Dell Fast Track is a breakthrough in enterprise warranty service

Recently, my company (which has at maybe 4,000 desktop PCs) enrolled in the Dell Fast Track warranty service.  And there was much rejoicing.  Especially by me.  I dread having to call Dell, even their Gold Technical Support.  The reason is, they aren’t warranty agents, they are tech support.  Here’s a good example.

About two months ago, I called on a system that was very close to the end of its warranty.  The audio would not work.  On this model (Optiplex GX 620) the audio is integrated and requires a new system board when faulty.  I ran the hardware diagnostics and called Gold Tech Support when the audio failed.  The technician, of course, wants me to check the drivers and the speakers, etc.  Of course, I have already bypassed that and directly checked the hardware.  To the technician’s credit, he understood this (not all of them do) and ordered a new motherboard for me.  That’s where the trouble started.

I installed the new motherboard (I say new – it was actually marked as refurbished) and had problems.  The system just acted funny.  I know that’s not a good technical description, but strange things were happening that didn’t used to happen before the new motherboard.  Troubleshooting 101 specifies that, if you replace a piece of hardware and end up with new problems immediately after the replacement, then the part you installed was bad.  The Dell tech did not agree.

To prove my point, I installed the mobo into another identical system which had no known issues.  All of a sudden it had issues, like not booting correctly, or taking 10 times as long to boot, or not being able to unlock Windows properly.  The tech told me (I’ll try to quote) “I don’t think there’s any way the new motherboard could be bad.”  [palm to face]

Enter Fast Track Service.  I take some online certification exams to prove I have basic troubleshooting skills, and within 48 hours (in this case, less than 24) the results are reviewed and you are allowed to order warranty parts for any system on which you are certified (I certified for desktops and notebooks very quickly; if I could have given it my unvdivided attention, I could have passed them both well within one day).

The system works like this:

– technician troubleshoots the system according to Dell guidelines
– technician fills out warranty request, listing problem details and the troubleshooting steps
– Dell reviews the request and sends the part
– metrics are kept to detect fraud or “preventive” maintenance, both of which are not allowed

This is a major advantage for me because I don’t even bother calling Dell until I know what is wrong with the system.  I am very familiar with the systems we use, and I have a whole group of other techs I can ask if I have questions.  Not to mention that Dell’s support is sometimes less than reliable – I have been told glaringly wrong things before by one tech in particular (for instance, he told me – no kidding – that if a user played pirated music, it could mess up the BIOS and cause a CD drive to stop working).  That one turned out to be simply a case of cable creep – I reseated the CD drive cable and it worked after that.

So, the long story short, Dell’s new Fast Track Support is a great way for solid enterprise technicians to save time and energy dealing with Dell’s other support options.  Here’s a few things you need to know:

– it’s only available to Pro Support customers (their branch that deals with IT staff)
– it is monitored and statistical trends can identify fraudulent patterns of parts ordering
– the certification courses are approximately the same level as the A+ cert exam, but are specific to Dell parts

Again, I’m so relieved that we have gone to this system.  If you work as a full-time tech, you might look into this – it could save you a few headaches down the road.

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2 Comments on “Dell Fast Track is a breakthrough in enterprise warranty service”

  1. mrosedale Says:

    At my old job all they purchased for a while was Dell. So we actually paid the money to certify one person as an authorized Dell repair man. It probably cost a $1000 or so, but it was totally worth it because they would ship things with a simple email. As long as we could prove we did our scouts honor duty than the package was delivered next day and we were on our way.

    This fast track does sound good though. Now if only Apple had better warranty service.

  2. bfpower Says:

    I haven’t had to deal with Apple… I have dealt with IBM (Lenovo) and was not at all impressed.

    I have thought about getting the full Dell technician certification (because then you can work as a third party doing onsite Dell repairs), but that’s not big business here in our rural community. Not enough to keep a fulltime guy busy, but maybe if I eventually go fulltime with my consulting I can use that to fill in the gaps.

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