PC Hardware forum

General discussion

Need an alternative to Dell for our small business

by printnmail / February 19, 2006 1:38 AM PST

We have been used Dell products exclusively for 5 years. We went with them originally because of the exceptional service, tech support and return policies.

However, it appears that something has changed in Dells service. Perhaps they've sent it overseas or something. We have made 3 unrelated calls in the last 6 weeks, and the tech and warranty support can only be described as horrible. Unintelligible personnel, run-arounds, dead-ends, no resolutions to fairly simple requests, endless on-holds, et al.

Accordingly, we will no longer purchase Dell products, and we are looking for an alternative.

We are a small company with the usual compliment of about 20 desktop systems, a few laptops, two servers, etc. We spend about $15k per year on hardware and software maintenance, upgrades and replacements.

I haven't needed to shop for computer hardware for years, so I don't know who the players in this space are. Can anyone suggest companies that I can research that provide good products, service and warranty support for small businesses such as ours?

Thanks for any assistance.

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Need an alternative to Dell for our small business
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Need an alternative to Dell for our small business
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
IBM used to be there.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 19, 2006 1:56 AM PST

But I can't tell with it's new owners.

However the costs were higher.

-> Today's problems are worse with more pests. Dell and others seem ill equipped to handle such. In fact, I think it proper that they are not conversant about pest issues. That's something for the anti-pest companies to handle.

You don't see a generalist for your heart condition.


Collapse -
I like two companies
by ikjadoon / February 19, 2006 1:59 AM PST

They both are very reliable, and both will offer excellent support. The latter would be perfect for your servers.

1. Monarch PC: Get excellent, good, cheap PC's that'll keep humming forever and if they don't, they'll make sure that it gets fixed.


2. Overdrive PC: A very good company, a bit smaller and more focused on each individual customer. The only thing is that it may be too pricey for your needs.

(OPC has bar-none phone support. Try it.


Collapse -
Monarch PC
by slim-1 / February 24, 2006 12:50 AM PST
In reply to: I like two companies

As a built my own system person with only AMD CPUs and using only top of the line memory, I was very impressed with this company?s product line. I also liked all the OS options available.

If I was going to start a company building my own I would go the same direction they did.

My only negative is that their website isn't the greatest.

Buy the way any major company will likely not give you the kind of info you need to make a wise purchase. This is because they use whatever hardware they can get the cheapest and are hiding the fact that they do.

This is why the first thing they ask for is the Serial Number and not the model number. They have to look it up before they know what you have on your system.

The reason all the major PC companies have tech support that is going down hill is that with hardware changes happening all the time, they can't keep up with it. They have to give canned answers coming from a database.

Collapse -
Monarch Computers
by DT1221 / March 22, 2012 2:51 PM PDT
In reply to: I like two companies

It's a shame monarch computers went out of business they were a good company while they were active. I used to buy all my pc's strictly from them, but after they went out of business I was forced to try other companies like HP, Gateway, Dell, but I just don't like the customer service they provide and I don't like that they don't really give too many options to choose from on your PC. A few months ago, I did manage to find an alternative that I really like, Ironside Computers. A few people recommended them, so I checked them out. They appear to be mainly gaming PC, but I decided to speak to one their reps anyway. He advised me on what to get that would fit my needs, and I placed my order with them, and it arrived at my door a week and a half later. It arrived in tact and booted up right away Overall, I'm very happy with my computer and with the service Ironside gives. Definitely try them if you're looking for a better alternative to Dell.

Collapse -
by damasta55r / February 19, 2006 2:11 AM PST

20 gateways instead?

as for laptops-hp/compaq are okay. but ibm the best.

servers- since its small-business, you could get any server, so whichever is cheap and dependable.

Collapse -
Gateway? HAH!
by deeluve22 / February 24, 2006 11:12 PM PST
In reply to: RE:

Gateway's service and support went down the toilet long before Dell's, IMHO.

