Edit: Once upon a time the master password was indeed "Dell". Unlike desktop computers, most laptops store the BIOS password in a chip that can not be erased simply by resetting the CMOS battery. Dell laptops have a "master password" unique to each machine.
Anyway, after combing the web for workarounds to remedy my situation, i've come to a conclusion. I'm going to sell the laptop parts to all the pissed-off customers in the Dell support forums. Within a matter of days, I'll get my money back.
To add to the irony, i've been chuckling over their new TV ad campaign. In the commercial, a Dell customer calls customer support and an American answers the phone and speaks English the customer can actually understand. Why can't it be that way in real life?
I'm in disbelief about the amount of complaints Dell has unleashed. I just can't imagine spending a hundred bucks for a three year warranty, and three years phone service support. Oh lawd please. Part of this problem is that any language difficulties come up after what has often already been a frustrating experience.
Moreover, I used to be such a fan of Dell, but my whole trial and error thing has made me really upset with their support and customer care. Besides putting me on hold for 30-45 minutes and disconnecting me not once but around five times, I get the runaround from tech support.
Some of the problems we've seen before with Dell are also still clearly factors in this current spate of gripes. E-mail and automated phone support systems don't seem to provide answers, and getting replacements for defective parts is a major undertaking. And, wheter they're speaking with an accent or not, the one and only answer most support reps seem to offer is to reinstall the OS, even if the customer has already tried that. As always is the case with support gripes, we also have to wonder whether product quality is the real culprit. Some corporate customers report high failure with Dell computers, not only notebooks, but desktop computers and servers as well.
So what do we make of the complaints about Indian accents? I can tell you there is always going to be a certain percentage of people who have trouble with the way the person on the other end of the line speaks English. And I think most of us would much rather talk to a support rep overseas with a slight accent who has the technical knowledge than someone in the heartland with an All-American twang and no clue.
Call centers in India are not in and of themselves a bad thing. On the other hand, when this many customers say they are having a problem, there is a problem. Yet I think it's less about accents and more about the choices that Dell is making. The reason so many companies are employing call centers in India and elsewhere overseas is because doing so can help them save money without significantly impairing service. But, just like in the U.S., you can always pay a little less and get people with fewer skills and less training. I think it's clear that's what Dell has done.
Low prices, but crappy service -- simply put, that is the value proposition that Dell now offers. If you want a little better support, pay a little more for an IBM or an Apple. That's what Dell is telling us, in a language we should all be able to understand.
BTW: A relative found someone with the same laptop, make and model. He told me that his friends LCD blacked out on him, and will be calling me back.
Just called the other guy looking for the Dell LCD. It's going to cost him $713.75 locally to have it replaced. He says he can't wait a few more weeks for the part to arrive. Anyway (in short), I told him about the situation with my inspiron laptop, and we closed a deal for a decent price using my parts. I'll be changing his LCD screen, upgrading the thirty gigabyte HD to a sixty, and swapping out the GPU. I'm relieved to know that my headaches have been sold. Whhew!
I've learned a lot from this expierence, case closed.
Thanks for all the beneficial suggestions!