RESCUECOM Featured in PCWorld Business Center Report on Dell

Past Support Issues Haunt Customer Perception of Dell

PCWorld Business Center: Dell Could Be Haunted By Past Poor Support

PCWorld Business Center
November 19, 2010

Dell has taken steps to improve support and services, but past episodes of poor customer support are coming back to hurt the company, an analyst said on Friday.

Dell has taken steps to improve support and services, but past episodes of poor customer support are coming back to hurt the company, an analyst said on Friday.

Court documents unsealed Thursday and examined by The New York Times detailed charges that Dell knowingly sold thousands of desktop PCs with faulty components to customers between 2003 and 2005.

According to documents unsealed in a case filed by Advanced Internet Technologies against Dell in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in 2007, Dell avoided telling many of its customers about the extent of problems, and failed to recall systems that contained faulty components.

The problems stemmed mainly from some bad capacitors on the motherboards supplied by a company called Nichicon, which were installed in OptiPlex desktops. Dell shipped around 11.8 million OptiPlex computers between May 2003 and July 2005. Customers who experienced problems included the city of New York, Microsoft (MSFT) and General Electric (GE), according to The New York Times.

The same issue affected many PC makers, but the problem has been resolved, Dell has said. The company has fixed the computers and extended the warranty of systems containing faulty parts. AIT and Dell have settled the case.

Selling PCs with faulty parts can create a negative impression, and poor service can keep customers away from buying more PCs from the company, said David Daoud, research director at IDC.

Dell has acknowledged support issues it has faced in the past and tried to fix the problem. But the negative impressions linger for a while, and issues highlighted in something like the AIT case could hurt the company's reputation in the long run, Daoud said.

"Fixing that takes a long time, and changing attitude and sentiment takes years," Daoud said.

Dell is now selling more PCs through retail stores, which participate in providing support. The company has also tried to address support for enterprises through new programs and through the acquisition of service provider Perot Systems in November last year.

Dell is providing a more cohesive means to solving problems by bundling services and support for enterprises through Perot, but it must be careful as hardware glitches tend to come back, Daoud said.

David Milman, CEO of computer repair firm Rescuecom, agreed with Daoud, saying that ghosts from the past don't go away easily. He also said that Dell is still viewed as a low-cost PC vendor with poor support, a label that hit the company earlier in the decade.

By comparison, Apple, which sells computers at higher prices, has garnered a reputation of offering strong support through its retail stores and AppleCare support program. The acquisition of Perot Systems has improved Dell's support for its enterprise customers, but they're still catching up with competitors like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Milman said.

Dell still sells PCs at low prices, and support takes a hit as the company tries to trim cost and improve profit margins, Milman said.

"They are hopeful they have a high-end image, but they've always sold on price," Milman said.

Google Reviews

Patricia Farr
Patricia Farr
in the last week
Rescuecom has once again rescued me. This time from a potential identity theft situation, and then a
...Rescuecom has once again rescued me. This time from a potential identity theft situation, and then after solving that, updating all security and operating systems. All with incredible patience and expertise in what for me was a very distressing situation. My level 3 tech Maddy spent literally days getting everything straightened out and David gave me some tips and advice that I have used. The technicians at Rescuecom are for me the best and most professional, and are always there to help quickly, with understanding and kindness, when you need them most. less
Carol Vaupel
Carol Vaupel
a month ago
I would give him 5 stars.
...I would give him 5 stars. less
Cynthia B. McCoy
Cynthia B. McCoy
a month ago
wonderrful
...wonderrful less
Sue Baran
Sue Baran
a month ago
Jim P. was very good in explaining why a call was inputted and explained the updates that he was goi
...Jim P. was very good in explaining why a call was inputted and explained the updates that he was going to do from both Windows and Rescuecom. After completed he helped with some boot up programs to be disabled to help give me a little more "speed" in startup. Great experience. less
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