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Bug The Courts Hardware

Dell Selling Faulty PCs 484

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the dude-you-got-a-dud dept.
An anonymous reader writes "PC maker Dell has been accused of selling thousands of desktop PCs despite knowing the machines contained faulty components, according to recently unsealed court documents first reported about on Tuesday by The New York Times."
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Dell Selling Faulty PCs

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  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:03PM (#32733018)
    You think you would get a tech to come out if you have only ever purchased 1 machine from them?

    Yeah, its easy to get serviced when you are an important customer that does regular business.
  • by icewalker (462991) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:06PM (#32733048)

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

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:08PM (#32733082)
    I remember back in the 90's when I used to recommend them (not only for their quality computers, but also excellent customer service). But in more recent years, their stuff (in my experience) is garbage. They've become what Compaq and Packard Bell used to be.
  • GM does/did it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dlt074 (548126) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:15PM (#32733200)

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

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

    lots of that kind of thing with the radios too.

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

  • Not Just Desktops (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nobdoor (1496229) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:16PM (#32733228)

    They've been selling faulty laptops as well.

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

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

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

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

    I then made a post here: http://forum.notebookreview.com/dell-xps-studio-xps/361004-how-get-your-dead-xps-m1210-fixed.html#post4611553 [notebookreview.com] [notebookreview.com]

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

  • Re:No surprise (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XanC (644172) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:23PM (#32733344)

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

  • Re:Yep (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrFreezeBU (54843) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:26PM (#32733396)

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

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

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

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

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WarlockD (623872) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:31PM (#32733468)

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

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

  • by spun (1352) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (yranoituloverevol)> on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:36PM (#32733564) Journal

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

    You don't, you give it the death penalty. Carve it up and sell the parts to the highest bidder. Confiscate all bonuses from the corporate officers involved in the decision, use the proceeds from the sale and bonuses to pay off any 401(k) retirement plans invested in the company. Let the other shareholders eat the loss as a warning to perform better due diligence and not invest in criminal organizations. After all, if you invested in the mob and they got busted, you wouldn't get your money back, right? Organized crime is organized crime, it doesn't matter if the leader of one organization graduated from Yale and the other graduated from jail. If a corporation engages in criminal behavior, kill it with extreme prejudice and make all responsible suffer. If investors get burned a few times, they will make it a point to only invest in socially responsible, ethical companies.

  • by CFD339 (795926) <andrewp@@@thenorth...com> on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:38PM (#32733586) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me that's standard for the software industry. They don't even try to fix "all the known bugs" before ship. They ship operating systems and other big software systems with long lists of current known bugs that they plan to fix in production long after release. Many software companies charge for those updates.

    Back before PC's became common, if you bought an appliance and it didn't work perfectly -- every time (no bs about powering off and back on to finish washing your laundry) -- it would be considered defective and the brand name would take a major hit.

    The PC industry has made "bug fix" common on appliances of all kinds more common.

  • It wasn't just Dell (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:47PM (#32733716)

    Around the timeframe discussed in the article, the company I was working for had IBM desktop PCs. We had exactly the same problem in a few models - faulty capacitors caused them to fail early. The solution was easy - replace the motherboards.

    However, there are two major issues at stake here:

    1. How Dell handled the issue as a whole. According to TFA, they tried to hush it up. Anyone with half a brain in the IT industry at the time could see exactly what was going on, quite how anyone at Dell concluded that they could succeed in a cover-up is beyond me.
    2. How every major vendor handled dealing with individual customers. At the time, more than one company had a very strict policy that their helpdesk staff wouldn't deal with issues concerning more than one system in a call. It's one thing to have to put the phone down and call again when you've got two or three systems to get a tech sent out for and once they're done they're done, it's quite another when you've got a few systems failing every damn day and your own IT staff are spending more time on the phone to your vendor to get a tech out than they are on the phone to your own staff they're meant to be providing support for. Ideally you'd want to arrange to identify every affected system in the business and get motherboards in all of them replaced, but this generally takes a certain degree of negotiation because no vendor wants to pay for this (even if the buck stops with them).

    It took us some serious discussion with IBM (probably helped by the fact that our parent company spend £several million/annum) to get every motherboard replaced, knowing Dell I wouldn't be surprised if few if any of their customers succeeded in getting this done.

