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Lawsuit Shows Dell Hid Extent of Computer Flaws

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the computer-may-or-may-not-generate-black-holes dept.

Businesses 272

Geoffrey.landis writes "According to an article in the New York Times, documents revealed in a lawsuit against Dell show that the computer maker hid the extent of possible damages due to a faulty capacitor in the computers it shipped from 2003 to 2005. Dell employees were told, 'Don't bring this to customer's attention proactively,' and 'emphasize uncertainty.' (PDF) 'As it tried to deal with the mounting issues, Dell began ranking customers by importance, putting first those who might move their accounts to another PC maker, followed by those who might curtail sales and giving the lowest priority to those who were bothered but still willing to stick with Dell.' In other words, the most loyal customers got the worst treatment."

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Ha (4, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284948)

This will surprise precisely no one who's ever done business with Dell.

Re:Ha (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284970)

This will surprise precisely no one who's ever done business with Dell.

No kidding.

I call in for a Warranty covered Repair. Why are they trying to upsell me speakers?

Re:Ha (4, Insightful)

gtall (79522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285620)

Calling any company is becoming a contact sport. I was informed by Verizon that my credit card number they had was expiring. So go to Verizon and try to log in...no dice. They eliminated my login I've had for a few years. I recently got FIOS. So now I was invited to register. Hmmm...what's this? I must run Verizon's special piece of CrapWare on my Mac just to register for an account? No fucking way am I letting Verizon run anything on my machine. AT&T got a note from my credit card company and updated automatically...one more fucking game Verizon throws at your head.

What to do? Call Verizon...find all their numbers for this, that, and the other are connected up to the same damn phone bot. Try to navigate the phone menus, finally find a human who will hopefully take my new experi date . "Oh, that is a problem for our billing dept. Let me transfer you." "Uh, okay"....damn...back in phone menu hell right up at the top where I started. After 4 rounds of this, always reaching a different piece of proto-simian meat, I finally found a way to get to billing which seemed to surprise the billing person out of her nap. Finally fixed it. "Is there anything else I can do for you?" "No...NO NO NO...don't even think about it."

Along the way, I was offered free movies for my FIOS for three months...I was "eligible". No way, I've been through that before with Verizon and FIOS. 3 phone calls later I finally got them to drop the damn movies after they started charging me, hoping to slip it onto the bill without my notice.

Re:Verizon (3, Informative)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285692)

Actually Verizon is damn near the worst I have ever encountered.

Same brand of junk, different episodes.

"Let's bill your hardware charge to an account we'll close on you in 2 weeks from our side and then send it to a collection agency who sits on it for 4 months". That takes 4 hours to fix with your described Turbo Transfers. "Let me get you to billing. - No, we only handle Pennsylvania, let me get you your area - Oh, I am only billing, I can't take your credit card - I have no idea what that charge is, let me transfer you - ..."

Then they are just barely able to install a dry-loop DSL with 11 phone calls over 3 weeks.

The only thing is, the reputation of Comcast scares me more so I haven't yet switched.

Re:Verizon (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285772)

Having had comcast for the past 4 years or so, I can honestly say that they are better than THAT. At least in North NJ

Re:Ha (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285372)

Which is why I "emphasized the certainty" of not purchasing from them anymore when I had my last problems with them.

Re:Ha (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285472)

Of course, this can backfire. If you "emphasize the certainty" of not doing any more business with me, why exactly should I bother fixing your problem? Either way, you're not my customer anymore. Time helping you would be better spent on people who only "might" not do any more business with me.

Re:Ha (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285666)

Presumably this certainty is a result of the inability and or unwillingness of [you/Dell] to fix the problem, rather than the starting position.

Re:Ha (3, Informative)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285382)

As someone who wields a 7-figure IT budget and has dealt with Dell I agree. No surprise at all. I'm actually surprised that they still have corporate customers. If those of us with large budgets making high volume purchases have a hard time dealing with them then what kind of service does a small business get? I tried Dell out due to their slightly lower prices but I've learned my lesson and I'll stick to Lenovo.

Re:Ha (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285536)

Yea, as someone else who wields a 7 figure IT Budget, I don't really believe that you do, unless you spend a few million a year on laptops. Yea, Lenovo makes servers, sort of, but no one uses them for good reason. To this day (just confirmed) the best processor they offer is an E5640. They only have 3 different models, their configuration options are extremely limited, they're simply nothing resembling enterprise ready.

