Dell got busted for selling computers using used parts as new. When I was in the computer biz, Dell's made me a bunch of money, they were always breaking down. Hard drives especially seemed to go like crazy. If you have anything important on it I would strongly recommend you back it up to CD or something.
I use an IBM Thinkpad for my laptop and never have any problems.
Now don't you feel better having got that off your chest. People certainly do get what they pay for. It's better to buy from some local guy, maybe pay a few extra bucks, but at least you can go down the street and yell at him in person. he or she is more likely to satisfy your problem that way. Also you are supporting a local merchant. Up here in Canada, no one except the repair people make any money off of Dell crap. Oh and maybe the postal system/courier service. What flavor of Windo$e are you using? Personally at home I use Linux. Rock solid, fast and tons of free software.