Seriously considering wasting your money on a Alienware or Rock PC Notebook? - Then you MUST take a look at the Lenovo Thinkpad W700 Alienware are cheap badly made machines and I seriously would challenge ANYONE to argue with me on this. Their customer service is appalling and little you may know there are BETTER machines on the market. The only reason why they made a name for themselves is because they were, operative word being "were" a market leader in high-end desktop performance notebooks. Right now, as of Jan 2009, they are not! Simple! So you no longer need to suffer crap customer service and a machine that WILL breakdown, you have a choice!
ALIENWARE REVIEW - 17 June 2006
My Experience with Alienware (www.alienware.co.uk)
Fault Holistic: an unreliable machine that has not been built or tested to a quality standard expected from an apparent reputable company at a high cost of nearly £3,000.
Company Holistic: a questionable competence of being able to supply goods of a quality as described on the Alienware website; in addition, failure to support the subsequent process of repair/maintenance.
This was the machine spec that I purchased:
 Aurora™ m7700
Display: 17" WideUXGA 1920 x 1200 Display with Built-in Camera
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional UK with SP2
Warranty: Aliencare Free Phone 1-Year 24/7 Warranty
AlienRespawn: Alienware® Respawn Recovery Kit
Processor: AMD Athlon™ 64 FX-60 Processor with HyperTransport and Dual Core Technology
Memory: 2GB Dual Channel DDR SO-DIMM at 400MHz - 2x1024MB
Video Card: NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 7800GTX with 256MB of DDR3 memory
System Drive: Extreme Performance - RAID 0 - 200GB (100GB x 2) 7200 RPM SATA
Optical Drive One: DVD-Burner: 8x Dual Layer DVD+/-RW / 24x CD-RW Combo w/Software
Optical Drive Two: CD-Burner: 24x10x24x CD-RW / 8x DVD Combo w/Software
Sound Card: High-Definition Audio with surround sound
Keypad: Mobile Keypad - English
Communications: Integrated 10/1000Mb Gigabit Ethernet & 56K V.92 Modem
Wireless Network Card: Internal Wireless 802.11a/b/g miniPCI Card
Floppy Drive: USB Floppy Drive
Security Software: Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal Professional - English
AlienInspection: AlienInspection - Exclusive Integration and Inspection - £50 Value - FREE!
Free T-Shirt: Alienware® T-Shirt - Black - XL
Free Desktop Enhancements: Exclusive AlienGUIse Theme Manager
Free Alienware Mousepad : Free Custom Alienware® fUnc Mousepad (a £10 value)
Shipping: £38.15 (DHL)
Order Total: £2,969.40
TAKE NOTE OF THE PRICE
From your own predisposed judgement and through my observation of online published documentation, it seems deemed to represent Alienware as a customer based company of the highest standards adhering to awards, pie charts, graphs, reviews and other such paraphernalia and therefore placing Alienware on the top of the pile of its competitors. I categorically do not share the opinions of these statistics and neither to I agree with the level of honest, competence, sales advice and technical knowledge Alienware possesses. This, my honest and unprejudiced opinion, is directly related to my first hand experience with Alienware.
Curious…? Disagree…? Let me explain…
Having read several reviews of Alienware and impressive product line along with its overall resume, there was no doubt that Alienware are a serious choice.
I set about taking a few weeks to configure the Notebook that I required and ordered this at a cost of over £3,000. I was assured that the delivery would be made in time as this was indeed an important factor. Two weeks later is was evident that you were not able to deliver on time. Below is a copy of an original email that I send you.
I feel I must report to you my grave disappointment in your service.
Not only have you let me down by not providing the service that you promised, but you have caused a significant knock on effect that has caused me much stress, wasted time and resources.
I ordered from you on 10 April a high spec’d notebook. The sales representative categorically stated that I would have the machine by the end of the month. This was a very important factor to my purchase decision as the machine was needed for a specific purpose the following week in May.
The order status has been in phase five since 12 April, to which when I called on 24 April to be told that machine has not even been built yet. This concerned me. I then spoke to a colleague of yours on 25 April to be told he would place it on a priority. Given that the latest I could receive the machine would be 27 April given the bank holiday weekend, this was pushing it.
I spoke to another customer service rep about getting the machine to me on time as promised; this evidently wasn’t going to happen.
As the machine was ready to be dispatched on 27 April, I was told that
there was no way a Saturday delivery could be made – why not? Had you had it
in place to make these arrangements, it would have been very convenient for
me; based on your promise and predicted level of customer service. It would
have been a sincere gesture for you to make arrangements to ship the machine
with an alternate courier for delivery on Sat, bearing in mind your promise.
