Newly unsealed court documents have revealed how Dell instructed its support staff to spread uncertainty about a known fault with its desktop PCs.
Dell was sued by Advanced Internet Technologies in the US, who alleged that the PC maker had deliberately concealed defects in its computers. The case was settled out of court in September, but documents submitted as part of the case show how Dell instructed its staff to deal with the rising tide of complaints.
Dell fell victim to an industry-wide problem with faulty motherboard capacitors in 2003. The capacitors suffered from an overheating problem that caused them to bulge and fail, resulting in dead PCs.
At one stage Dell estimated that between 45% and 97% of its SX270 OptiPlex computers would suffer from problems caused by the faulty capacitors, according to a report in the New York Times, which applied for the documents to be released.
Yet, instead of issuing a recall or informing customers of the known fault, Dell instructed its support staff not to draw attention to the issue. An internal Dell document ordered staff not to "bring this to the customer's attention proactively".
When confronted by a corporate customer who had seen a number of their machines fail and was worried about the rest of the fleet, the Dell staff were instructed to "emphasise uncertainty".
Dell did replace all machines that were affected by the faulty capacitors, taking a $300 million charge in 2005 to deal with the problem.
Dell was unavailable for comment on the revelations.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk