Lost in… Dell’s Support Maze

UPDATE: Problem solved (no thanks to Dell), see below!

Calling all Dell Representatives: Does anyone know what a “Digital Cable Tuner” is? Or that you sell one by the name of “ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner”? Seriously, anyone at Dell?

OK, maybe I’m being too harsh. 2 out of 15 people had heard of it before I called, although to be honest only 1 of them even came close to convincing me that is true. This all began a couple of weeks ago, when I tried to watch a 1080p video on my then Media Center PC only to learn that it simply wasn’t up to muster. After learning an upgrade meant pretty much replacing everything but the case, I decided to go all the way and replace my cable box as well, with a Dell XPS 420 and ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner.

As it turns out, despite a Direct2Dell’s blog insistence to the contrary, not all XPS 420 machines come Digital Cable Ready (meaning OCUR capable BIOS and the Digital Cable Product Key). They say “Back when we supported digital cable tuner on the XPS 410, we only offered it on a single configuration. On the XPS 420, it is a base option on the system.” Interestingly, I have since noticed out of the four default XPS 420 models listed on the Dell Home listing, the most expensive and feature filled one does not have Digital Cable Support as the default option, though it is selectable. This makes no sense, and serves only to confuse the customer. I thought the point of making all XPS 420 Digital Cable Ready was to remove confusion. Right Dell?

So anyways Dell is often advertising their outlet shop when your on their site, so I took a look at their XPS 420 listings, and found a model that had the exact same base specs as the base XPS 420 on the main retail site. The Outlet system details are sadly lacking, and barely list any details. So when all I could get out of the outlet was that it shipped with Vista Home Premium, I didn’t think much of it because it didn’t list SP1 either. I ordered the machine on July 8th, 2008.

Lo and behold, when the machine arrived on July 14th, it did not have digital cable support. I tried calling Dell before it was shipped to check, and was told that “nobody at Dell can provide you that information, sir” when I asked it if had the proper BIOS and Product Key.

After it arrived I made several calls on the 14th, talking multiple times to the Customer Care, Sales, and Technical Support departments, including the XPS specialists. No one was at all familiar with the digital cable tuner, and were all completely unhelpful.

On the 16th I tried a chat session with XPS Technical Support. Although the representative assured me he had worked with this issue before, the information he provided was incorrect. A copy of the entire transcript is available here after clicking the “continue reading…” link. I was able to find a helpful sales representative that sold me the tuner, however. This after the Chat support rep assured me the Digital Cable Product Key would come with the tuner.

On the 20th I again tried the phone, and the chat, all to no avail. Still, no one is even familiar with the product. Thanks to Chris M. in the Dell forums, I was able to get OCUR support activated in my BIOS. On the 21st I tried the phone and chat again, still no success getting help with my missing Product Key.

So I’ll probably edit this tomorrow, it’s late and I need sleep, but I wanted to get this out in the public ASAP. Because as of now Comcast is scheduled to arrive Wednesday at 3pm with my new CableCARD and take away my cable box, a visit that is costing me a $80 fee, and they won’t be able to activate the card if Dell doesn’t give me the Digital Cable Product Key. And I haven’t even touched on the fact it didn’t come with the Media Center Remote I expected it to come with.

So Dell guys, anyone know how to get a Digital Cable Product Key?

UPDATE 7/22/2008 4:02 PM: Continue reading to see the Dell reps embarrass themselves, if for no other reason than they seem to like avoid saying “I don’t know”…

UPDATE 7/22/2008 5:18 PM: Heard back from a Dell rep, Chris M in the forums (the same guy who commented below and was able to help me with the BIOS update). He reports: They told me that the key cannot be issued. I went up the chain pretty high.

So I guess Dell is trying to tell me the only option is to return the computer. So I have a perfectly functional computer that Dell will have to incur costs to return and refund the order, all because a simple product key cannot be issued? Or worse, because the guy that can issue the keys cannot be found?

Doesn’t one returned computer wipe away the profits of several successful computer sales? This doesn’t make sense to me from a customer care or dollars and cents point of view! And Dell wonders why they are no longer the industry leader….

UPDATE 7/24/2008 5:30 PM: Heard back from Dell Representatives:

  • I asked the sales person who sold me the tuner to escalate this problem to the resolution department if possible. Yesterday I received a call from someone within the department in “headquarters”, they were calling in direct response to my request for escalation, but they had also read my blog, which I wrote after I made the escalation request.
  • I received a second call yesterday from a different escalation department, this time not calling in direct response to a request, but instead because of the request of a Dell manager’s that I had not worked with before. They had also read the blog. Judging by this and the referrer links on my blog, it seems as though my blog post has been emailed around a bit…
  • In both cases, the representatives were not previously familiar with this issue, and neither are sure it is even possible to issue the product key. Obviously someone in Dell can do it as they issue them with new computers, but there is not process in place after the fact to do so. Hypothetically, as it stands now, even if I purchased it new with digital cable support and by chance it did not come with the product key affixed, Dell has no system in place to issue a new key short of returning the computer.

Overall, I am very confused on what exactly Dell’s policy is with Digital Cable Support:

  • The Direct2Dell blog says that digital cable support is “a base option on the system.”
  • If you try to buy a new XPS 420 from the home site, you cannot buy it without Digital Cable Support, even if you wanted to. (this is what I mostly based my decision to buy one form the Outlet on…)
  • If you buy a XPS 420 from the business site, it does not come with digital cable support. (I learned this only recently after investigating the issue in depth.) Personally, I think this should cause a second product line, i.e. XPS 425, if the base options don’t match.
  • If you choose to add digital cable support to a business purchased computer that did not have it in the base configuration, it DOES NOT COST ANY ADDITIONAL MONEY!