It is you that has failed to deliver.
During the process of the highly disappointing 19 day wait, not once was there any correspondence from you about the high possibility that you would not be able to deliver by the end of the month as you had previously promised.. I actually asked on two other separate occasions whether I would receive the machine in time, and I was assured that this would be the case.
It is disappointing that you were unwilling to provide a level of service that would have assisted me. You were quite happy to cancel my order of
over £3,000 without hesitation – of which I am yet to receive confirmation. I also did not receive any kind of apology. I am really not impressed; the disappointment continues. In fact, I was apologising to your representative for having to cancel the order.
During the entire process of the order, two weeks later my order would have cost me £160 less, which is enough to reconsider cancelling and reordering, particularly as you have taken so long to build the machine. You also state that you are now able to dispatch within 7 days – why could you have not prioritised my order to get it to me in time as you promised?
This experience has been wholly disappointing, and though I read you do indeed build high specc’d machines, your service does not, unfortunately in my experience, compare. If this was my company, I would have made sure that this machine was delivered on time. You should not make promises that you are unable to keep.
I am angry at Alienware for not delivering – I had faith in this company given the website and reviews, and evidently I feel this is somewhat a farce. Your customer service is poor – for me spending over £3,000, would have seriously expected an impeccable service.
I received the response as follows:
Thank you for contacting Alienware.
First and foremost, I want to thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us. It is truly appreciated. On behalf of Alienware, I do apologize for any inconvenience you have experienced, and assure you it is not the 'Alienware experience' our clients are accustomed to.
What happened in your case is not typical of Alienware's level of customer service. We post on our website on the order confirmation page, and which should have been continuously reiterated to you, that our estimated production time is 10-15 business days from the date payment is received; which would thusly make your estimated ship date between Friday, 28 April and Friday, 5 May. After speaking with the representative with which you spoke yesterday, she did look into all available options to get this delivered for you as quickly as possible as the system was just finishing in our quality control checks. We do regret that we were unable to deliver earlier than Tuesday 2 May, and hope that you will consider us in the future.
We continue to be committed to providing you and all of our customers with the highest standards of service in the industry. You are a valued customer and we apologize for the inconvenience this issue has caused. If we may be of further assistance, please contact us.
We thank you for choosing Alienware, and for keeping in touch with us.
UK Customer Service Team
First of all, before I continue to express my disappointments of my further concerns to you, I wish to pick up on a few points of the above response.
This response seems to be an edited exaggerated bog standard letter, topped and tailed, cut and pasted, explaining what should have happened, this is feeble and is not an appropriate response. I know what should have happened, I ordered from you, I could have told you. If I received this letter of complaint in my company, I would have made a phone call to the customer first.
Quote from above: “…and which should have been continuously reiterated to you, that our estimated production time is 10-15 business days…” This is simply not true; even with my second order, this never happened.
The fact that you were unable to deliver within the timeframe that was agreed does not quantify a platform for you to subsequently write “…We continue to be committed to providing you and all of our customers with the highest standards of service in the industry…” Is this a statement or fact? Based on my experience, I am confused.
However, this is evidently not true, I have amples of proof – without exaggeration. The above response does not instil any further confidence and seriously seems just a page out of “How to deal with a complaint” Herbert Von Hellier - 1945, and though regrettable, I did in fact take your advice, quote “…, and hope that you will consider us in the future...”, I wholly regret.
I ordered from you once again, of which the same specified machine was in fact a few hundred pounds cheaper only 3 weeks later. The machine on this occasion arrived within the agreed time; so you guys managed to get one thing correct. I was indeed able to order a higher specified machine because of the unexpected saving. The main difference was the move to the AMD FX60 cpu. However, there was one other difference; you were no longer able to offer the NEC DVD writer in both bays. The reason I was told my you is that having both drives of that same model and brand caused conflict issues. Why was this not the issue with the first order? This is concerning as it may have been likely that the first order would have been shipped with this known problem. There is no reason to disprove this unless you actually fixed the problem in which case why remove that option from the online config page?
Back to the main issue. With the new machine in my possession, there were a couple of faults. The main one being the sonic quality of the audio output from the onboard sound. This problem was the low, mid-low and mid frequencies being attenuated. I initially spoke to technical support and an American accented female had absolutely no understanding what I was talking about despite several careful and detailed explanations. After several long holds and suggestions that were clutching at straws which were essentially flawed to no avail she finally suggested that I call within UK time zone office hours. So much for 24 hour support.
I called the following day to learn another explanation of how to update the bios of the motherboard and the sound device. This, in my experience so far, seems to be the only advice that tech support seem to offer. Instructing a firmware update which only involves a download from a webpage that doesn’t often have an active link to then going to an ftp site, and then double clicking on an executable file does seem a tad worrying, particularly when the machine is only days old.