Collapse -
by TSVAMP / March 5, 2006 10:38 PM PST
In reply to: RE:

Being in a larg corporation that heavily uses DELL I would only have to think they must have sent the support overseas with the home users for small companies. We have always had incredible service and continue to do so on a daily basis. So If you are going to a different route hardware wise I would have to agree with a few people on Monarch Computers. As far as laptops go Toshiba Tecra, Sony VIAO but reimage the machie to get the crud SONY loads on the off it. So make sure you have a corp License for the reimage. Servers IBM still makes a good server BOX as does HP. Even tiger direct has a few really good clone servers. Another thought on PC's is if you are doing high end graphics work Alienware makes a hell of a machine. It really depends on your budget and what your company is doing for me to give you the best answers. The guy that said IBM laptops are the best is out of his mind. I have worked for 10 companies over the last 30 years and have had nothing but crappy luck with the Support and the quality of the machines that IBM/LENOVA builds. The Hard drives were constantly dying and over various problems with the machines not surviving X-ray machines at airports etc....

Collapse -
alternative to Dell for hardware
by slow2k5 / February 19, 2006 2:12 AM PST

I am in a very similar situation. Recently, it seems like Dell's support has been atrocious. I would estimate that it has been outsourced to India (what hasn't?), and the previously stellar service that I received simply doesn't exist anymore.

My practice is fed up using Dell and we are considering switching the whole business to Apple.

It seems like Dell is content with the marketshare it has and is simply looking to slowly erode that marketshare while taking the profits.

I'm expecting Dell to not be a major player in the computer hardware space within another 5 years or so, and I'm looking to organizations that can provide hardware support past that mark, so I'm talking with Apple and IBM.

Collapse -
Re: alternative to Dell for hardware (also Apple?)
by bctinc / February 23, 2006 9:11 PM PST


I spent about 5 years of my life devoted exclusively to Apple Mac and Unix internal software development for a small company back in mid-80's. The Apple development was just fun and exciting and new. The Unix was, too, but just not as "cool" as Apple.

Now, for the past 6 years I've been doing Java/Web development for my small business using Dell systems. I've even recommended Dell systems to my clients. While some of their support has gone down the tubes, I find that I'm able to cut through most of their support-people and get the needed answer, software, or warranty fix - usually at low or no-cost to me.

Apple for your business? You may have a solution there. Sure, they're a bit "exclusive" and a bit "overpriced" but in most studies that I've seen and from my own personal experience, "using" Apple day-in and day-out was always a pleasure. Just my $0.02

Good luck!


Collapse -
by midge5 / February 24, 2006 6:18 AM PST

i have just purchased my first new computer and was recommended dell...i wish i had read this page first.!!by the way they are in malaysia not india...near penang, she said

Collapse -
at least Apple support is still in the US...
by ALSOMYSELF500 / March 1, 2006 4:45 PM PST

I guess it boils down to what you and your employees are most comfortable with. Whatever you discide make sure they are BUSINESS class machines. Unfortunately the odds are when you buy this many computers; chances are that you will have problems with at least one. It would be a good idea to factor in the local tech and make sure he/she is available in case of emergency. After all you have a business to run and mailing a computer to Canada because the local tech doesn't have the parts/and or knowledge is not an option. Remember power surges happen!! Someone WILL spill coffee on a keyboard, knock over a monitor or forget that magnets are bad.

For phone support I have had few issues with Dell as long I call before 4:00, after that you might as well troubleshoot the problem yourself. If you call Apple support you actually do get someone in the states and I have received consistently good service. Apple is expensive, but you get what you pay for and I have never had any issues with them. HP support has been a mixed bag so far they are 1 for 4, one good agent, 2 ok ones and one bad.

Lastly, I would look into online support options. A good company will have a detailed description of common problems with easy to follow solutions. Just get your most inexperienced employee to find online support. If they can find it you have a good web site which should help you discide on a company.