Both Dell resolution experts have said they will personally investigate the issue, one I expect to hear more from today, the other will contact me on Sunday or Monday. After that I will either have a product key, or I will have to return this computer.

UPDATE 7/24/2008 8:12 PM: Heard from Dell Resolution Specialist:

I got the call I was expecting late this afternoon. For once I actually have hope this issue will be resolved. While this Resolution Specialist was not previously familiar with the issue, after our first call he literally spent the next several hours reading blogs and getting up to date, and when he called he actually had a pretty firm grasp of the technology and what the digital cable product key was for. What I was told is that that the key is issued with all new Dell Home XPS 420s, and only with new computers. Those that are returned, but were originally issued with the key, are scrubbed of digital cable support during the refurbishment process. He also said there is no process within Dell to issue these keys other than purchasing them with a new computer, but he is going to talk to superiors to see what can be arranged.

He has agreed there is a discrepancy in what is advertised, considering that you cannot buy it new without digital cable support and it is then removed when refurbished, and what is actually available. I’ll know more tomorrow, stay posted!

UPDATE 7/26/2008 3:44 PM: I heard back from Chris, the Dell Resolution Specialist. He said he tried very hard, but there is no way to issue the key other than buying it new. He did say maybe the other resolution specialist (who was off until Sunday) will have better luck; he is located in a different office. This resolution specialist is having someone who handles returns and reorders call me back. At this point it looks like I will have to return this computer; I am not sure if I want to but a full price new Dell, as much as I like the XPS 420 as a machine. I am thinking of switching to a HP with Digital Cable Support.

I’m still pissed about the fact that all new Home XPS 420’s come with Digital Cable Support, but Dell removes it during refurbishment (although some clearly make it through). Sounds to me like Dell doesn’t want to pay the extra license fee on those machines.

UPDATE 7/28/2008 1:01 AM: May have a solution (no thanks to Dell). Will report more tomorrow.

UPDATE 8/1/2008 4:17 PM: This update actually happened on Tuesday, but work has prevented me from finding the time to post it until now. Dell was ultimately unable to resolve the issue. Despite escalating it pretty high, and discovering they did indeed have a problem, the only solution they could find was to have me return the computer. They did not offer a discount for a new machine to match the price I paid for the Outlet machine, although I didn’t push for it as I was quickly given this solution before I could.

Thankfully this blog got out there to some people, and someone who read it happened to have an unused Digital Cable Product key from a XPS 420 that was returned. Being that it was returned, he guessed it was unused, and sure enough the key activated without issue. Comcast came and installed the CableCARD (although I’m giving them too much credit – they didn’t know where to plug the CableCARD into the tuner, and they didn’t know how to look up the card’s numbers within Media Center. So basically I did the installation and Comcast tried to charge me $80 for it. Yeah right!), and after tweaking the 2400 HD PRO’s drivers I was proudly watching Weeds on Showtime in HD in the glourious Media Center UI!

Come back soon for a How-To guide…

(May not display correctly in Internet Explorer, try Firefox)

First chat conversation with “Dhanish_105850” on 7/14/2008 9:06 PM:

07/14/2008 09:06:25PM Session Started with Agent (Dhanish_105850)
07/14/2008 09:06:28PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Thank you for contacting Dell XPS Premium Support. My name is Dhanish and my rep ID number is 105850. How may I help you today?”
07/14/2008 09:06:39PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “hello”
07/14/2008 09:06:44PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “please first look up my account”
07/14/2008 09:06:57PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and take note of all the phone calls i’ve made and departments i’ve contacted”
07/14/2008 09:07:01PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “THIS IS REDICULOUS”
07/14/2008 09:07:06PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i have been on the phone for hours”
07/14/2008 09:07:22PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and have yet to talk to a single person who even knew what i was talking about, never mind how to help me”
07/14/2008 09:07:34PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i have been disconnected during transfers twice”
07/14/2008 09:08:17PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “I apologize for the bad experience and will give my best to provide quality service.”
07/14/2008 09:08:26PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “I apologize for your issues not getting resolved , will see thoroughly that they get resolved”
07/14/2008 09:08:41PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “thank you”
07/14/2008 09:08:52PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “are you able to access my call history from tonight and a few days ago?”
07/14/2008 09:08:53PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Could you please let us know the information that you are looking for today?”
07/14/2008 09:09:00PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i have an XPS 420”
07/14/2008 09:09:06PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it isn’t digital cable ready”
07/14/2008 09:09:26PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it just arrived today”
07/14/2008 09:11:17PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Did you order a TV tuner card?”
07/14/2008 09:11:35PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “I want to! No one even knows what a digital cable tuner card is that i have talked to”
07/14/2008 09:11:52PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “I show them it on Dells website with all the other XPS 420s and they still don’t understand”
07/14/2008 09:13:14PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “May I have the link for the page that you are looking at please.”
07/14/2008 09:13:54PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “what do you mean? for the dell XPS 420s? IT’s on ALL of them!”
07/14/2008 09:14:00PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “just go to dell.com
07/14/2008 09:14:02PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “home office”
07/14/2008 09:14:06PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and click xps 420”
07/14/2008 09:15:08PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “here is someone with a similar problem: http://www.dellcommunity.com/supportforums/board/message?board.id=Tech_Talk_XPS&view=by_date_ascending&message.id=60994#M60994
07/14/2008 09:18:16PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “are you familiar with this technology?”
07/14/2008 09:18:33PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “if you are not please direct me to someone who is…”
07/14/2008 09:18:49PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “because it is very high level and not somethign you can understand unless you have already been trained on it”
07/14/2008 09:20:01PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Please give me 3-4 mins, let me check the information on this.”
07/14/2008 09:20:33PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “ok…basically what we need is a specific windows vista home premium serial number that enabled digital cable support”
07/14/2008 09:26:08PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Thank you for staying online.”
07/14/2008 09:26:13PM Agent (Dhanish_105850) sends page: “http://ati.amd.com/products/tvwonderdigital/faq.html
07/14/2008 09:26:37PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “why are you pointing me to amd? this is a dell issue”
07/14/2008 09:26:38PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “There is one tv tuner which will support digital tv setup.”
07/14/2008 09:26:58PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and only the XPS 420 is compatible!”
07/14/2008 09:26:59PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i know this!”
07/14/2008 09:27:06PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “that’s why i bought it!!!!!!!!”
07/14/2008 09:27:19PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “please get me in touch with someone who is intimately familiar with this technology”
07/14/2008 09:28:14PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Chris, there is not tv tuner details mentioned in the order, did you purchase one or looking to order one?”
07/14/2008 09:29:01PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “you misunderstand, i want to buy one, but aht is not the point! the computer i was sent, unlike all other XPS 420s, DOES NOT SUPPORT THE TV TUNER”
07/14/2008 09:29:14PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “I NEED THE SOFTWARE UPDATE THAT ENABLES THIS\ SUPPORT”
07/14/2008 09:29:23PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “please direct me to someone who knows!!!!!”
07/14/2008 09:30:12PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “As you mentioned there is a serial number that enables the it, the number is on the drivers cd for the tv tuner.”
07/14/2008 09:30:28PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “The tuner which dell ships is this.”
07/14/2008 09:30:32PM Agent (Dhanish_105850) sends page: “http://ati.amd.com/products/tvwonderdigital/index.html
07/14/2008 09:30:35PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “that is not true”
07/14/2008 09:30:40PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “you own forums specify”
07/14/2008 09:30:57PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “Clearly you do not know the answer, please find me someone who has dealt with this issue before!”
07/14/2008 09:35:57PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Chris, I have personally installed the drives of the tv tuner using the cd , the tv tuner is shipped with a cd which has the product key, if you have the same model of the tv tuner then we can install the drivers and setup digital tv.”
07/14/2008 09:36:23PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “We have information about the setup process, Please check the tv tuner.”
07/14/2008 09:37:05PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “tell me how a brand new dell that does not have the tv tuner can have the WINDOWS product key?”
07/14/2008 09:37:10PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “The product key enables the digital tv setup when we are setting up the live tv.”
07/14/2008 09:37:26PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “mine did not come with a tv tuner, bu taht also is not a requirement”
07/14/2008 09:38:16PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “The windows product key will not work if you are trying to setup digital tv, the number comes from the tv tuner manufacturer itself”
07/14/2008 09:38:46PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “well what i mean is i read on your forums that the windows product key sticker says somethign special “OCUR””
07/14/2008 09:38:58PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i want to purchase a digital cable tuner”
07/14/2008 09:39:09PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “but my current xps 420 is not digital cable ready”
07/14/2008 09:39:17PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i need a bios update and a different windows product key”
07/14/2008 09:39:19PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and that’s it”
07/14/2008 09:39:25PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “says so in your forums”
07/14/2008 09:39:40PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “why it wasn’t shipped with this is a different question…”
07/14/2008 09:40:39PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “The windows product key and the product key for the digital tv it different, the name OCUR is the other name for the tv tuner ATI TV Wonder™ Digital Cable Tuner .”
07/14/2008 09:41:51PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “well OCUR is techically the technology within the tuner, not the tuner itself..”
07/14/2008 09:42:03PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “but regardless you know what i need”
07/14/2008 09:42:17PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “the bios update and whatever key enables the digital cable tuner”
07/14/2008 09:42:20PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “then i would like to buy one!”
07/14/2008 09:43:56PM Agent (Dhanish_105850) sends page: “http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&releaseid=R182677&SystemID=DIM_PNT_9200_XPS_420&servicetag=GHN2DG1&os=WLH&osl=en&deviceid=15261&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=4&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=1&libid=1&fileid=249306
07/14/2008 09:44:10PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “This the latest BIOS update that we have.”
07/14/2008 09:45:01PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “There are two keys which enables the digital tv, one given by the tv tuner manufacturer and the other is provided by your cable tv provider.”
07/14/2008 09:45:35PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “so that bios is OCUR enabled?”
07/14/2008 09:45:57PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “because i have the A04 bios…it doesn’t say OCUR or digital cable or cablecard anywhere”
07/14/2008 09:48:24PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Yes, that is updated BIOS.”
07/14/2008 09:49:15PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “ok, that is great, thank you. i’ll flash it now (it’s a different computer than the one i am talking to you from). what can i do to get the product key now?”
07/14/2008 09:53:10PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “You can order the ATI TV Wonder™ Digital Cable Tuner and get the product key.”
07/14/2008 09:53:39PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “ok…how can i order it, it doesn’t seem to show up under normal accessory listings”
07/14/2008 09:54:09PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Please give me 2-3mins,let me check the details.”
07/14/2008 09:54:16PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “thank you”
07/14/2008 10:00:45PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “We are sorry,we do not have the pricing details of the card, you can contact sales and get the details,the number is 800-449-3355”
07/14/2008 10:01:21PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “do you ahve a product number for the card?”
07/14/2008 10:01:36PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it seems a lot of dell sales people aren’t familiar with it”
07/14/2008 10:09:20PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “We are sorry, that it took more time, the part number is A1210307”
07/14/2008 10:09:37PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no problem, thank you very much for finding it”
07/14/2008 10:10:25PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “so am i correct in saying the following: i do not need a separate vista key, i need an additonal key to activate the tuner in media center that comes with the tuner when i purchase it, along with the update bios”
07/14/2008 10:11:34PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Yes, you are right and also make sure the tv cable provider has information about it.”
07/14/2008 10:12:46PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Is there anything else that I can help you with your computer today?”
07/14/2008 10:13:54PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no thank you, and i would like to apologize for being difficult earlier, i didn’t expect that you knew as much as you did”
07/14/2008 10:14:20PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i truthfully talked to nearly ten people including 2 managers who were all completey clueless about digital cable tuners”
07/14/2008 10:14:58PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Thank you for you feedback, will pass it to the concern depatment.Thank you for using Dell XPS Hardware Warranty Chat Support. Have a great evening!”
07/14/2008 10:16:44PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Please disconnect the chat if you don’t have any other questions. The chat session will be e-mailed to you.”
07/14/2008 10:17:43PM Agent (Dhanish_105850): “Since there are no further questions and no response, I will be disconnecting the chat now.”
07/14/2008 10:17:46PM Session Ended
If you require further assistance, please visit us at support.dell.com

