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The Horrible Truth about Dell

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March 08, 2007 – Comments (6)

Original article is here.

Sometimes, the truth comes to you in a blinding flash of joyous revelation. Other times, it only becomes clear after months of burning, low-grade suffering -- not unlike a diagnosis for hemorrhoids.

It's more in the spirit of No. 2 that I've come to recognize Dell's (NYSE: DELL) No. 1 problem.

It's not the supply chain. It's not the ugly designs, both of which boomerang CEO Michael Dell has promised to fix. As I see it, it's much simpler: Dell sells really lousy computers.

I feel qualified to make that statement, because I suffer through workdays on a thin, plastic, Dell cube-jockey special that's at least three hamsters short on power. This thing makes an abacus look speedy. It grinds, stalls, pauses, falls seconds behind on mouse clicks, and demands at least one daily restart. It is, quite simply, the second-worst computer I've ever owned -- the top spot being claimed by an atrocious, early '90s Compaq laptop.

My experience with the Compaq means I've never purchased another one of its products, and I don't trust anything from Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) either. This crummy Dell, and the terrible service several family members have received on their Dell purchases, seals me as a lifetime non-Dell buyer as well.

How many other mouse jockeys out there, despising the sub-par tools of their daily grind, are also anti-Dell? I don't know, but I doubt I'm alone.

If Michael Dell wants to see what's wrong with his company, he could get a pretty good idea by standing at my elbow for a day and seeing how effectively his product reduces my productivity. My cube is your cube, Mike. How about it?

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At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had no positions in any company mentioned here. See his latest blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Dell is also a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Fool rules are here.

6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 08, 2007 at 12:33 PM, captainccs (< 20) wrote:

You wrote:
It's not the supply chain. It's not the ugly designs, both of which boomerang CEO Michael Dell has promised to fix. As I see it, it's much simpler: Dell sells really lousy computers.

Anything with WINDOZE inside is bound to be ugly and lousy.  :)

Denny Schlesinger 

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#2) On March 08, 2007 at 12:47 PM, Stanga1 (< 20) wrote:

Seth 

Couldn't agree with you more about the productivity disimprovement of lousy computers. But let's see, you have fired Compaq and in guilt by assoiction, HP. And now you fire Dell. And maybe Lenovo will be next. In reality, there's more than an even chance, that much of your difficulty could be related to crummy OS and or crummy apps software, so you can fire those guys too. Pretty soon you will run out of suppliers to fire and have to start working through the list of trusted suppliers of abaci.

In all seriousness, the first company that comes up with a truly reliable, consistently operating and/or self healing personal computer will  blow away the rest of the field. But I'm not holding my breath.

Its too bad that the powerful minds that come up with these computers and imcreased  computing power/$  don't turn a portion of that effort into making machines that address the true day to day complexities that so many of us face with our computing horespower. 

In my own opinion, the most powerful thing would be the ability to completley blow away the OS and all unnecessary files and reload the OS without having to reload any apps software or reset any personal information.

Maybe this is avaialbe under VISTA but I doubt it. And I know I won't find out until HP deciedes to let me kow if they have discovered VISTA and the need for drivers for much of the peripheral equipment that HP sells to make computers hummmmmmm. 

Stanga1 

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#3) On March 08, 2007 at 12:57 PM, 1nt (< 20) wrote:

A bit of education goes a long way... Your problem is not Dell, it's Microsoft and its pathetic inability to develop a decent operating system even after 30 years of trying (no, I'm not a mac fan - I use windows-based computers all the time, use and curse). And to those who hope - Vista is *not* better and for the next 6 months, as apps/drivers and the o/s itself are yet to mature, significantly worse than XP.

If you would want a computer that is feature compatible with an abacus, I assure you - that would never crash, and would hum forever. Oh wait a minute - HP and TI make them. They are called "calculators" :-) 

As to Dell's customer support - we live in a period of quickly declining service. Have you tried your favorite cellular provider lately? Or your credit card company? My experience with Dell has been that they are reasonably decent. It takes time to get hold of them but once you do and given the complexity of the problems they try to answer on the phone, even more than decent.

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#4) On March 08, 2007 at 1:07 PM, TMFBent (99.80) wrote:

"And maybe Lenovo will be next. In reality, there's more than an even chance, that much of your difficulty could be related to crummy OS and or crummy apps software, so you can fire those guys too."

"Your problem is not Dell, it's Microsoft and its pathetic inability to develop a decent operating system even after 30 years of trying "

Nope. The PC computers I build with inexepensive, off the shelf parts don't behave this badly. Not even close. (I've built 5 or 6 by now.) Neither does the no-name Chinese laptop I got at Sam's Club.

They run the exact same OS, and are used under the same conditions. They also have about the same amount or RAM. The Dell features what is supposedly a speedier processor than my 3-year old AMDs, or the mobile Intel chip in the generic Chinese laptop.

The differences appear to be largely in the motherboard bits, where, I suspect, Dell (and Compaq, et al) scrimp as much as they can.

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#5) On March 08, 2007 at 3:22 PM, PebbledShore (83.88) wrote:

Seth,

As the saying goes, "I feel your pain."  But as an IT Director of a company that has used Compaq and HP PCs and now uses all Dell PCs I have to disagree with your appraisal.  Yes, as with any complex mechanical device, sometimes you get a lemon.  However, I can assure you the problems you describe emerge from MSFT's OS.

You also say that you've built 5 or 6 PCs and they don't have the problems the one Dell does that you "suffer through workdays" on.  That seems to imply that you use the Dell PC in a different environment than the ones you've built (i.e. part of a company network, different software installed, etc.). So your experience is not the same with those PCs. You also say they "have about the same amount or RAM."  How much difference in that word "about" regarding RAM can make a noticeable difference in performance. I'm sure you know that already.

I notice from your profile that you own MSFT.  Perhpas you should convey your frustration to them as a shareholder.

Disclosure: I own DELL.

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#6) On March 08, 2007 at 3:49 PM, TMFBent (99.80) wrote:

"You also say that you've built 5 or 6 PCs and they don't have the problems the one Dell does that you "suffer through workdays" on.  That seems to imply that you use the Dell PC in a different environment than the ones you've built"

Different environment, same task load. Networking would be the biggest difference.

"You also say they "have about the same amount or RAM."  How much difference in that word "about" regarding RAM can make a noticeable difference in performance. I'm sure you know that already."

I say about because they vary. This crummy Dell has half a gig of RAM. That's the same as the homebuilt I made for the wife, and the no-name Chinese laptop. I use both those machines to do the same kind of work I do here. Neither is even as close to as bad as this dell.

 My main home machine carries a gig or ram and a raid drive setup. It tends to be the best, although I task it with a lot more work.

As I've already stated, this isn't a MSFT problem, from my experience. All these machines run the same exact XP operating system, web browsers, pdf readers, instant messagers, etc.

The Dell is simply the worst of the bunch. If only it had a battery and could catch fire!

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