Poll: Would you support the Consumerist in the Dell scandal?

By Will Chen on 15 June 2007 (Updated 18 August 2007) 10 comments
Photo: Augie Schwer

Update: Dell has apologized! Richard from Dell has informed us that not only is Dell apologizing to the Consumerist, but Dell will also work on reforming some of their more confusing pricing practices. Great job Richard. Thanks for relating to us as fellow bloggers instead of potential litigants. We like you a lot more than the lawyer lady. I don't really think your CEO plays WOW, though (I need some screen shots as proof).

Thanks to everyone for showing support for this boycott! I guess bloggers really can accomplish a lot when we stick together. Please turn in your torches and pitchforks at the front desk.

End of update, begin original post:

 

The Consumerist's latest expose on Dell's shady sales practices prompted a pompous takedown notice from Dell's corporate legal death squad.

The Consumerist often stands up for the little guys. Now I say it is time for us to stand up for them. If Dell follows through with its legal threats, I will personally boycott all Dell products for life and tell anyone who would listen about Dell's shady business practices.

Will you join me? (Note: You can select multiple options)

After we get enough responses, I will send the replies to Dell's investor relations and let Dell know that you cannot silence bloggers for telling the truth.

 

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Guest's picture
Guest

What purpose is served in suggesting responses to a hypothetical situation that hasn't occurred? Dell has no more done this than Apple has and they don't Apple's reputation for legal action either. Frankly, nothing that was posted was even surprising nor was it surprising that Dell wanted it removed.

"...let Dell know that you cannot silence bloggers for telling the truth."

I'm sure you did the legwork necessary to be certain that it was the truth, too. What's the matter with you? Have a personal dislike for Dell?

Guest's picture
Weej

I think the point is that it's time to start taking the power back from large corporations who feel nothing but contempt for the same people who keep them in business.
Even if it's in such a small way as this, it's still better than firmly planting your head in the sand, with your ass in the air and a nice sign on your back that says,
"Please corporate America, keep railing me!"

If we all just sit back and let big business throw their weight around, and silence the consumer whenever something is written that doesn't fit in with their marketing scheme, then we'll reap what we sew, and continue to get sub-par products as well as the continuing degradation of customer service/support for said products.

And I also think in this example, if you read the letter from Dell's council, you can't help but notice the total lack of respect and general tone of contempt that saturated every paragraph. Not to mention the underlying belief that "The Consumerist" wouldn't have the intelligence to counter any of the empty threats made by Dell's council.
That alone should be enough to fire-up most intelligent people. It was as if "Mommy Dell" was wagging her finger in their faces like "The Consumerist" was nothing but a naughty little boy.

WE, the "consumer", are the ones that keep these people in business, and it's up to US, the "consumer", to hold these people to the standard that they pretend to hold themselves to in order to get us to buy their products.

If there was no problem with Dell or their products, then I think it's safe to say there wouldn't be an issue here, but once something is exposed from the inside, you see them scramble like roaches in the light to do a little damage control before something bigger gets exposed, or God forbid, someone else might take a closer look at Dell and decide their money might be best spent elsewhere.
On a large scale, that could be disastrous for their already falling profits.
After all, the profit is what they're all about.
The customer is nothing but a money conduit.

In general, I have no problems with Dell... because I never bought any of their products, but I can assure you that if this letter came from the council of any corporation that I buy from regularly, I would have to rethink any future purchases with them.

Guest's picture

Will, thanks for the perspective. You and others have been in touch with us about this matter. Certainly blogs and conversations with customers keep us learning every day. It is a new world and requires corporations to think differently, live and learn. You might find our response to this matter of interest as customers raised it with us yesterday at Dell's Ideastorm. Here is the link:

[Ideastorm

 

Guest's picture

will...we just posted this:

[Direct to Dell blog]

Guest's picture
Guest

... my work laptop is a Dell. My work desktop is a Dell. Most of the servers we use in our company are Dell. I would really feel hurt if Dell sued The Consumerist (even though I live outside the developed world)and would love to never touch its products again but would not be able to boycott Dell products completely.

Will Chen's picture

What purpose is served in suggesting responses to a hypothetical situation that hasn't occurred?

Lawyers are expensive.   A big company like Dell can throw the Consumerist a whole bunch of "requests" and force the Consumerist to consult an attorney to deal with each new request.  Gawker media probably has an excellent in-house counsel (Gabby), but eventually she will need to consult an outside lawyer if Dell presses the issue.

The Consumerist can conceivably be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees even before they see the inside of a court room.

Besides, I think Dell has learned some valuable lessons from this situation.  Without all the complaints from consumers like us, can you be so sure that Dell would have backed down so easily? 

I'm sure you did the legwork necessary to be certain that it was the truth, too.

The Consumerist never claimed that the story they published was "The Truth."  They simply said "hey this is what someone claiming to be a former Dell employee told us."

When other Dell employees wrote in with their own opinions, the Consumerist published those, too.  If Dell Corporate thought the article was inaccruate, I'm sure Ben would've been more than happy to publish Dell's responses. 

Having this open discussion expedites the flow of accurate information to consumers. 

Instead of responding with their own facts, Dell brought out the implied legal threats, which is a good indication that there are things in the original post that Dell doesn't want you to think about.

What's the matter with you? Have a personal dislike for Dell?

I've had mixed experiences with Dell.  They often make stupid mistakes in customer service (they once sent me two laptops when I only ordered one, and charged me for three), but I will give them this:  Once the mistakes are escalated up to the higher level customer service people, they've always went the extra mile to fix the problem.  Kind of remind me of this situation, actually.