Second chat converstaion with “Krutika_165150” on 7/20/2008 8:24 PM:

07/20/2008 08:22:20PM System: “Thanks for choosing chat for your technical support needs. A chat agent will be with you shortly. Just so you know, you can also visit our website at support.dell.com to get technical help.”
07/20/2008 08:24:20PM System: “Thanks so much for your patience. Chat agents are eager to help you with your troubleshooting needs, so stay on line and the next available representative will assist you.”
07/20/2008 08:25:30PM Session Started with Agent (Krutika_165150)
07/20/2008 08:25:39PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Thank you for contacting Dell Technical Support. My name is Krutika and my rep ID number is 165150. How may I help you today?”
07/20/2008 08:26:01PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “hi Krutika”
07/20/2008 08:26:11PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “are you able to look up the chat history of previous chat sessions?”
07/20/2008 08:28:05PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Hello Christopher!!”
07/20/2008 08:28:16PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Not to worry I will take a look.”
07/20/2008 08:28:32PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Please give me 2-3 mins while I check that.”
07/20/2008 08:28:36PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “the problem that the tech rep helped me with wasn’t resolved”
07/20/2008 08:28:46PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “in fact he was wrong about a lot of what he claimed to know”
07/20/2008 08:29:11PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i have made some progress on my own, but there is still one last missing piece i need your help with”
07/20/2008 08:29:19PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Not to worry I will check the chat details and see what best I can do.”
07/20/2008 08:29:35PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “ok thank you”
07/20/2008 08:34:45PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “I see that you wanted a product key for Vista Premium that will be compatible with the Digital Cable TV tuner card is that correct?”
07/20/2008 08:35:13PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “yes…though it ‘s not a vista product key that you would use to activate windows, it’s different”
07/20/2008 08:35:43PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “accordingto the manual that came with the tuner it says it’s called a “Digital Cable Product Key””
07/20/2008 08:35:53PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “the person said it would come with the tuner but it didn’t”
07/20/2008 08:36:12PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i was able to get the proper BIOS update from someone else (what that rep said about the bios update was wrong)”
07/20/2008 08:36:28PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “May I know the model of the card that you purchased?”
07/20/2008 08:36:36PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Okay!!”
07/20/2008 08:36:48PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “the “ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner””
07/20/2008 08:37:07PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “the item number is A1741718”
07/20/2008 08:37:47PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Thank you so much for the information.”
07/20/2008 08:38:11PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Please give me 2-3 mins while I check what needs to be done.”
07/20/2008 08:38:29PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “ok thanks”
07/20/2008 08:39:57PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Thank you for staying connected.”
07/20/2008 08:41:21PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i’m not going anywhere don’t worry”
07/20/2008 08:41:22PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “I just checked we will have to configure the media center first to receive the TV signal while doing that it will give a host ID that we need to give to the cable TV provider and then he will be able to activate the signal.”
07/20/2008 08:41:38PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no that’s different”
07/20/2008 08:41:46PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it will need a product key as well”
07/20/2008 08:42:05PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “the computer usually comes with it on a sticker just like with the windows product key”
07/20/2008 08:42:08PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “mine didn’t”
07/20/2008 08:44:07PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “The host Id is the key that you need to give to the cable TV provider and he will set up the signal.”
07/20/2008 08:44:17PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Let me just try that once.”
07/20/2008 08:44:36PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Will it be fine if I take the control of your system and try to do that.”
07/20/2008 08:46:33PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no…that’s incorrect”
07/20/2008 08:46:35PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it is not the host ID”
07/20/2008 08:46:48PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it’s a separate product key called the “Digital Cable Product Key””
07/20/2008 08:49:43PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Once you give this host ID to the cable TV provider they will give you the “Digital Cable Product Key”.”
07/20/2008 08:49:54PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no that is incorrect”
07/20/2008 08:50:00PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it ships with the dell computer”
07/20/2008 08:50:09PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it’s supposed to be on a sticker”
07/20/2008 08:50:23PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i’ve read this both in the dell forums, and in the product manual that came with the tuner”
07/20/2008 08:51:24PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “give me the host ID anyways in case i need that for something else, but I am SURE the digital cable product key is a separate key issued by dell
07/20/2008 08:52:26PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “For the host Id we will have to try configuring the media center for TV signals.”
07/20/2008 08:52:49PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Will it be fine if I take the control of your system remotely?”
07/20/2008 08:52:55PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i cannot do that, like i said i don’t have the cable card yet!”
07/20/2008 08:53:49PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Then would you like us to give you a call probably a weak later when you have the card?”
07/20/2008 08:54:39PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “you are not understanding the problem at hand”
07/20/2008 08:54:50PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “this isn’t a issue with “configuring the media center for TV signals””
07/20/2008 08:54:54PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i simply need a product key”
07/20/2008 08:55:02PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “as i said i read this in the dell support forums”
07/20/2008 08:55:10PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and i’ll type what it says in the manual:”
07/20/2008 08:55:53PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “”This product key should be affixed to the computer or included as part of your Windows Vista User Guide. Please consult your PC manufacturer if you have misplaced the Digital Cable Product Key””
07/20/2008 08:56:17PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “as i mentioned i’ve read from many people on the dell forums that there is indeed a sticker attached to their computer taht says “Digital Cable Product Key””
07/20/2008 08:56:22PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “NOT the host ID”
07/20/2008 08:57:45PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “May I know did you check on the back of the system tower?”
07/20/2008 08:57:53PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “of course”
07/20/2008 08:58:09PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Is it not there?”
07/20/2008 08:58:24PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no it is not”
07/20/2008 08:58:52PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “In that case yo will have to contact customer care telling them that the card did not come with the product key.”
07/20/2008 08:59:05PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “They will send you another key.”
07/20/2008 08:59:16PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “sir, no one in your company seems capable of handling this issue”
07/20/2008 08:59:25PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i have made many, many phone calls”
07/20/2008 08:59:45PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and the only person who claimed to know for sure he knew what he was talking about was the person who i chatted with, and was very wrong”
07/20/2008 09:00:17PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “I am sorry for the inconvenience Sir.”
07/20/2008 09:01:00PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “But since the order was not completely sent customer care are the only people who will send that.”
07/20/2008 09:01:17PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “how can i chat with them?”
07/20/2008 09:01:39PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “You would have to call them that too in the morning.”
07/20/2008 09:01:58PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “I can give you their contact number.”
07/20/2008 09:03:39PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “ok”
07/20/2008 09:03:51PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “800-964-8321 this is the number for them.”
07/20/2008 09:04:09PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “ok thank you”
07/20/2008 09:04:59PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “That was my pleasure working with you.”
07/20/2008 09:05:19PM Agent (Krutika_165150): “Thank you for choosing Dell.Have a great evening.”
If you require further assistance, please visit us at support.dell.com

