No, the problem is the brain dead default software behaviour of excel. People are lazy and always will be. And excel is a stupid program for any data analysis that is more complex than basic bookkeeping... Ok, that's three problems.
Looking at typical excel course curricula, the data import is probably in the advanced course. Fun thing: this stupid autoconvert happens (at least used to) also when your LOCALE setting is not English or American. In many other languages the string 1DEC has no calendaric interpretation.
Yeah, functions for this exist. They are a pain to use, unless you have scripted some sort of import filter - otherwise you have to jump through the hoops for every single file you use. Excel also has problems with csv (comma separated values) in the default settings when trying to load the file by just opening it.