Bottom line: these things should not have happened. Here's my blog post on Direct2Dell (Dell's corporate blog) that I recently published in response to Laptop Magazine's experience. More from me here: http://dell.to/Q8VK8M
While run of the mill Dell support is pretty much shit, Alienware is much better. For that (not really) "inflated" price you automatically are dealing with dedicated Alienware Tier 2 support in Costa Rica at least.
For those who think that it still sucks, I just got a full $3700 refund on a 15 month old laptop where the video card died and the replacement part was not going to be in stock for a few weeks. Their solution, refund the laptop in full. If that is not acceptable than f off lol. I just got to use a top tier laptop and devalue it (top tier tech loses value like it is no body's business!) for free and now will get to use that money to essentially get a free upgrade to the new latest and greatest. I continue to be a happy customer of Alienware (not Dell).
Pretty much just get a business grade product or an Alienware, otherwise the support will leave you sorely wanting more
It's just a tip of the iceberg. The whole industries from retail to banking are pushing the front lines to sell you this and that. It's the managements high up that came up with these ideas so they can pocket more for themselves while the front line workers are being pushed to the limit.