Third chat converstion with “Reshma_167157” on 7/21/2008 6:17 PM:

07/21/2008 06:17:33PM System: “Thanks for choosing chat for your technical support needs. A chat agent will be with you shortly. Just so you know, you can also visit our website at support.dell.com to get technical help.”
07/21/2008 06:19:33PM System: “Thanks so much for your patience. Chat agents are eager to help you with your troubleshooting needs, so stay on line and the next available representative will assist you.”
07/21/2008 06:25:08PM Session Started with Agent (Reshma_167157)
07/21/2008 06:25:12PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Hello and welcome to the Dell XPS experience. My name is Reshma. How may I assist you?”
07/21/2008 06:28:12PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “This is not to rush you, please respond if we are connected. I have not received a response from you in over a minute. Please reply within next minute to allow me to continue our chat.”
07/21/2008 06:28:18PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “Hi Reshma”
07/21/2008 06:28:32PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Hi, Christopher.”
07/21/2008 06:28:48PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “I am having trouble, I was not sent a product key with my order for an XPS 420 and Digital Cable Tuner”
07/21/2008 06:29:16PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i have made many phone calls and this is my third chat session over the last week. not a single person has been able to solve the issue”
07/21/2008 06:29:34PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “I am sorry about that.”
07/21/2008 06:29:43PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i’m not sure if you can see my account history, if you can’t i’ll send you a bunch of numbers”
07/21/2008 06:29:54PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “but i need a “Digital Cable Product Key””
07/21/2008 06:30:04PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i’ve been told only tech support can give them out”
07/21/2008 06:30:10PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Not to worry, I will pull up the account details.”
07/21/2008 06:30:13PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and this is a XPS 420 specific key”
07/21/2008 06:30:28PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Christopher, did you check the system tower for the product key?”
07/21/2008 06:31:03PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “of course, only the windows key is there, the OCUR Digital Cable Product Key is not”
07/21/2008 06:31:18PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i was told by multiple people if it’s not there it’ll be on the box that the tuner came in, but it is not”
07/21/2008 06:31:47PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Okay.”
07/21/2008 06:31:57PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Did you check the disk that came with it?”
07/21/2008 06:33:03PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “yes”
07/21/2008 06:33:04PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “not there either”
07/21/2008 06:33:12PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Okay.”
07/21/2008 06:33:17PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Not to worry, I will do my best to help you with the issue.”
07/21/2008 06:33:21PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Please allow me 2 to 3 minutes to pull up the system details. In the meantime, may I have your phone number(s) to update our records?”
07/21/2008 06:33:32PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “401-265-6375”
07/21/2008 06:36:37PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Thank you for staying connected.”
07/21/2008 06:36:57PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i’m not going anywhere don’t worry”
07/21/2008 06:37:14PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Christopher, may I know if you tried the product key that is there on the system tower?”
07/21/2008 06:37:45PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “yes it is not the proper key”
07/21/2008 06:37:55PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “that is the windows vista product key”
07/21/2008 06:38:01PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i need the “Digital Cable Product Key””
07/21/2008 06:38:35PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “I just wanted to confirm if you tried the Windows Vista product key.”
07/21/2008 06:40:54PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Did you contact your service provider regarding this?”
07/21/2008 06:41:48PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “yes comcast is coming wednesday to install the CableCARD, but they won’t be able to without the proudct key!”
07/21/2008 06:42:01PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “this has all been confirmed by tech support already, so far no one has been able to get a key”
07/21/2008 06:44:14PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Christopher, did you check the tower thoroughly?”
07/21/2008 06:44:25PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Please check on all the sides of the system tower.”
07/21/2008 06:44:29PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “yes”
07/21/2008 06:44:35PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it is not there”
07/21/2008 06:44:42PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “also the BIOS was not OCUR enabled”
07/21/2008 06:44:49PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “but tech support gave me the info to enable it”
07/21/2008 06:44:57PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Okay.”
07/21/2008 06:45:14PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “so it didn’t come “Digital Cable Ready” like all XPS 420’s should be, which is why i’m missing the product key…”
07/21/2008 06:46:42PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “May I know if the TV tuner card was bought with the system?”
07/21/2008 06:47:01PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no it was purchased separately, but from Dell
07/21/2008 06:47:18PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Okay.”
07/21/2008 06:48:57PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Christopher, I would suggest you to contact your ISP regarding this and check if they can provide you with it.”
07/21/2008 06:49:07PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “No!”
07/21/2008 06:49:13PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “This is a dell supplied key”
07/21/2008 06:49:16PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “there is no doubt about that”
07/21/2008 06:49:40PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “other dell support reps have told me it should have come with either the computer, or tuner”
07/21/2008 06:49:58PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and it’s not an ISP issue”
07/21/2008 06:50:07PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it is for Television!”
07/21/2008 06:50:38PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “Is there a manager we can bring into this chat session?”
07/21/2008 06:54:36PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Certainly, I am discussing this with my supervisor.]”
07/21/2008 06:55:11PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i can provide you links to the Dell forums where other people have had this and similar issues”
07/21/2008 06:55:31PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “also a simple google search for “XPS 420 digital cable product key” will get you a bunch of information”
07/21/2008 07:00:52PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Thank you for staying connected.”
07/21/2008 07:00:59PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Please give me 3 more minutes.”
07/21/2008 07:01:11PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no problem, take your time”
07/21/2008 07:03:51PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “Thank you for staying connected.”
07/21/2008 07:04:06PM Agent (Reshma_167157): “My supervisor would like to have a word with you. would that be fine with you?”
07/21/2008 07:05:21PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “sure”
07/21/2008 07:06:18PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Hello Christopher, how are you doing today?”
07/21/2008 07:06:46PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “good except for the missing product key :-/”
07/21/2008 07:06:52PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and yourself?”
07/21/2008 07:07:12PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “I have discussed the issue with Reshma. Not to worry, let me check what best can be done here.”
07/21/2008 07:07:25PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “I am fine, thank you for asking.”
07/21/2008 07:09:24PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “As I understand, the product key on your machine does not work correct?”
07/21/2008 07:09:36PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “well it’s missing”
07/21/2008 07:09:51PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “the windows product key was supplied, but the “Digital Cable Product Key” was not”
07/21/2008 07:10:18PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “We do not ship Digital cable product key, in fact the one on the tower should work.”
07/21/2008 07:10:29PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “http://ati.amd.com/products/tvwonderdigital/faq.html
07/21/2008 07:10:43PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Please check this, look one specific for ‘product key'”
07/21/2008 07:11:53PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “will all Dell computers you need a separate “Digital Cable Product Key””
07/21/2008 07:12:06PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i’ve been told this by other tech support reps, and I’ll provide you a link, one sec..”
07/21/2008 07:12:49PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Yes its also called the PID, as I said the one on the tower should work else it has to be provided by the cable company.”
07/21/2008 07:13:05PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no, here is one link”
07/21/2008 07:13:11PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “http://direct2dell.com/one2one/archive/2007/12/09/37725.aspx
07/21/2008 07:13:24PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “just do a serach for “product key” you’ll see in thel ink, i’ll find others..”
07/21/2008 07:14:17PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2007/12/15/dell-xps-420-first-impressions.aspx
07/21/2008 07:14:23PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “again search for “prodcut key””
07/21/2008 07:14:31PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “excuse me, search for “product key””
07/21/2008 07:15:10PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “here is another”
07/21/2008 07:15:11PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=958372
07/21/2008 07:15:18PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “same search”
07/21/2008 07:16:03PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “there are many more if you’d like more references”
07/21/2008 07:16:10PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “but in each case the following is true”
07/21/2008 07:16:29PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i needed a special BIOS (which i have) and a separateproduct key, which i don’t have”
07/21/2008 07:16:32PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “The second link that you send, when you search for product key it would say”
07/21/2008 07:16:39PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “”When you fire up the Media Center shell and go through the TV tuner configuration, you will be prompted for a special product key. That key is on the COA sticker on the back of the XPS 420.””
07/21/2008 07:18:06PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “yes although he doesn’t say it explicity, he is refering tot he second COA sticker that says “OCUR” on it”
07/21/2008 07:18:10PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “the other links confirm that”
07/21/2008 07:19:19PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Well, Christopher I have come across this issue before. I have practically tried the product key on the system tower and it worked.”
07/21/2008 07:19:35PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “I would advise you to check with that once.”
07/21/2008 07:20:05PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i have been told by at least 3 different tech support reps that this is not true”
07/21/2008 07:20:12PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “they all say i should have been sent another key”
07/21/2008 07:20:26PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Did you try the product key on the machine?”
07/21/2008 07:20:26PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “as does every single forum i have come accross, on dell or otherwise”
07/21/2008 07:20:53PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “We do not ship any different ‘digital product key'”
07/21/2008 07:21:01PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “yes, sir, you do”
07/21/2008 07:21:07PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it is called “OCUR””
07/21/2008 07:22:10PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=982801
07/21/2008 07:22:14PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “OCUR is the naming convention for ATI tv tuner.”
07/21/2008 07:22:19PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “again search for “product key””
07/21/2008 07:22:21PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “yes that is true”
07/21/2008 07:22:40PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “but it is also what is written on the COA sticker on the back of the machine that contains the product key, the one that i am missing”
07/21/2008 07:23:28PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “http://www.edbott.com/weblog/?p=1857
07/21/2008 07:23:31PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “http://forums.slickdeals.net/archive/index.php/t-715067-p-2.html
07/21/2008 07:23:42PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “You mean to say you have no product key on the rear of the machine or the system tower.”
07/21/2008 07:24:25PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Christopher, you will find 10,000 forums on Internet, but if you believe me the key should work. As I have practically checked it.”
07/21/2008 07:25:32PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i am using those forums, including the ones on dell.com that dell reps have repsonded to, to back up my belief that what other dell representatives have told me, i need a second sticker with a name that ends in “OCUR””
07/21/2008 07:26:15PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “If any such sticker is existent, the first thing I would have done after joining the chat session is to ship one to you.”
07/21/2008 07:26:46PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it exists”
07/21/2008 07:26:50PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Even if I have to ship something it has to be the Vista DVD with the COA, which should be the same on the tower.”
07/21/2008 07:27:10PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “if you choose not to beleive what other tech reps have told me and what others in the forums say they have done, i don’t know what to say”
07/21/2008 07:27:18PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “see but this isn’t a vista product key that i need”
07/21/2008 07:27:26PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “it is a “Digital Cable Product Key””
07/21/2008 07:27:49PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Tell me one thing….”
07/21/2008 07:28:01PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Did you try the product key on the tower if you have one.”
07/21/2008 07:28:14PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Also did you check with your cable operators regarding the same?”
07/21/2008 07:28:40PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “sir, as you should know if you have done this before, I cannot try it until the cable technician is here to active the card”
07/21/2008 07:28:52PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “he cannot activate the card with that key”
07/21/2008 07:29:07PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Did you try the product key on the tower if you have one???”
07/21/2008 07:29:43PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “and since his visit costs me $80 for a service call, and because I am confident based on what other dell reps have told me, i am here talking to you”
07/21/2008 07:29:57PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “my previous sentence implicity says I did not try the key”
07/21/2008 07:30:02PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “because i cannot try the key”
07/21/2008 07:30:45PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “There is no such product key available for us to dispatch, please check with customer care if they can help you with this.”
07/21/2008 07:31:12PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “I can send you the Vista product key, but this is not the one what you are looking for.”
07/21/2008 07:31:29PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no, it ships with all new XPS 420s”
07/21/2008 07:31:42PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “i guess you would have to ship a whole new computer”
07/21/2008 07:31:56PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Please check with customer care, they can help you with this.”
07/21/2008 07:32:54PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “Is there anything other technical issue else I may assist you with today?”
07/21/2008 07:33:05PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “ok, thank you for your attempt to help.”
07/21/2008 07:33:08PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “no that is all”
07/21/2008 07:33:10PM Christopher Cicchitelli: “have a good day.”
07/21/2008 07:33:26PM Agent (Sup_mohammed_0180975): “You have a good night, take care Bye.”
07/21/2008 07:34:33PM Session Ended
If you require further assistance, please visit us at support.dell.com