Re:Ha (1)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285694)

Well I don't see what spending a few million on laptops has to do with Lenovo making servers but to clarify I buy IBM servers, HP workstations and Lenovo Thinkpads.

Re:Ha (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285788)

I don't wield any kind of budget at all, but my company has a few dozen divisions internationally and uses Lenovo exclusively for the few hundred notebook users we have... as an end user I'm pretty damn happy with my W500. I've had a ThinkPad series device for the last 11 years and have come to like them enough that I bought one for my personal machine at home.

Re:Ha (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285392)

This will surprise precisely no one who's ever done business. Of COURSE you don't spend any effort on the people that would stick with you anyway or that do not really impact the (short-term) bottom line. Why waste good time and money on them? Spend it on the big guys that might actually harm your business if they up and leave.

After all, you only need to last the quarter, then cash in your options and leave.

Re:Ha (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285436)

your comment will surprise everyone who's done business. People are correct that this is specific to dell and companies that are doing damage control.

who's the idiot who doesn't want sustainable business? the guy that does shit customer service on his customers.

word spreads fast, even from your most loyal customers if you treat em like shit. that's one of the things the internet is well known for.

Re:Ha (4, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285594)

who's the idiot who doesn't want sustainable business? the guy that does shit customer service on his customers.

The guy who's cashing his options at the end of the quarter and only needs the stock price to float until then.

Re:Ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285680)

quite accurate.

Re:Ha (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285726)

Welcome to modern capitalism. One reason of many I don't trust privatization of government functions.

Re:Ha (1)

CrkHead (27176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285632)

Gateway had the same vendor. I was working in one of their shops and anything with an AMD processor was likely to show up a couple times.

That's one advantage Dell had over GW. GW had built up a reputation that if there's a problem come in and we'll fix it under warranty, then these motherboards hit and there was no way to keep up with volume.

Re:Ha (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285766)

So they fixed it no problem if they could swap the processor out and AMD took the financial hit, but if it was their own low-bidder motherboards bought from a fly-by-night manufacturing firm in Hon Hai that doesn't exist anymore, you were getting stonewalled.

Not much of an advantage really...

Re:Ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285704)

On the day I received my new Dell laptop, I upgraded it from Win 7 Home to Pro (clean install), and my wireless adapter stopped working. I spent hours trying to get it to work before I finally broke down and contacted tech support to see if there was a known issue. They told me that since the computer was no longer in its original state (upgraded OS), I could only get support if I called their "premium" (AKA "charge-you-out-the-ass") support line. Tech support was no longer covered by my warranty. To them, I might as well have been prodding around the motherboard with a soldering iron.

If their laptops are so touchy that they can't handle a fresh OS without a hardware failure, and if the company is so shady that they can't even talk to someone who JUST BOUGHT their product unless they pay extra, then I would be happy to see bad things happen to Dell. I'll smile if and when they go bankrupt. In the meantime, I'll discourage everyone I know from buying from Dell.

By the way, my solution was to revert my laptop to its factory state (with the backup DVDs I made before upgrading... the bastards don't even include restore DVDs anymore...), delete all of the pre-installed crap, and actually upgrade Win 7 instead of doing a clean install. Not as satisfying, but at least I can actually USE the laptop.

Cover up by Dell? (3, Insightful)

slack_justyb (862874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284972)

Wow who would have thought that some company in America was covering up, down playing, putting the blame on someone else, etc... on some bad news? Did anybody notice that the sky was blue today?!

Re:Cover up by Dell? (1, Troll)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284984)

stereotyping poster is stereotyping

Re:Cover up by Dell? (1, Offtopic)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285010)

memer is meme-ing.

Re:Cover up by Dell? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285566)

It's not a stereotype. It's really hard to find corporations to do business with that aren't engaging in that sort of behavior.

Part of it probably comes from the fact that our regulators don't regulate, meaning that the only way that a lot of that stuff gets punished is through class action suits. But, until there's a credible suit you can't just subpoena records from random companies. And so there's a greatly reduced risk in the short term of anybody noticing. Hence this sort of bad behavior, since most publicly traded companies are only looking maybe a year down the road tops.

Re:Cover up by Dell? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285802)

It's a stereotype because he said American corporation; when it fact it s most corporations. In my experence other country's are FAR worse then American companies.

