After running Windows Update (and patching EQ2) my laptop decided it wasn’t going to boot up anymore. I tried running my Ultimate (upgrade) disc to repair. Repair failed. Restore failed. Restore failed numerous times, from numerous points. After the oldest restore point failed I decided to reinstall. Using my Ultimate (upgrade) disc I deleted the old OS partition/recreated/formated. Installed Ultimate (clean install) via that disc. It failed. (Anytime it failed/didn’t boot I got the “Windows failed to start” screen.)
So I used my Home Premium disc which came from DELL to reinstall. I deleted the OS partition/recreated the partition and formated (formated twice). Then I installed Home Premium. No issues. It booted up fine… except that it said there was no wifi so obviously I’m missing DELL drivers. I debate whether to update first or go right into my Ultimate upgrade. I ran the windows update only to get the updated updater and see how many updates are out there. Then I switched to the Ultimate upgrade disc to do my upgrade. Finally, it failed. The Windows (boot manager?) screen popped up… whatever screen also has the option to roll back Vista on it….Trying the first Vista listed got me nothing, but I did see a blue screen flash. Trying the second Vista listed (after the Vista rollback option listed second) got me the option to attempt to repair. I don’t remember if it was start up or system or set up repair… but it popped up a command prompt screen.

Now my laptop says:

FAILED to nobulate (NOBNT) back to the manufacturing media (A:) such that the Software Install process cannot continue reliably


Press any key to continue….

(That does nothing)

Step 1: Look up number in “Contacting DELL” book that came with laptop. Call wrong number first.

Step 2: Spend over 20 minutes on hold.

Step 3: Finally get to talk to a guy who’s obviously Indian and obviously reading responses from a script. Give this DELL tech idiot my information and explain the problem. Argue with him. Get told he can’t help me with the Ultimate disc because it didn’t come from DELL. Explain that I just want help with my laptop at this point. Give the error message x2. Get put on hold so he can go “look up more information.”

*I typed this out while on hold.

12:55 pm to continue…

The DELL tech support idiot told me to shut off the system and remove the AC adapter and the battery. Then he told me to put them back and hold the power button down for 30 seconds. (Computer reboots.) Then he says I’m removing an electrostatic charge which has built up in the system. So I shut off the system again, remove the battery/power cable again and hold down the button for 30 seconds. (Not laughing because I’m annoyed, otherwise I think I’d be laughing.)

Now the computer is running the Home Premium installation. I’ve just deleted all partitions. (The recovery, the media direct and the OS.) I had pondered doing this before myself but hadn’t gone that far. He’s telling me even the Recovery partition is corrupt. So, now my computer has no partitions. He told me to continue my Vista installation with no partitions at all. I explained (and then argued with him) that I want a recovery partition. He said they don’t support (after I pulled teeth to get info)recovery factory installed partitions. (OK. That makes some amount of sense if you are talking factory installed software on a partition.) He insists that DELL doesn’t support partitions. (?!?!?!?) Finally I say “I want 2 partitions on the laptop.”

He’s placed me on hold again to check this. When I asked him what he’s checking I got some thing about “making sure there’s things we support.”

1:23 pm

He needed to double check how partitions are created. I think.

I’m on hold again. He’s just told me that they can only support 1 partition even though I’ve created 2. I just asked to speak with manager or someone else above him.

1:34 pm

I’m on hold again. In theory I’ll be speaking with the manager of the manger of tech support idiot #1. The manager was a little better handling the call than tech support idiot #1. He’s insisting that DELL doesn’t support partitions. He gave me a silly reason too. Because customers think they can save data on their back up partition even if the hard drive crashes.

1:48 pm

I’m off the phone. The last guy sounded a little bit more professional and gave me a little more information. He said they won’t support help with backing up files onto the second partition or installing the OS on the second partition. They won’t support the upgraded OS either….which makes no sense to me…. but I could see where it would save them money. They also won’t support 2 OS’s on the same hard drive. I don’t care, I don’t want to do that. (At least not yet.) I also got that to get support with backing up files I need to pay for my tech support.

So, now I’m supposed to get a call back from someone higher than the guy I just talked to. His on call name was Shawn and his real name was Sanaosh. I’m supposed to get a call in the next 24-48 hours (asked for between 10 am and 6 pm cst). He couldn’t tell me his position title and when I initially tried to get to talk to his manager he explained there’s no one else above him. I got to use the “Oh, I see. So you own DELL?” line. Then he explained there’s no one there higher than him. (Which I guess is possible with an outsourced call center… but I really think if he was the highest person there he would have been able to tell me his position.)

We’ll see. Maybe, finally, I’ll be able to tell someone how shitty DELL tech support really is.

That was 1 hour 37 minutes and 17 seconds on the phone. Total.

At this point I’m going to see how far I can go.

Wait a minute. The DELL media direct is on it’s on partition.

