Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Suing Dell – a follow up

I wrote earlier about my own experience with Dell and warranty issues.

For those that want to know – Dell folded and fixed my computer at no expense.

Background: I purchased a Dell XPS M1330 online through Grays Online – an auction system where Dell gets rid of its excess inventory.

The inventory is marked as either faulty or working. The computer I purchased was not marked as faulty.

The XPS M1330 had a fault which was widely reported – and indeed reported on Wikipedia. The fault was to do with inadequate cooling on the graphics chip – and indeed Dell changed the chip from January 2008.

I purchased the computer in March 2008 – but they had the old motherboard/faulty cooling system in the computer and did not indicate in the auction that the computer had a known fault.

I sued Dell – and the main argument came down to the fact that they sold me a computer with a motherboard/cooling system that they knew was problematic. It was thus misrepresentation.

I paid for repairs – and the repairman gave the game away. He didn’t even bother to turn the computer on to check out the fault. He just started unscrewing it and replaced the relevant bits. He then turned it on and it worked. He told me that he had done more than 50 of these computers – all the same fault, none of which was produced after late January 2008.

Dell is panned for customer service issues – but in my case the customer service issue was faulty design. If there had been no fault there would be no customer service issue. The great internet unwashed knew about this well before Dell did – with articles on the web about how to fix Dell’s design fault.

As it turned out Dell folded. They agreed to refund my repair costs and the legal costs without appearing at court. It wasn’t much money – and they probably knew they had a problem.

Dell probably should have known that I was serious when on the phone I indicated that I was going to sue them. If they thought I was bluffing they lost.

It is sure better to keep the customer happy. But much better would be to produce equipment that is not faulty.

And in that my repair-man – a nice young man from India who talked with pride about his soon-to-be-arranged marriage gave me some hope. He knew of no current Dell consumer product that had this sort of manufacturing/design problem. So maybe – just maybe – Dell is getting ahead of the game.



Anonymous said...

Hi John,
Thanks for the reminder about the importance of quality of our products, something we believe in and are constantly looking at ways to get even better.

Glad to hear that your repair person noted "no current Dell consumer product that had this sort of manufacturing/design problem." As you note, we are hard at it in terms of upping our game. I think you can see that in some of our new products with more to come.

Wanted to drop by and say thanks for the feedback. I can assure you that whenever we learn of issues, we act. Its all part of listening to our customers, learning and becoming a better business everyday, thanks to feedback from people like you.

John Hempton said...

Thanks Richard

But I needed to pass the courthouse and file a petty claims case to get Dell to listen.

I am not sure that leaves quite as rosy an impression about Dell as your comment.

Customer service is an expensive solution to design/engineering issues with computers.

This computer would have been fine with a copper shim sitting on the video card rather than a "heat pad". The copper shim would have cost less than $1 per computer installed at manufacturing stage. Countless tech-blogs told customers how to install this themselves - presumably at the cost of Dell's questionable warranty.

My computer problem cost you several hundred dollars and a single repairman had done more than 50 of them.

I was seriously glad that the repair man did not know of a single such problem with a current product. But your customer service people were hopeless.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the added perspective, John. I didnt mean to paint a rosy picture. We have lots of work to do and we are hard at it. I did want you to know you have been heard.

Will be sure that your views and experience are understood here at Dell. We have a lot of changes underway; continuing to improve customer service is among them and the specifics you outline add to that impetus.

Anonymous said...

Better than Sony, John. Here's a verbatim quote from a manager there: "Sony doesn't play nice with other software.". In other words, if you want to use anything other than the (awful) Sony software on your Sony machine, good luck. Oh, and after less than a year, the touchpad and 'keyboard' needed replaced, at a cost of c.23% of the machine. Caveat emptor.

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