Collapse -
alternative to Dell for hardware
by slow2k5 / February 19, 2006 2:12 AM PST

I am in a very similar situation. Recently, it seems like Dell's support has been atrocious. I would estimate that it has been outsourced to India (what hasn't?), and the previously stellar service that I received simply doesn't exist anymore.

My practice is fed up using Dell and we are considering switching the whole business to Apple.

It seems like Dell is content with the marketshare it has and is simply looking to slowly erode that marketshare while taking the profits.

I'm expecting Dell to not be a major player in the computer hardware space within another 5 years or so, and I'm looking to organizations that can provide hardware support past that mark, so I'm talking with Apple and IBM.

Collapse -
Be sure to understand Robert's
by Ray Harinec / February 19, 2006 3:33 AM PST

point and that of the others that limit the subject to hardware.

The main problems nowadays are viri, spyware, malware, etc, none of which fit the concept of support by any of the hardware vendors.

The offshore support is usually terrible, but not much that one can do about it.

The one recco for Monarch Computers is excellent IF you get the problem down to a hardware issue.

You need a sharp IT guy, or one that comes to forums such as this to solve their malware problems.

Got a lot of good people here for that, AND they work for nothing but Thank You's.

Collapse -
We try to direct our support requests
by printnmail / February 19, 2006 5:57 AM PST

to the appropriate party, although the problem is not always that easily isolated. In the past few cases with Dell, it has been clearly hardware related such as bad boards, failed memory, etc.

We have an outside company for network and systems service that always gets the first call.

What I do expect in the area of service is 1) to get to a real person who 2) speaks english well enough to deal with the fact that we are not computer technicians and 3) will not automatically assume that our lack of technical knowledge means that it's software or operator error and 4) gives me the option of getting to a more experienced person or supervisor when too much time is spent on a issue, and finally 5) deal with warranty issues honorably and quickly and replacing as required without the third degree.

I don't believe that any of the above is unreasonable.

Thanks to all who have responded. We'll start looking into the options tomorrow!

Collapse -
Since someone mentioned Gateway..(hi Ray! check your email!)
by Brandon Eng / February 20, 2006 12:07 PM PST

I'm a build it yourselfer, but my last laptop was a Gateway. Not exactly something I could open up and troubleshoot w/out some help. My calls to Gateway were answered in less than 5 mins (they told me they try to keep the hold time under 7 miins), they spoke fluent English, and didn't treat me like an idiot- I have to say being somewhat familiar with computers made it easier on them, but they stayed on the line long enough to troubleshoot everything, in my case, screen flicker. Turns out it was a bad battery, which was promptly replaced since it was still under warranty- I suspected this when I troubleshot the problem myself and the flicker went away when I took the battery out; still, they did everything to make sure it was in fact the battery. I have to say I was quite impressed with their service.

My new laptop is a Compaq- a company I never would have recommended before their merger with HP. Had to call them once; wait time about 20 mins. Service was friendly and thorough. My brother in law has an HP desktop, and he said their tech support was excellent. Both HP and Compaq provide tech support via "live chat" also. I tested it once just for the heck of it; I think I was talking to a bot, and arrived at the solution before whatever was on the other end. When I told the tech the solution, the response was "wow", lol. So, via my personal experience, I'd say Gateway or Compaq/HP. I bought the Compaq laptop cuz there were only 2 companies at the time that had 64 bit chips; Acer and Compaq. I'm not sorry I bought the Compaq, and the only reason I don't use the Gateway laptop anymore is because my daughter spilled soup into it, which isn't covered by my extended warranty. Good luck in your search.