Re:Cover up by Dell? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285746)

It is not only the Corporations like Dell. It is the service people, the city-county-federal governments, the chruchs, the media, the military, everyone...

It seems that the U.S. A. has just become a pile of garbage with everyone trying to take criminal advantage of everyone else. Absolutely no morals and ethics goes farther downnill everyday. Maybe it always was this way, but I'm old and I sure didn't notice this much garbage going on forty years ago.

Oblig reference (5, Informative)

Ark42 (522144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34284978)

http://www.badcaps.net/forum/index.php [badcaps.net]

It was more than just Dell having capacitor issues left and right.

Re:Oblig reference (4, Funny)

davidc (91400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285276)

Bad caps! Bad caps! Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Re:Oblig reference (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285402)

Who's the moron that modded this troll? Ok, now I'm trolling. Mod appropriately.

Re:Oblig reference (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285482)

http://www.badcaps.net/forum/index.php [badcaps.net]

It was more than just Dell having capacitor issues left and right.

But most vendors didn't hide it to the extent that Dell did.

Every company makes lemons from time to time; the better ones are those that admit it.

Re:Oblig reference (5, Insightful)

DarthBart (640519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285576)

It not just "bad" caps. My 42" Samsung TV died, not because of defective caps in the power supply, but because the caps were inappropriately rated. They were 10V-rated caps in a 15V circuit. It was just only a matter of time before they died.

And thankfully I found articles on the cap issues before I plunked down $999 for a new TV. $2 in caps, and 45 minutes of my time solved the issue.

Well, $2 in caps, $23 in shit I didn't really need to cover minimum orders, and $20 in "overnight" shipping all because jASSper, TX was a shithole of a town and the local Ratshack doesn't carry anything but TV antennas and Verizon phones.

Re:Oblig reference (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285730)

Yes, but some did not.

Dell was not the worst by any means. IIRC, the worst as far as caps leaks from those days was probably MSI. Asus was mostly OK (only some MB models affected) and I have not seen a single Via EPIA motherboard exhibit any of these problems.

I am still using about 7-8 Vias from those days quietly shuffling files as a small file server or serving as a media center. Not a single one of them is showing any problem and some of them have been through thermal hell in cases with failed fans.

When You Cut Corners... (5, Insightful)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285038)

And take the lowest bidder from China...

And outsource your inspection, testing and QC,...

You deserve what you get. I am actually sorry to see this happen. I expected more professional management system.

This story can't be true (5, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285078)

How is it possible for the free market to not result in better products and service?

Re:This story can't be true (0, Flamebait)

MichaelKristopeit188 (1942402) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285142)

you are aware that dell is not the entire free market, right?

ignorance = funny.

slashdot = stagnated.

Re:This story can't be true (-1, Redundant)

MichaelKristopeit181 (1940430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285192)

who am i baiting to flame? someone chose to be an ignorant hypocrite and those empowered with editorial control of this internet website chat room message board applauded them for it. i simply pointed this fact out.

the truth = flamebait.

slashdot = stagnated.

Re:This story can't be true (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285602)

You act as if it isn't the status quo for most corporations to behave like that.

The reason the GP stated that is that if we had real regulation of corporations like that it wouldn't have gotten to that point. But, because the free market results in supposedly better products, service and prices we don't need to subject them to oversight.

Re:This story can't be true (5, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285226)

But it did. Right after tens of thousands of customers got fucked by it and shareholders lost $300 million in equity.

Now it's all better.

Re:This story can't be true (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285356)

Did the CEO get paid millions and millions of dollars and told not to come in tomorrow^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W^W fired?

Re:This story can't be true (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285608)

Sure the market prevailed (sort of) but not until after people got screwed. Free market is like democracy. Nothing ever gets done until after the consequences of a problem have been felt.

Re:This story can't be true (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285230)

Because consumers are stupid.

Re:This story can't be true (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285390)

Quite true, from my time working in staples, I can say it's pretty clear. Cheapest > best 95% of the time. No matter what I would say or do, I couldn't talk people out of buying the $300 machines during the horrific era when manufacturers were releasing vista on systems with 512MB of ram.

