back to article Dell accused of hiding incriminating evidence in defect case

Dell stands accused of deliberately hiding emails that showed its top executives in the mid-2000s knew the company was shipping millions of defective computers, one of its customers alleged in court filings Thursday. Web hosting provider Advanced Internet Technologies, which alleges Dell knowingly sold computers that contained …


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  1. FARfetched

    Is this a surprise?

    Around these parts, Dell has long had a reputation for being unreliable hardware.

    I used to tell friends who asked me for advice on a computer purchase: "Don't buy a Dozebox. If you buy a Dozebox anyway, don't buy a Dell." Then of course they'd ask me to fix the problems they were having with that Dell that was "most affordable" (i.e. cheapest).

    I guess my mistake was not telling 'em "you completely ignored my advice, you're on your own."

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They made me redundant just in time! I was buying Dell Optiplexes up to that time, and always found them good.

    By the way, not the give away: "We have been working with". Haven't these people understood that we all *know* that this is a key phrase which means that we are being bullshitted?

  3. Fotis Zafeiropoulos

    Yep! They bubbled and bubbled and then they died . . .

    . . .the capacitors on the SX270s. We lost hundreds of them most of them out of warranty. We got a local electronics guy to replace the burned capacitor and the motherboards lived happily for two more years.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Dell is DONE

    Covering up and selling products that you know will likely fail is absolutely despicable.

    Will you ever purchase ANYTHING from Dell again? I sure as hell will not.

    When Western Digital shipped a batch of defective hard drives some years back they reacted by immediately recalling the drives and publicizing the issue so that customers could exchange the drives for new ones. In the end they gained credibility and the stock went up and they got past the issue by FIXING it.

    Dell should have paid attention and learned from WD's example.

    1. Wallyb132

      Isnt it amazing...

      Isnt it amazing the difference reputable companies and piece of shit companies, Seagate went thru a similar scenario, and their response was on par with WD's, they acknowledged the problem and offered a fix for the people who's drives hadn't yet stopped working, and the people who's drives did stop working, they offered data recovery services free of charge, which was actually just putting the correct firmware on the drives after the customer sent them in, then shipping it back working, but the end the result was the same, the customer got their drives back, in working order with all their data intact...

      Dell on the other hand chooses the lie lie deny, counter accuse, deny deny approach to the problem, which unfortunately is the same approach that most companies take these days.

      Its a shame, and a sham...

      1. foxyshadis

        Seagate 1.5TB problems

        Is this a recent development? Seagate's response to widespread 1.5TB problems was Deny Deny Deny, have the customer apply a firmware and when it didn't work attempt to invalidate the warranties, blame it on the BIOS and OS, and force the customer to pay for their own data recovery, for at least 12 months after their Nov'08 introduction. The refurbished replacements they sent out would themselves die quickly or arrive dead. The firmware was supposedly bad right up into early 2010 before they got it right, by which time most of the older drives were dead. I swore off Seagate forever after that.

      2. serviceWithASmile


        i had one of those problem seagate drives, IMHO how seagate reacted was good.

        My drive came back with every byte it had before it broke.

        Of course I would have preferred it not to happen at all, but sometimes mistakes happen.

        Dell on the other hand.....

        crap sales, crapper support, arguably crap hardware (atleast these optiplexes).... and it turns out they knew this a decade ago?

        shirley there are laws against this kind of thing

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Simply NOT TRUE!

    "in the mid-2000s ... the company was shipping millions of defective computers"

    They were shipping crap long before then. The company I worked for in the 90's bought a bunch of Dell boxes for resale and everyone of them died within three years.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The bad caps affected many companies in the industry, including the one I worked for (not Dell). It was a total nightmare for everyone because conventional component quality evaluation and lifetime testing techniques couldn't detect the problem in a useful timescale. The problem only emerged when large quantities were already in the field.

    Though Dell have been a competitor, I have to grudgingly admit they generally make good quality kit that's solidly engineered. There are some other big names that I respect rather less for quality of engineering. However it appears Dell hasn't been so impressive in how they handled the customer impact.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't just dell

    There were boatloads of motherboards that failed due to these caps. I had two gigabyte titans, both failed with duff caps, an abit also failed and i repaired dozens by changing the obviously popped caps usually around the cpu.

    1. Kevin 6
      Thumb Up


      I had a Asus Mother board back then that caps failed after around 2 years due to caps(they started oozing). My friend who bought the same exact motherboard the same day his failed 1 week after mine did for the same exact reason. A guy I was working with had the same board his failed same way. I talked to 2 after that a few years later and we got into talking about motherboards and they had the same board and theirs failed the same way too. So maybe people should sue asus now for crap boards in that time frame

      Side note I've never bought another Asus product since.

  8. Mike Echo

    O how the mighty have fallen

    Dell were, at one stage, THE company to buy from because they had customer service second to none with extremely high satisfaction rates. Now they just smell like bad fish. I wouldn't buy or recommend a Dell ever again.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Asus should be sued too

    In my experience and that of many other consumers Asus ships a lot of half-baked goods and uses consumers as beta testers. If they were a U.S. company their CEO would be in prison for fraud IMO. It's truely criminal what these PC companies get away with.

  10. Fihart

    Caps failing on monitors now

    I came across plenty of failed motherboard caps at that time. Story goes it stemmed from Taiwanese guys working for a Japanese firm and stealing the formula for the electrolyte and selling it to Taiwnese cap brands. Problem was they got the formula wrong.

