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The Ignominious Fall of Dell

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the at-least-they-now-use-standard-power-supplies dept.

Businesses 604

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder discusses the ignominious decline of Dell, one akin to that of Computer Associates, leaving the company forever tainted by scandal and a 'shocking breach of faith with customers.' Dell's pioneering business model and supply chain helped make desktop computing ubiquitous, affordable, and secure. But years of awful quality control and customer service have finally caught up to the company in a very public way that will do irreparable damage to the company for years to come. 'What we've learned about Dell recently doesn't qualify as an understandable mistake. Only a rotten company sells defective computers and lies about it.'"

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cough (5, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766216)

"Only a rotten company sells defective computers and lies about it."

Maybe the users are holding them wrong?

Re:cough (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766324)

I'm not an apple fanboy, but this isn't the same class of issue.

Now -- if Apple had been selling the iPhone 4G for four years and ignoring the fact that a statistically large number of them were suddenly dying of a known bad issue, then intentionally shipping out 'repaired' iPhones with -more- bad parts in them, then I'd agree.

There's a lot of evidence to suggest that Dell not only knew about the cap issues beforehand, but that they intentionally misled a lot of customers about the problem and when they did fix them, they did so with more bad boards.

Re:cough (5, Insightful)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766466)

Now you're assuming Apple cares about any product more than 2 years old. After all, they just cut support for first generation iPhones and iTouches, and those are just a hair over 2 years... I guess that's a better business model, though - planned obsolescence in 24 months.

Re:cough (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766692)

First gen iPhones are just about 3 years old. I picked up my iPhone 3G in August 2008.

Re:cough (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766734)

That's nothing.

Microsoft killed Kin in a month.

Re:cough (5, Funny)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766766)

Now you're assuming Apple cares about any product more than 2 years old. After all, they just cut support for first generation iPhones and iTouches, and those are just a hair over 2 years... I guess that's a better business model, though - planned obsolescence in 24 months.

A hair over 2 years? The first iPhone model itself is 3 years old. Combine that with the expected life-span of a mobile phone to be 2 years (subsidized phone every 2 years), they aren't doing anything outside of the norm.

Re:cough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766340)

' Dell's pioneering business model and supply chain helped make desktop computing...secure....a rotten company sells defective computers and lies about it.'

Dell sold secure computers? I guess Windows was a LOT better than I thought!

Re:cough (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766612)

I bought mine with Ubuntu on it from Dell a couple of years ago. So far it's the least hassle purchase I've ever made (knock on wood).

Re:cough (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766402)

Not funny. How dare you attack Apple? They are all that right and good in the world of computing, and if you can't be bothered to hold it properly, maybe you shouldn't buy a fucking phone. Ever thought of that?

STEVE JOBS IS LORD

Re:cough (1)

sound+vision (884283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766462)

Pish-posh. Only the truly rotten Apples would say anything like that.

Re:cough (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766908)

1st. I you're going to run Windoze, does it matter? It will crash, whether good or bad hardware.
2nd. Why Dell is the center of attention now they've said Ubuntu is safer? Seems someone has a bag of evils and is not afraid to use them...

Were the accused stand guilty (0, Troll)

stickytar (96286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766232)

I'm all for Dell bashing, but what happened to America where the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It seems like every lawsuit implies some guilt on the part of the accused? Really?

Re:Were the accused stand guilty (2, Insightful)

Airdorn (1094879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766396)

They ARE presumed innocent. They aren't shut down and sitting in jail right now, you know. Court of public opinion is a whole other animal, though.

Re:Were the accused stand guilty (3, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766762)

Innocent before proven guilty is not an ideology. It is a pragmatic policy implemented because it is considered a lot worse for an innocent man to go to jail than for a guilty man to go free. There are places where the opposite is true: it's a lot less harmful for an employee to be locked out of the office than for a thief to be able to get in, and it's a lot less harmful to lose out on a relationship with a company that is trustworthy than it is to get screwed over by one that is not. In those places, guilty before proven innocent is the norm.

Re:Were the accused stand guilty (2, Insightful)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766902)

Well, as someone who had to support these monsters....

I convicted them a long time ago in my personal court of opinion. Also, let's face it - In cases of CYA, greed, and lying in the business world, there's a pretty high chance of guilt.

Over the course of a couple years, almost a quarter of my billable time was spent on the partner support line with Dell calling in service tags of machines that had a bad motherboard because of these capacitors. Another quarter was performing the in-field switch. It really hurt my credibility and I felt that it hurt my company's credibility with our customers. I constantly had to call in systems, and it resulted in a lot of time explaining what was happening and why "our recommendation" had so many problems.

I was glad that I didn't have to call up the customer support number because my few experiences with them were maddening at best. It quickly became obvious (based on the frequency and the models involved) that there was something wrong with the Optiplex 260s, 270s and the early 280s. I asked about what to do with all the other systems we had out there that were clearly waiting to die. I was informed that I must've just been unlucky with the orders. We started selling IBM/Lenovo products at that point. To this day I won't spend a dime on Dell, and I actively discourage people from purchasing Dell products. Had they issued a recall, I'd feel completely different... But they didn't, so screw them.