Collapse -
Another plug for Gateway
by drobinson1 / February 23, 2006 10:39 PM PST

In my previous life I was a sys admin who got such a great price from Dell I couldn't resist the purchase of 30 new desktops. (We had 250 total and over 30 servers at the time - mid 90's)

Within 6 months I had 18 memory cards go bad and bring the machines down. That meant 18 initial calls to Dell, some call backs taking more than 2 days to get to them to admit that I really did have ANOTHER bad memory card, I WAS under warranty and to send me a new one. 18 times I was put through such insane questions and treated as though I must surely be mistaken that I eventually told them their new slogan from me would be "It'll be a cold day in >>>> before I buy another Dell."

I went with Gateways from then on and was NEVER disappointed with my choice. Dell's service has been bad for years, I'm surprised anyone ever thought they were efficient or pleasant to deal with.

Collapse -
My Dell Nightmare...
by susjs / February 24, 2006 2:30 AM PST

As a former network admin., I had a fairly new Dell server that kept telling me it needed it's battery charged. After going through the charging process several times with no success, I opened the server up to see if the battery was even connected. There was NO battery.

So, I called Dell and explained the problem. They didn't believe me and treated me like I was an idiot. Finally, after allowing them to "walk me through" how to find the battery three times, they decided I was right.

Now the dilemna - they couldn't ship me a new battery because I had no "bad" battery to exchange (company policy, don't you know?!). Their solution? First they shipped me a bad battery, then when the new battery came, I had to ship back the bad one.....

Collapse -
Seems the person on the line kwew what to do.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 24, 2006 2:49 AM PST
In reply to: My Dell Nightmare...

That was brillant.

As to them not believing you about the battery, it happens all the time. Many could not identify such and I hope you understand that they have to keep trying.

What works for me is to email them a photo.

Then it's done.


Collapse -
I too have had good luck with HP
by Alan Copeland / February 25, 2006 9:42 PM PST

I bought one OCmpaq and swore it would be my last. Bought an HP Pavilion in May and another 2 weeks ago. As with any brand, you can get a bad customer support person; I got one such in July (didn't understand HP warranty on a refurb. scanner) and another last Saturday (spoke but didn't understand English), but if the problem is severe, they step you up to senior support personnel who have been 100% in mye experience. Also, if you go to the business side of HP, there are monitors and so forth that you don't see on the consumer side.

In passing, I have 2 HP PCs, 2 digital cameras, 1 scanner and 3 printers, and if I had to buy again tomorrow I would call HP 1st.

Collapse -
The offshore support is really a PITA.
by Ray Harinec / February 21, 2006 5:38 AM PST

A few months ago there were reports that Dell was constructing a large building in North Carolina for support. HOWEVER more recently I read where Dell planned to greatly increase there off shore support.

The other PITA about Dell is their use of proprietary hardware and refusal to give detailed info about it.

The idea about having such as Monarch [or such other]building a system is great because they will use standard components and you will be able to get replacements at competitive prices. I doubt that provide on-site support as I think some outfits such as Dell "offer"

Collapse -
by James Farmer / February 23, 2006 10:25 PM PST

Try not to buy from companies that outsource to other countries. The American people need to stand up and be heard.

Collapse -
I Agree
by Willy / February 20, 2006 10:47 PM PST

Sticking with traditional OEM type server vendors/makers, only HP and IBM can provide on the same level as Dell. While you chew on that then consider once the warranty period is over shop around for "local support" service to help maintain them afterwards. Of course that's if your area is well supported by local talent. With this in mind then for h/w check out what local vendors sell in network and standalone systems. When it comes to h/w that's the easy stuff, its the s/w support you need to really be sure can be maintained and/or resolved, thus good local support once you go that route. Support pricing maybe the same but at least to can reach out and talk to someone you can at least understand.

