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Dell Selling Faulty PCs

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the dude-you-got-a-dud dept.

Bug 484

An anonymous reader writes "PC maker Dell has been accused of selling thousands of desktop PCs despite knowing the machines contained faulty components, according to recently unsealed court documents first reported about on Tuesday by The New York Times."

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Yep (3, Informative)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32732926)

I bought three last week, and their customer service already knew what was going on. A tech already came out next-day to replace the faulty components. No questions asked. Next?

Re:Yep (5, Informative)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32732998)

Also, as a follow-up, at my company where we were running a few dozen GX270s which we purchased in the 2003-2004 timeframe, we had similar problems. Machines dying which ended up being faulty capacitors, of course not manufactured by Dell. (I had the same problem on an Abit motherboard from the same time period.)

Call up Dell tech support, tell them what's going on, and bam! Motherboard either overnighted, or a tech sent out within two days to replace the board at no cost. They knew what was going on, and it never took more than five or ten minutes to get things rolling. I'm not a Dell fanboi by any means, but every company is going to have supply problems.

Mod parent up (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733052)


Re:Mod parent up (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733212)

It should be noted that the article indicates Dell went to great lengths to avoid telling customers about the problem.

Re:Yep (5, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733198)

So... considering that bad boards were used to replace bad boards, how many of those GX270s are still around? I too worked at a company that bought that model. When I left there were more GX260s and GX240s, even GX150s in circulation that GX270s, and it was dept. policy not to ship GX270s to any of our satellite offices because they were too likely to fail. What does a service contract matter if they're just going to dump in more bad hardware? RTFA.

Re:Yep (2, Informative)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733274)

As of 2009, all of the motherboards were still working. We basically had to replace *every* motherboard after some amount of time. Some of the machines worked for four or five years before having to get a new board. We were running legacy accounting software on locked down WinXP machines, so a 270 was absolutely fine until our software vendor refused to support the legacy accounting system anymore.

I still have two 270s at home. One is powered down, and I suspect that it still works, and the other is used full-time as an OpenBSD firewall running PF running off a CF card. Not a hiccup.

Re:Yep (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733378)

So... considering that bad boards were used to replace bad boards, how many of those GX270s are still around?

Your assumption is incorrect. They replaced the bad "boards" with boards that had good capacitors. We could tell whether a motherboard had been replaced by whether its caps in the GPU area were X-topped or K-topped. That visual indication was a big help when we decided to pressure Dell into sending us tons of motherboards for mass replacement before they went bad.

Re:Yep (5, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733422)

It's not an 'assumption' at all, if you had read the article, you'd know it was a confirmed practice, exposed during the legal proceedings described therein. Congratulations on being able to pressure Dell into doing what they should have for everybody, but don't be an asshole implying people are ignorant just because their experience differs slightly from yours. Anecdotal evidence only goes so far.

Re:Yep (2, Interesting)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733468)

Depends. They went EOL years ago. The GX280, desktop and mini case version were effected as well. Still see allot of them at retail outlets and stores.

I always liked the design though, the way you could open the "hood" and replace the board quickly. Ironic that the 270 series had an easy to remove motherboard.

Re:Yep (2, Informative)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733220)

I remember this exact issue!

Whenever we had an issue with these damn 270's, first thing we did was check the mobo.

It was incredibly easy to identify. The capacitors almost always had a domed top or actually leaked some dielectric fluid onto the mobo.

Dell was good in that the overnighted the mobo with a guy to install it the next day. It's not an excuse for Dell, but they did what they were supposed to.

It was actually a great learning experience for college-age me. I learned alot about software deployment scripts and all that fun stuff to build a stock of machines so that I could easily swap out a machine when the mobos inevitably failed.

Re:Yep (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733236)

Ahh, the GX270s. We had a bunch die here, too. Good times.

Re:Yep (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733242)

My organization experienced the exact same thing with GX270s. They would just spontaneously die and require a motherboard swapout. IT knew the model was faulty but generally waited until the board actually died before putting in a replacement. They kept replacements on hand so they wouldn't have to wait for Dell to ship one, either.

Re:Yep (1, Flamebait)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733288)

Yes, those where the infamous Optiplex GX270. We had 35 of those at work and 6 of them died a painful capacitor dead. One day after every death we had a guy from Dell replacing the main board for us, no questions asked. We are still very happy Dell customers, even today.