I got there Mini10v, and quite like it (4, Insightful)

jbeach (852844) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766262)

I think it might be a bit early for "Dell is the Devil".

Re:I got there Mini10v, and quite like it (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766732)

You're mini10 actually has a terribly high and consistent error rate on the IDE channel.

In Windows XP this will eventually force the disk access down to PIO Mode 4.

This is a known issue with the chipset and the only fix is to occasionally reset the disk to UDMA.

I don't care what the desktop suffers go through. I have their servers and I hate them. They finally patched the oddest behavior on the M610 after swearing it wasn't really a problem. We could consistently reboot the hosts and force an error state on the motherboard.

-shrug- (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766274)

Really is there any PC maker that is 100% great and excellent? I'm sure that Dell's faults aren't any worse than HP, Toshiba's, Gateway's, or any other major maker of PCs.

About the only way you can make sure you get decent PC hardware is to build it yourself or have enough knowledge to sub in and out parts if need be.

Re:-shrug- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766326)

Packard Bell

Re:-shrug- (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766954)

Packard Hell

FTFY

Re:-shrug- still got a dell at work... (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766394)

of course there is desktop support (our IT, not dell) to remove and replace burned out bits, and we replace them all every two years.

In this case, cheaper is better.

I actually use a couple of older ones at home, they are pretty much peices of garbage that fail to work with common pci boards or third party video cards.

Can anybody remind my why somebody would pay for a dell to use at home?

Re:-shrug- still got a dell at work... (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766492)

Can anybody remind my why somebody would pay for a dell to use at home?

Potheads in tv advertisements maybe?

Duuuuude, you're gettin a.... hey, are those CHEETOS?

Even then you don't know (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766748)

I've had lemons come from high end brands before. They were always promptly replaced, but doesn't change the fact that they were faulty.

Or, in the case of the whole capacitor deal which is what I imagine what this is about, ASUS and others like that got hit too. You could buy a top of the line motherboard and have the caps blow up. Again, they replaced it under warranty but I seem to recall Dell doing the same.

Products have problems, deal with it. If you own a line of products that have never had problems the reason is NOT the that products are perfect, but that you've been lucky. Shit happens. So long as the manufacturer replaces the broken part, what more do you want?

Re:Even then you don't know (5, Insightful)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766926)

The court documents disagree with your last statement regarding Dell. The problem here isn't that there were defective computers, it was the Dell sold them knowing they were defective, then cycling around to blaming the customer when they did break. And this isn't about Mini10's or anything like that.. this is about Optiplexes... which is a staple of small to medium-sized businesses. I am not angry that Dell sold defective computers (that is the capacitor maker's fault really.) I am angry at Dell because they lied about it and blamed users. That is dirty pool in anyone's book. This is about the capacitors failing, but that is just the half of it.

From the article linked to this one:

The documents were connected to a lawsuit filed by Web hosting service provider Advanced Internet Technologies (AIT) against Dell in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on Nov. 1, 2007. AIT sought $75,000 and punitive damages from Dell for breach of contract, fraud and deceptive business practices.

So they WERE found guilty of fraud and deceptive business practices on a small scale with AIT. And so it balloons into a shitstorm even Michael Dell can't sweep under the rug. This is about far more than lemons....

Re:-shrug- (1)

redsoxh8r (1126731) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766834)

Child, please. The only surprise here is that it took this long. Dell has sucked out loud for years. Their products are crap and the media perpetrated the ridiculous myth that they had world class service.

Re:-shrug- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766906)

Why is it that we as a purchasing public are inclined to accept "well, my guy doesn't stink any worse than the next guy"?

Accept that best value != lowest cost, and find a vendor / price point that meets your needs and for once exceeds your expectations. Sick and tired of this "woe is me, it has always been this way" crap...

Hyperbole much? (5, Insightful)

JesseL (107722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766284)

Does anyone here care to name a PC manufacturer with a spotless record of turning out nothing but quality, or who has always been 100% up front about dealing with legitimate manufacturing problems?

They've all turned out crap and they've all reliably concerned themselves with their own bottom lines first and foremost. It doesn't excuse Dell, but I can't really see why they need to be singled out either.

Re:Hyperbole much? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766374)

Apple?

Re:Hyperbole much? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766442)

I'm sure Dell's customers are just holding the computers wrong.

Re:Hyperbole much? (2, Informative)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766658)

Apple?

Nope. Even Apple has had problems with bad power supply caps--on the G5 towers and possibly others (iMac G4?). All computer manufacturers have had batches of faulty machines from time to time

And, BTW, lest you think I'm an Apple basher, I'm typing this on a MacBook Pro.

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766818)

Apple?

Nope. Even Apple has had problems with bad power supply caps--on the G5 towers and possibly others (iMac G4?). All computer manufacturers have had batches of faulty machines from time to time

And, BTW, lest you think I'm an Apple basher, I'm typing this on a MacBook Pro.

I liked back when the iMacs were new that the special ones came with no fans and would over-heat.

(I'm not on a MacBook Pro, but I'm not an Apple basher either).