After this failed attempt, eventually it was agreed that the machine was to be returned to you for repair. May I also point out at this time that the Alienware logo on the lid casing was not lighting up correctly, it seemed there was a poor connection on one of the internal bulbs. May I point out that after only days, this machine had to go back to you because of a major problem which could/should have been picked up on QC before dispatch.
The list of problems continues as did the piece of paper contain that I placed in the box stated as below:
I would like for you to know that DHL failed to collect on two occasions and had to be rebooked twice. They also tried to sell me insurance at £45 – which is worrying and was stated by them as “…being recommended…”. This whole process delayed the repair and is becoming ridiculous.
I eventually received the ‘(un)repaired’ machine and to my utter disappointment the audio problem still existed. Alienware had failed to make a repair and actually had the audacity to return it to me in this state. This is very poor.
Upon making a call to technical support, I was prepared to accept the incompetence of Alienware being unable to supply the machine with a working sound device. I offered to have the SB Audigy PCMCIA card instead at no extra cost to me. This was refused the following day as quote: “…the audio does in fact work and therefore you will not assisting further to rectify this…” or something to a similar vein. This is utter rubbish as the audio categorically does not work correctly. I explained to you that my profession is of a sound engineer and you insulted my intellect telling me that the audio quality is sufficient for this device. May I quote from your website “High-Definition Audio with surround sound”. This is not the case at all. The reason for me hoping that you would offer a gesture of good will by providing the Creative Sound Blaster® Audigy 2 ZS PCMCIA card solution for a mere £61 was because it was evident that you were unable to resolve the internal sound card problem. I was trying to help you out. Being a sound engineer, I offered an explanation of the possibilities of the on board audio problem may have existed, but this seemed to fall on uncomprehendible ears.
Alienware are at this point beginning to be unhelpful. At which point I would have taken this further, however, I soon discovered that this notebook is in fact more useless than I thought:
The video card output problem is more than likely to be a heat related issue which would probably mean that there isn’t sufficient cooling in the machine. I was told that this card is quote “…designed for a laptop…”. What exactly was the point of this point? Relating to the tone of the tech support staff, there was an insinuation that it wouldn’t and was never going to work. This reminded me of the time of ordering the first machine that the sales advisor explained to me that the RAID 0 array in this machine was unreliable and prone to problems and it was recommended to not use RAID, even though it is being offered.
As for the NEC DVD drive not working, well that is ridiculous; how did this pass your QC before dispatch? It is evident that you do not test all components of the machine.
Tech support offered to replace both of these components. I would need to extract and return the components back to Alienware and you would then send out the parts. Great, so I am now building my own machine. I already paid Alienware to do that. Are you going to pay me? No, didn’t think so.
The blue screen was also still a problem, even under different circumstances. This is just not good enough. All the software that I run is already running on several other computers without a hitch.
I was a little curious as to how well this machine was/is in fact built. I decided to do a soak test starting with the CPU. I ran Prime95 and it failed just after 17 minutes. This is now getting stupid. This is an unstable machine that you have sold me for nearly £3,000. Do you soak test your machines? Thoroughly disappointing.
THE AMD FX60 CPU FAILED A SOAK TEST AFTER 17 MINUTES
The last but I feel not least problem is constantly losing the WiFi connection.
I am more than disappointed with Alienware, its service, quality, attitude and its failure to deliver a working product is beyond me. Please note that this is all based on my personal experience with Alienware.
I no longer wish to posses this machine and I asked for its return to be arranged. To add insult to injury it was stated that I would have to cover the delivery cost back to Alienware. I was asked to call on Monday to state my case in order to argue why I should not pay the courier costs. I can only begin to describe that my sentiments are now not at disappointed but at disgust. I will not pay a penny for anything to get the machine back to you. Alienware have wasted my time, money, energy and caused nothing but stress. I can make a quick phone call to the credit card company as well as Trading Standards and explain to them that you have not supplied me with working goods. I am considering billing you for my time.
Quote: “We continue to be committed to providing you and all of our customers with the highest standards of service in the industry. You are a valued customer and we apologize for the inconvenience this issue has caused.”
I do not believe you at all.
On alternative solution I wish to offer one of two choices
1, Supply me with a new (not the current machine) fully working notebook as per instructed on the order with a working audio card that does not attenuate frequencies; a working graphic card that allows the external DVI output to be run to the maximum resolution of 1920x1200 without any artefacts of visual interference but nothing other than a steady picture; a working DVD burner optical drive; a CPU that will run a soak test of Prime 95 at 100 cpu activity on both cores; no regular blue screen crashes; a tech support that does not fob me off to the following day; tech support who can help and that Alienware pay for all transportations of faulty goods.