"Yes the e-machine has windows vista, and is $300, but I have to warn you, the hardware on it is far to weak to run what they have installed on it. If you buy this machine, you can expect it to crash several times a day and everything to run painfully slow, now for 400 we have one with 2 gigs of ram on sale that will run much smoother and more reliably"
customer: "Let me call my brother, he knows alot about computers, *calls*
Customer: "He does agree with you, let me think about it"
30 minutes later
Customer: "Get me the cheap one"

A manufacturer that actually made quality products would be going after a niche market of customers that did their research and have money, which would be at best maybe 5%. then cut that in half because half of those would probably be more likely to build thier own systems.

Re:This story can't be true (2, Informative)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285542)

You only got yourself to blame. For every story of a customer ignoring the good advice of a sale person, especially with regards to tech purchases, there are 10 stories of a sale person reaming a customer with some bullshit about the need for $100 gold plated, oxygen free audio cables.

Now I'm sure you're one of the good ones, but your line about crashing is pure FUD. Run painfully slowly, yes. Crash several times a day, bullshit.

Re:This story can't be true (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285638)

You're being facetious, but I think you are actually completely correct. The free market only works when people are informed. If everybody had perfect knowledge of the ins and outs of the things they were buying, then perhaps we could have a free market utopia where the invisible hand of the market automatically corrected everything.

The problem is that we live in the real world and most business deals involve some kind of information asymmetry where one party (usually the seller) knows more about the product than the other (usually the buyer). Somebody will complain that it's the buyer's fault then, but people can't be expected to thoroughly research each and every transaction in their life and know everything there is to know about everything they buy. People got other shit to do.

Re:This story can't be true (2, Interesting)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285672)

I absolutely am not being facetious. Consumers buy too much stuff to be informed about all of the products and the companies behind them. Democracy has the exact same problem.

Re:This story can't be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285270)

> How is it possible for the free market to not result in better products and service?

Because that isn't what customers wanted. They wanted cheaper, lower quality, and a name brand they recognize from advertising.

The free market optimizes for what people are willing to spend their money on. That *might* be better products or service, if that is what people actually value. But it can just as easily be something else entirely.

Re:This story can't be true (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285306)

The market got it right in the end. Dell is a shell of its former self in large part because of the poor organizational culture. They paid for their sins in market cap.

Re:This story can't be true (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285280)

Yes; what we need are government regulators that Dell can pay off so that these stories never actually make it out* and give buyers the opportunity to react with their wallets.

Sarcasm aside: government regulation is good and helpful to a certain extent, but it doesn't solve all problems. Why? Because the government is made up of the same people that make up companies, and they can be bought, corrupted, and act unethically. And, unfortunately, we can't easily "boycott" the government, whereas we CAN refuse to buy Dell products, if we so desire.

Unfortunately, I'm only a doomsayer, I don't have many good ideas in this way. I would like to say that I don't know many people who actually think there should be a 100% free market, just like I don't know many people who think we should have a 100% regulated market (i.e., no freedom in the market at all). Arguing against an exaggerated position of people who suppor ta "Free market" may not help much. Or, I may just be ignorant of the folks who actually advocate a 100% no-regulation-whatsoever market...

* Because then a lawsuit against Dell would also involve the regulators and regulating governmental agency, which basically would mean that another group of people would be at risk and raise the incentive to hide the documents/defeat the lawsuit. Examples, perhaps? The recent coal mining stuff and BP. Those had government agencies attempting to regulate them and whatnot. Fancy that, the ones that were overseeing BP were corrupted. Shocking.

Re:This story can't be true (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285314)

Most North Koreans have never had a single problem with a computer.

Re:This story can't be true (3, Informative)

tibman (623933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285360)

When people started talking about bad caps.. certain MOBO makers went out of their way to label their boards as "Premium Capacitors only", or caps from japan, or anything to show they weren't infected with the bad ones.

Re:This story can't be true (1)

Heartlessly Hoping (1943962) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285464)

I hope someone blows the whistle on HP next. The HP pavillion dv7 is the worst computer I have ever had. When I was on line at Best Buy to get the problem diagnosed, there were two other people with the same problem. The ac power adaptor stops workng and the computer overheats causing it to shut down after 15 minutes. The bottom line is that I now I have to buy a new laptop shortly after the warranty has expired and will absolutely not buy another HP computer anytime soon.

Chicago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285572)

No, not the Microsoft codename for Windows 95, although I'm sure you could draw some parallels.