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766662)

Somehow companies like Foxconn that make computers for both Dell and Apple, knew which caps were bad and stuck them only in Dells. Don't kid yourself, everybody including Apple got bit by the bad capacitor plague. They were in everything, I had an abit board, router, and a shuttle all fail with bad caps.

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766718)

Apple?

No reason to be sarcastic.

Re:Hyperbole much? (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766436)

Does anyone here care to name a PC manufacturer with a spotless record of turning out nothing but quality, or who has always been 100% up front about dealing with legitimate manufacturing problems?

I built a linux firewall out of a cardboard box, spare parts, and duct tape. The power switch was literally duct-taped to a hole I made in the side. It was pushed a grand total of three times during it's illustrious career. After configuring it and setting it to auto-update with Debian, it was left there unattended for about six years before it was finally decommissioned, still working. I wrote on the side of it "Hillbilly Deluxe Firewall".

If Dell can't make working computers using brand new equipment, an assembly line, trucks, workers, and a working budget bigger than "a can of Dew and some leftover chinese" like I did, I don't really think they have an excuse.

Re:Hyperbole much? (5, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766830)

I built a linux firewall out of a cardboard box, spare parts, and duct tape.

That's nothing. I built a nuclear reactor out of an old refrigerator, bits and pieces purchased at the local Home Depot and Radio Shack, and spare parts from a 1976 Toyota pickup.

It works fine, but I have a hell of a time getting fissile material. Those nice young Russian guys say they're going to deliver as soon as my check clears. I'm going to put the waste materials in my mother-in-law's basement, which should be safe, since there's a concrete foundation. I cleaned out a corner next to the washing machine and I plan to stack the cardboard boxes there for the next 50,000 years.

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766984)

That joke would have been funnier if you had replaced "nice young Russian guys" with "Libyans" and "check" with "used pinball machine parts" ;)

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

LostAlaska (760330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766458)

Can anyone here name a computer manufacturer with a 97% failure rate of a computer line and then try to cover it up and continue to sell them? Sure there's the margins where every company will have some (hopefully small) percentage bad hardware and turn out a few crap products, but Dell has been circling the drain for the better part of the last decade when it comes to most people's opinion of them. Mainly due to the poor build quality and cheap parts that keep causing problems. I worked for a state agency where we had to replace nearly every single motherboard on our GX620's over the course of about 18 months as the originals kept failing like clockwork.

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766544)

I don't want to excuse what Dell did, but those capacitor issues were easy fixes. All you needed was a soldering iron and maybe $30 in parts per motherboard. Way quicker turnaround too -- shouldn't take more than an hour per machine. If you had many machines, it'd be obvious after a while that it'll be all or nothing, and then your part cost drop dramatically. If you bought replacement capacitors in qty. 1000, you'd be looking at half the price. I have fixed plenty of those boards myself, not only in PCs, also in quite a bit of test equipment (oscilloscopes, etc).

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766680)

I bought a set of caps for my msi motherboard for $4.57. Some ebay deal.

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

jackal40 (1119853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766562)

OK, I'll play - ummm, Dell?

Re:Hyperbole much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766620)

Manufacturing problems occur all the time. It is very common for a vendor to routinely let products fall out of specification to increase their profit.
Nichicon's QA had to have known of a problem this widespread & serious.
Dell's QA either didn't care or was being "encouraged" by the vendor to overlook a "rare issue".

That said, the REAL issue is that Dell ignored and/or covered up the problems to customers. Why should I trust what Dell says about their product quality from now on?

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766760)

Gigabyte is just as guilty of not owning up to having faulty capacitors. Hell they had them in units made in 2004! Sheer excrement.

Re:Hyperbole much? (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766990)

Singling one out is more effective. If Dell tanks, it puts genuine fear in the eyes of the others. Not singling one out makes them all look more like angels.

What Kind of Company Sells (1, Funny)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766290)

Defective phones and lies about it?

Re:What Kind of Company Sells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766366)

UR HOLDIN IT RONG

There is a difference between chutzpah and lying.

Did I miss the boat on this one? (1, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766308)

I've been a corporate customer of Dell for ages and I've never had a problem with any of my systems. Their laptops have been some of the best I've used. Why all the doom and gloom? What's the problem? Has their CEO been indicted for baby-eating or something?

Re:Did I miss the boat on this one? (5, Informative)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766332)

Ok, actually RTFA'd and you know what? This article is shit - its premise is shit. The faulty cap story was news in 2005; people got their systems replaced. It was a blip. And you know what? 5 years later Dell is still with us. Snyder is running a beat-up here and I think it's off base.

Re:Did I miss the boat on this one? (5, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766578)

That's despicable. Why would you RTFA?

Re:Did I miss the boat on this one? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766918)

See, that's what you get for RTFA!

Re:Did I miss the boat on this one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766486)

We are a corporate customer as well using Optiplex and for the most part they are stable as our Apple machines but still fail more. Always loosing Power Supplies, Motherboards. The laptops we usually get Precisions and the last models we had we bought 4 and all of them had the hard drives and cdroms fail.