17 Responses to “Lost in… Dell’s Support Maze”

  1. 1 DELL-Chris_M July 22, 2008 at 1:07 pm


    My name is Christopher (DELL-Chris_M), and I work with Dell’s Online Community Outreach program in our corporate headquarters here in Round Rock, Texas. My job is to work as a Liaison between Dell and outside internet communities in issues dealing with Desktop computers. The only XPS 420s with OCUR support and the key are ones purchased New from the Home and Home Office sales site. The Dell Outlet is not included.

    [url=http://direct2dell.com/one2one/pages/Dell-Community-Bio-Page.aspx]Team Pictures and Profiles[/url]
    [url=http://www.dellcommunity.com/supportforums/board/message?board.id=Tech_Talk_XPS&thread.id=28247]XPS Desktop FAQ[/url]

  2. 2 John July 25, 2008 at 10:54 am

    When they say it is available in all configurations, I think they mean that in all configurations in which you can customize your Dell, the OCUR tuner is available. But, you still have to select it and purchase the OCUR tuner from Dell to receive the proper BIOS and keys.

    Previously, there were some configurations which may not have offerred OCUR. i.e. special bundled configurations that had some customizability but not for tv tuner.

    Does this make sense to anyone else or maybe I’m the only one that can read between the lines here…

    BTW, I don’t work for Dell, I’m just trying to offer a plausible explanation.

  3. 3 todd July 27, 2008 at 1:23 am

    I’m curious to see how this all resolves. How much did you spend using Dell Outlet? You could have avoided all of this hassle by spending $1,148 on the Dell Home site, which gets you the computer, the digital tuner, an HDCP-compliant video card, and most importantly, the all-important product key which is your holy grail.

  4. 4 ccicchitelli July 27, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Hey Todd,
    I paid $630 for the same specs as the $899 base unit, factory refurbished. By law, this means it should have been restored to a good-as-new condition, but it wasn’t (first time I turned it on it said ‘Windows failed to boot in it’s last attempt, would you like to repair’, or something close to that..). I then paid $175 for the tuner, plus a bluetooth upgrade, bringing the total to $825 or so. So I was trying to save about $325. For that savings I got everything but the product key.

    Thanks for your interest!