Please not that the above is no more than you supposedly offer.
2, Alienware arrange a collection of the notebook in order for a full refund.
I await your prompt reply.
This letter was send to Alienware on 12 June 2006 via email – I am yet to receive any kind of response as of 17 June 2006.
However, I did follow via phone call the main point of the email which was to return the machine and get my money back. They were able to arrange this but not without a fight for them to remove my expense of the return carriage. I really had to argue with them about this, and it was only their call on “…it is in the terms and conditions that you agreed to when you made the order”… at which point I also explained that they were indeed in breach of contract for not supplying quality goods. I was only exercising my statutory rights. I then mentioned small claims and trading standards, at which point she offered to enquire to see whether she could do any thing. This was a 20 minute phone call.
Basically they were unreasonable and very unhelpful and ultimately they were not able to supply me with a working machine.
Maybe the FX60 chip is just too much for that small case. Maybe the audio problem isn’t a problem for most people as they use alternative sound cards. Maybe the poor casing is just a feature of the machine. Maybe the blue screen crash is common knowledge amongst its regular users. Maybe the DVD drive is just…
I’m bored now!!
17 June 2006
You may like to also read another review of whom has had a similar experience here: http://www.mjonesweb.com/alienware.htm
This was the note I popped in the box when it was returned:
Please note that the following known current faults exist with this Notebook Alienware m7700a:
Previous faults include:
Please note that of the current faults, point 2, 5, 6, 7 & 8 were reported to technical support for repair. Upon its return, the machine still had these faults.
Please also note that point 3 of the current faults is seriously concerning as it may quantify a lack of quality in sufficient cpu and general cooling and more seriously having evidently passed Alienware’s quality control. It is also highly likely that point 1 of the current faults is a result of poor cooling. This is assumed as I have experience similar graphical artefacts relating to poor video card cooling.
Fault Holistic: an unreliable machine that has not been built or tested to a quality standard expected from an apparent reputable company at a high cost of nearly £3,000.
Company Holistic: a questionable competence of being able to supply goods that are of a quality as described on the Alienware website; in addition, failure to support the subsequent process of repair/maintenance.
Please feel free to make contact via below if you feel the above is concerning – all of this is true, based on experience, and is only a partial to the whole picture of this experience.
Back to my Home Pages
UPDATE: Back to top
THERE IS NO NEED TO PURCHASE FROM ALIENWARE - THERE ARE OTHER GOOD OPTIONS FOR THE UK
There is an alternative that I have recently found - they manufacture better machines than Alienware AND the equivalent spec machine as above is £800 cheaper. I am just about to purchase with them - I will let you know how I get on. If you would like more info, let me know and I will pass you their details. They are UK based.
THE ONLY DIFFERENCE WITH THE PRICING IS THE BRANDING - WHO NEEDS THE EYES ANYWAY???
I was wrong
The other company could not help. I took delivery of their identically specc'd machine and the two main problems relating to the audio and DVI output were identical; the machine went back for repair and came back with the same faults. There is obviously a problem with this machine chassis type which I am amazed that these companies are not bothering to sort. They DID sort the CPU heat problem however.
I will say however, this alternative company was far far easier to communicate with than the terrible service I received from Alienware. Everything was generally less fuss, but they did have a problem, like it every other UK business, of call backs.
I have resigned to trying to attempt a desktop high performance notebook.
Consider Lenovo - Jan 2009
In the end I bought a Lenovo Z61p. This machine after two years of constant use, using a variety of software from Photoshop to Cubase has proved that this is a reliable and high quality machine. I am running 2x24" 1920x1200 (HPLP2465) monitors from it, it is on 24 hours a day, IBM's support is excellent and it just works.
The build quality is far far superior to any machine I have used to date and it now actually replaced my desktop machine.
Please so not hesitate to make contact if you have any questions.
What's happened to Alienware - Jan 2009
I have just perused Alienware.co.uk and I see that they continue to make high end spec'd machines. I have no doubt in my mind that you WILL experience problems and that any of these £3,000+ machines with every ooba high performance tuned machine will go back for repair soon after you bought it.
If anyone from Alienware wants to make be believe that I am out of order saying this, then I will simply prove my point by buying a machine from you. So, please, don't waste your time or mine. You make shoddy machines and you as well as I do know it!
If you are serious about buying a high performance Laptop, DON'T BOTHER with Alienware or Rock PC and take a serious look at the Lenovo Thinkpad W700
Happy New Year!