But going back to the 2005 era about all the pc companies where having issues with capacitors. Not sure what Dell did differently than the others? All the companies should have stopped production if they knew things were wrong.

Re:Did I miss the boat on this one? (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766746)

I'm wondering the same. I've had every model of Dell mentioned in the various articles about this - and not encountered this problem. Every time I've called their support for a problem, they've shipped the parts that day and had a tech turn up to install them the next. That's leaps and bounds ahead of HP and Acer.

Re:Did I miss the boat on this one? (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766780)

Here's ResellerRatings.com entry [resellerratings.com]

Now compare it with Newegg [resellerratings.com]

Dell has a lot of problems with their machines and customer service.

Re:Did I miss the boat on this one? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766982)

Er, Newegg doesn't make, sell, and support Desktop and Server machines. They just resell other people's products.

(that said, the Egg is the shit (in the good way))

Re:Did I miss the boat on this one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766874)

My last company purchased 30 Dell workstations in 2000. They were great and still work.. Then for a client company we purchase 16 Dells in 2003.. Just after the 3 year warrenty period.. all 16 Dell workstations died within a very short time out of warrenty.. >_

Whatever (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766338)

"We got greedy."

End of the story. No, seriously. Most companies in this industry have sunk not because their product or brand sucked, or the economy went bad, etc.; Most die because of bad management. Anyone remember Northgate computer systems? Very promising company. If it had maintained its profile it would be bigger than Dell today, but corporate mismanagement torpedoed it during the 90s -- during a period of economic growth and a huge upswing in computer sales.

Re:Whatever (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766678)

Real shame too Northgate systems were always top notch. I am typing this on a Northgate Omnikey Ultra keyboard right now; best keyboard ever (sorry model M fans).

its never been about (4, Informative)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766354)

hardware reliability or quality, arguably. I just filled out a Purchase order for ~1mil. in dell hardware. all our megacorp cares about is how good is the corporate support, how fast to return parts arrive, how big is the discount.

uptime and scalability are all our concerns. for us to care about dell lying would be calling the kettle black.

Commerce IS deceit (4, Insightful)

sgage (109086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766372)

Let's face it, all corporations are deceitful sacks of s**t. That's the norm for business these days. Presumably it wasn't always like this, but nowadays it's the way it is. Lie, cheat, spin, whatever it takes. If that doesn't work, pretend ignorance and innocence going into the lawsuit. This is modern capitalism.

Re:Commerce IS deceit (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766426)

First off, we don't have true capitalism in the USA. Secondly, everyone has been doing it since the dawn of time. Everyone tries to create a lower-cost product and sell it for a higher price, its been going on since the dawn of time.

What changes corporations is public knowledge, the more they know the higher the quality of product needs to be created in order for it to sell.

Re:Commerce IS deceit (3, Insightful)

sgage (109086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766510)

Of course businesses try to create a lower-cost product, and sell it at a higher price. But then they end up selling stuff that they know full well is defective.

Yes, everyone does it, and always has. This is not an indication that it's OK. It's an indication that there's something rotten at the core.

Re:Commerce IS deceit (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766648)

It doesn't mean that something is wrong at the core, it means that there isn't enough knowledge, what needs to be done is to eliminate all barriers to knowledge and remove restrictions to free commerce, by restoring sanity to copyright and eliminating many forms of patents, we can make sure that things work like they are supposed to.

Re:Commerce IS deceit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766806)

Yes, that something is "Human Nature".

But from my experience, what's wrong isn't just Dell here, it's also this yellow journalism, where problems are all blown out of proportion and exaggerated. Dell isn't perfect, but I have a netbook and a desktop from Dell, both bought with Ubuntu already installed and I've yet to need to call support once for either one, and both are more than a year old. Years ago I did on site repair work for several companies, including Dell, and while there were some large known issues (they had us replace every single CTX motherboard for a keyboard issue) they were usually very prompt about getting us the parts, unlike some of the other companies I did work for (Sears, Compaq namely). Maybe things have changed a lot since those days (it was back in 2003-04), but my personal experience with the two systems I bought just over a year ago and about 2 years ago don't have any problems so far, so I have reason to doubt the issues are anywhere close to what some sensationalist sources are claiming they are.

Re:Commerce IS deceit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766794)

Substitute "governments" for "corporations" and you'll be closer to the truth.

And you're surprised? (4, Interesting)

TheRealQuestor (1750940) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766376)

I've been telling my customers for years about how wonderful the hardware that dell uses is. And by wonderful I mean you buy one, hope you get a year out of it, then buy another. I have a stack of Dell/HP/All other junk machine motherboards all with puffed caps. Kind of Makes my job much easier. Customer calls and says thier pc is crashing or wont start. I ask what brand, they say dell, and I know right away what to look for. 2 seconds to open the machine. 2 more seconds to see the puffed caps. 2 minutes explaining why and what happened. 5 minutes later I have a check to build them a new pc. You know. I guess I love dell.

Dell did this to themselves (4, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766386)

There cultural values fell by the wayside years ago. The bottom line became the end all and be all of everything. They outsourced everything they could, getting rid of every non-Indian employee they could. Does it come as any surprise that a company that would sell out it's own employees would also sell out their customers?

