Dell, still one of the largest sellers of computers in the world, knowingly made and sold to customers machines there were known to be faulty, according to the New York Times.
Between 2003 to 2005, Dell sold millions of OptiPlex machines to major buyers such as Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, Mayo Clinic and various education institutions. The math department at the University of Texas reported to Dell that its machines were failing, and Dell told the school that the machines were overtaxed by all the difficult math calculations they were running. In actuality, the machines were built with bad capacitors that popped and leaked chemicals.
These bad capacitors also affected machines HP and Apple, but the spotlight is on Dell right now as its employees went out of their way to conceal the problem. One internal Dell email stated, "We need to avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had ‘issues’ per our discussion this morning."
Other sales people were told Dell salespeople were told, "Don’t bring this to customer's attention proactively" and "Emphasize uncertainty."
Dell was aware of the problem, as it hired a contractor to investigate. The contractor found that the problem was 10 times worse than Dell had anticipated. Dell itself found that the bad capacitors were expected to cause problems up to 97 percent of the time over the three-year period.
To make matters worse, Dell was replacing the faulty computer parts with other faulty parts, resulting in just a refreshed cycle of almost inevitable failure. Dell chose not to issue a recall, but extended the warranty on the affected machines, leaving it up to the customer to contact Dell in the case of failure.
With customers unaware of the hardware problems, some would lose valuable data from the PC malfunction, which was the basis of several lawsuit claims. At the time, Dell denied that that the capacitor issue caused any data loss. Ironically, the law firm that was representing Dell in the lawsuit, Alston & Bird, also had its own OptiPlex machines fail.
Read more at the New York Times.