There were already two computers in our kitchen but that wasn’t enough for Fallon, age three, who needs his daily fix of YouTube Scooby-Doo clips.  So for Christmas Fallon (who refers to himself as “the small boy”) got a Dell Vostro A90 netbook running Ubuntu Linux.  That’s the business version of a Dell Mini9 with a black case and Bluetooth installed.  Fallon would probably have preferred the more colorful Mini9 but he got the Vostro, instead, because I was able to buy a new one from Dell for $199 with free shipping.
Heck of a deal.

Alas the little Dell, with its perfect tiny keyboard for Fallon’s perfect tiny fingers, wouldn’t charge correctly.  The AC adapter would charge the battery to 100 percent then the Dell would forget the AC adapter was attached and discharge completely unless rebooted, starting the charging and discharging cycle all over again.

An hour on the phone with Dell Tech Support determined that the little Vostro had to go back for a motherboard replacement.  Dell sent a box by FedEx and we returned the netbook for repair.

According to the arrival and departure log, which Dell kindly sent me by e-mail, Fallon’s Vostro was received, the motherboard replaced and the system reshipped in approximately 10 minutes.  Wow!

Too bad they didn’t actually repair it.

When we got the netbook back it was worse.  Now it wouldn’t charge at all.

Dell Tech Support said this time it must be a problem with the battery or the AC adapter, both of which had been in their shop a day earlier and gone untested.  Rather than have me send back the Dell, they decided to send me a new battery and AC adapter, which didn’t help.

FedEx had come and gone again, I had Fallon’s little Dell now running on a fading battery, but I also had a second battery (only charged to 34 percent, sadly) and a useless AC adapter.

More time with Dell Tech Support determined we needed to send the Vostro back for another motherboard replacement, so they sent a second empty box to ship it back.  That box arrived this afternoon along with a an unexpected second box from Dell containing yet another  AC adapter and battery (giving me three of each) and a motherboard.

Was I now supposed to replace my own motherboard?

The Vostro and its two extra batteries and two extra AC adapters and the spare motherboard are again with FedEx on their way back to Houston, to be returned to Fallon sometime next week, hopefully repaired.

We’re up to three hours on the phone with Dell Tech Support four chat sessions, and nine FedEx shipments so far.  If everything goes perfectly from here on out the total will be 10 FedEx shipments, but there could be more.

The Dell people have been uniformly helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind.

I just wonder what the profit picture is for Dell on these $199 systems?

No wonder Fallon looks tired.