When I bought my Dell desktop 2 1/2 years ago, my husband insisted I get the extended warranty, which I did. I had the same symptoms of an imminent power supply failure - harder to start, erratic start, and no start. When the problem of starting began, I called Dell and they sent out a technician in less than 24 hours and of course, it worked perfectly, BUT the technician said he thought it was a power supply failure evolving and he was right. When I called Dell and told them of the previous visit, there was no taking my word for it, and my husband and I went through the lengthy talk-through on removing the case, etc. and finally, the person on the other end said, "yes, it's a power supply failure" and within 24 hours, it was fixed, in house.
Not being savvy with the inner workings, did it cost me more to have the power supply replaced this way, or for an ignoramus, was this the best bet?
In any event, I have to say that in my experience, Dell did a good job in handling the situation, or maybe I just got lucky with the technician in this area. I have a Gateway notebook (bought based on my previous positive experience with them) and I usually go through 3 or 4 phone calls until I get someone who actually sounds like they know what they're talking about and then take their advice - however, in order to have something less than minor taken care of, it's the same answer: send it to us and we'll solve the problem after we've reformatted the hard drive. Needless to say, I'm not going to be a Gateway customer again!