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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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  • Yep (Score:3, Informative)

    by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @12:58PM (#32732926)
    I bought three last week, and their customer service already knew what was going on. A tech already came out next-day to replace the faulty components. No questions asked. Next?
    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Informative)

      by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:03PM (#32732998)
      Also, as a follow-up, at my company where we were running a few dozen GX270s which we purchased in the 2003-2004 timeframe, we had similar problems. Machines dying which ended up being faulty capacitors, of course not manufactured by Dell. (I had the same problem on an Abit motherboard from the same time period.)

      Call up Dell tech support, tell them what's going on, and bam! Motherboard either overnighted, or a tech sent out within two days to replace the board at no cost. They knew what was going on, and it never took more than five or ten minutes to get things rolling. I'm not a Dell fanboi by any means, but every company is going to have supply problems.
      • Re:Yep (Score:5, Informative)

        by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:14PM (#32733198)
        So... considering that bad boards were used to replace bad boards, how many of those GX270s are still around? I too worked at a company that bought that model. When I left there were more GX260s and GX240s, even GX150s in circulation that GX270s, and it was dept. policy not to ship GX270s to any of our satellite offices because they were too likely to fail. What does a service contract matter if they're just going to dump in more bad hardware? RTFA.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

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

          I still have two 270s at home. One is powered down, and I suspect that it still works, and the other is used
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Khyber (864651)

            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.

        • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:25PM (#32733378)

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

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

          • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:28PM (#32733422)
            It's not an 'assumption' at all, if you had read the article, you'd know it was a confirmed practice, exposed during the legal proceedings described therein. Congratulations on being able to pressure Dell into doing what they should have for everybody, but don't be an asshole implying people are ignorant just because their experience differs slightly from yours. Anecdotal evidence only goes so far.
            • Re:Yep (Score:5, Funny)

              by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:33PM (#32733508)

              if you had read the article

              You demand the impossible.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by WarlockD (623872)

              Anecdotal evidence only goes so far.

              This is slashdot. If my system worked fine for 5 years, the vendor is golden and cannot be touched by mere mortal hands!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by WarlockD (623872)

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

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

        • Re:Yep (Score:4, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo @ w orld3.net> on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:33PM (#32733506) Homepage

          I work in computer repair and can tell you this sort of thing is nothing new.

          The capacitor plague of the early 2000s affected most manufacturers, just as the nVidia and bad BGA soldering (XBOX 360, PS3 etc.) plagues are now. HP and Microsoft have been the worst hit, with every HP laptop made in about the past 3-4 years having a faulty nVidia chipset and most early 360s eventually getting RROD problems.

          Microsoft, to their credit, replaced the faulty motherboards with fixed ones. HP on the other hand just kept stuffing ones with identical faults in until the warranty period expired. They rely on people not knowing their rights as consumers, but if you are in the UK and bought one from PC World just call them and mention the Sale of Goods Act and "lasts a reasonable time" which is generally 5 years for a laptop.

          The problem is that in the UK it is up to individuals to seek legal remedies on their own. We need a government body to look into these kinds of manufacturing defects and deal with them en-mass. At the moment the best we have is BBC Watchdog.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Seakip18 (1106315)

        I remember this exact issue!

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

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

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

        It was actually a great learning experience for college-age me. I learned alot about software deployment sc

      • by Skater (41976)

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

      • by gorzek (647352)

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by El Lobo (994537)
        Yes, those where the infamous Optiplex GX270. We had 35 of those at work and 6 of them died a painful capacitor dead. One day after every death we had a guy from Dell replacing the main board for us, no questions asked. We are still very happy Dell customers, even today.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by WarlockD (623872)

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

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

        I am sure there are a few other lawsuits like this that were settled and yo

      • by psbrogna (611644)
        Sure - discrete components can be faulty and even boards, etc... but pretty much the whole PC industry gets their parts & sub-assemblies from vendors the do assemble discrete components. Since IBM put the spec out there for commodity PCs to be built from off the shelf components back in the early 80's, the job of the vendor changed from significant electronic engineering to mostly selecting packaging, cooling & most importantly QA/QC. So while they can't be blamed for faulty manufacturing they can c
      • 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:4, Informative)

          by WarlockD (623872) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @02:20PM (#32734256)

          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..

          Oh GOD don't get me started on that one. They moved part's dispatch the same day. It went from talking with a previous field technician to talking with someone with less experience in computers than a bag of rocks.

          I think they moved it back to Austin, but it was a good year or so before that.

          PS - I am not faulting the phone support in India. They just have the same 60% turnover rate we do here so you never have experienced staff that you expect to pay for on Gold support:P

    • 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.
      • Sure. My girlfriend did when her laptop display started flickering. She purchased the extended service plan, but there was only one girlfriend and one laptop.
      • Re:Yep (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:09PM (#32733106)

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

        Yes. It's called a support contract.