They got rid of their greatest asset, their people, and with it also got rid of the ethic that made them what they were. Dell was a very hard working hungry company, full of hard working people. Get rid of the hardworking people and you get rid of the hardworking ethos.

You can't outsource ethics. When damage control becomes more important that quality control your company has lost it's way.

didn't outsource ethics... (2, Insightful)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766464)

just redefined them. Or, as they say in business school, "it is the ethical duty of a business owner to return maximum profit to the shareholder, as reported in quarterly statements"

So, there you go... no duty to employees, community, or even customers. Just make certain that we turn a profit this quarter, and everything else if a-ok

Re:Dell did this to themselves (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766494)

You can't outsource ethics.

Amen. Americans work longer hours, for less pay and benefits, than any other country. That's why we have such a high per capita:GDP ratio. Unfortunately, our infrastructure, labor force, and future was broken up and sold off piece by piece to chase the almighty dollar. Now the U.N. is recommending the dollar no longer be considered a stable reserve currency, and we're in an economic free-fall. Dell is just a symptom of the deeper rot.

Re:Dell did this to themselves (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766564)

Does it come as any surprise that a company that would sell out it's own employees would also sell out their customers?

Maybe. Most companies would sell out their own employees in a heartbeat. Employees are an expense to them, the more they can get rid of (without a correspondingly big decrease in revenue) the better. On the other hand, those same companies usually realize that they have to keep their customers somewhat happy, or they won't make money any more.

Dell is fine for me. (1)

hilather (1079603) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766412)

In fact, I recommend Dell computer to all my friends. Their next day onsite warranty is fantastic. I'll admit, customer service is hit and miss, and we all have to put up with phone monkeys to get our PCs repaired, but I haven't found a company where this isn't the case. I've NEVER had a problem with a warranty fix with Dell. Which is more then I can say about other companies.

Re:Dell is fine for me. (2, Insightful)

CAOgdin (984672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766596)

Amen. I've bought 'em all since 1980, one vendor or another, and Dell is STILL my preferred choice. I agree: This story is WA-A-AY old, and the problems of the Dell Latitude D6xx series is another old one that still gets flogged by lazy journalists. Remember, Michael Dell stepped down as CEO (in favor of Rollins) in March, 2004. From that date, Dell deteriorated: Support was outsourced to India, Purchasing bought cheap crap from mainland China, and Development was cut back to the bare bone. A deteriorating Dell reputation was the result, and Michael Dell stepped back into the CEO role in January, 2007, to arrest the slide. It's taken him a long time, but Customer Service still is VASTLY better than HP or Lenovo or Gateway, they offer Next Day On-Site Repair, and they stand by the extended warranties they had to issue after the crap Rollins bought started failing in customer sites. I still rate Dell as better than 94% on a scale of Perfect, with the nearest competitor below 85%. HP, for instance, has taken the same route: They hired Carly Fiorina who trashed the place (e.g., killing the Customer Service Operation, recognized as World Class by the industry), corrupted the brand with Compaq, laid off everybody competent. They then brought in "seat warmer" Mark Hurd, who is barely holding on by his fingernails...and there is STILL no decent Customer Support or Product Quality improvement on the horizon; they're just chasing the Stock Price (mostly with over-priced printer supplies), as that's how Senior Executives get rich. I'll stick with Dell. This story is bad, but it's ancient history, and there's nobody on the horizon who's likely to ever do any better.

Worst thing is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766414)

The worst thing is that HP, which is pretty much the only other big option is no better. They all treat consumers like crap, unless you are a really BIG account for them.

What about phones? (0, Flamebait)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766448)

So, does that mean only a rotten company would sell defective phones and lie about it claiming that the customers are "just holding it wrong"?

Nobody cares (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766470)

HP sold defective PCs, IBM sold defective PCs, all have had their class action cases and they're over, and nobody cares.

The fact is, the consumer doesn't buy reliability. The consumer buys emotional factors, and brand perception, and a good marketer can make the consumer buy any garbage whatsoever.

This is not the end of Dell. Nobody will remember this in a few months, any more than they remember HP and "pretexting" when they buy a printer or a PC.

Re:Nobody cares (1)

CAOgdin (984672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766824)

I disagree. We all make mistakes...even huge companies. But, it's what they do AFTER they make a biggie that marks those the consumer can have confidence in, or not. Gateway had failures, but never tried to improve their practices, so they're still an "also ran." IBM decided it was smarter to get out of the business that didn't fit their management model, post-Gerstner. HP I've written about before in this thread. Dell has won my confidence, and they've not (to my knowledge) ever lied to me. They deserve my caution during the recovery, but they seem to be doing well at it, so I'm likely to say a "Dell-preferred" professional.