Re:Yep (1, Insightful)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733302)

The issue was that when allot of the boards started failing at once, instead of calling the tech support who could DO something about it, companies would call their service rep.

Its all well and good when that rep is high up on the food chain and can do dispatch orders, but if he is clueless or just does the company line, you get these lawsuits. You have to tell the truth in a situation like this and the sales people didn't with AIT.

I am sure there are a few other lawsuits like this that were settled and your right, supply problems happen all the time. This story more of a failure of customer service and communication.

Old news (-1, Troll)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733322)

That is old news. Some years it is impossible to buy a machine from Dell without MS Windows. That's not a new problem, even if MS Vista, MS Vista7, and MS Vista8 [] make nasty old XP and XP SP2 [] look less bad by comparison. Selling defective systems has been going on for years with full knowledge of the management. Only occasionally is it possible to get decent desktops [] or decent servers [] from them. To Dell's credit, they are making more of an effort at the moment, but it's still far from 100%.

Or was the article about hardware instead?

Re:Yep (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733366)

Sure - discrete components can be faulty and even boards, etc... but pretty much the whole PC industry gets their parts & sub-assemblies from vendors the do assemble discrete components. Since IBM put the spec out there for commodity PCs to be built from off the shelf components back in the early 80's, the job of the vendor changed from significant electronic engineering to mostly selecting packaging, cooling & most importantly QA/QC. So while they can't be blamed for faulty manufacturing they can certainly be held accountable for poor quality control. Additionally, if the allusions in this post about Dell knowingly selling broken equipment are true- I suspect there's a 2nd, more significant & potentially criminal offense of which I'm not qualified to comment on.

Re:Yep (5, Interesting)

MrFreezeBU (54843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733396)

Yes, we had the very same situation in my previous company....At the beginning of this fiasco... As their supplies of motherboards dried up, their willingness to overnight the need parts disappeared. Fast forward another two months, and we were looking at 1 out of 4 GX270s out of service, and Dell unwilling and unable to honor their warrant support (Silver in this case). It took papers from company council to get Dell to agree to a PFR (Proactive Field Replacement) on most GX270s in inventory (~100). During this process, we were told that only certain production runs, which were identifiable by asset tag) were faulty. 3 months later, they were back to replace those also.

In the end, we certified our internal helpdesk technicians as Dell authorized warranty support. By doing this we were at least able to recoup some of the costs, as it does not take much extra time to swap out the motherboard when you are already inside looking for failed caps.

Shortly thereafter, our account reps were calling, asking why their sales volume had dropped off....

Just one of many Dell related storied I can tell.... The one with them moving Gold support to India with no warning was another fun one..

Re:Yep (1)

jtdennis (77869) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733412)

I remember the same issue, but when the problem first started their support didn't know what was going on. After the problem was more well known, we had the same quick service that you stated. That was a big headache for us as I worked at an all-dell school at the time and we had a huge number of affected computers.

Re:Yep (5, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733018)

You think you would get a tech to come out if you have only ever purchased 1 machine from them?

Yeah, its easy to get serviced when you are an important customer that does regular business.

Re:Yep (1)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733034)

Sure. My girlfriend did when her laptop display started flickering. She purchased the extended service plan, but there was only one girlfriend and one laptop.

Re:Yep (5, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733354)

Yeah. Funny how all the service people are so eager to come to your girlfriend's house and solve her problems. Dude. Get a clue. Half the pornos in the world start out that way.

Re:Yep (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733054)

Oh yes. Ask any iphone fanboi who can't hold her phone in the left hand. Steve Jobs personally came and replaced her shiny toy. PERSONALLY, you get it?

Re:Yep (3, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733106)

You think you would get a tech to come out if you have only ever purchased 1 machine from them?

Yes. It's called a support contract.

Re:Yep (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733062)

I bought three last week, and their customer service already knew what was going on. A tech already came out next-day to replace the faulty components. No questions asked. Next?

From the article,

According to company memorandums and other documents recently unsealed in a civil case against Dell in Federal District Court in North Carolina, Dell appears to have suffered from the bad capacitors, made by a company called Nichicon, far more than its rivals. Internal documents show that Dell shipped at least 11.8 million computers from May 2003 to July 2005 that were at risk of failing because of the faulty components. These were Dell’s OptiPlex desktop computers — the company’s mainstream products sold to business and government customers.