I am referring to the University of Chicago graduate school of business wherein professors taught that every business decision could be boiled down to a question of risk and the only important consideration is financial.

The best analog is Ed Norton in Fight Club, explaining to a 'single serving friend,' how the cost/benefit breakdown used to determine whether an automobile manufacturer might voluntarily initiate a recall for a known, fatal defect in one its models.

X = probable cost of recall, Y = probable payout from lawsuits --> IF X = Y THEN (no recall)

Now add Credit Default Swaps into the mix and tell me why any sophisticated CFO would ever feel compelled (financially) to make a moral decision when the risk can effectively be laid off on some Wall Street quant who can make a market for the risk.

Special Slashdot Memo #664535 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285106)

Dell hid computer flaws. Oh, the outrage !

Don't you alleged iPad jockeys have better news to post than this OLD news?

Perhaps, you might cover the intrusiveness of TSA "security" [youtube.com] .

Yours In Osh,
Philboyd Studge.

Re:Special Slashdot Memo #664535 (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285742)

Dell hid computer flaws. Oh, the outrage !

Correctly directed outrage.

Don't you alleged iPad jockeys have better news to post than this OLD news?

This is NEW news (or at least new information) relevant to the old news. I have no idea what connection you are trying to make to Apple here.

Perhaps, you might cover the intrusiveness of TSA "security" [youtube.com] .

Because that is never covered here, and the following articles from the last couple of weeks are figments of my deranged imagination:

same thing with nvidia flaws (5, Insightful)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285130)

This isn't just capacitors. I almost stopped doing business with dell completely after a client came to me with a clearly failed nvidia chip on a model that had the warranty extended for just that problem. They had called dell during the warranty period and were told it was an issue with the OS and they needed to reinstall. They trusted dell. They reinstalled. They updated their firmware. The computer lasted another few months with the problem getting progressively worse until there was no video at all. I tested the system and determined definitively that it was the nvidia chip and asked dell to replace the board. I was given the runaround being told how do I know and its out of warranty. I pointed out that the warranty had been extended and my customer had called them during that timeline and was given bad information by their support team. They fought it and fought it and fought it some more until I called the rep that I do large orders with for corporate clients, and apologized to him that I would not be ordering anymore servers etc. from him. I explained the situation and was called back by dell corporate the next day offering to swap the bad board for a refurbished one. It solved the problem, but it really shouldn't have to go that far. I love using dell servers, but having experiences like that do not make me want to use their products.

Re:same thing with nvidia flaws (1)

Rowan_u (859287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285264)

I'm still seeing these burnt up Nvidia chips get replaced with the same identical board on warranty repairs, and still finding busted caps on certain (cough gx270 gx280 cough) models.

Re:same thing with nvidia flaws (4, Informative)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285426)

I'm still seeing these burnt up Nvidia chips get replaced with the same identical board on warranty repairs, and still finding busted caps on certain (cough gx270 gx280 cough) models.

We had a very large number of GX270's. Within 4 years, 2/3rds of the power supplies and 1/2 of the motherboards died from bad caps. They didn't even flinch when I called and said the MB had caps leaking brown crap. They were happy to ship a new MB and let me swap it even though we had the on-site service contract. The problem was that Dell was shipping replacement parts that would have the same problem within 2 months. I stopped calling on the power supplies and just bought new non-dell branded ones.

They had to know they had a widespread problem and that the parts they were shipping would have the same issues. They were simply trying to use up their spare parts inventory and string the customers along until they were out of warranty service contract. That's dishonest.

Re:same thing with nvidia flaws (3, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285290)

Its a good thing problems like this don't happen in other areas. Imagine if the auto industry did this!

Re:same thing with nvidia flaws (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285696)

I have had some mixed experiences with Dell. Some great. Some not-so-great. But you know? They are still better than the rest... even if they are only a bit better. I have grown accustomed to dealing with their support people -- I know how to answer questions to expedite the results I seek. I am also certain to buy NBD support for machines I care about -- servers and laptops mostly. (Accidental damage for laptops every time!)

I have had to deal with the capacitor issue in the past. Maybe my company was a big enough customer, but we had a recall notice sent to us some time between 2004 and 2006. And when I had the issue, I had no problems getting it replaced. I also had the nVidia chip issue -- once again, no problem at the time.