        • Re:Yep (Score:5, Informative)

          by Sandbags (964742) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @02:50PM (#32734704) Journal

          Yea, except in Dell's retail machine support contract (differs from contract for business systems), it;s at "dell's option" to send a representative onsite, and entirely within their option to ship you a component and ask you to install it for them. When they do need to send someone, its some local crackpot sub-contracted, who's company (not even him) is paid somewhere between $60 and 80 for the job, regardless of how long it takes, and they only get paid that one time, even if they have to make several trips. Dell also tries pretty hard to make the time as inconvenient as possible, with a big window. For business, yea, not too bad service. They have to be good or companies won;t buy the stuff to begin with.

          I've both dealt with, and have been a contractor. Dells policies have always been close to the bottom of the barrel for both us and the customers. They do the absolute minimum needed in order to either claim the issue is not theirs (software, outside issue, lightning not covered, etc), or they do the legal minimum to meet the claims required by state law. (NY won a huge settlement, but others still suffer under the policies that won those NYers money). Bait and switch is still VERY common when ordering Dell systems as well, and some replacement parts are not the originals, and are sub-par (a newer video card may not have the same specs as an older one, or may have compatibility issues, a replacement drive may not be as fast, this is common).

          Dell's retail support contract is almost worthless, and their support staff generally are. Buy a nice high end system, and a low end system. Try calling support and see the difference in how you;re handled first hand.

    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:07PM (#32733062) Journal

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

      From the article,

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

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

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

    • by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:07PM (#32733074)
      I've had seven dells, and they've all been perfect!

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

      FIRST POST!

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

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

      This is why I buy Macs

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

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

      now move along. Nothing else to see here...
      • by WarlockD (623872)

        Don't Forget the Techs!:

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

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

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

      • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:30PM (#32733452) Homepage Journal
        Macs work by moving good karma around. If you ever open up one of their machines, there's not actually anything in there! This is not advisable though as opening them causes the karma to run out and they never work correctly again once you do this.
    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Informative)

      by ElectricTurtle (1171201) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:07PM (#32733076)
      You might try Ring TFA. This is in regard to the bad capacitor debacle of 2003-5. Dell was knowingly replacing bad cap boards with boards known to ALSO have bad caps, knowing that the failure rate was over 90%. You might think twice about how valuable your service contract is when you realize that it was standard procedure to 'service' machines with parts that were virtually guaranteed to fail in weeks or months.
    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Galactic Dominator (944134) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:10PM (#32733136)

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

      • Re:Yep (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WarlockD (623872) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:46PM (#32733702)

        I hate it when customers ask me to "reimburse you for the lost productivity" Its what lawsuits are for:P

        Everyone makes mistakes, systems go down, things catch fire. Its why allot of companies that care about this don't do a single vendor. Why, even though they bought a million dollar EMC array, they have it backed up nightly with another million dollar tape robot.

        Even at home, I make sure every computer I care about has a raid 1 array. There is nothing Dell, HP or even EMC can do when your drives fail. If you want to be reimbursed, you better be able to prove, in a court of law, that it was due to the incompetence of the Vendor.

        Witch AIT did:)

  • obQuote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @12:59PM (#32732938)

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

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

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

    • Re:obQuote (Score:5, Informative)

      by StuartHankins (1020819) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:03PM (#32733010)
      True. Unfortunate, but true.

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

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TClevenger (252206)

          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by barzok (26681)

            They were replaced twice under warranty, and now that the warranty is up, they're clunking again

            Check your paperwork. If the part failed within 12K/12 months of the repair, it should be covered by a separate warranty on that work.

            "Living with the clunk" is a bad idea - if the bushings are broken/worn, depending on which bushings they are, you could be setting yourself up for a failure of the suspension, which at best will leave you stranded on the side of the road, and at worst in a major accident due to lo

    • We don't talk about this.....
    • This seems clever and insightful, but the formula fails to include a number of factors.

      How about:

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

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

      F - "The long term goodwill we engender by telling the truth and making things right"
      If managed right, more important to the survival o

      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:52PM (#32733834) Journal

        You give the fields of public relations and image management short shrift. They exist primarily to make the problems you outline disappear.

        D - The likelihood we can pay someone to cover this up in the short term, which is all that seems to matter to corporate officers anyhow, is pretty high.

        E - History shows that damage to a corporate reputation can be easily managed. It does not asymptotically approach infinity, as the Ford Pinto clearly demonstrates. Does anyone today refrain from buying Ford because the Pinto killed people? I think not.

        F - It is much cheaper to simply lie copiously through advertising and PR to generate that goodwill. After all, it isn't about the truth, but perception. Perceptions can be bought.

        In ten years, Dell will still be around but your memory of this incident won't be. You will most likely be buying Dell again.