So last week you bought three computers dated between May 2003 and July 2005? The suit names Optiplexes with bad capacitors and that's what you purchased last week? Or are you telling me that this continues to this day in 2010, seven years after it started?

You may have other problems than faulty computers -- like a faulty lie generator or even employment at Dell.

The entire discussion, in one post: (5, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733074)

I've had seven dells, and they've all been perfect!

I've had two dells, and both died early! I'll never buy dell again


People know Dell squeezes component suppliers. What do they expect?

Of course it had defective components! What do you call Windows?

This is why I buy Macs

So what? Are you saying Macs don't use capacitors?

Dude! You're...Insert Whitty variation here...

now move along. Nothing else to see here...

Re:The entire discussion, in one post: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733248)

I run linux on home-build machines.

Re:The entire discussion, in one post: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733362)

A +1 Funny mod? Presumably only because we lack a +1 Tragically Insightful mod.

Re:The entire discussion, in one post: (1)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733364)

Don't Forget the Techs!:

I worked on those systems and Dell didn't know what they were doing!

I worked on those systems and Dell replaced the parts quickly!

My sales rep fucked me in the ass with the same day warranty upgrade. Twenty same day service calls in the last month, I just about fucked him back.

Re:The entire discussion, in one post: (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733388)

Dude! You're...Insert witty variation here...


You forgot to add the grammar nazi response.

Macs Don't Use Capacitors (5, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733452)

Macs work by moving good karma around. If you ever open up one of their machines, there's not actually anything in there! This is not advisable though as opening them causes the karma to run out and they never work correctly again once you do this.

Re:Yep (4, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733076)

You might try Ring TFA. This is in regard to the bad capacitor debacle of 2003-5. Dell was knowingly replacing bad cap boards with boards known to ALSO have bad caps, knowing that the failure rate was over 90%. You might think twice about how valuable your service contract is when you realize that it was standard procedure to 'service' machines with parts that were virtually guaranteed to fail in weeks or months.

Re:Yep (4, Insightful)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733136)

Did they reimburse you for the lost productivity? No? Even after they knowingly sent you a faulty system, you're still willing to give them a free pass. You're free to bend over for whoever you like but I'll take my anger standing up, thanks.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32732932)

Water is wet: Details at 11.

Re:In other news... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733186)

Also at 11: capacitors can leak and are prone to aging. Also: lot control of components on printed circuit boards is impossible, even if you buy the bare boards and components and stuff and solder them yourself.

Re:In other news... (3, Insightful)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733478)

So you've resigned yourself that consumers just have to live with shockingly high premature failure rates? Good luck with that strategy. I'm going to continue only using vendors that supply products which have a decent chance of lasting a few years and when they do break don't suffer subsequent failures shortly afterward.

If you read more closely than I suspect you have, this thread is not about debating whether hardware failure is inevitable, its about whether Dell is doing their job of assuring reasonable quality and the ethics of their order fulfillment policies.

obQuote (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32732938)

"A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one." -- Fight Club.

Re:obQuote (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32732964)

"A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one." -- Fight Club.

"Sir, if any of my circuits or gears will help, I'll gladly donate them." -- Star Wars

Re:obQuote (4, Informative)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733010)

True. Unfortunate, but true.

Maybe one day we will evolve to the point where people realize money isn't everything, but in the meantime I'd like to see criminal charges able to be filed against corporations. They want to be people, you say? Fine, let them be people in every legal sense too.

GM does/did it. (5, Interesting)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733200)

GM released certain models where the stepper motors for the odometers where bunk. they quickly came in for repair and were fixed no questions asked... the only problem was that they were fixed with the same defective part because GM couldn't get good motors built fast enough. the thought was to fix them make the customer happy and then fix them again with good parts when they broke again.

the customer was happy i guess, up until the second or third visit.

lots of that kind of thing with the radios too.

i shudder to think how bad it's gonna be under the new management.

Re:obQuote (1)

chronosan (1109639) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733218)

How exactly do you send a corporation to maximum security prison?

obQuote - obQuote (2, Funny)

bagboy (630125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733014)

We don't talk about this.....