  • Re:Yep (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:47PM (#32733720)

    Had the same issue at my company, GX270s were flawed in how the USB ports were grounded causing it to short out the motherboard. Dell's fix for my company other than replacing the motherboards that went bad was to send us about 1500 usb pci cards so we could put a hotfix into the field without having to change out every motherboard.

  • Re:Yep (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:55PM (#32733874)

    How is this different from any other manufacturer?
    I had a Ford Focus that had to have the ignition cylinder replaced multiple times. The first two times, it was a warranty repair, and Ford replaced the faulty cylinder with the exact same model that had the exact same problem. Twice was enough, and the third time I called a locksmith and got a 3rd party replacement part and never had the problem again.

  • by hubdawg (1148477) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @02:01PM (#32733990)
    I repair computers at home for people who cannot afford geek squad, best buy etc. Many old dells like these have been across my bench, invariably after the warranty was over, the end user was stuck with the cost. Of course I helped then out by replacing the board with an afforadble ECS model or an ASROCK. Still sad that many single mothers and people on welfare, shut ins etc. that I help out were stuck with the cost, while thinking they were getting a good deal from DELL.
  • by orsty3001 (1377575) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @02:17PM (#32734230)
    I remember a certain model of HP laptop from a few years back that had a bad overheating problem. It was due to a defect in the design of the product. HP did nothing to fix it. This isn't the only problem Dell has had either, they had a BTX style desktop that would lose it's ability to see the USB keyboard and mouse. All it would do is say it couldn't see the mouse or keyboard and to please press F1. Call Dell and they would cancel your warranty and basically tell you to go stuff it. Acer had an entire line of laptops that would stop turning on after about a year of use. I have a stack of them in the corner. The list goes on and on.
  • Re:Naive Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WarlockD (623872) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @02:38PM (#32734512)

    Eh, if it was HP everyone would bash them. Dell just so royally screwed up recently that they deserve our ire:)

    To be really honest, I would subscribe to consumer reports for some data and make a judgment call based off experience. There is just so much anecdotal one off stories (My Dell works great! Mine works like crap!) that its imposable to rate an entire product line of one. I swapped out thousands of GX270/280 boards. However, except for that flood, there just wasn't that kind of volume on other systems. Laptop's or otherwise.

    My perspective, after working with Dell and talking with other enterprise vendors, is that Dell is no worst/better than its competitors when it comes to support but all vary greatly in the quality of the products year to year.

    Just an example, IBM laptops T43 are a solid rock that Nokia still uses allot of. But the updated model the year after, T60, just had a slue of driver issues.

    Judge by what your needs are, what some professional "trusted" reviewers say and look to see if the company will still be around for your support contract. (Poor MPC Users:P)

  • Re:Mod parent up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yuhong (1378501) <yuhongbao_386@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @02:42PM (#32734576) Homepage
    The article claims that the evidence came from unsealed court exhibits and other court filings.
  • by Wansu (846) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @02:51PM (#32734718)

    To start with, it was Nichicon's problem. By covering it up as they did, Dell made it their problem. That was a poor choice. Sooner or later, Dell would have to come clean. Why not take the high road from the start? Had they done so, this would have sucked less.

    This demonstrates the extent to which US companies are at the mercy of asian component suppliers. Certainly, former domestic component vendors had design flaws or manufacturing flaws in their products from time to time. But they were here and could be dealt with easily. If needed, they could be audited. If worse came to worst, they could be sued in this country. If you get bad parts from a low cost producer on the other side of the world, it's not so easy to work with or audit your vendor. Nor is it easy to collect damages in court.

  • Re:GM does/did it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TClevenger (252206) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @03:39PM (#32735432)

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

    Yup, they still do that. My Saturn Ion has faulty suspension bushings (clunk, clunk.) They were replaced twice under warranty, and now that the warranty is up, they're clunking again. GM knows of the issue, but they have yet to redesign the part. I'm living with the clunk until the aftermarket comes to the rescue.

  • Re:Yep (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @04:33PM (#32736210) Homepage Journal

    Not a hiccup because you're barely using any amount of power that would stress the capacitor.

    Yes, I used to work right next to the Dell line as an HP repair tech. We'd swap stories all day long.

    Your boards are still garbage.

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