After a surprisingly excellent run in with Dell's telephone support where my PC freezes were very quickly diagnosed and fixed, I thought I'd try their online chat support to see if they could make Sleep mode work for me in Vista. Here's the transcript:
10:31:58PM Session Started with Dell_Agent
10:32:24PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for contacting Dell Hardware Warranty Chat Support! My name is Xxxxx. How may I help you?"
10:32:42PM Tim Poultney: "hello"
10:33:02PM Tim Poultney: "I'm trying to get Sleep mode on Vista working so that I can cut down my energy bills"
10:33:36PM Tim Poultney: "it seems to sleep, but won't resume"
10:34:02PM Tim Poultney: "when I try and resume, the keyboard lights come back on and the hard disc is making noise, but Windows never comes back"
10:34:16PM Dell_Agent: "Let me see if I have this right. I understand that you're system did not resume from safe mode. Is that correct?"
10:34:40PM Tim Poultney: "no"
10:34:54PM Tim Poultney: "unrelated to safe mode"
10:35:09PM Dell_Agent: "I am sorry about that what I mean is sleep mode."
10:35:21PM Dell_Agent: "Is that correct?"
10:36:35PM Tim Poultney: "yes"
10:36:52PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for confirming that for me."
10:37:19PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for bringing this matter to us. I am glad I am the one who received your request as I am going to do my best to assist you today."
10:37:30PM Dell_Agent: "Is this the first time you contacted us regarding this issue?"
10:38:28PM Tim Poultney: "yes"
10:39:27PM Dell_Agent: "May I have your express service code please?"
10:40:49PM Tim Poultney: "8XTXHXX"
10:41:33PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you. By the way that is your service tag but it will also work."
10:42:17PM Dell_Agent: "I am now pulling up your records, while I'm doing this for verification, what is the name of the person or organization that owns the computer?"
10:43:16PM Tim Poultney: "Tim Poultney"
10:44:14PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for that information and I am pleases to meet you online. To ensure we are working with the correct system, are you chatting about the Vostro Desktop 400 listed on your account?"
10:45:31PM Tim Poultney: "yes"
10:45:41PM Dell_Agent: "And in addition, your warranty will expire on February 19, 2009."
10:46:42PM Dell_Agent: "Have you performed any troubleshooting steps on your own to fix this issue?"
10:46:54PM Tim Poultney: "yes"
10:47:02PM Tim Poultney: "I've checked Event Viewer"
10:47:19PM Dell_Agent: "Can you tell me what are the steps that you have done so far?"
10:47:24PM Dell_Agent: "I see."
10:47:36PM Tim Poultney: "and I've followed a Microsoft KB article about disabling USB mice waking up from sleep"
10:47:59PM Dell_Agent: "Is that all?"
10:48:10PM Dell_Agent: "Thank you for that information."
10:48:35PM Tim Poultney: "I also determined that the PC only has a problem with Sleep, rather than Away mode (ie. media sharing)"
10:48:49PM Tim Poultney: "but Away mode doesn't save much electricity :("
10:49:12PM Dell_Agent: "Okay, I understand. We may have to do some steps that will help us resolve the issue."
10:50:02PM Dell_Agent: "First, we will need to check the Power Management options from the Control Panel."
10:50:51PM Dell_Agent: "Please go to Control panel and look for Power Options."
10:51:12PM Tim Poultney: "I'm there"
10:51:17PM Dell_Agent: "Then double click on it."
10:51:21PM Tim Poultney: "have done"
10:51:34PM Tim Poultney: "setting is High Performance"
10:52:05PM Dell_Agent: "Once the Power Options Properties window appears, please go to the Power Schemes tab."
10:52:23PM Tim Poultney: "I don't see that"
10:52:27PM Tim Poultney: "I'm using the classic control panel"
10:53:16PM Dell_Agent: "Can you tell me what you see on your screen now?"
10:54:00PM Tim Poultney: "left pane, shows options of power related task. ie. "create a power plan""
10:54:13PM Tim Poultney: "right pane shows "Select a power plan" and then lists power plans"
10:54:47PM Dell_Agent: "One moment while I check on this for you."
10:56:00PM Tim Poultney: "ok, I have to stop soon as it's been 25 minutes"
10:59:00PM Dell_Agent: "I sincerely appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience caused. However, I will need 2 more minutes to look into this matter. Please bear with me."
11:00:08PM Dell_Agent: "Thanks for waiting. I do apologize if I took longer than expected."
11:02:22PM Dell_Agent: "You may see the option Power saver?"
11:02:27PM Dell_Agent: "Just click on it."
11:02:35PM Tim Poultney: "ok"
11:03:13PM Tim Poultney: "next?"
11:05:39PM Dell_Agent: "One moment while I further check on this for you."
11:05:56PM Tim Poultney: "ok, sorry, I don't have time for this"
11:06:13PM Tim Poultney: "it's not fast enough and I'm finding the time to value poor"
11:06:22PM Tim Poultney: "thank you for your time"
11:06:33PM Dell_Agent: "This will allow me to give the accurate steps for the operating system you are using."
11:06:43PM Dell_Agent: "I am really very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you."
11:07:20PM Session Ended
I found during the whole interaction that the agent was way too focused on following the script and didn't really seem to understand my problem or be doing anything other than cut&pasting from the internal troubleshooting tool.
That's 36 minutes of my life I'd like back please, Dell.