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Lawsuit docs show Dell told staff to keep PC flaws secret

updated 04:25 pm EST, Fri November 19, 2010

Dell lawsuit docs show active hiding of issue

More documents have been unsealed in a lawsuit over defective Dell workstations that have revealed the company directly told staff to hide the extent of the problems. Presentations from 2003 to 2005, and even sometime later, told workers to not only avoid telling customers "proactively" about capacitor problems with Optiplex workstations but to "emphasize uncertainty" and cloud the issue. Staff who questioned the wisdom of replacing broken systems with known flawed parts were told that this strategy, rather than a permanent fix, was ultimately the most helpful.

"Our approach to this issue delivers the best customer experience because it minimizes disruption," a copy of a presentation obtained by the New York Times read.

The company also only actively focused its attention on corporate buyers whose absence would have a competitive impact. Dell focused on replacing systems in the field first for firms that were both big enough and likely to switch to HP or another rival, followed by those from whom a reduction in sales was the only major issue. Active fixes usually came for those companies who either passed a certain failure rate or were too valuable to lose.

The company insisted there wasn't data loss despite evidence from users of just such a problem.

Dell spokesman David Frink has tried to downplay the practices, noting that predictions of failure rates as high as 45 to 97 percent were peak and ultimately saw a lower, though still very high, 22 percent of systems replaced. He added that Dell had changed its behavior since that period. The lawsuit, filed by Advanced Internet Technologies, was ultimately settled in September this year.

The policies don't reflect Dell's current behavior but contrast sharply with the attitudes taken towards what was an industry-wide capacitor problem in the era. Most other companies, including Apple, didn't necessarily address issues immediately but were considerably quicker to start recalls and try to engineer permanent fixes. Power Macs and other computers were affected by a wave of bad capacitors that could burst and otherwise fail prematurely, rendering the mainboard inoperable.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jan 2000


    Congratulations! You've got a Dull!

    This should send Dell's stock into the tank.

  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008


    I've never trusted Dell

    Ever. Now there is proof for the feeling.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Not to mention all those "Vista Ready" stickers

    Dude! You're getting sued!

  1. JeffHarris

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999


    What the...?!?!?!

    You mean even DELL knows their stuff is JUNK?

    @SockRolid... LOL
    Speaking of stickers like that, I've NEVER understood WHY people leave Vista, Intel and other such stickers scattered all around their laptop keyboards? That would be like leaving the protective plastic sheet that ships on the display. I always want to pull them off!

  1. chas_m



    Really ...

    ... they should just close the doors and give the money back to the stockholders.

  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 1999


    Dells from that era remind me of...

    a computer case wearing a big underwear.

  1. ggirton

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999


    over a fifth of all systems replaced?

    All this time I thought people were just dissing Dell. Now it turns out they were really excrementally bad!

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