Dell Support Experience to order and replace laptop battery

This is based on the experience of one of my family with Dell Support whose Dell Inspiron uses a 3 cell 4.1V 3500 mAH Li-ion battery – part number FW8KR11.

This was confirmed in Linux using dmidecode. Open a terminal window and enter the command below.
$ sudo dmidecode <enter>
Portable Battery
Location: Sys. Battery Bay
Manufacturer: BYD
Manufacture Date: 01/03/2021
Name: DELL FW8KR11
Design Capacity: 41990 mWh
Design Voltage: 11400 mV
SBDS Version: 1.0
Maximum Error: 100%
SBDS Chemistry: LION
OEM-specific Information: 0x00000801

Given above information about the part, Dell Technical Support was contacted for a new battery as this one was swollen and gave only 20 minutes of power backup and the touch pad popped up gradually out of the armrest due to the swollen battery.

2 weeks went by trying various channels as below that Dell lists on their website.
Chat, where the AI bot takes the initial information, suggests preordained Support Assist tests and then says continue the chat with a technician.
Service Center for carry-in service. Due to the current pandemic situation, they would call back, but did not.
Email ID to email the problem and get a solution. Unfortunately, there is no email ID.
Support toll-free or toll numbers on the Dell website. If it connects within 5 minutes, it’s a lucky day, else, simply hang up and try another day.
WhatsApp support where after the initial message, it took a technician to ask about the problem.

Lots of questions were asked on WhatsApp, including running SupportAssist and responding till finally uploading a photo of the elevated keyboard armrest and touch pad. The technician confirmed again if the battery was swollen. Finally, the technician suggested to contact sales with a service request and the sales short link was given on WhatsApp. The short link provided on WhatsApp opened the generic Sales page on Dell’s website.

On the Dell Sales Support page, only 3 options were visible (a) buying a new PC/laptop or (b) buying a new one from or (c) buying an extended warranty. 3 options, of which none are for parts or accessories. On that screen, a user is impressed upon that sales will resolve the issue.

When you choose to buy a new PC/laptop, Dell sales is all ears and you get their undivided attention. However, when asked about buying a new battery, their reply was – “I’m sorry but as you got connected to the Dell Sales Team, unfortunately with the limited tools I have I am unable to help you with compatible battery. In regards to this, our Technical Support Team will be the best point of contact as they can help you“. This meant going back to Technical Support who originally referred the user to Sales.

Now, we clearly mentioned we were bounced back and forth several times and told them that we have been asked to contact sales team. It did not work. However, this time, we added a magic sentence that we also decide on big corporate orders and am not in position to waste more time to order a laptop battery. With this kind of experience, Dell now needs to prove it is a contender for my corporation ;-).

Instantly, a supervisor took over the chat and asked for the laptop service tag. Based on that the supervisor came up with the Part # FW8KR which is for a 3 Cell 42 Whr POLYMER battery and that Dell has no stock of this part and it can be purchased from a retail website. To get here was like pulling teeth, that too, if it was to be a purchase from Amazon or online and to do the battery replacement myself! They again asked to contact Tech Support for assistance to replace the old battery.

On Amazon, there was no part named FW8KR. Maybe, Dell got it wrong. I ordered one that said compatible with Dell Inspiron, 5* rated from Amazon. New battery was delivered in one day and then needed to do the unthinkable task of replacing it myself. A non-techie will have to go through the painful Dell support loop again to get the old battery replaced.

The new battery had part number WXD0R written on it’s casing. Will it work? After opening the laptop back case, the battery that was installed was also labelled WXD0R. I fitted the battery in the laptop and it works fine.

The laptop would not start initially without the power connected. After connecting the power, it showed battery of 20% left. At 98%, charging was stuck for a very long time. I found on the internet that the power must be switched off to let the battery drop to about 85%, then plugged in the charger to get to full capacity.

Do not discharge a Li-ion battery fully. If it gets to 20% of the charge left, plug in a charger to charge it. At 100%, the battery gives about 4-6 hours time, depending on the kind of use of the laptop. I installed the tlp on the laptop. Moderate use only.

Dell has taken support ticketing a notch higher with their Twitter handle @DellCares or WhatsApp for ordinary support and ticketing. The conventional means of support like toll-free numbers, email IDs, no longer work for a normal customer.

The requiem for conventional Dell support, but the bright side is Dell also taught me to open the laptop and replace the battery.