Obviously there’s been a total lack of crisis planning at Dell . Jeez! They don’t have a security certificate and you have to accept the recall site as a trusted site without it.” Lame!
These days, any big company that doesn’t have a crisis blog ready to roll is asking for trouble. The Internet moves at breakneck speed, and a company that doesn’t move at that pace, like Dell, is courting disaster.
Nonetheless, this is an opportunity for Dell. Despite the enormity of the recall – the largest tech recall ever – Dell has the chance to gear up to handle the recall effectively, and win back some consumer confidence. Otherwise, dear Dell, it could be curtains for you. And I, for one, would hate to see another American company go down the tubes in a preventable situation. Dell needs to keep its eye on the doughnut and not the hole.
Despite how well Dell’s blog says the recall of 4.1 million Dell notebook batteries is going, Bobbie Johnson at the Guardian Technology blog says that Dell is not giving a direct answer to her question: if your comptuer is still under 30-day return warranty, can you return it and get a different computer that doesn’t use a Sony battery.
“The best answer I got was that such cases would be dealt with on a “case by case basis”. Other than that, I was given the runaround on a satisfactory answer – customers are being offered replacement batteries, and that’s it.”
A comments on the post noted that Dell’s disclaimer says “Please allow up to 20 business days for delivery.” Way too long since computers without batteries are useless.
Johnson also reports that Sony, which made the exploding batteries, blames Dell:
“But although the same model batteries are also used in products from other manufacturers, a Sony spokeswoman said there were no concerns. “This is an issue specifically down to Dell’s battery-charging system,” she told the Guardian.
Dell’s blog reports: 15.4 million folks access the website since it went live last night. “as of 11 a.m. this morning we have taken 84,000 orders, worldwide. The first replacement batteries will go out today.” according to the company blog.
The task of handling the recall is colossal, but crucial. Clearly, Dell is trying. And there surely have already been lessons learned for what was once a mighty force in the computer market.
This case will go down as the Tylenol example of 2006. But the Tylenol Poisoning happened in the pre-Internet, pre-blog days when Johnson & Johnson still had message control. Dell doesn’t have that luxury.
Update: Ad Age (subscription required) reports that analysts are lauding Dell’s response. I wouldn’t dance on any tabletops at Dell yet, but here’s what they said: “In the short term, the bad news is the impression of poor quality will create a rather strong negative impression of Dell, and, to a lesser extent, Sony. The good news is that Dell is addressing the problems fast and transparently, using its month-old blog to communicate with consumers.”