Hot warranty water for Dell today, as recently unsealed lawsuit papers reveal the company not only knew PCs on sale between 2003 and 2005 were likely to suffer specific hardware failures, but that they attempted to fob off the University of Texas by claiming the school’s mathematicians had pushed the machines too hard with their tricky sums. The hardware failure was down to capacitors sourced from Nichicon, which had begun to leak chemicals and even burst; Dell, however, chose to “emphasize uncertainty” and told their salespeople “don’t bring this to customer’s attention proactively” before replacing the broken motherboards with others using the same faulty components.
“We need to avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had ‘issues’ per our discussion this morning” one Dell employee is quoted as saying to the company’s legal team, after having contracted an independent company to ascertain the possible extent of the problems. That company found that Dell’s initial estimates could in fact be a mere tenth of the actual number of affected machines.
For their part, Dell are declining to comment on pending litigation, but their legal team denies the extent of the issue and claims that controversial documents have been unduly highlighted and misinterpreted. They point to other customers of Nichicon, and suggest that rather than a Dell-specific issue “there was a Nichicon problem, and it affected different customers in different ways.”