Dell Response to Wall Street Journal Article

Some of you may have seen yesterday’s story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Our view is that it only tells part of the Dell story. What’s missing is the progress we’re making against four key areas for consumer and small-business customers: post-sales customer experience, sales customer experience, pricing simplification, and improving how we reach customers through marketing.

The online community is important to us. More than half of our consumer customers buy from us through the Internet. You’ll be hearing more from me and other members of the Dell blog team about changes we’re making for the better across the business. Meanwhile, here’s the letter I sent to the Wall Street Journal in response:

Letter to the Editor: “It’s Time for the Full Story”
Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2006

After reading Wednesday’s A-1 story on Dell, we wondered what happened to the other half of the article. To the Journal’s credit, it factually rehashed many of the issues we have acknowledged and addressed for some time. We long have explained how our business is split between corporate and consumer customers, the former comprising about 85 percent of our sales. In fact, we are larger in corporate segments than the next three competitors combined.

What was missing in the story is more fundamental. U.S. consumer customers, like all customers, are important to Dell—we sell more PC’s to them than any other company in the world. They are a part of the reason we widened our lead last quarter to a global industry leading overall share of 19.2 percent. We are quite proud of this result and we are very committed to each and every customer.

Our U.S. Consumer business grew from 6 percent share in 2000 to nearly 29 percent share this past year. This is perhaps the best reflection that consumers believe in the Direct Model. We don’t know a better measure.

Dell is also growing faster than the industry in all high-growth international markets and recently earned the No. 2 share position in Asia and No. 2 in Japan. Critics and pundits may find it interesting to question our model, but customers are not and the results continue to show this progress.

The best is yet to come for our customers, employees and all stakeholders. We look forward to seeing the Journal write the other half of the story soon.

Ro Parra
Sr. VP, