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Documents show that Dell knowingly sold defective computers, misled those needing support

Tim Stevens
06.30.10
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What happens when capacitors go bad, spewing out their tangerine innards like the ones in the photo above? Components die. In the early to mid naughties there was a rash of failures, the so-called "capacitor plague" that affected many manufacturers thanks to millions of bogus units filled with an electrolyte mixture that was a bit off. However, nobody was quite affected like Dell. The company took a $300 million charge in 2005 to cover costs related to the faulty machines that went out with these components, and now we're getting a better picture of just how bad it was -- and continues to be.

According to recently released documents stemming from a three year-old lawsuit, Dell not only knew about the bogus components but some of its employees were actively told to play dumb, one memo sent to customer service reps telling them to "avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had issues." Meanwhile, sales teams were still selling funky OptiPlex machines, which during that period had a 97 percent failure rate according to Dell's own study. (And you thought the Xbox 360 had problems.) With that on the minds of shoppers, plus Throttlegate and some other recent laptop quality issues, we have to think consumer confidence for Dell must be at an all-time low at the moment.

[Image courtesy of Bushtails]

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