FYI - Dell has gone down in service. The number one item, IMHO is honestly the lack of understanding what's being said as off-shore support isn't American English. Its a huge falling out and Dell can't make these people speak differently so they live with and hope you will too. Yeah, right....

tada -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
New computers
by drbooth / February 23, 2006 8:26 PM PST

Hi Printnmail,
Was following your question with interest and have a suggestion for you. I am not a proponent of doing advertising for anyone but a company called pugetsystems has an excellent reputation. In fact, they are in the process of building me a new system now.
They have certain workstations already configured but you can customize them any way you want. You can also build (not literally) a system from the ground up to your specifications.
In dealing with them, I have been more than satisfied. Check out the reviews for them to get an idea of what others are thinking and check out the site for yourself at:
You may find what you are looking for...
Have a good day.

Collapse -
Seems to be a very good option
by slim-1 / February 24, 2006 12:29 AM PST
In reply to: New computers

Carries AMD, good motherboard brands etc...

I build my own and they seem do pretty much have the same level of hardware options I like.

Collapse -
New Computers addon to my reply to printnmail
by drbooth / May 18, 2006 1:16 PM PDT
In reply to: New computers

I have received my new computer from PugetSystems and must tell you that I am impressed. They not only built it with the hardware/software I wanted, but also included all disks/docs/extra hardware, etc.. that were used to build this system.
I am reasonably sure that you have already pursured the avenue you wanted to go concerning your problem, but thought I would add on this comment to inform someone that might be interested. Again, I am not in the habit of advertising for anyone but like I stated...I am impressed with this system.

Collapse -
For an alternative to Dell
by ricky_chopra / February 23, 2006 10:48 PM PST

I've been using HP computers for years, for both business and personal use. I've found that they require less maintenance. Their Tech Support is excellent. As an alternative to telephone assistance, they also have Instant Messaging with a qualified technician. They have a very informative wedbsite. HP Shopping will even help you with your seletion of computers, printers, all-in-ones, etc. Check it out for yourself at: www.hpshopping.com

Collapse -
buympc.com is great alternative
by fred nesselhuf / February 23, 2006 11:05 PM PST

I've used Dell, HP, and Gateway for a while now, but a great alternative is the old Micron PC company, now named MPC and can be found at http://www.buympc.com

Collapse -
by slim-1 / February 24, 2006 12:22 AM PST

They don't seem to do AMD systems. I don't do Intel.

Collapse -
My Blood BOILS
by here2earn / February 23, 2006 11:19 PM PST

During the 2005 Christmas holidays we mistakenly purchased two laptops for gifts thinking we'd get the same high quality customer service from Dell as always. That is when the nightmare began and has not yet ended. We are still waiting on credit for one of the computers that was inoperable and was returned. They have had it in "custody" for well over 30 days. We have documented about 25 hours of phone time with this pitiful excuse for a company. We have faxes, email trails, letters etc. We have exhausted every avenue they have. We have used the http://www.planetfeedback.com route (that did result in a returned phone call). It is to the point that we are going to write the BBB in Texas, the Texas Attorney General and whatever else it takes to make them stop using our credit to finance their miserable company.

We replaced the returned Dell with an HP. When we buy the next computer this year it will also be an HP. I cannot give Dell a thumbs up on anything. Our experience with Dell is extraordinarily negative. I hope others will spare themselves the nightmare we are going through.


Collapse -
As far as your credit...
by Brandon Eng / February 24, 2006 12:51 AM PST
In reply to: My Blood BOILS

Have you lodged a disputed claim with your credit card company? If you haven't, interest will continue to accrue. While the charge is in dispute, you wont get hit with interest, and, if you provide enough documentation, they should just credit your money back- assuming Tx. laws apply.

I've become a real HP/Compaq fan after my Compaq laptop purchase. Good luck.

Popular Forums
Computer Help 51,224 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,453 discussions
Laptops 20,090 discussions
Security 30,722 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,937 discussions
Windows 10 1,295 discussions
Phones 16,252 discussions
Windows 7 7,684 discussions
Networking & Wireless 15,215 discussions


Roku Streaming Stick 2016

Roku has the most apps, the simplest interface and the best search, making it CNET's favorite way to stream Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO and all the rest.