So I’m trying to help a friend fix her Dell Inspiron N5050 laptop. The laptop has some odd operating system issues. It was a Windows 7 device, crashed hard. We’re trying to clean it up, get it back to Original condition (with the intent of a fresh install, then pushing Windows 7 –> Windows 10.)


Unfortunately there are no backup recovery DVD’s burned for this thing. Shit happens. So no problem. We’ll go over to Microsoft, and download the recovery disks there. At that page you have to enter the Windows original product key, to validate the .iso download. No problem, that seems more than fair. Ooops.

The product key you entered appears to be for software pre-installed by the device manufacturer. Please contact the device manufacturer for software recovery options.

What the heck? The purchase of the laptop included the purchase of a Windows license, but we just can’t use it that way. So we move on!

I did find this article on recovery over at Dell and a link to the Dell Recovery Image. Wow. Can you imagine? The disk .iso files are available online. Way cool. Attaboy Dell! If this works, big kudos to Dell for doing this right, and making the software available… So we type in the Service Tag # to validate the download, and…

Recovery image not available for your Service Tag. Sorry, but a Dell Hosted Recovery Image is currently not available for the Service Tag that you entered. Please enter another Service Tag or contact Dell Technical Support for further assistance.

Well this is no fun. I’m on the phone with Dell. I can purchase the disks (ship only, not available via electronic data transfer.) They tell me that the download .iso file just isn’t available. Hmm.. they have the DVD’s but no .iso file(s). How do you spell customer service? Cost is around $25 or so and a delay of a week or so.

Mumble, mumble. I’m not happy. This makes me reconsider ALL of my Dell purchases. (I spent $1200 with them last year…) How can you take an idea, better customer service on the product and screw it up this badly? I can’t believe that the folks at Dell really want to be selling recovery DVD’s years after the sale. They’re not in the business of making profit from selling boot CD’s and DVD’s. They’re in the business of selling computers and awesome business and personal use products. That fact that they have a system in place to provide nearly trouble free support is awesome. The fact that they don’t bother to use their own system is a huge (negative) marketing thing gone wrong.

Here’s an image from Dell’s website:

customer engagement

customer engagement

This is terrible. How can you let customers down this way? What is the problem, converting DVD’s over to .iso files? Really? Hint: Consider an open source solution. Let us, the users do the work for you to make your electronic support systems better. Yes, it will cost a wee little bit for server storage, but I’m guessing you are saving those files somewhere within the Dell empire anyway.

Note: This whole thing is baffling. Why would Dell be selling DVD’s anyway? My worst suspicion is that Dell has sold the service contract (for much older computers) to an outside company, and those guys consider selling DVD’s at $25 a pop a major profit center for them. And part of that contract is Dell can not offer the product as an online download (Non-compete). If this is the case, shame on you Dell. You really suck. You need to treat customers with more respect and concern. Remember, the purchaser of the computer has already paid for a Windows Operating System license. Microsoft will give them access to the necessary software as a free download, but in this case Dell users are blocked, locked out of Microsoft, and forced to use the Dell service. Remember too, that every request for service is a failure (in hardware or software) somewhere along the line.

Dell, you have to treat customers better! When you treat us better we come back for our next purchase. When you push us away, we go elsewhere.

Note: Dell logo from Stefan Zaklin | Getty Images. Dell Customer engagement photo from