I'm not doubting you had the problems you had. But the people on the other end are still people. Sometimes you just have to deal with them the right way -- sometimes it means being a bit of an ass and other times it means exercising patience and restraint. And yes, I too have had to go through a sales person to get the kind of service I deserve. It's just the way it is. Dell has historically offered the best support in many ways and I have witnessed people taking advantage of it by smashing their computers just before their warranty expires to get a nice almost-new replacement (or even an upgraded model if there were no refurbs available). That sort of behavior sickened me, but I know it happens and probably still does. Dell has to push back against abuse of its otherwise good policies and service.

I like Dell. I like that I can go to their web site and configure the laptop or server that I want. Just did some comparison shopping with HP yesterday and could not find a configuration page... just pre-configured machines with prices. NOT what I wanted to see. Dell offers what I want most of the time and certainly more than others are willing to offer. Dell has its faults, but they are still the least of all the evils I have dealt with so far.

With all that said, I will cease doing business with Dell if someone could show me something better. Seriously.

Re:same thing with nvidia flaws (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285814)

You've set your price pretty low there. All it costs to make you go quiet and keep buying $000s worth of their kit it one motherboard that they should have replaced without being threatened anyway. You really taught them a lesson there and I'm sure they'll keep learning from it with every future order you make from dell corporate.

Nothing personal, but I've never understood this sort of reaction. If I get to the point of threatening a company then it is already too late. I don't threaten to take my business elsewhere, I tell them (and anyone else who will listen) that I'm going and I go and I stay away in future where possible.

Dell must have some good hookers on staff... (4, Interesting)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285146)

The US Federal Government buys more Dell machines than any other major customer. And Dell sucks, really really hard.

Sure, their server hardware is OK, but it's just off the shelf stuff which is more expensive than a lot of competition, including the superb Supermicro. So, the only conclusion is that Dell has employees that suck a really good dick.

Now this comes out. I wonder what the total damage done to the taxpayer was? Probably in the hundreds of millions when you figure in the lack of services caused by downtime, contractor handoffs of parts before they actually get the problem fixed, and subsequent testing which is mandated at many facilities.

Re:Dell must have some good hookers on staff... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285494)

The US Federal Government buys more Dell machines than any other major customer. And Dell sucks, really really hard.

Seeing the title and that boldfaced sentence, I think you've hit on the answer. Well, I don't think Dell himself is doing the sucking - he hires people for that, but you're right in spirit.

Re:Dell must have some good hookers on staff... (0, Flamebait)

ma3382 (1095011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285512)

So, the only conclusion is that Dell has employees that suck a really good dick.

I fail to see how 'really good dick' sucking equates to bad service. You shouldn't resort to sexism for insults.

This is a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285190)

This is a surprise? Does anyone own a cellphone? Threaten to change providers gets their attention but if you're locked down on a multi-year deal and they know the only way for you to get out is to pay $40/month for the remaining months on your contract (Canada)... why on earth would they care to talk to you? Rogers wouldn't even call me back when I was in the hospital with my dad who was going into major surgery. They're crooks like the politicians that stand behind them... or is it the other way around?

Re:This is a surprise? (2, Insightful)

bball99 (232214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285232)

i get the analogy, but dude, get a throwaway phone - lots cheaper and no contract... hope your dad is OK, btw

Re:This is a surprise? (2)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285616)

Rogers wouldn't even call me back when I was in the hospital with my dad who was going into major surgery.

I hope you're dad's okay now, but I have to ask -- what kind of cell phone problem hospitalizes your father and requires major surgical intervention?

Re:This is a surprise? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285676)

Sometimes threatening is not enough. Some years ago, I realized that my company was paying way too much for our web and email hosting, so I called the provider and threatened to move unless they reduced the price. The provider would not budge.

So, I spent some time configuring a replacement and called to cancel the service. Now, the provider wants to offer a discount! I told them where to shove it, because I had already invested the effort in replacing them.

Was this a smart move by the provider? I don't know how many people would just accept that the provider would not discount the service and continue to pay the rip-off rate.

Sounds like politics (4, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285194)

In other words, the most loyal customers got the worst treatment.

Political parties do much the same thing. The so-called base voters who would never consider voting for the other party (or staying home) can be and generally are ignored by candidates because they know their votes are secure.

Loyalty is a terrible position for a customer (or voter) to take. If you want results, insist on getting them up front, before you fork over the cash (or votes, or, in our political system, both).

Got a Dell PV 745? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285208)

There is a certain drive type that shipped with these that is horrid and has a very short MTTF. Their support group was told to say "We've noticed that these particular drives have a shorter life span than we like so we'll go ahead and replace all four."

There was no contacting customers to warn them and many people lost a lot of data because of it.

Well, duh. (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285210)

Of course they prioritized the situations with the most impact to them.

What's wrong with that?

However, selling computers with an enhanced probability of failure at the same price as if they didn't have that is fraud.

And "reassurances that no data loss would occur when a PC failed" is just gob-smackingly stupid fraud.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285266)

Dell has always known. And when the company i work for started having problems with the GX270 they sent us a case of mainboards and basically admitted the caps were the problem. Same for the bad video chips in the D630.

Lie to customers.... (1)

JDeane (1402533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285282)

Well telling them the truth was a never an option, that would had involved telling them that "Sure we used cheap or substandard components in our machines and you pay a premium for a quality product... Sucks to be you!"

That was option 1 option 2 would have been to pay a bit more for better quality components in the first place and while I would say pass those costs on to the customers they already had done that.

I haven't been able to recommend Dell to home buyers for years now to be honest. If your a corporate customer and can afford the gold warranty support and buy in a large enough volume to pressure them when something goes wrong your golden no pun intended.

Re:Lie to customers.... (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285460)

If your a corporate customer and can afford the gold warranty support and buy in a large enough volume to pressure them when something goes wrong your golden no pun intended.

Speaking from experience you still take the hit in lost work hours and your efforts to deal with the problem.

They're not the only ones... (3, Interesting)

Constantin (765902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285352)

Dell may have been more customer-antagonistic than other manufacturers, but even alleged luminaries in the business were tainted by this issue.

My first Apple base station was based on a Lucent design that Apple put a graphite-colored plastic enclosure around. Naturally, the Job/Ivs-ian approach to mechanical design did not allow these base stations to have ventilation holes in them, even though they had a comparatively big internal linear power supply and were using a 486 chip. Combine that with all the remaining hardware and you had a nice hot little box, especially if you used the dial-up modem. A year later, and the marginal Lelon capacitors powering the the base station started bulging like Champagne corks or popping off altogether.

Naturally, Apple told its customers that the they were SOL if the unit was out of warranty after a year of ownership. Those who had AppleCare warranty could get refurbished units - usually in marginal cosmetic condition - and only if they mentioned that AppleCare covered attached peripherals. Apple never proactively contacted owners of graphite base stations to acknowledge the issue and to point owners towards repair options.

I got mad enough to investigate the issue, discovered the bad capacitors and created a web-page to teach others how to replace them or have service providers replace the capacitors for them. Not that hard to do. I also gave folk instructions on how to add ventilation holes to help these poor base stations cool better. The Lucent design covered much of the board with an EMI shield, which exacerbated the thermal problems - it's like encasing the electronics inside two heat shields.

As the issue affected more and more customers, Apple started a non-publicized warranty program that allowed customers outside the warranty period to get their unit replaced - but only if they knew what knowledge-base article to point the Apple drones to. Naturally, just as the program appeared one day, it also disappeared after a while - without a press release, notice to customers, etc.

All along, the typical answer from an Apple phone-drone was that they had never heard of the issue before. So, if you did a little digging at Apple, I would not be surprised if the SOP manuals for phone-drones include the 'suggestion' that every issue reported by an irate customer is 'unusual', 'never heard of before', etc. It's one way to mollify customers, especially those who don't know of the myriad of other customers affected by the same issue.

The only times I had Apple admit something outright was with the Santa Rosa graphics chipset problem, and probably only because by MacBookPro was covered under AppleCare. However, by then, a lot of of other folk had already been affected by this issue and NVIDIA was presumably paying for the PCB repairs. So I'm not sure if I can give Apple a pass on that one either. The first sets of customers were probably told that unless the unit was under warranty or AppleCare that they'd be buying a new motherboard and paying Apple for the privilege of getting it installed too.

Would the base stations have lasted longer if Apple had elected to use name-brand capacitors instead of Lelons? Perhaps, but any electronic appliance last longer with lower operating temperatures. Sadly, this is an issue that seems to continue to haunt Apple - a desire to design pretty enclosures whose thermal performance is at the borderlines of what the electronic hardware can tolerate.