Re:obQuote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733100)

Which company did you say you worked for again?

Re:obQuote - Formula is incomplete (2, Insightful)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733334)

This seems clever and insightful, but the formula fails to include a number of factors.

How about:

D - "The likelihood we can cover this up and will never be found out"
Diminishes over time, exponentially if the problem persists

E - "The damage to our reputation and long-term viability as a company when we're inevitably caught covering this up"
Asymptotically approaches infinity.

F - "The long term goodwill we engender by telling the truth and making things right"
If managed right, more important to the survival of the company than any other factor.

Dell was never in my list of top hardware companies, but now they are right at the top of my worst list. I'll never buy from them again and I will advise others against doing so, citing this kind of behavior as evidence. I hope they fail and vanish from the face of the earth to be replaced by another company that's much better at their business than they are. Good riddance.

There. That's what their strategy of lying and obfuscation got them.

Damage to personal reputation can destroy the lives of individuals, it should do so to companies as well, and deservedly so. Toyota realizes this and is working hard to make amends. They will very likely survive and thrive again. BP seems to be somewhat clueless about this, but I predict their arrogance will bite them in the ass eventually and they will either be bought out or have to undergo an identity wipe in an attempt to erase themselves from peoples memories.

All I can say is... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32732950)

...thank God this would never happen with an Apple Device.

You purchased a Dell machine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32732956)

Dude, you're going through hell!

9 Fucking paragraphs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32732976)

To get to the bad capacitors part.

Nothing in the write-up and lots of narrative about dell quality and outsourcing blather.

In short, every company of every type that used these parts got screwed.

Its a *DELL*... (0, Troll)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32732982)

... of course it is faulty.

Different measures (5, Informative)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733000)

Well, after so many years seeing software makers get away with it, I can understand them trying it out.

No surprise (1, Funny)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733024)

Over a year after I bought my Precision M90 laptop, I tried to upgrade it to 4GB RAM. Turns out there's a hardware limitation (in the northbridge, I believe) which prevents more than 3.25GB from being accessible. No mention of it anywhere, in fact the documentation says the laptop supports 4GB! Liars.

Re:No surprise (1, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733058)

Uhh, that's not a Dell issue.

I'll give you a hint, hit up Google for: Windows 32bit 4GB memory

Should get you on the right track.


Re:No surprise (1)

bigrockpeltr (1752472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733148)

i think (or hope) he was being sarcastic but your comment is still valid for the mods who marked it as informative...

Re:No surprise (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733260)

Not at all sarcastic. The northbridge physically can't deal with 4GB RAM.

Re:No surprise (3, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733194)

I'll give YOU a hint, Google for M90 4GB. Because I've got a 64-bit CPU and I'm running Debian Lenny 64-bit.

Re:No surprise (0)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733370)

Google 945 chipset RAM while you're at it.

Re:No surprise (1)

sheddd (592499) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733080)

If you're running 32 bit XP that's likely a software limitation.

Re:No surprise (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733284)

Thanks for not being a jerk, unlike some others. I'm running Debian Lenny 64-bit. This really is a hardware limitation.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733084)

Is it an Intel chipset? Because I think they're the only manufacturer that still has a memory limit in the chipset.

Re:No surprise (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733214)

Exactamundo. It sucks.

Informative?!? Maybe Funny... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733108)

...otherwise, sir, please turn in your geek card immediately.

Re:Informative?!? Maybe Funny... (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733232)

Perhaps this is a chance for you to become informed about this issue. It is in fact a hardware limitation of the northbridge.

Re:Informative?!? Maybe Funny... (0)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733348)

I'm truly amazed at the number of "brilliant" people telling you it's your 32 bit OS, not passing up the chance to be assholes in the process. Is hardware limitation of addressable RAM really such a wild concept?

Re:No surprise (0)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733294)

I ran into the same problem, I think it was a 945X chipset? Really pissed me off.

Re:No surprise (2, Interesting)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733344)

That's the one. It's a real kick in the teeth. And it's easily enough confused with the 32-bit OS memory limitation (see earlier in this thread) that it's hard to even get anybody to understand what I'm talking about. And I guess that means Dell thought its disclaimer about 4GB not being accessible from a 32-bit OS covered this situation. Well it doesn't!!