(metaphorical throwing hands up in air)

Update on now:

Home Premium installed. There appears to be no issues, no problems. I have yet to update it let alone connect to the Internet. It’s going to run on Home Premium for now. We’ll see what happens. I’m going to have anything related to school on the second partition. I forgot to mention. On my last attempt to upgrade to Ultimate I disabled anything “extra” I could in the BIOS. That obviously didn’t help. (I didn’t disable sound, couldn’t find where it was possible.)

Something I just thought of… as I reference either in the post or in the comment people who are proactive with their data and try to do more on their computer. I mean (as an example) anyone smart enough to know how to navigate BIOS.

Update for Jack Marron who commented this:

Hey i have checked all the comment here but do not understand 1 thing. Why are all here to blame Dell. Did someone ever think that Microsoft has the biggest hand in this problem and they are enjoying all the glory while the other hardware dealers are getting all the shit.

First, feel free to check the blog post I made about upgrading my own desktop computer to Vista from XP. You’ll notice I had no problems. It is common knowledge that DELL cares little for it’s home and office customers. The corporate ones are the only ones that really mean crap to them – they make the money. You might also want to check out the summary of the complaint I made directly to DELL and the call back I got from DELL at the corporate level. You might learn a thing or two.

Also, a small amount of research via Google or some other search engine will show you that many hardware companies have been lazy in regards to Vista updates. Now with Vista SP1 on the horizon a lot more hardware is compatible. But, for example, at last check I still can’t get a driver for my CANON Rebel Digital XT camera. Lucky for me I have a DELL monitor with a CF reader.

15 thoughts on “Calling DELL Tech. Support (and Vista)..updated 2/26/08

  1. Points to remember for call back:

    1. Remove static charge from laptop? That’s bullshit.

    2. The DELL Media Direct is on it’s own partition.

    3. Don’t support more than one partition?

    4. Manager of outsourced call center really is the top person there but can’t say what his position is? Or who will call me back?

    5. Will DELL support Ultimate upgraded from “Upgrade anytime”?

    6. DELL don’t support customers who want to be more proactive with their computers and who actually have some sense and know where things are located? In other words the people who know that Norton sucks and that CD trays aren’t coffee cup holders.

  2. More points:

    7. no mention of drivers from tech support people.

    8. I changed what order my laptop boots as far as booting from cd. I bet no level 1 tech support knows how to do that.

  3. This exact same thing happened to me today! I was stunned.. it’s freaky as heck! I was rebooting after an itunes patch and next thing I know. i get the FAILED thing… let me know how you work this out. I will be calling Dell in the morning but I’m a bit concerned… it’s a Dell 1330 XPS and it came with ULTIMATE preinstalled… /sigh

  4. New Vista Inspiron. Media direct got messed up and the it messed up the hard drive so dell tech had me reformat the enitre drive. Things got worse from there so they sent me a new 16o gb hdd. When I was checking to make sure all features worked I tried hitting the f8 to boot into windows recovery and I get the same FAILED to NOBULATE. Called Dell
    and no solotion.
    Hope you keep us updated as to the solution to this issue.


  5. I don’t even bother calling DELL anymore, i find using the online chat to be 1000x better. I got some guy named Robert and although he confirmed the primary partitions was corrupt, he had a new drive with all necessary drivers (imaged) on it’s way to me in no time. Start to finish, our chat took maybe 30 minutes. I just did it from work so it wasn’t a big deal and I had other things going on while I worked on the chat.

    Good luck!

    Oh, btw, I plan on carefully removing the “damaged” drive and placing it in an external enclosure ( USB ) and once the new drive is up and running, connecting the old drive (via USB) and bringing my pics, music, documents, whatever I have still undamamged over to the new drive. Vista gets cranky when you do this, but it’s not too bad, you just have to do it with Administrator rights and “assume admin” rights for the old drive too. It doesn’t matter, you’ll never use the old drive again once you move it all back, you have to send it back to Dell anyway or they bill you for the new drive. I just bring my stuff over, then format it and then mail it.

    Good luck!

  6. The only solution for NOBULATE failure is to re-partition the drive and re-install Vista.

    It’s a problem that stems from a bad factory image application to the drive. PCRestore will NOT fix this most of the time (although rumor is that it will sometimes).

    Sorry you had such a bad experience with Dell Tech Support — I promise you, it’s not all that bad đŸ™‚

  7. Sorry to hear about your experience with Dell support. As an insider I can tell you this is not the kind of experience Dell wants customers to have and as a L2 tech its not the kind of experience I provide. I think with the Indian techs there is a very large cultural and language barrier that adds to the frustration already present. That being said let me just comment on a couple of things. First off remove all power sources and holding down the power button for 15 – 30 seconds is not bullshit. On a notebook system this proceedure drains the flea power (why they called it electrostatic charge is beyond me – again language barrier) and resets the NVRAM (Non volitile RAM – it holds the BIOS settings.) However, this is not a fix for the problem you had; some techs pull this one out because it seems to solve some wierd problems.