You lost me (2)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766500)

at "Secure"

SMART Disabled by default in Dell BIos (1)

WoodburyMan (1288090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766572)

They've been declining for years, and been selling defective parts for years. I work at a local small privately owned workbench, and for years Dell's computer's motherboards BIOS, by default, has SMART error reporting turned off. If you turn it on, and go to "restore defaults" it will also reset it to off. I turn it on in every case in hope that it will save someone's important data, which I have seen SMART do, so that they can backup their data before the drive completely fails. I discovered this when someone brought us a maybe 4 month old Dell desktop system who's filesystem, and this windows, was ripped to pieces. Running a diagnostic tool, in this case SeaTools for DOS on it, revealed SMART was tripped, and it fail read element tests, so bad sectors. Seeing SMART was tripped, I wondered why the BIOS did not report it, as most modern BIOS have it and it is enabled by default. I looked, and found the above results.

Re:SMART Disabled by default in Dell BIos (1)

longhairedgnome (610579) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766670)

Your post reads like a murder-mystery

Re:SMART Disabled by default in Dell BIos (1)

WoodburyMan (1288090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766730)

Well.. we are talking about the "death" of a company =P

Not sure about Dell (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766584)

Not sure about dell but I've always had good dealings with HP and IBM.

Re:Not sure about Dell (1)

WoodburyMan (1288090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766848)

I've had quite the negative experience with HP/Compaq. They've had a ongoing problem with many of their dv2000, dv6000 and dv9000 laptops which are nVidia chipset based, mostly those with AMD processors, where the south bridge chipset fails. This started happening after about one year of use, and more prevlant once laptops got 2+ years old to the point where I see at least two a week now at my local workbench. With such a massive problem, you think they would issue some recall or something? All they did was issue a extended warranty, which adds one year warranty to the affected laptops. Most only had one year warranties.. and if they are two years old, it does NOTHING for them. Also, only those who took the time to search could find the extended warranty information. This is almost worst than the recent Dell problems IMHO, and the press and the like has not picked up on it. http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01087277&lc=en&cc=us&dlc=en&product=1842189&lang=en [hp.com]

OH come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766600)

Seriously? Dell was born making bad computer for stupid people. They barely have a PC lineup out in the wild that didn't have huge flaws or was just plain shit.

Dell is doing what Dell does best, finally the reality bubble has burst for them.

Par for the course (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766608)

No manufacturer is any different. As long as you don't have a problem under control, you sweep it under the rug. What's the alternative? A stop ship? You only do that if the costs down the line are expected to be higher than the loss from not shipping anything.

[insert company name here] makes crap... (1)

Evil.Bonsai (1205202) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766626)

It happens. It eventually gets fixed, everyone moves on with their lives, then 5 years later, it gets spammed all over. As a receiver of a $500 settlement check from a lawsuit against Toshiba (re: Toshiba Satellite 5005-S507 Laptop), I'm getting a kick out of these posts...and currently looking forward to getting a Dell Streak.

This is spot on... (5, Informative)

citking (551907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766628)

I work in higher ed in the state of Wisconsin. We, of course, have a purchasing contract (a mandatory one no less). Because of this, I've been working with Dell (ordering PCs and doing warranty replacements) for a long time now.

In the past, even just 3 years ago, Dell would bend over backwards for us. We got waived on the fees and got waived through the "exams" for warranty parts replacement certification. We could also could get spare parts on hand for PCs. Lastly, we got huge discounts for the UW System and for personal purchasing. Now, however, our sales rep is forcing us to take these stupid, 2 hour exams for replacing parts. We are, of course, overworked and understaffed and I have no time in my week to sit down and "learn" how to replace RAM or swap a power supply. Yet Dell will not budge. When I questioned our sales rep on this he became irate and downright pissy with me.

But, that point is moot really when one looks at the atrocity that is the DOSD (Dell Online Self Dispatch [dell.com] ) that replaced the Warranty Parts Direct site. Before my certs expired I needed to get a new DVD R/W drive. I had to scroll through lists and lists of parts, many of which were printer parts, server parts, plastic bezel pieces, etc...things that had nothing to do with the service tag of a standard desktop system.

Dell has hit bottom. Their customer service is shit, their tech support is horrible, and the issues with the bad caps was pretty much the last straw (it's OK to have bad components; the bad part is how they tried to cover it up). I'm done with Dell. I won't recommend them to anyone now.

I'm happy with them. (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766650)

Sure, their service isn't as good as the old Gateway (who replaced a motherboard, free, more than a year after the warranty expired), and their customer service sucks for software problems (they try to blame _everything_ on a virus. Even if you _just_ reformatted, and haven't even connected the internet yet). But when the motherboard on my Vostro 1000 died a couple months ago, it took less than 20 minutes on the phone to get them to mail me a box to mail it back, all paid for, and I had it back in about a week. Quite possibly the easiest RMA I've ever had to deal with.

How Dell got huge (3, Insightful)

caywen (942955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766656)

I still remember some 15 years ago what the PC marketplace looked like. There were dozens of these little PC shops that filled the pages of the gargantuan Computer Shopper magazine. They all wanted to undercut each other.

Dell stood out because they formalized a real manufacturing process, setup good quality controls, made it brain dead simple to order, and *still* had prices that were just about the best you could get. They had a refined image with organized, glossy ads, which helped a lot.

Where they fell was when they started becoming the expensive guys again. HP has been undercutting them for years, and have established an image even more refined in the eyes of consumers. HP recognized that, sadly enough, if you sell for $100 cheaper and slap some shiny plastic on, you can dominate.