Dell = Faulty, by definition (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733040)

Haven't you ever owned one?

Stoned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733042)

Dude, you're getting a dell.

tubgiRL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733046)

That should be than a 7raction the channel to 5ign We'll be able to

This is not the first time, remember the GX150's (4, Interesting)

icewalker (462991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733048)

I remember severe issues with the SFF GX150 some years ago. If you ever had one fry and need a motherboard replacement, that is because the Power Supply's fan was reversed; instead of pulling hot air out, it forced hot air into the case. I informed Dell and more than 80% of the GX150's I had were like this. They never owned up to the problem and just kept going, replacing dozens of motherboards along the way. Idiots!

Bad caps how cheap can dell be? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733056)

Bad caps how cheap can dell be?

Re:Bad caps how cheap can dell be? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733292)

Too be fair, even Apple, HP, and Intel's motherboards were having problems. It was an industry-wide problem that affected many suppliers, ODMs and OEMs.

O RLY? (1)

flattop100 (624647) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733060)

Beep beep - it's the Surprised Bus!

LOL (-1, Flamebait)

hypergreatthing (254983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733070)

you post an article which says and i quote "Crucially, in their complaints to Dell in the lawsuit, customers describe losing valuable information when their computers malfunctioned. Dell, by contrast, denied that that the capacitor issue had caused data loss. "

do i lol now or later? Motherboards going bad don't affect harddrives. Did the writer even bother to check? I'm sure Dell will get sued for that and lose too.

Re:LOL (4, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733376)

What happens to the data in memory when your computer is crashing all the time? Data is not exclusive to the hard drive. And guess where the hard drives connect on virtually all Dell desktops? The motherboard! When the largest caps on a mobo fail, where do you think those are? They're at the power input mains and play a part in voltage regulation... and in the moment where they fail and go out of specifications / operating parameters, what do you think can happen? Voltage spike through the circuit, conceivably even up to the hard drives.

Re:LOL (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733456)

Bang on. I loved this quote, too:

Still, the employees tried to play down the problem to customers and allowed customers to rely on trouble-prone machines, putting their businesses at risk.

This is interesting to me because every open-source license, and every click-through license I've ever laid eyes on has the "merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose" clause in it. So how, then, does Turing MACHINERY have to meet this criteria, when the Turing TAPE does not?

P.S. Why are <blockquote> and <br> so borken in teh slashcode???

Just part of a long downhill slide (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733082)

I remember back in the 90's when I used to recommend them (not only for their quality computers, but also excellent customer service). But in more recent years, their stuff (in my experience) is garbage. They've become what Compaq and Packard Bell used to be.

Re:Just part of a long downhill slide (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733382)

Just part of the business cycle. It's expected of any company of Dell's size to constantly provide revenue growth both in customer base AND cost savings. If one slows, simply accelerate the other to meet your numbers. It's a recipe for disaster that's played itself out in every major industry; some several times over. Gotta love that free market! (free market purists, save your rants; that was tongue in cheek)

Re:Just part of a long downhill slide (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733476)

PC makers made the mistake of cutting CS to the bone for consumers, outsourcing it and cutting every corner possible until there are only whittled down arcs left.

And this has backfired on them. Individual users don't want to sit for 3 hours on hold to an offshore site to talk with a hostile "tech" who reads from a script and hangs up on the person if they get into a situation that the script doesn't help, such as a customer not running Windows diagnostics because their box isn't passing POST.

This is why Apple is getting a bigger marketshare with Macs. Apple knows better than to cut customer support because it is the Apple representatives and their experiences which get people back in the Apple stores.

My recommendation: Buy a business line PC with the business level support. Buy from a beige box maker who has a clue. Or buy Apple because it is easier to deal with a snooty hipster than someone who is halfway across the world, and hates you and your country.

Dell SOLD Fauly PCs (5, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733092)

The article states the PCs were sold between 2003 and 2005, and they suffered from a rash of bad capacitors produced in Asia. The bad capacitors affected other computer manufacturers as well, but seemed to affect Dell worse.

This information is nothing new, and essentially it sounds like the problem was so bad, and infiltrated the industry to such a depth, that even replacement machines would likely fail from bad capacitors as well.

The tiny summary specifically makes it sound like Dell is selling machines with these problems now, which is totally misleading.


Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733116)


capacitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733142)

didnt most motherboards from that era have bad capacitors due to cheap components used in factories in China / Taiwan?

most good companies changes from traditional capacitors to solid-state capacitors at this point.

some companies had good support and even offered to resoldier GOOD capacitors in-place of the failed ones...

Optiplex 280 (1)

LeoZ (1180331) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733172)

These were Dell Optiplex 280 systems if I remember correctly. This is relatively old news and the only new part of this whole story seems to be the lawsuit. It was a water damaged shipment of capacitors that Dell bought at a huge discount. They knew from the beginning that the capcatiros would either leak or mountain-top and waited for 2 years to initiate a recall.

The Golden Rule (1)

Evildonald (983517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733176)

"Friends don't let friends buy Dell"

This is news?! (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733180)

How could this be news? Everyone who bought those faulty capacitors from IIRC Nichicon faced same problems. Pretty much every single motherboard made back then had or has this problem. Neither is a long string of denials by a major corporation something new. Share value is sharply affected by such bad news, so noone who has trading stock will admit to anything, for as long as possible.

There are two sides to this:
1. Corporate greed.
2. Investor greed.

#1 is clearly understood. #2 means that share values are not influenced much by the financials of the underlying corporation. So tens of thousands, no, hundreds of thousands of investors, and automated trading systems, track such news and immediately sell upon hearing "bad news". Now the problem is that there is no way to actually see how such news will affect the financials of the company -- at least not immediately. Yet the markets *do* react immediately, in the most irrational manner, to all sorts of bad news.

I thought that we pretty much filed the Nichicon industrial espionage fiasco into relevant "history to be learned from" folders.

Components? (1, Informative)

AntEater (16627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733184)

"Dell has been accused of selling thousands of desktop PCs despite knowing the machines contained faulty components"

I didn't realize that the Windows installation was considered a component.

I KNEW there was a Lawsuit. (5, Informative)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733188)

I cannot tell you how many times I have replaced the boards off an OptiPlex 270 and then the 280. It was just freaking insane. Dell's response was just horrid as well.

I mean, the sales people could blab all they want, but one look at the board and it was evident from a layperson that something was wrong. The best we could do as contractors is to just state its an "industry wide problem" (true) and that Dell will fix any system affected (partially true). I might like Dell, but I am not getting lynched by an irate manager because their sales team can't tell a straight lie.

I mean hell, there was not a DAY that went by that I didn't have 2 of those boards to be replaced. Not a week went by when the board sent that was "refurbished" didn't have the same issue. Toward the end, we started having motherboard swapping contests and I could do a 270 in under 5 min, if it was in front of me.

I do like what one client did. He apparently worked on the old XT systems and once he found out about the problem, he just replaced the affected caps himself

Corporate Entities Knew This (1)

CoryD (1813510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733192)

Prior to the work I am doing now, I used to run the EUS department for a nationwide company. Our Dell rep was pretty upfront with us about the overheating caps issue on mobos. In short, we were told that while it would impact our company's workflow, it was cheaper for them to provide next day support and over night the parts to repair the issues than to perform a recall on the bad mobos. This was primarily affecting Dell GX 320s. It was nothing that was hidden from us, and we were given a special deal on future machines to compensate. But in the end for them, it's the bottom line. All companys that provide a product would have the same view. Does the cost of a recall surpass that of the parts and labor to repair any reported issues? If so, just provide support.

Not Just Desktops (2, Interesting)

nobdoor (1496229) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733228)

They've been selling faulty laptops as well.

Granted, the issue with several of their laptop models lies with the Nvidia GPU die packaging; Dell still refuses to extend extend warranties on some of the laptops that suffer from this issue.

For example, the XPS M1210 has this exact problem, and suffers from the die package over heading even more than other models because it's the smallest form factor (which means it's harder to keep cool).

I had a personal vendetta with Dell a few years ago because they refused to provide warranty extensions for the M1210. I had spent ~30+ hours on the phone, being handed off to one customer service department after the other like a game of hot potato.

Eventually I found somebody online who managed to somehow get the right tech support at the right time, and had their mobo replaced under warranty extension. I used his case # as a reference, and Dell finally gave in.