        Toyota will very likely survive and thrive again?!? They are thriving right now, they are the largest in terms of sales and production. Even BP isn't going to go under without help. Hell, what would a boycott of BP do? They still own the oil, which is only going to become more valuable over time. Oil underground is money in the bank, it even collects interest. BP isn't going anywhere, this will barely be a blip on the balance sheets in twenty years.

        You see, all corporations suck to some extent. And people have busy lives. They don't remember the fact that some big faceless corporation screwed them over, that is a non event because it happens all the time. You live with it. You forget. When Exxon and Mobile merged, did they drop the Exxon part of the name because of the Exxon Valdez spill? Of course not, and ExxonMobile is doing just peachy.

        I'd love to live in a world like the one you imagine, where fairness and justice just happen, because everyone does their part to stand up to evil. It would be a better world than this one.

        • Boycot BP? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mjwx (966435)

          Hell, what would a boycott of BP do?

          I can answer this one.

          Jack Shit.

          The BP that sells petrol is a different entity to the BP that pulls oil out of the ground which is a different entity to the BP that turns oil into Petrol.

          The BP that pulls oil out of the ground sells that oil on the open market, it doesn't expressly go to BP refineries to be sold in BP petrol stations. The oil that goes to BP refineries comes from BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Aramco, Chevron Texaco and anyone else in the oil ext

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tridus (79566)

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

        You haven't been paying attention to Corporate America in the last decade, have you? Long term thinking doesn't exist. It's all about meeting short term revenue projections.

    • obPun (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Obligatory pun: http://cheezburger.com/View/3696285952 [cheezburger.com]

  • Different measures (Score:5, Informative)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:03PM (#32733000) Journal

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

  • Haven't you ever owned one?

  • 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!

  • Bad caps how cheap can dell be?

    • Too be fair, even Apple, HP, and Intel's motherboards were having problems. It was an industry-wide problem that affected many suppliers, ODMs and OEMs.
  • Beep beep - it's the Surprised Bus!

  • 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.
    • by jeffmeden (135043)

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

  • by Dan East (318230) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:08PM (#32733092) Homepage Journal

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

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

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

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

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

    #1 is clearly understood. #2 means that share values are no

  • Components? (Score:2, Informative)

    by AntEater (16627)

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

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

  • by WarlockD (623872) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:14PM (#32733188)

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

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

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

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

  • Not Just Desktops (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nobdoor (1496229)

    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

  • give em a break... (Score:2, Informative)

    by COMON$ (806135)
    At the time I was a tech for an organization that bought a series of optiplex 270s (I think). had a guaranteed failure. At first dell techs did deny a problem, but after about the 10th failure (of 20) it got to the point where I would just tell the tech capacitors, and they would ship the new mobo. There was a lot of "unofficial" verbage I received from dell saying that there was a problem with the 270s but nothing official was mentioned until a few months later when Dell admitted the problem.

    However, t

  • This is news? (Score:4, Informative)

    by nilbog (732352) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:22PM (#32733324) Homepage Journal

    Has Dell ever sold anything but faulty machines?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Leviathant (558659)
      Of the five Dell laptops between my wife and I since 2003, only one of them had any kind of fault (the fan/heat sink on the 5150 laptop had a nasty habit of storing compressed dust in a way that would make the processor overheat after 5-10 minutes of use) and they sent out a recall for that. We've had that many laptops only because we got greedy for speed. We gutted the 5150 and sold it for parts, and have a pair of older, perfectly capable laptops sitting around collecting dust.

      I'm on my second Dell des
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      Has Dell ever sold anything but faulty machines?

      Dell used to sell more reliable machines. But they had the power leads on the AT connector reversed, so if you plugged in a 3rd-party power supply you'd blow your mobo. DAMHINT.

      The strategy that works for Dell shops is this:

      • Buy the XPS/Business lines
      • Understand that your failure rate will be 10-20% per year
      • Have an imaging system
      • Have a build system
      • Have a license management system
      • Buy the Gold support contract - this gets you fast turn around and intelligent loc
  • I designed the XP image for a chain of retirement communities. The first rollout was on 120 Optiplex GX270 desktops... all of which were affected by this.
    Fortunately, only one of them died in the initial rollout. By the time they started going bad en masse, the image was ruled out as the cause... and the blown capacitors were clearly visible... and the story was already known online.
  • A friend of mine bought two brand new XPS systems two months ago and both of them went including the first replacement that he received. All three had MB go on them. I bought a brand new XPS 9000 around the same time but so far no problems.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @01:26PM (#32733398) Homepage

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by svallarian (43156) <svallarian AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @05:20PM (#32737000)

    Badcaps.net

    I had to replace 4 sets on some out of warranty 270s. Those machines were just too nice to scrap. Their form factor, combined with their ability to mount to the back of the Dell LCDs were real nice.

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