  5. 5 WLT July 27, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I’ll never buy another Dell due to there false advertisement and there lack of concern of customers problems. They have lost all sense of what customer satisfaction means. They do not care if you have to send the computer back because they know they have a 40 to 50% markup on them. Some also get charged for there return shipping and restocking fee which is somewhere around 15 or 20%. I hope you can get your issue corrected soon and I have to say everyone I have delt with at Dell has no common sense or concern for the buyer with the exception of Chris M. I do want to let you know that I do have the Digital Cable Support for Windows Vista Product Key _____-_____-_____-_____-_____ ___-_____ sticker on mine and it is just above and somewhat contacting the Windows License Key actually it may all be one label but it also says it is Proof of License Certificate of Authenticity MICROSOFT. Down where the Windows product key is (AND THEY ARE DIFFERENT NUMBERS)it does say DELL right below Windows Vista and then goes through the spill of Windows License Key and its numbers. One thing I would like to ask you is about the bios? I am only running version 4 is there something different I should have? I got my system in April ordered new and they didn’t install all the stuff and am still getting lies from Dell and now after 21 days I can not return my system. My biggest issue was they said I would be getting an update for Vista Ultimate to make it 64 bit and then after there wait and let me find out attitude they turned around and said this wasn’t true. I did get Vista Ultimate CD 64 bit from them but before I installed it they told me that my system was not supported for 64 bit and it would cancel all my support. Of coarse they failed to mention this to me at time of sale and also after I purchased 2 year support. The manager lady even agreed with salesman about 64 bit upgrade coming and being supported.
    Hope you can get Dell to take care of there problem and treat you like a customer instead of the box there product ships in. I’ll never buy another Dell and my friends will not either.

  6. 6 ccicchitelli July 27, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    WLT: I am using the A04 version of the BIOS. Are you having trouble with the BIOS and your CableCARD tuner? I have the trick to correct that if that’s what you need…I have read there is a really important update for the ATI TV Wonder DCT.

  7. 7 Ed Martel August 21, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Really happy to find your blog and read about your experience.

    I was in the same boat, with a XPS 420, no COA and OCUR deactivated in the BIOS.

    I managed to get the tool to update the BIOS to activate OCUR, but still missing the COA to make it work which leaves me without only one piece of the puzzle missing (and the thoughest one to solve, unfortunately).

    Hope you have time to put your how-to together for fellow XPS owners who are facing the same issue… and still hoping to find a solution to my missing COA…!

  8. 8 ChrisCicc August 21, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Hey Ed,
    I’d be happy to help you with what whatever questions you have regarding getting the DCT and the XPS 420 up and running. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll have any luck with the COA. Thanks to this blog I got a pretty good amount of attention both within and outside Dell. Dell had no solution internally, and it was only by the grace and luck of a reader that I was able to get a COA that worked.

    If you still can return your XPS 420, do so immediately before it is too late. If like me you bought it on the Dell Outlet I can show you how to find one that contains the OCUR key, otherwise there is no proper solution. The only thing you *can* do is buy a new XPS 420, copy the key, and return it, but that is technically illegal and morally questionable and I cannot recommend you do that.

    Dell internally is looking into this, but they are pretty messed up. They don’t have any internal documentation with the support teams on the ATI DCT and OCUR, and the sales guys only know of it because it’s an option when the computer is purchased. Dell should be ashamed if you ask me.

  9. 9 Ed Martel August 21, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks Chris,

    unfortunately, it is too late for me to return the XPS (didn’t have access to Cable Cards until a week ago) and had the computer for a while.

    So either I wait for Dell to solve the problem or ask around if anyone has a XPS 420 sitting around..!

  10. 10 Jim October 23, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Hi Chris,

    so based on the information that dell scrubbs out all of the Digital Cable Support when an xps is returned, wouldnt i be able to purchase a new xps 420 from their home website, write the digitial cable key down, return the dell, go buy the same spec dell for cheaper on the outlet, and then flash to the OCUR enabled bios and activate with the key i first noted?

    I know its an involved process but the end result would be saving about 300 bucks.

    Has anyone tried something like this?

  11. 11 ChrisCicc October 29, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Hi Jim,
    What you say *should* work. In fact, I briefly considered doing something similar – ultimately to decide not to and pursue the avenue I did.

    Despite being told by a Dell rep that they scrub the keys, I’m not entirely sure that is true based on what I was told in the forums.

    My decision was based on morality, and I was a victim of circumstance. You would be trying to intentionally deceive the system. What I suggest instead is following the notes mentioned in this forum to simply find one at the outlet that *should* have the OCUR key.

  12. 12 Vincenzo February 16, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Hello Chris,

    Can you give us an update on how your system is working I just purchased an XPS 420 with the ocur key and ran the OCUR bios check and it comes back as no support.

  13. 13 ChrisCicc February 18, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Hi Vincenzo,
    My system is working very well. I’ve had a couple minor issues, but they are Microsoft’s fault, not Dells. I have had no trouble at all with the OCUR key I received or the Cable Card within, except after the system resumes from standby (which I don’t really do anymore).

    Is the BIOS check failing completely? Or is the Cable Card just not working? Either way if you should be able to return it anytime under those circumstances, even if after the return period. Keep in mind too that you can make the BIOS OCUR capable without returning if you already have the key…


  14. 14 Vincenzo February 19, 2009 at 8:00 am


    Thanks for the quick reply.

    Yes the Bios check is failing completely but media center says my computer is digitally ready (I do have the Microsoft sticker on the back with both COA’s) but I need a cable card to receive premium channels. I had Comcast out yesterday and when they inserted the card it say it failed. Not sure if this is due to the bios not being OCUR or if it was a bad card.


  15. 16 Vincenzo February 19, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    No I don’t believe so.

  16. 17 ChrisCicc February 19, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    I just emailed it to you.

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