Dell On The Blog Offensive

Photo from - scoop in the Dell exploding notebook newsI was furious when Dell announced its huge recall of notebook batteries that had the potential to explode. I was angry because the web site url the company gave for recall info was non-functioning and the phone number supposedly set-up to handle complaints was disconnected. There was nothing, not a word, of the recall on the Dell web site. Could they be so clueless and not to have a communication mechanism for what was billed as the largest consumer tech recall ever?

Turns out Dell was not clueless, far from it. They had been scooped by a small tech news source – The Inquirer – news, reviews, fact and friction – and their well laid communication plans were shot to pieces.

Dell thought they had this news under wraps until Tuesday, Aug. 15, but Sunday, August 13 The Inquirer piece ran. That soon caught the attention of a couple of enterprising Wall Street Journal reporters who posted an item on the exploding notebooks Monday afternoon. Soon after The New York Times posted a story on its home page that was later accompanied with a picture of a man looking inside the cab of his pickup truck that was incinerated by an exploding Dell notebook computer battery (manufactured by Sony). Take a look at the picture. It’s gruesome.

I am not an innocent bystander in this story. I recently bought a Dell notebook and I wanted to know if I had to call in the SWAT team to mismantle my computer before I took it on a plane trip to Seattle.

I have bought Dell computers, servers and peripherals for 20 years and I am a fan of the company, despite its marginalization of the consumer through increasingly inferior, on-the-cheap customer service. The day the recall was announced Neville Hobson hit it with a post: Dell’s Reputation Tipping Point queried if exploding laptops would sink the company. I weighed in with my thoughts, and my fury, and “Richard” from Dell answered.

He said that Dell was spending $100 million (widely reported) to beef up customer service and their blog, Direct2Dell was helping people get through the recall. The blog was indeed helpful, especially since Digital Media Manager Lionel Menchaca was moderating and reaching out to others in Dell to get answers.

I had some more give and take with “Richard” from Dell on Neville’s blog and was impressed that the company was smart enough to have bloggers proactively reach out with the company story and to put a name and face behind the story (There were photos of actual people on Direct2Dell).

I am writing this on a Dell Inspiron notebook. It hasn’t blown up … yet. Mark Rose in New York. 


  1. [...] I had yet one more communication from a Dell “customer advocate” regarding any concerns I may have about a potentially exploding battery in my Dell notebook computer. Dell certainly deserves kudos for its aggressive “social media outreach” during this crisis. When I originally blogged about this – see Dell On The Blog Offensive – I was a very dissatisfied long-term customer. The other day “Dennis UID#01129265″ from Dell sent an email asking if I had any other questions before he archived our communication. He was the second Dell rep I had communicated with. [...]

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