    The real problem here I think is that you attempted an OSRI before calling Dell your system had a factory image partition that could have been used to reimage the OS partition, however once you used the OS cds to install you changed the Master boot record making it more difficult to use the image restore, but there is an option using command prompts in the recovery console to activate the image restore, unless of course you deleted the partition containing the recovery partition. Once that partition is gone you no longer have the image restore option.

    Now when you received your system it should have had 3 partions. One for media direct, one for the OS, and one for the image restore. So Dell does indeed support multiple partition, but they are the partitions that Dell has created not ones that the customer creates. Also Dell will support an upgrade as long as the upgrade was part of your original system order. Dell will provide support for the original system specifications. Any modifications to the hardware or OS by the end user will not be supported. Dell technicians will get your system back to the original factory specs, but beyond that your are on your own unless you want to pay for Dell on Call support for advance configuration.

    After running diagnostics on the harddrive and the system memory to ensure hardware integrity, your problem should have been resolved in one of three ways. You should have been assisted in creating two partitions one for media direct and one for the original OS (the recovery partition cannot be recreated after the OSRI you performed.) OR if you have had your system for less than one year you could have had the option of receiving a factory imaged harddrive and better yet you could have been shipped an SRCD (System Recovery CD) which basically writes a new factory image to your harddrive all three partitions included. The last option is really the best option.

    I hope that helps you and anyone else who may happen upon your blog. Good luck with your system.

  8. Add me to the list.
    So yeah 1 bad hard drive replaced. Then the system board (as the drive went bad because the controller was bad).

    Now I get this. The first line support monkeys were stumped as it was not part of their scripts. Per the dell community forums I figured out it was factory diagnostics.

    I told this to the support monkeys and they wanted to punt me to mcafee as that was what updated last before the reboot, then to paid support. Sorry no. You shipped me a bad/misconfigured product and there should be a simple enough way to get this removed. I mean they do it (or maybe not) at the factory why can’t I get a remove utility easily.

    My day job is a windows sysadmin (it pays the bills) so if I am calling in for help I have already tried the obvious.

  9. Fixed. System repair did it. From the system repair log it looks like the boot disk got changed to the D: drive which is the recovery partition. It is in the dellfist directory.

    I doubt you are the first and that I am the last user to have this happen. One would think the scripts the help monkeys follow would have info on their own tools and what can go wrong with them.

  10. Just starting to see this error in the repair shop. Most clues lead to the cause being a corrupt restore partition. I guess from now on I’ll recommend a backup followed by a low level wipe and proper install of XP. Although most manufacturers are pushing Fista you can get XP drivers from their comparable “business” class models.

  11. Help help, I was trying to download drivers for my keyboard, then my Norton updated and I got the failed to nobulate error. What should I do? It says not to reboot – fail this system to EMR. How do it get to system repair as noted in comment 11? I am scared to death. All of our records are on this computer for the animals. I was going to buy an external HD to back up this computer next week….

  12. Hey i have checked all the comment here but do not understand 1 thing. Why are all here to blame Dell. Did someone ever think that Microsoft has the biggest hand in this problem and they are enjoying all the glory while the other hardware dealers are getting all the shit.

  13. I had my own version of Dell Support today. This morning I turned on my Dell Windows Vista computer and got a black screen with giant white letters saying “FAILED.” Also taking about can’t “nobulate.” Thought must be Indian English. I talked to Dell tech support guys and manager. The scenario was similar to above, first the unintelligible tech support guys, then a manager who said “we can save your Microsoft Word documents [my book manuscript], I’ll tell the tech what to do and he’ll assist you. I waited a long time before realizing I had been disconnected. I called back, had to start over with a new person, then had to do test to make sure hardware wasn’t a problem, even though I told them the tech support manager had ruled that out when I spoke with him, he said he had to check, which again took a long time, then he said to insert disc to reinstall operating system software, which I already knew would wipe out my word files, he agreed, saying that I could pay someone to remove date from the hard drive, which I learned later would cost between $500 to $2000, or I could do what he said, which he said was the only thing that could be done. I kept pleading with him to ask another manager, which he said wasn’t necessary because it had been ruled out,the computer wouldn’t start up to let me access those files. Several hours later I wondered if I should have inserted the install disk as he directed. After not taking the tech’s advice, I felt very depressed. I told a friend who said see if you can get to safe mode, “Try the left button instead of the right start button,” which magically worked. I copied all my word files onto a flash drive. Then I shut down the computer as usual and tried the regular button, and voila the computer started right up, I accessed word documents, no problem, everything same as before couldn’t “nobulate.” Dell Tech Support isn’t supportive, they can’t speak English well enoughto be understood without having to ask them to repeat almost everything they say, and they didn’t know about safe mode??? They didn’t know to try that? That’s shocking. I would never buy another Dell product. I could never have imagined I would have to spend hours on the hone with people in India who can’t speak the language of the people they’re supposed to support, AND they were advising me to wipe out all my word documents, meaning a book manuscript and all my teaching materials!

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