I then made a post here: [] []

This is a listing of M1210's that have been fixed under warranty, and their case numbers. So if anybody here has this problem, reference these numbers and Dell will honor their fuck up.

100%+ failure rate on GX270s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733262)

Every one of the couple dozen GX270s in our department failed due to bad caps. The failure rate was over 100% because Dell would ship us replacement motherboards that also had bad caps, just like TFA mentioned. Some of our machines went through three board replacements, all of which eventually failed.

When they finally went out of warranty, our hardware guy just bought a batch of decent caps and replaced all of them when a board failed. Problem solved.

give em a break... (1, Informative)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733264)

At the time I was a tech for an organization that bought a series of optiplex 270s (I think). had a guaranteed failure. At first dell techs did deny a problem, but after about the 10th failure (of 20) it got to the point where I would just tell the tech capacitors, and they would ship the new mobo. There was a lot of "unofficial" verbage I received from dell saying that there was a problem with the 270s but nothing official was mentioned until a few months later when Dell admitted the problem.

However, that being said, my dell PCs and Servers are extraordinary with support with 4 hour support in my area I often have part in hand less than 2 hours after the phone call. Dell has always done a good job here, and also does a great job of chassis design with the end tech in mind. They also design items that, in my mind, are more intuitive and have practical purpose. No weird theoretical "everyone should be doing this" nonsense...ahem I'm looking at you IBM. Dell R&D has always seemed to have a good line on what the SMB market wants. I cannot speak to big business though, try to stay away from there :)

Not much has changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733278)

It's a running joke where I work that anyone asking us to fix a Dell Inspiron will have a faulty hard drive, the WD Scorpio Blue drives they're fitting to their newer laptops are cheap and nasty with a high failure rate, Dell seem oblivious to the problems when we've spoken to them.

What about a recall notice? (1)

Dishwasha (125561) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733296)

Isn't it customary with other industries to issue re-call notices and for companies to partner with local repair businesses (which in this case could be on or off site service technicians) to repair or replace machines that get identified by customers as part of the recall? When will this be standard practice in the computer industry like it is in others?

This is news? (3, Informative)

nilbog (732352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733324)

Has Dell ever sold anything but faulty machines?

I saw plenty of these (1)

spywhere (824072) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733328)

I designed the XP image for a chain of retirement communities. The first rollout was on 120 Optiplex GX270 desktops... all of which were affected by this.
Fortunately, only one of them died in the initial rollout. By the time they started going bad en masse, the image was ruled out as the cause... and the blown capacitors were clearly visible... and the story was already known online.

A friend of mine has had 3 go (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733336)

A friend of mine bought two brand new XPS systems two months ago and both of them went including the first replacement that he received. All three had MB go on them. I bought a brand new XPS 9000 around the same time but so far no problems.

Worse than the actual problem (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733398)

The actual problem was bad enough, but instead of owning up to it Dell decided to mount a PR campaign aimed at emphasizing uncertainty. And told their reps to lie about it.

The actual problem didn't bother me as much as Dell's response.

Dell selling millions of PCs with defective CPUs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733408)

Now that I got your attention, I will then mention that this incident occurred back in the 90's when millions of PCs were sold were affected by the Pentium FDIV bug, an industry wide problem at the time, just like the capacitors. This past problem has no bearing on current products sold and most computers that were sold during the great capacitor plague are now considered obsolete. Any surviving units are likely to have capacitors without the defective formulation otherwise they would have most probably have died by now.

Old news. (1)

rodrigo1979 (255519) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733410)

I had over a dozen Optiplex GX280 machines plagued by this issue. These had been purchased in mid-to-late 2005, and began to fail in early 2007. Dell extended the warranty on all of the machines affected by the bad capacitors, I got a free replacement board for every one of these.

Electronic Problems (1)

helix2301 (1105613) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733424)

Issues with electronics happen this issue also effected HP and Apple. Dell just seems to be the one getting signaled out. I have built custom computers in the past and I have had boards break just part of the unreliability of hardware sometimes.

In before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32733460)

someone makes the obvious "Dell has been selling faulty PCs for years; they ship their PCs with Windows" joke.

Oh wait.

This is BS (1)

topcoder (1662257) | more than 4 years ago | (#32733470)

Actually i have bought one of these computers, and at the moment i haven't had any prob
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