    Right now on the forums there are daily postings about capacitor failure in flatscreens affecting several brands. From checking a few myself (repair is very easy, incidentally) it seemed to me that the heat generated, perhaps by the illumination or the power needed for it, was excessive in a slim, poorly ventilated space.

    1. CGS

      Two Optiplexs...

      were used as home computers because they looked so neat and were the right size, but a few months ago they were buried in the community's electronic scrap pile. I saved the HDs, CPUs, and heat sinks.

      Would Dell like to compensate me?

    2. Nigel 11

      Origin of faulty caps

      I heard a different story about the problem. Chinese organised slime bought cheap audio-grade caps on the open market, employed slave labour to replace the labels with fake good-name low-ESR labels. They then sold the relabelled caps back into the market at the (in)appropriate premium price. It was a year or more before they started to fail in service, by which stage the criminals were long gone with their loot, and ~50M motherboards were doomed to die young with brown gunk oozing out of their caps. Also, they always went flakey for weeks or months before they failed completely.

      I don't think one can blame manufacturers of boards or systems for the problem if this is the cause. It's how such a problem is handled that's significant. Note the blatant lie "customers' data is not at risk" in the Dell mail. Anything that can cause a computer to crash poses a risk to the data that it is processing, or to the process that it is monitoring.

      When I'm asked what I think of a company that's shipped us lots of kit that works perfectly, I say "OK". I don't have what I need to say "Bargepole" or "Brilliant". I get that when something goes wrong, which I assume is inevitable given enough time. A brilliant company accepts responsibility (not the same as blame) and sorts it out, fast. A bad one finds excuse after excuse for doing nothing, or simply fails to answer the phone in any meaningful way (call centre hell or plain no answer). What are these bargepole outfits thinking? That's I'm stupid enough to risk being fooled twice? Or that there are plenty of other suckers out there?

      A grenade ... what the Chinese Slime deserve, along with any company that employs people to deny problems instead of fixing them.

  11. Stephen 2
    Thumb Up

    @Fihart - Caps in monitors

    Yep, we had a whole bunch of LG monitors die within a few weeks of each other. I emailed LG and they called the next business day. We arranged a date for their techs to come out and they came wielding soldering irons and replaced the caps on-site!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Caps failing on stacks of other stuff too

    I've got two blown boards (as in bits of the actual board's fibreglass & tracks are missing and there's charred paper where the capacitor used to be) from my 5.1 surround sound Logitech speakers, and my 7.1 set of Creatives went the same way 6 weeks after I'd sold them.

    LOTS of companies could be sued in a similar fashion to Dell if bad capacitors were criminal.

    Come to think of it, I wonder of "Not Suitable for Purpose" would be a way of returning them? They were being run well within their limits- volume never topped 1/4 of what they're able to do.

  13. Matt Bradley

    You get what you pays for

    We are talking about cheap, low end desktop machines here, right?

    If you buy a piece of cheap commodity hardware, and it goes pop after a couple of years, you've had your money's worth, I would have thought.

    Actually, scratch that: I think I might sue Wilko's for the iron they sold me which died after a couple of of years. Bastards!


  14. Stuart Duel
    Thumb Down

    Not just capacitors

    The place I work, a call centre, had brand spanking new Dell desktop tower machines rolled out. A few months later, the power supplies started dying. So what did Dell do? No - they didn't come in and replace the computers, the sent a bloody great box of new power supplies and a screw driver.

    True story!

    Now that's quality Dell customer service for you.

    1. Nigel 11


      Lucky for you they started failing during the warranty!

      Dell - the company that used to use PSUs that were physically and plug compatible with ATX, but wired differently. Replace one of those with a generic (non)-equivalent, and ... kaboom!

  15. Andrew the Invertebrate

    Does anyone else read this

    "In an accompanying Exhibit filed in the case, the consultant told the court the only way to confirm the accuracy of the email is to examine the email boxes in native format"


    "We don't have any real proof, so we'd like to on a court appointed fishing trip"

  16. Pahhh

    Lot of crap written....

    Every large company runs foul of their suppliers. It often has nothing to do with cost cutting. And even a previously reliable supplier can produce unreliable shit. Thats the way it goes.

    Why dumb-ass generic accusations?

    Dell make cheap computers. Their stuff aint perfect but generally pretty good. Who else is better? Uhm... HP? IBM (or whatever their Chinese company called)....

    Heck companies like Toyota run foul of the components they used. Sure some smart ass will say they should have done more tests.

    Well if you prepared to spend your budget on military grade equipement at 10x the costs and 10 years out of date, then carry on. Until then , get a reality check!

    1. Mike Echo


      "Every large company runs foul of their suppliers. It often has nothing to do with cost cutting. And even a previously reliable supplier can produce unreliable shit. Thats the way it goes."

      True, but it is how the large company deals with customers afterwards that is the issue here, I think.

  17. Gene

    Don't assume the problem was limited to computers... of those capacitors took down one of my air conditioners.

  18. M7S

    Warranty not extended in the UK, well not for free as might be inferred.

    We had to pay for extended warranty on the units we had. I'm glad we did as every single motherboard was replaced at least once, but Dell saying they extended them is untrue, except in the respect that they sold this as a service, in the UK at least.

    We used to buy lots of Dell kit, but after this we embargoed purchases from them until they have the good grace to come and make reparations. I'm still embargoing suppliers from nearly two decades ago who've pissed me off. I just need to be CIO at a really big company to make it bite!

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