Alternative premades? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285376)

Hi all,

I used to be a Dell fan, but the last few years the bad stories have been compounding.

So where now should I refer my parents and grandparents who want an out-of-the-box-ready-to-go premade PC when I don't have time to make one for them?

Thanks for the tips,

Re:Alternative premades? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285604)

If they're willing to pay for it I suggest an iMac. If they want to spend less then any HP, Lenovo, Sony, Acer, etc machine will do. When you get down to $500 range they're all the same. Also I dont support family/friends unless they use OS X or Ubuntu. Windows users are a pain to support.

the most loyal customers got the worst treatment. (4, Funny)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285452)

the most loyal customers got the worst treatment.

In business loyalty is foolish. You always get better deal by shopping around. This is also true with jobs and women.

Issue only with Dell USA ? (2, Interesting)

Mad Leper (670146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285490)

We had almost 90% of our GX270 desktops (about 200 deployed at the time) fail due to the bad cap issue, and Dell Canada repaired every single one within 24 hours, no questions asked. Since then we’ve had near zero issues with any Dell laptops or desktops (over 1,000 deployed and in use), and the few failures we’ve had since then Dell has fixed without any hassle.

Dell Canada never gave us a hard time over repairs for the bad cap problems. Whenever we placed a support call all it took was a mention of “blown caps” and they immediately sent over a tech & parts for onsite repair. By all accounts we were a “loyal customer” but certainly did not receive “the worst treatment”.

Either Dell USA grossly mishandled the bad cap issue in their own backyard or there were a lot of Dell customers out there that didn’t arrange for proper support (by not purchasing through Dell Corporate) and purposely skimped on their warranties.

Re:Issue only with Dell USA ? (1)

Que_Ball (44131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285756)

I have to post a big Me too on this one. Never an argument, or a crazy request to reinstall software or try pointless remedies.

Nowhere near as many systems as you but exactly the same response. They fixed units that failed, took me about 1-2 minutes on the phone to go over the details and the rest of the time was just waiting for them to fill out the dispatch forms.

Fun and Games with Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34285500)

Speaking only as myself and not as a representative of a major aerospace company, I can say that our location suffered a major series of issues with Dell Optiplex systems. Every single GX280 system board had to be replaced at our location, all due to the capacitor issues. And it wasn't just limited to the Optiplex line, there were issues with the Professional Workstation 650 and 670 series systems that also suffered the same capacitor failures (mostly bulging and leaking electrolytes). Dell's response to the issues with the Professional Workstations was along the lines of "if they're in warranty, and they're leaking, we'll replace but if they're out of warranty or in warranty but working then we're not going to do a thing." Which sounds familiar to anyone who has been dealing with the Nvidia video chip issue with the various Latitude notebooks (especially the D620 and D630 versions) that Dell replaces with... wait for it... an identical motherboard with an identical Nvidia video chip.

There have been other issues involving Dell requiring mass replacements in the past, but since the company I work for continues to standardize on Dell hardware, all I can do is support the end users as best I can, and document the failures so that eventually someone might bother asking my opinion on using Dell's hardware.

Is there a fix or not? (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285518)

I have one of the affected models. I bought it used and it failed within months. Is there any remedy or am I SOL? It's probably not worth paying retail for a new MB that will likely fail as well.

Like hell they hid the problems (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285612)

It clearly says "D-E-L-L" right on the box. Only way to get more explicit than that is Surgeon General's Warnings.

It was not just Dell's fault in this lawsuit. (3, Interesting)

thaylin (555395) | more than 3 years ago | (#34285722)

I used to work as a systems administrator for the company suing dell, AIT, and to be honest from the setup we were required to use you could not tell whether the problem was because of dell or the high heat on the machines. The problem stems from the owner of the company's desire to cut costs anywhere he could. He stopped buying actual servers and went to buy desktops and sold dedicated hosting services on them as though they were servers. We would have groups of 3 pizza racks stacked with 12 of the VCR dells per shelve. The heat from all the machines was terrible, we even had plastic melting on some of the machines. To cool the system we had 2 used industrial ACs, that were always breaking, in addition we had 3 of the large stand up fans that really did no cooling at all. What is really ironic about this suit is that the company at the time advertised nightly backups on all accounts, however only about 1% of the customers, the ones on our netapp, was actually backed up. For the rest the company would not buy the hardware to actually backup customers.
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