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Dell helpdesk - McAfee anti-virus 18months free and missing service tag

I've had a couple of minor issues with my new Dell Inspiron Laptop. These have been resolved now, but I must say that I was a bit uncertain about how well the help desk would handle my request after my previous bad experience with the Dell helpdesk.

The issues: missing anti-virus software license and invalid service tag

There were two issues when I received the laptop. The first was that the laptop had included an offer for 18 months free McAfee anti-virus. Whilst I'm not planning to use Windows much (and Linux doesn't suffer from the same virus problems as Windows) I still needed some anti-virus. Whenever I checked for the subscription it said I had only 30 days free trial and gave an offer to purchase a subscription.

The second thing was that during this investigation I entered my Service Tag onto the Dell support website and it said that it was an invalid service tag. The service tag is a unique identifier used by Dell. It's similar to a serial number, but the laptop has one of those as well, but without a valid service tag it makes finding driver updates and getting future support very difficult.

Finding the help desk

When I previously contacted the Dell helpdesk it was by phone. I checked the details of the service contacts on the laptop, website and with the supplied paperwork, but found no reference to a free support helpdesk to report faulty / incorrect products. There was a helpdesk provided on the Laptop, but that was on a pay to use basis and had a phone number for Ireland. In fact all the help and support links were for Ireland, which makes me think that perhaps the laptop was not intended for UK sale or should have had a configuration change before shipping (sales and distribution of UK home / small business Dell computers is run out of Ireland).

Unable to find a phone number for Dell I resorted to their online email form for reporting missing parts from a delivery.

What's your service tag?

When I reported the problem I stated that the problem was with the anti-virus and that the Service Tag was not recognised on the support website. A few days later I got a response asking for my service tag as the one I had supplied was invalid. Not a good start.

After my initial feeling of frustration over an issue I'd already told them about, I emailed them a photo of the service tag on my laptop. I then received a response stating that they had raised the missing service tag with the appropriate group and asking me for a phone number that they could contact me on regarding the McAfee problem. They also provided some weblinks / info if I wanted to contact the McAfee support desk directly.

Downloading McAfee Anti-Virus license

In the end I found the McAfee link to download the license copy and was able to upgrade McAfee to the full version for 18 months.

The anti-virus is not that important as I'll mainly be running Linux which is not vulnerable to viruses in the same way as Windows, but the anti-virus is required for the occasions when I do run Windows 7.

Service Tag added

It took several days for them to add my service tag to the support website, but they did do that eventually and emailed me to confirm that it was done.


I was able to get the issues resolved without too much pain this time. A big improvement on the last time I had a problem with Dell.