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Dell me no lies

July 9, 2010

The Gillette Business Model is simple and successful. Give away razors for free. Sell the blades at a huge profit.

Dell Computer Corp seems to be trying a  twist on the Gillette model: Sell defective computers at cost. Make profits on overpriced service contracts.

Rocky recently purchased a new Dell E6510 Laptop. The machine’s specs looked excellent, and Dell priced it well below the equivalent Apple and HP computers. On Day 46 (one day after the expiration of the return period) the laptop fan died.

Rocky to Dell: “I need to get a service call on my new E6510. The fan died.”

Dell: “You didn’t purchase an on-site warranty. You need to ship it to the Dell Service Depot for repair.”

Rocky: “I need this computer for work, and cannot tolerate a two week turnaround time. Can I upgrade my warranty to on-site repair?”

Dell: “Sure. A warranty upgrade will cost you $829.55 plus $61.18 tax  = $890.73”

Rocky: “But I can buy a spare machine for that, and just keep it in the closet!”

“Dell: “Thank you for choosing Dell.”

Fortunately, Dell didn’t tell Rocky that the hardware problem was caused by Rocky performing too many difficult math calculations. That’s what Dell told the University of Texas Math Department, and resulted in a large class action lawsuit. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/technology/29dell.html

[Disclosure: The good news is that Dell’s customer service representative spoke perfect English.  The bad news is that Dell is on the same downward trajectory that has plagued every PC manufacturer since the early 1980’s.  Rocky has no position in Dell stock.]

  1. ld
    July 9, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Perhaps Rocky should consider an Apple (not the fruit – although that should keep the doctors away too). ld’s quad-core iMac with 12GB RAM has been humming along without requiring a restart for weeks now. The E6400 laptop with Windows 7 still enjoys its daily reboot.

    [Disclosure: ld stays away from Microsoft and Dell stocks and currently owns 10 shares of Apple.]

  2. allocator
    July 10, 2010 at 10:06 pm


    I stopped buying Dells long ago. My advice is to send it over the waterfall and buy a proper computer.

    As for the service hotline issue, you need to be more assertive. Next time try “I’m sorry, but what do YOU know about computers? Is there no-one in India that I could talk to?” 🙂

  3. allocator
    July 10, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Re the traffic cone theft a few posts ago … How do you fence a cone?

  4. July 12, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    LD: Rocky suspects that your quad-core iMac is a workstation/desktop machine and not a laptop. If Rocky purchased a workstation for carrying through airports, in addition to the expense of an Apple, he would also have to pay for a chiropractor.

    Allocator: Can you please specify what constitutes a “proper computer”?

    Allocator also asks: “How do you fence a cone?” Answer: The same way as one squares a circle.

  5. ld
    July 13, 2010 at 7:45 am

    ROFL. You know they have massage stations at the airports.

    They make a really thin version http://www.apple.com/macbookair/ . Once you go Mac, you won’t go back. 🙂

  6. allocator
    July 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Proper computer: pretty-much anything but a Dell. (just my jaded Canadian view of it based on soome bad experiences in the past with some refurb laptops).

  7. nick
    July 16, 2010 at 1:13 am

    I’ve been using a lenovo thinkpad x61 and am pleased with the quality. It has been running all day most days for 3 years. Utilitarian style, but the build quality seems on par with aapl. Most everyone I work with has switched to thinkpads.

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