Oliver Ryan has an amusing lead to his Fortune tory about buzz:

Michael Dell was mingling in Davos, Switzerland, this winter when he spotted the blogger Jeff Jarvis and went over to apologize. It had been nearly two years since Jarvis posted a series of irate messages to his BuzzMachine blog about the failings of his Dell computer. The posts eventually drew national attention, and Jarvis’s headline DELL HELL has since become shorthand for the ability of a lone blogger to deliver a body blow to an unsuspecting business.

Two years later, poised to retake the helm at his company, Michael Dell undoubtedly figured it couldn’t hurt to make nice.

All that could have been avoided if, in 2005, Dell’s operatives had had access to the services of Bay Area startup BuzzLogic, which is the newest of a generation of companies with Web software designed to spot and neutralize an incendiary blogger before a marketing conflagration ensues.

  • Just to clarify in light of the spin in the Fortune lede, the idea BuzzLogic has built on has nothing to do with “neutralizing bloggers.” We help companies indentify influencers at any time and encourage them not to just wait for the next crisis to engage with their customers and influencers.

  • Whew, that’s a relief. I had visions of black helicopters, sniper-scopes, ninjas and…

    The scary thing is that there are probably people out there who’d be interested in that kind of service.

  • greg0658

    Jeff – I wasn’t around your site back then, heres my story.

    A friend ordered a Dell using a catalog in this office. He told them to wait for a personal check and ship at that point. He didn’t have a credit card. Business identifications that most likely popped up on ordering; customer number from the catalog, phone caller ID, the address the computer was mailed to, and the salesman prompted him to provide FED ID# (I had the # in a frame with my IL Sales Tax # … not anymore)

    The computer actually got to this office Tuesday, in 3 days / ordered Saturday, before the check had a chance to go thru USPS. I signed for it, he is an OTR Trucker 5 days a week.

    Episode in dollars and sense, nearly $2900 machine. Paid for by a single check, but roughly $600 lost in departments leaving a Balance Due, 4th quarter 2005.

    Researching the ramifications with my banker I find $3000 is threshold for equipment reporting to IRS. Dell refused to change the owner of this machine and told me to file identity theft criminal charges to continue the discussion. So I went to the police with my problem (never filed charges). Dells voice mail hell and customer service bounce around the digital globe had frustrated me to max.

    The matter is rectified. They have matched all payments to the account and a zero balance now exists. No additional finance charges were added. I recycle all catalogs immediately, & Ya, I called, stop sending ’em, x2.

    (This paragraph is part of letter to my tax accountant for 1040 inclussion, the gist of my police conversation)
    Here is a thought for you to consider. Picture a computer manufacturing company that sells a $300 cost machine, plus R&D, commissions, handling and shipping to a dim witted trucker for $2,900. Now throw a monkey wrench in the sale. Turn the account over to SISTER financial service and legal service COMPANY to straighten out the mess at $50+ an hour. This maneuver charges up costs to the original sale … reducing the taxable profit.

    BuzzLogic gonna be busy tomorrow … if I hit submit.

    ps – In fairness to Michael Dell, this episode could be a rogue department and beyond his imagination. Kinda like Ken Lay at Enron.

    Which is worse for a society at the macro scale?
    A> living with deceit and illegalities
    B> living with the ramifications of disclosing A

    Final Trekie thought … “the needs of the many outweight the needs of the one”.

  • greg0658

    ps – my friend says the machine works great, it was the people we had a problem with

  • FormerDellManager

    greg0658: Your post is incoherent – WTF are you talking about?

  • Tom

    Dell should be heading to a VAR route. It only makes since, how do you take something so technical and make it where anyone can use it? The only hope of that I see is open source, even that will from time to time need somone who is an expert in a certain field.

    If you know what Dell products to avoid, that’s half the battle. I buy a lot of Dell’s, new and from the outlet. Over the last 5 years I may have spoken with technical support 5 times, and that’s for problems I have already diagnosed and simply need action.

    There is an art to dealing with large companies who set up hurdles, and those tech support people must follow a check list. Know what they have to check and having already check it prior to calling them moves the process along.

    Dell has some great products at very good pricing, sometimes you just get a lemon. I would like to get the names from Dell of any customers in my area who had a bad experience with their Dell computer. Dell can’t beat boots on the ground, and I hope they stop trying to be all things to all people. All users are not equal and knowing where the customers experience level is at is critical t providing the kind of support they are expecting.

    I try to be there for my customers for the life of their computer and most would never deal with anyone else. Being open and honest is the only way to bridge the technical gap with customers.

    Anything my customers spend for my service is more than made up for when they have their first problem. As long as Murphy’s law is in effect, boots on the ground is the only way to go. Why dell thinks they can do these off shore tech help centers and not support local VARS is beyond me. The animal world is full of symbiotic relations, Micheal Dell needs a Bio 101 refresher course if he wants to fix his “dell hell” problem.

  • Ron Bledsoe

    Unless the present laptop I bought in April is replaced with a new laptop with XP, I will NEVER recommend or buy a Dell again. I have bought nothing but Dell for years, including steering my department at work to Dell Hi end workstations….

    I just recently (april) bought my wife a new laptop. I hated the idea of going to Vista before the bugs were worked out but wanted to go with Dell since I have always gotten good service from them.
    WHAT A Mistake…I started having problems with the laptop right out of the box
    Clock didnt work; lost a minute a day
    dla issues (that were fixed by tech support quickly)
    Speed; I bought the dual core & “suggested” 1 meg of RAM for the laptop but it was still slower than any XP machine I’d seen with much less hrdwr.

    Since getting the PC, keyboard problems have cropped up; My wife, who just uses it for checking email and reading news hates it. It’s too slow for her and she does nothing that would be considered graphics or processor intensive.

    I’ve asked Dell to send me a disk with XP and let me replace the Operating system. They refused. The tech support person said it could be replaced, even outside the 21 day “free replacement” period by talking to Sales Support.

    This morning, I called “Sales Support”. The lady was a complete witch (case # 165756085) and said I had to talk to Customer Support, That lady, who was much nicer, said she couldnt help me and that I had to work with Technical Support.
    Here I sit, on the phone with Technical support. They want to do a complete reset so I’m spending hours backing up the pictures that I have on the hard drive, just to verify that the PC reset will not fix the issue that this PC has…..

    Again, I seriously doubt that I will EVER Buy or recommend Dell to anyone ever again…..

  • David Fardon

    Is there a Jeff Jarvis in Spain? Dell España are appalling.

    I ordered some peripherals that the website promised would ship next day. It took them 10 days just to bill my card for the total. They claim the items were shipped 2 days after ordering (it’s now 10 days since ordering), but can’t tell me where they are, when they’ll arrive, can’t provide a name for the courier company or a tracking number, consistently fail to call me back despite promising to do so every time I call them, etc, etc.

    I’d go to a shop and buy the items except I can’t face the hassle of trying to get my money back off Dell. Never again will I buy things from these idiots.