Dell has been attacked by a PC Week reader over the way it handles customer upgrades.
Nick Challoner, who works for a London-based IT consultancy running a network of 12 Dell PCs, was annoyed that Dell actively discouraged customers from buying third-party upgrades.
Challoner recently needed to back up a Dell Dimension XPS P133c tower, along with a few other machines on the company network, so he purchased an internal tape drive from Conner. However, when he came to install it, the slot in the Dell chassis was wider than the industry standard 5.25in bay. Consequently, the Conner tape drive could not be slotted directly into the chassis and screw into place
The instruction in the Dell user guide described special plastic drive rails which need to be fitted into the bay in order to install extra drives.
The guide states: "If the drive does not already have drive rails, attach a drive rail to each side of the drive."
According to Challoner, however, there was no mention of how to obtain these drive rails so he called Dell technical support who explained he would have to buy drive rails from the company for #35. "I wasn't prepared to pay extra so I called customer care to complain and asked if these rails could be supplied free of charge." After a bit of haggling Dell dropped the price of the two plastic drive rails and screws to #15.
In response to PC Week's enquiries, Dell phoned Challoner and agreed to supply the rails free of charge. However he was told by a Dell sales manager that, like car manufacturers, Dell expected customers to buy PC components supplied by Dell.
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Dell: the official line
"Dell, in line with most manufacturers, designs its chassis to accept most forms of externally accessibly drives. To ensure that our systems will accept these varied devices and their various sizes, we have built our drive bays to allow almost all the various sized drives to fit with the assistance of guide rails or screws. This flexibility allows our customers to fit many varied types of drives inside Dell machines. If Dell were to limit the drive bay size to a set format, this would rule out the use of many of today's externally accessible drives where drive sizes do vary, even slightly. In short, our approach is based on offering customers maximum flexibility."
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