"Buyer Beware!"on by halcyontib
Pros Cool case design, powerful machine
Cons Dishonest Customer/Tech Support Practices, Doubtful Product Longevity
Summary My husband and I ordered two Area-51M 7700 laptops from Alienware.
We had no problems ordering the laptops, or receiving them. At one point one of the components went on back-order, but it did not delay shipping. We received our laptops and were very excited.
Seemed fine, but it had a bright green pixel that won't go away. Now, I realize nothing's perfect, but it is a HUGE bummer to have to ship back a brand new laptop the next day to have it switched out. They promise a 200 point quality inspection, maybe they just missed this? Or maybe it happened during shipping. Luckily, the dead pixel is in the center square and they say they'll replace it. We were still giving them the benefit of the doubt.
My husband was fortunate to have a perfect LCD screen, no dead pixels, and everything seemed to be working fine.
Then, two days after receiving the laptops he has a video issue: the screen goes haywire for a little bit, then returns to normal. It happened once that day. Now it occurs more frequently. It has caused his computer to crash numerous times. I know from experience (it happened to one of our other desktops) that it is a video card issue. It has already gotten worse, and will probably continue to get worse until the card eventually gives out altogether...
He called tech support to ask them to either send out an on-site technician or a replacement video card. They refused, and instead had him open his laptop up, remove the keyboard, unscrew things, etc. He did what they asked him to, being extremely careful. He was then asked to remove the heatsink from the video card processor. He replies that he doesn't have any heat sink goo, which is necessary to safely replace the heat sink after it has been removed. If he were to replace it without heat sink goo, eventually it could overheat and fry the video card, and possibly overheat and damage other parts of the laptop. And he has to tell tech support this! A less experienced customer would not know this and would end up damaging their laptop by following tech support instructions. The call ended with them promising to send him the heat sink goo within 4 days and that when he received it he should call them back for further instructions.
They should NEVER EVER ask a customer to open up their laptop. A desktop, maybe. In addition, asking the customer to do something that could cause damage to the computer is inexcusable! On top of that, this all occurred after they refused to honor their warranty by arranging an on-site technician. Their tech support practices are irresponsible, unprofessional and just down right unacceptable.
So the next day he called back to ask some questions about why they won't send out a technician. They actually tell him that they only send out a technician if they deem the caller to be technically inexperienced and incapable of carrying out the diagnostic/repair themselves. When asked what criteria they use, he was actually told that age and gender were the two main determining factors! (Hmm... nothing in their warranty says that only under-aged females can receive on-site technical support.)
**After asking some more questions about their warranty, out of the blue, the customer support representative tells him that it is illegal for him to record this phone conversation and that it is not permissible in a court of law!! Needless to say, my husband was not recording the call and had made no insinuation that he was. At that point, he became very, very concerned about the integrity of Alienware. And I share his concern.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Alienware is 0 for 2 on our laptops. Basically we ordered two $4000 fixer uppers.
We have decided to return our computers. We are not going to go any further with their tech support. The fact that their warranty borders on fraudulent because they refuse to send out an on-site technician put the nail in the coffin. I suspect that they will try to hassle us when we try to return our laptops. Hopefully this nightmare will end for us soon.
**There is nothing worse than the sick feeling you get in your stomach after having spent $8000 on defective products and not having your warranty honored.**
And to those in doubt, or who would defend Alienware by trying to besmirch my character as a reviewer, I will say the following:
-We at no point in time yelled or were discourteous to the numerous tech support reps we talked to.
-We are both highly experienced with both software and hardware and have built our own desktop PCs many times in the past. We both work in the tech industry, I am a web developer and my husband is a software engineer who built desktop machines for a computer company when he was in college. We are high-end users who purchased what are advertised as being high-end machines. We did NOT accidentally or purposely ruin the machines ourselves.
-We are not complainers/whiners, nor are we out to get Alienware. In my lifetime I have only ever posted one or two bad product reviews. On the other hand, I have posted many positive reviews of excellent products that have been worth the money. Unfortunately this isn't one of them.
-We have had experience with many companies including Dell (laptop) and Apple (desktop) and have never come across dishonest or unsafe policies such as those practiced by Alienware.
-We are not giving up too easily. They promised something, and they did not deliver. If they have no intention of following through on their warranty, they should not make the promise in the first place. It’s called false advertising.
-Can some of these problems be resolved with a big investment of time and effort? Possibly, but the question should be… Should a customer who just spent thousands of dollars have to spend hours trying to convince tech support to honor their warranty? The short answer is NO.
-There comes a point when bad reviews are no longer just a minority and should be ignored or at most taken with a grain of salt. Since having these problems, I have done research and found that NUMEROUS other customers have had the same issues, while others staunchly support the company.
-I suspect that those satisfied Alienware customers are those who were lucky enough to receive a laptop that worked. I see the potential for these to be powerful computers... unfortunately they also have a higher than average potential to be lemons. A $4000 laptop purchase should NOT be a game of Russian roulette. If you go ahead and decide to buy a laptop from them, do NOT say that you were not warned.
Pros The screen is bright and crisp. System performs adequately for office tasks such as Word, Excel, and web browsing.
Cons Many. Short list: Frequent lock-ups during gaming that you would not expect from a system with this price tag. Had to replace the video card once, and it took 5 support calls before they were convinced that I had a problem! Video lag - Audio and video out
Pros Faster than many desktops on the market, comletely customizable.
Cons Expensive, but it's an Alienware.
Summary The Area-51m is the pinnacle of today's laptops. Alienware already has proven itself to be the forerunner in the gaming department for computers, and this laptop is a testament to that legacy. Also, Alienware's technical support is the absolute best, no "on hold" waiting lines, and no talking to "technical specialtists" who don't know what a BIOS is, let alone don't speak English. While many may be scared away by the prices, these laptops are killers. Not only are they portable, but they pack a lot of power. My Area-51m is running an Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.0ghz processor, has 2GBs of RAM, a 60GB Raptor HDD, and a Radeon 9800 Mobility graphics card. My laptop is the absolute fastest at LAN parties, and attracts a lot of attention in its "Cyborg Green" casing. In my opinion, laptops can't get any better than this, unless it was free.
Cons I'm very disappointed with the purchase or my alienware area 51-m Laptop. After I have bought the Laptop I have had nothing but trouble with it. I have sent the laptop for repair twice. And when it got back the 1st time from repair, I thought it would be
Pros When it runs, it is awesome
Cons It never runs. Non-Existant customer service or escalation path
Summary It took me a month to get them to even authorize my sale, I should have known then to cancel and run, but i gave them the benefit of the doubt. So the PC arrived, adn ran for 24 hours before the screen wnet black. so about 3 hours on the phone with tech support where they have me doing all the repairs (even though I paid for an on site warranty) it gets shipped back to alienware for aproximately 12 days, taking the majority of my 30 day money back guarantee time away from me.
When it comes back it runs ok for about 6 weeks, then it locks up again. this time apparently bad video. always freezes in intense apps, adn always in the same spot. this time 2DAYS with tech support adn rthey surmise its thermal jelly. they won;t replace my video card until I try this. so the send it US postal mail, and so far 10 days later i still don't have it. I am goign to have to get a lawyer involved to get my money back. heck, I'd settle for break even at this point. Do yourself a favor and do not buy alienware. i've read many of the other reviews, and i have to concur with most of the negative experiences. the positive ones have been lucky. I have a 2800 paperweight.