Pulled the card from that one just fine. Done and done.

He was finished in an hour and did great work.

They source out to third party companies but my experience is that they're very understanding. There was no label or "warranty protection" on these boxes at all; they're all basic OEM parts. Now this is differently from a laptop, but I'm guessing it'll be just fine.

Seriously, the entire SLOT came out. But we both have much better video cards at home now.
posted by disillusioned at 6:33 PM on October 5, 2009

Ok two answers here:

1) as long as you put it back together the same way, there is no way they could know (unless there was something you took apart or removed that wasn't meant to be taken apart or removed, which by the sound of it, you haven't)

2) even if they could tell, all you need to tell them is that you were blowing it out with air and the most they would probably do is praise you for keeping your computer clean

They aren't going to care.
posted by kthxbi at 6:47 PM on October 5, 2009

I've had a bunch of dells, and almost every time I've called because I've had a problem, part of the troubleshooting they want me to do is to crack the case, pull out chips, pop out and reseat cards, etc. Usually I've already done the things they want me to try, and they never bat an eye when I tell them I've had the case open already, nor do they give me any trouble about providing the appropriate warranty service/replacement parts.

Dell generally seems to market their systems as being user upgradeable, so I think they expect you may be fiddling around in there a bit.

Good luck.
posted by MsElaineous at 6:47 PM on October 5, 2009

Some of our Dells at my workplace have stickers on them which reveal (by changing color) when the cases have been opened.
posted by box at 6:58 PM on October 5, 2009

If you get any grief from the onsite tech (you won't) all you need to do is say that yes, I opened the case on instruction from phone support.

Seriously, this won't be an issue. Dell's onsite service people are, in my experience, not idiots.
posted by flabdablet at 7:09 PM on October 5, 2009

When my (under warranty) laptop had a bad hard drive, they gave me two options. Either I could ship the whole thing in, or they could just send me a new hard drive and let me swap it out myself. I chose the latter.

What I'm trying to say here is that they actually told me to open up my laptop, and it's still under warranty - I'm sure that you'll be fine.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:28 PM on October 5, 2009

No, it doesn't matter. I have owned several Dells, opened up all of them, and have never been refused warranty repairs.

The techs don't actually work for Dell. They are local contractors who couldn't care less.
posted by special-k at 7:41 PM on October 5, 2009

in the past dells i've worked on, there is only a warranty-void-if-opened-tape on the power supply. But, I haven't played with one made in the last 3 years so YMMV. But as others have said, there's nothing suspicious about an open case. There's a reason they have idiot-friendly hard drive racks and such.
posted by mezamashii at 8:03 PM on October 5, 2009

This is basically a CYA in case your system is DOA. It allows them to always have an out to say, well, you were messing with it first. Thus, no refund, and stop yelling at us sir.
posted by dhartung at 10:05 PM on October 5, 2009


1- Dell will often try to get the caller to do basic hardware troubleshooting if they can.
2- The contractors are paid by machines worked on. If they deny the claim, they don't get paid. The only time they would deny the claim is if the part they are replacing is obviously abused, since they have to send the part back to Dell and will get charged back if the part shows signs of abuse (that weren't in the original claim).
posted by gjc at 3:30 AM on October 6, 2009

India support + 3rd party techs (usually unisys) means they don't care.

Indias tech support will usuallly have you open the case anyway so it doesn't matter.
posted by majortom1981 at 5:15 AM on October 6, 2009

Dell don't care ... I had played around with the innards of my xps m1330 before I got my free motherboard replacement for the same issue you have.

No Problems!
posted by jannw at 6:33 AM on October 6, 2009

Dell's repair reps are just contracted 3rd parties. They are fixed by problem resolution -- they have no benefit to call up Dell and complain you somehow voided the warranty -- unless its SUPER obvious.

This goes as far as occasionally I have had friends get LCD's replaced that were CRACKED by convincing Dell it was just a dead backlight, and the Unisys guy was like .. whatever.. and replaced it.

But back to your question -- as long as its reasonably close to how it was (even if a few screws are missing, or something is unplugged) they wont even notice or care. They aren't product *specialists* -- they just follow the basic assembly instructions Dell provides. I did Dell laptop repair in a previous life and Dell would ship us parts and the repair manual pages. Remove screws 1,2,17. Insert video card, insert screws 17,2,1.
posted by SirStan at 7:08 AM on October 6, 2009

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