Dell faces accusations of knowingly selling faulty PCs

Lawsuit by an unhappy customer reveals signs of decline at the computer maker.

A lawsuit against Dell Inc. filed by a disgruntled customer is revealing a pattern of decline at the computer maker, according to a New York Times article.

According to a lawsuit filed by Advanced Internet Technologies, Dell knowingly sold PCs with capacitors that would leak and cause malfunctions.

In addition to the lawsuit, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, management changes, complaints of poor customer service, and other issues have plagued the company for the past seven years.

In the case of the faulty PCs, court documents claim Dell knew there were problems and tried to hide them from customers, including the federal government.

“They were fixing bad computers with bad computers and were misleading customers at the same time,” Ira Winkler, a former computer analyst at the National Security Agency and a technology consultant, told the New York Times. “They knew millions of computers would be out there causing inevitable damage and were not giving people an opportunity to fix that damage.”

Dell said the issue with the components, manufacturered by Nichicon, is "old news." In a statement, the company said, "The implication that this situation affects Dell currently is incorrect. The AIT lawsuit is three years old, and the Nichicon capacitors were used by Dell suppliers at certain times from 2003 to 2005."

The company has worked with customers to address the issues and extended warrranties to January 2008 on the motherboards of the OptiPlex computers impacted. The lawsuit also does not involve any current Dell products, the statement said.

"Faulty Nichicon capacitors affected many manufacturers. It is speculation to suggest that Dell was affected more than other companies," the company said. "Dell is responsive to customer issues and we continue to remain focused on our customers, their needs, and our growing record of superior customer service."

Dell is ranked No. 11 on Washington Technology's 2010 Top 100 list of the largest government contractors.

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