Dell needs to out-HP by figuring out how to be $100 cheaper again, and revamping their image.

Also, it will be interesting to see how their recent tablet/handheld plays pan out. Streak vs WebOS. Will HP's WebOS fizzle out like Kin, or will Streak get lost in a sea of Android devices? Or both.

Re:How Dell got huge (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766910)

Dell stood out because they formalized a real manufacturing process, setup good quality controls, made it brain dead simple to order, and *still* had prices that were just about the best you could get. They had a refined image with organized, glossy ads, which helped a lot.

Not to mention consistently placed in the top couple spots in customer satisfaction surveys.

I haven't payed attention in a decade, but I wonder where they are now...

My company builds stuff in China (5, Interesting)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766682)

Anyone who outsources manufacturing of any kind has faced this problem. Component suppliers provide defective parts to factories, and when the first parts that contain a defect not seen before arrive, incoming QC hasn't seen the defect yet and so might not test for it. The parts are then used, and if the defect allows the product to pass inspections and burn in, you now have your supply chain infected with product containing the bad part. The consequences of the bad part range from outright consumer danger (e.g. exploding batteries), to shortened product life resulting in expensive warranty repairs and a damaged brand reputation, to very little impact resulting in just a few consumers experiencing annoying problems.

Once you learn of the bad part and the consequences, you're like the CDC (center for disease control). You have to find out how bad the outbreak is, what the return rate is, how much of the supply chain is infected, what the consequences of the failure are, and then decide what should be done about it.

If the failure rate is below, say, 10% and the consequences non-life-threatening, you will likely do nothing and deal with it in the repair channels, and make a running change to your incoming QC processes and manufacturing lines. If there is extreme personal risk you might have to do a recall, and you probably have to suspend your entire supply chain until the root cause is found and everything from raw materials to subassemblies to product in transit to store inventories to consumer's products is fixed.

In this case, Michael Dell was more than likely in the CDC meeting, and data was probably presented that pointed to the fact that a recall wasn't necessary. However, it looks worse than that, and Dell is being painted as a greedy tyrant who shipped bad parts knowing full well he did so.

I guarantee this is NOT the whole story, and there was some serious gray area involved at Dell as to what to do about this issue. More than likely, this was a calculated risk that the problem would not turn out as big as it is.

Bloatware (3, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766688)

The first thing that did it for me was when they started polluting computers with bloatware.
Being the family computer nerd I would just wipe out any new Dell coming into the family with a fresh copy of the OS.

The second thing that did it for me was the quality reduction of support. 10 years ago Dell would go that extra mile and they were my standard recommendation for a PC. But then they went Indian with their support and calling in would start with a market survey and eventually end with a big negatory.

The first two were enough for me but the third was a bizarre drop in quality. Their machines were burning out and other oddities.

They might try and defend themselves saying that they needed to cut support costs and that without the additional revenue of the Norton AV subscriptions that they couldn't compete. But the reality is that their initial reputation was that buying a Dell was a safe bet. But as a nerd I have a reputation to manage and recommending Dells became a bad idea. Now I recommend a local computer shop that rocks.

You knew it was coming! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32766776)

Dude, you're getting a dud!

I told you so (1)

noz (253073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766786)

Never bought one. My brother (non-nerd) did and it had RAM errors manifesting as BSODs within weeks of delivery.

The laptops were always cheap. They "check all the boxes": i.e. they have all the on-paper credentials to compete with other manufacturers, on paper. But the build quality is crap.

Also I had one loaned to me for work and the keyboard's enter key stopped working, so I carried an enormous USB keyboard around with it for 3 months. ;-)

Never. Buy. Dell.

He should just dismantle the company and give the (4, Insightful)

bsane (148894) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766858)

He should just dismantle the company and give the proceeds back to the shareholders.

Obligatory (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766866)

Shortly after Mr. Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 as part of the company's acquisition of NeXT, Dell's founder and chairman, Michael Dell, was asked at a technology conference what might be done to fix Apple, then deeply troubled financially.

"What would I do?" Mr. Dell said to an audience of several thousand information technology managers. "I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders."

Summary is wrong (0, Troll)

billcopc (196330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766872)

InfoWorld's Bill Snyder is feeling lonely, so he wrote a vitriolic puff piece titled "the ignominious decline of Dell"

FTFY, you self-righteous he-cunt.

Former Senior Support Analyst for Dell... (4, Informative)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766882)

A good example of some of the things going on at Dell go like this.

I was hired as Basic Server Support tech.

I was given extra training to take over the graveyard shift from headquarters in round rock.

It was moved to Oklahoma City.

After several months we had done well as a team and were offered Gold level support,
but we would need to apply for that job.

I did apply and I got the position and the night crew became gold level support.

After just a few weeks the platinum crew was so swamped they started dumping
their calls on us and we were required to take them.

We got a few days training and were thrown to the sharks
taking calls way over our heads with little to no prior experience
in the advanced server software arena.

The customers were guaranteed MCSE trained technicians.

Needless to say that is not what they were getting.