FWIW, I took my bar on a Dell Inspiron, so I guess you could say I once trusted Dell with my life.

Guest's picture
Guest

"Lawyers are expensive..."

Interesting comment coming from you. As a professional who stands to profit from this sort of activity, it's hypocritical to cry foul now. Rather than call others to sacrifice, why do you volunteer your services in defense? The Consumerist is clearly in the right, right?

"The Consumerist never claimed that the story they published was "The Truth."..."

No, YOU did, Will, and thanks for making my point. If a blogger, you in this case, wants to assert that "the truth" is being told, they should be prepared to back it up. Clearly, you aren't, so perhaps you should revise your last cheap shot:

"After we get enough responses, I will send the replies to Dell's investor relations and let Dell know that you cannot silence bloggers for telling the truth."

Get it, Will?

"Having this open discussion expedites the flow of accurate information to consumers."

This was not an open discussion, Will, it was a call to arms. You are insinuating that Dell is preparing for legal action and you are calling for a boycott. Suggesting otherwise, after the fact, is absurd.

"Instead of responding with their own facts, Dell brought out the implied legal threats, which is a good indication that there are things in the original post that Dell doesn't want you to think about."

Their own facts? The original blog was not about facts, it was about claims from an ex-employee. You already recognized they weren't substantiated. Can it get any more clear that you are biased here?

Why you suggest that a company thinks any other way about an issue such as this is beyond me. Of course Dell would prefer you not think about what's in that blog. The sales practices of a company are ALWAYS sleazy. I wonder how sleazy your law firm's billing practices are? Let's not think about that though. ;-)

"FWIW, I took my bar on a Dell Inspiron, so I guess you could say I once trusted Dell with my life."

Haha, no, I wouldn't say that at all. Nice try, though. Your bias against Dell clearly shows.

Anyway, now that Dell has shown that they're not pursuing any legal action that you claimed they would, how about a retraction and apology of your own, or are you going to do a cheap victory dance and claim to have had a meaningful impact? Oh yeah, it's the victory dance...

"Thanks to everyone for showing support for this boycott! I guess bloggers really can accomplish a lot when we stick together. Please turn in your torches and pitchforks at the front desk."

So much for it being an open discussion rather than a lynching. Nice pack of lies, Will.

Will Chen's picture

Well said Weej!

And I also think in this example, if you read the letter from Dell's council, you can't help but notice the total lack of respect and general tone of contempt that saturated every paragraph. Not to mention the underlying belief that "The Consumerist" wouldn't have the intelligence to counter any of the empty threats made by Dell's council.

That is basically how many corporations use their lawyers.  They know that most people don't want legal trouble, so they end up sending out a lot of meritless "requests" and "warnings" to people without firm legal basis for doing so.  

That is how the RIAA stays in business.  And that is why it is important to never give an inch to these corporate legal departments.  They have to learn the hard way that consumers do bite back, and they bite back hard. 

Guest's picture
Guest

The legal team at dell is currently up to it's eyeballs in dealing with the failure to meet filing deadlines with the SEC , internal investigations into accounting practices, allegations of Fraud by the NY State Attorney, some 13 potential class action suits involving notebooks from the Inspiron line, exploding battery suits, recalls etc. etc.

They are getting a bit testy obviously, over in the legal department. Along with customer service, this would seem another room in the Dell mansion that needs cleaning.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

Interesting comment coming from you. As a professional who stands to profit from this sort of activity, it's hypocritical to cry foul now.

You're right. We probably shouldn't allow doctors to testify against their peers during malpractice litigation either. It would be hypocritical for them to do so. Clearly people in the same profession should never criticize each other. To do so might *gasp* raise the standard of practice in the profession. We certainly wouldn't want THAT.

Rather than call others to sacrifice, why do you volunteer your services in defense? The Consumerist is clearly in the right, right?

I have not asked people to do anything I wasn't prepared to do myself: Boycott Dell, donate to their defense fund, and publicize Dell's actions. I can't say for certain that I would have volunteered legal services for the Consumerist. If I did, it would be for somewhat selfish reasons: If Dell can do this to the Consumerist, someone else could do it to Wise Bread.

If a blogger, you in this case, wants to assert that "the truth" is being told, they should be prepared to back it up.

I see you failed to address my earlier points, so let me remind you again: Dell was free to correct the Consumerist, and if the article was complete rubbish, Dell would've just laughed it off as complete fiction instead of sending in the legal threats.

Dell's apology clearly concedes that major points of the Consumerist article were correct. Dell apologized for having confusing pricing structures and promotions.

The sales practices of a company are ALWAYS sleazy. I wonder how sleazy your law firm's billing practices are? Let's not think about that though. ;-)

In your first paragraph you assumed that people in the same profession shouldn't criticize each other. Now you are assuming that the sales practices of a company are ALWAYS sleazy. I think these assumptions say more about your own personal world view than it does about my legal practice.

Anyway, now that Dell has shown that they're not pursuing any legal action that you claimed they would, how about a retraction and apology of your own, or are you going to do a cheap victory dance and claim to have had a meaningful impact? Oh yeah, it's the victory dance...

Why do I owe Dell an apology? They were wrong in the first place and even they had owned up to that fact. What I do owe Dell is a good pat on the back for handling their mistake with speed and class. (And I have done so, both here, on Dell's blog, and on Reddit).

So much for it being an open discussion rather than a lynching. Nice pack of lies, Will.

You make personal attacks about my billing practices but probably expected me not to be mad about it because you put a emoticon at the end. That's fine. But now I'm not allowed to make a few jokes about the situation? (sharpens pitchfork)