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Dell support for the service-tag-impaired

If you have a Dell product with no service tag, and you need support, expect to spend a long time on the phone.

I bought a Dell 2001FP LCD monitor on 2005/2/17. A few days ago, it broke. Specifically, about 20 black lines now run down the center of the display, with a few pixels between each. These lines show up even in the self-test screen, so it's definitely a problem in the monitor.

Close Up of Broken Monitor

You can see the lines running across the image on the right. They run horizontally in the image because I've got the monitor rotated 90°. The problem is much more apparent in real life. It's difficult to photograph (at least with my crappy camera).

I quickly discovered that you cannot get on-line support unless you have a product with a service tag (a short unique string like a serial number). Dell monitors don't have service tags. If you have the monitor connected to a Dell computer, you can use the computer's service tag. My monitor is connected to my Apple PowerBook.

My only option was to call Dell tech support. The number wasn't easy to find, either. I found it on the warranty page, which was also not as easy to find as it should have been.

As you might expect, this was followed by a total of about 30 minutes on hold. They have promised to ship me a new monitor, and it should arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.

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