Dell’s angels

After the small kerfuffle about Dell trying to get Consumerist to take down a post with 22 tips on buying machines from a former Dell kiosk salesman (see my post below), Dell blogger Lionel Menchaca throws himself on his sword and says in front of blogs and everybody, the company made a mistake.

Now’s not the time to mince words, so let me just say it… we blew it.

I’m referring to a recent blog post from an ex-Dell kiosk employee that received more attention after the Consumerist blogged about it, and even more still after we asked them to remove it.

In this case, I agree with what Jeff Jarvis had to say: instead of trying to control information that was made public, we should have simply corrected anything that was inaccurate. We didn’t do that, and now we’re paying for it.

I believe in the customer voice–that’s why I signed up for this job in the first place. There’s simply no cheating the system. When we’re on the right track, folks tend to say some good things about us (or at least give us a second chance). When we mess up, they let us know quickly and vocally. Then everyone watches our reaction like a hawk.

Lionel proceeds to make 23 more confessions — more tips, really, about how to find bargains and more. It’s a good list.

What’s apparent here is that the message Lionel and company have learned and preach hasn’t reached every quarter and corner of the company. And that only shows how hard it is to change a company’s culture. In the old days, about a year ago, people saw it as their jobs to protect the company from criticism and leaks and complaints. Now Lionel and Michael Dell are trying to change that, to open up. It’s not easy. But I think they’re making progress.

: LATER: Consumerist closes the loop, with a bow on top.

  • http://www.pressthink.org Jay Rosen

    A blog is a first amendment machine.

    What stands out for me is that Lionel Menchaca followed the logic of what he was doing as Dell’s blogger to that conclusion. I have to speak out about this. Let’s get real: we blew it.

    He then reverse company course all by himself, in his post.

    “I believe in the customer voice—that’s why I signed up for this job in the first place.” In order to keep that belief he had to use his own voice and tell Dell.

    You say “throws himself on his sword.” I say he’s testing what free speech means to Dell, how much they need it.

  • http://blogs.chron.com/techblog Dwight Silverman

    I admire Lionel for his mea culpa. That needed to be done.

    But what didn’t need to be done was the 22 other items, which essentially amounts to a sales pitch. “Now that I have your attention, let me sell you something . . . ”

    I have to take exception with Jeff’s characterization of the rest of the post. Lionel would have been a lot better off just saying, “Yeah, we blew it” and walking off stage. Instead, we got an infomercial.

  • http://www.pressthink.org Jay Rosen

    I agree about the sales pitch.

    The letter from the Dell attorney and Gawker Media’s response are Internet law classics.

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  • http://HTTP:WWW.DIRECT2DELL.COM RichardatDELL

    Appreciate the feedback across the web, both before and after….Jeff, as you know we responded on Friday to customers at Dell’s Ideastorm…another indicator about how all this works in terms of the voice of customers.

    We live and learn, and have some gaffes and some successes….we are listening and learning so thank you to all.

    As for the 23, not bbeing defensive….understand we all have out own tak on these issues. Just so you know we thought we would try and poke some fun at ourselves and be light….sorry some didnt see it that way

  • JustAThought

    I don’t have a problem with Dell protecting their Sales processes and internal tactics. Why is it a first amendment right to learn about a company’s processes and then post them out on the web for everyone to see. It was pretty easy for Dell to drop the issue since most of the tips were not really company secrets (who really pays retail for anything?) but I am interested to see what happens in the future when other disgruntled employees decide to extend the blog rights. Should companies have to loose trade secrets because a person has a right to Blog?

    The Dell lawyer action was a little much but so was the Economist action in trying to gear up a boycott when nothing really happened but a threatening email.