Customers were furious and launched into a tirade over the idiocy,
and I did not blame them a bit.

To me this was breech of contract and fraud.

I brought this up in a meeting and was shouted down.

I decided at that point to leave the company.

At the end of the one year I had been there, over
half the ppl working for server support had quit.

1 year after I left my team of 26 only had 3 original members.

The upper management at Dell was THAT bad.

Michael Dell came off his long term vacation and
tried to correct the course of the company, but
the damage had been done and he was lied to as well.

It took him time to work thru all the lies and he fired
a lot of ppl for various reasons.

Some of the low to middle management were actually
good ppl, such as my eventual manager.

He didn't like what they were doing, but he had left
his prior job and had to make this work or lose his
house, his car, and likely his wife.

Fun times...

I keep in touch with some of the ppl still working there,
and after I quit things got better once Mr. Dell could
cut through some of the lies.

I do not think the company will fully recover and it
cannot compete with Asian companies that do not
have all the government regulations, fees, taxes,
and red tape to deal with.

That and they can get workers to work for below minimum wage.

Like most US businesses it is hard to compete on uneven ground.

Good Luck to you all !

Oh My... (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766922)

A whole new generation gets to learn how business works. A company starts and is nothing, why should people buy from it? So the company focuses on quality, low prices and customer satisfaction. People like the company so much they swarm to it. Over the years the company grows larger and larger. Eventually they have capped out their market share, they can grow no more. This is a problem in our growth driven society. We believe that any company that is not growing is failing. So the owners of the company have to grow in other ways, they have to give less to the market they already have... and try to get the market to pay more despite getting less. First the sacrifice from within... departments are cut, benefits are cut, employees are given quotas that grow daily until they are doing so much work they can barely focus on any one thing at a time. Eventually the company realizes it can't cut anymore from within and still function, so it starts looking for cheaper suppliers. Bonuses are given on a yearly basis so an executive can come it, buy tons of faulty components, get his bonus and be gone before the shit hits the fan. Eventually the company is so distrusted by the public they are relegated to a brand name sticker wall-mart sticks on junk it bought from some 3rd party. But the big wigs at the company walk away with their wallets over flowing, open a new start up... rinse and repeat. It's the same with nearly every American business.

The Fall of the Roman Empire (2, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766940)

It was 1500 years ago, and yet the lesson has never been learned by many.

Manage by overextending, with long chains of command and a reliance on slave labor, and your empire will collapse.

Outsource, and you are simply counting the days until your business fails / is taken over.

Just my personal experience, but... (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766942)

I've bought hundreds of Dells, really. Maybe a thousand altogether, but probably no more than that. I'd buy them ten or twenty at a time. I'm actually a guy who likes doing it. I love taking a new computer out of the box to smell those wafting polymers in the air. Out of the box failure rate = 0. Three year failure rate = maybe 1 per 100, too low to really need to track. I actually usually pushed the boxes to five years. Customer Service? I don't believe I've ever called them. I simply didn't need it. If I have to call customer service, I figure I'm the one who failed. They were reasonably priced, reasonably well powered, network ready, and easy to work on. I used them for rack mount servers as well. I bought between forty and fifty of those. I had one drive go out.

Maybe different model and all, but certainly in my own case, I simply don't have any problems at all with Dell.

Lousy service (3, Informative)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766952)

I've had a couple of Dells.

I was going to relate some of my bad tech support experiences, but I'll jump straight to this one:

The tower was making a lot of noise. I had researched the issue and discovered that badly-fitting card readers on certain Dell models (including mine) were causing vibration noise.

Called tech support, got through to a guy at an Indian call centre. Told him what the problem was, and that I knew why it was happening.

He wanted me to disconnect _everything_ from the motherboard, take the memory out, unplug every cable, etc. He said this was policy: They have to try plugging everything back in separately to diagnose what is making the noise.

Eventually I had to be bluntly honest and very carefully say: "I'm sorry, but throughout this call we haven't been able to understand each other because, with respect, you don't speak good English. I'm not comfortable with the idea of disconnecting everything because I don't believe you could explain to me how to re-conect everything."

And that was how Dell got out of helping another customer. Without me disconnecting every single component in my computer, they would class the noise fault as "unresolved" and wouldn't replace the card reader.

Dell's machines are pretty good. Most people who have had a Dell would recommend them to their friends and family. But people who have had to use Dell tech support will tell you the same thing: If you do buy a Dell, do so with the knowledge that you are effectively buying a computer without a warranty because you will never get any fault fixed.

possible production run problems? (1)

BulletMagnet (600525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32766956)

We have 2 dozen Optiplex GX240-270 PCs from that time period that were used in extreme conditions (construction jobsite trailers where it would take a FULL can of air to blow the gunk of out them, per machine) and not a single one ever had cap related motherboard problems (One did blow a power supply twice...) We still have them (however not in service) and just fired up 6 or so to give away as donations to employees (for their little kids) and every single one fired up... I have complaints about Dell (posting drivers for the BCOM embedded quad NICs that leak memory - well bleed like an amputation - and crash R710 servers - that was a fun one to figure out) , but I've never had any workmanship quality issues.....
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