Meeting Mr. Dell

I was at the party at Davos, thrown by the German newsmagazine Focus and Hubert Burda (video soon) and whom should I meet but Michael Dell. I thought I’d need to try to corner him at the session on web 2.0 but he approached me.

Of course, it was all cordial. This is Davos. And it should have been cordial. I told Dell that I have seen his people improve impressively on the blog front, reaching out to bloggers with service problems and blogging openly.

He apologized for my bad computer. I brushed that off; old news. I told him that I never intended to start a riot. When I hit a wall with my computer, I just blew of steam on my blog. But once I did, I, too, learned how amazing the internet is at allowing people to coalesce.

He said that they have a lot of work to do and I agreed. Improving communication doesn’t necessary solve the underlying problems. But listening to your customers can only help and I said that blogs are amazing, for they are a new way to hear your customers. I started into my spiel about handing over control to your customers and pointed him to Treonauts as a place where customers sell the product, create the marketing message, provide customer service, and even help design the product. I didn’t start sermonizing, though. Nor did I dispute what he said about this case at CES. This is Davos. This was a party. And Steve Case came up at that moment.

I have a bigger bone to pick with Case, since I still own my damned Time Warner stock. Moments later, a writer for one of Time’s magazines walked by, saw Case, and growled, “There’s the guy who tanked my company.” But we didn’t say this to him. This is Davos. It was a party.

By the way, I told Dell that I have since bought a new Dell monitor for my son.

  • Oh, Dell monitors are great. My friends use them for audio editing for movies and since they ordered many of them forseeing the growth of their studio, now everybody is asking to lend them out because they have the video quality of a TV.

  • Duffer

    I think you wimped out with Dell because “it’s a party.”
    Confirms the conventional wisdom that people will say things in a blog that they won’t say in person.
    You had a golden opportunity to help Dell users everywhere and you blew it.
    Do you have second thoughts? Do you wish you weren’t star-struck?

  • Why would anyone have a bone to pick with Case? If you should be pissed at anyone, it should be Gerald Levin. Case did a wonderful thing for his shareholders – he got them ownership of real media assets just before the internet meltdown for a steal. He should be applauded as a hero.

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  • David Marshall

    I have found Michael Dell to be a great host. Beginning last summer, I organized customers that felt Dell’s XPS 700 computer was misadvertised. In spite of my criticism of Dell’s flagship computer and customer care program, Michael Dell held a place for me at his CES party in Las Vegas earlier this month. Michael Dell is aware that his customer care efforts are not what they used to be, and he is even listening to his customers at his parties, if that will improve customer relationships! I’m sure that he was an equally great host at Davos.

  • Robert MacMillan

    Regarding saying in a blog what you wouldn’t say in person: Maybe that means it’s the blog’s contents that need adjusting. Rude is rude, regardless of the delivery medium.

  • I think it was the polite way to handle it. It is OLD news and they are making efforts so beating a dead horse seems rather pointless and rude.

  • Jacques

    Well I am in Switzerland and owner of a Dell Inspiron 8200. The power supply blew up and what followed was a (small) ordeal. Three weeks to get a replacement power supply Mr Dell! First not able to get the right info to order on-line! Second no answer to an email. Third used on-chat function, technician needed part number and could not identify the correct power supply based on the laptop. Fourth, during the chat session, the technicain was unable to give aprice and a way to order. Three (3) days later I received an offer with a two week delivery schedule! All in all three weeks!!
    Well what did I do!
    In two minutes I found a (non-Dell) website in the US, could identify the correct item jsut by enterieng Dell Insprion 8200. Paid with my creidt card; power supply was shipped the same day (Thank you time difference) and I recived the power supply two days after ordering.
    A bit expensive with the overseas delivery but a example for Dell!
    Sorry three weeks without PC because of a power supply,,,,
    Pretty basic or….

    PS: My next PC will not be a Dell….

  • FYI, customers will have the opportunity to offer Dell constructive suggestions on how to improve products, customer service, or whatever via a new program that is in Beta testing currently. More details, and commentary, on the John Cass blog here

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  • I’m in Dell Hell. I bought a $2,300 laptop Christmas Eve. Delivered about 1/7/2007. It worked for a whopping 24? days? Four hours on the phone with India, no solution. I also bought the nights and weekends deluxe 3 year warranty. When someone finally guessed at a solution, they told me they couldn’t send out the part, because it was after 5 on Thursday, and the couldn’t ship Because Fedex was closed; I would have to wait till Monday. Nights and Weekends are only part of the advertising package, they don’t exist in Roundrock. Twice their local techs attempted to replace every single part in my laptop, with “refurbished parts.” Nothing worked. About three weeks ago, they promised a new system AND to keep me advised as to it’s build, etc….. Haven’t heard a word since. I spent four hours on hold with the online chat today, before giving up. I can’t count how much time I have spent on Muzak hold.

    If I bumped into Michael Dell anywhere, it could possibly be very ugly.

    While I hate to think that I will have to sue Dell to get any relief, it certainly seems as though that is my last option.

    I will NEVER buy another Dell product as long as I live, nor shall any of the companies that I consult for.

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  • jason

    @D. Grimsley

    Nights and weekends deluxe 3 year warranty means that service will be performed on nights and weekends. The part still has to be shipped to the technician. Unfortunately, 5pm your local time is the cutoff for parts shipment, so if you call after 5 on Thursday, chances are you will not get service until Monday.

    If you don’t believe me, read your service contract.

    On a side note, if your issue did not get resolved, go here:

  • job

    You are an idiot. You probably broke your computer yourself and just need to blame it on someone. Dell probably doesn’t have a blog because they have better things to do all day than bitch about how bad things are. Get a job. Quit trying to piss people off just because your life sucks. I bet this comment doesn’t get posted on your precious blog. hmmm… imagine that. Buy something else, oh and when you break it ( because you will), make sure you tell that bullshit to everyone too! loser

  • Problems with computers are due to poor parts which in turn is a function of relentless cost cutting.

    At some point customers have gotten so cheap that they can only afford junk and shareholders want profits year after year. But all of this comes at a price in terms of customer support. It has nothing to do with people being in India or the US or UK. If you pay peanuts, you’re going to get substandard customer support.

    Getting better trained people with an aptitude to troubleshoot software and an interest in solving your problem requires paying more money and these kind of persons are not easy to find as they can very well employ themselves.

    And this is where Dell and every other company needs to figure out how much to charge customers for quality support in addition to the price of the computer.

    The other and often better option is to just go to and build your system and never depend on support. It works out better for a lot of people this way.

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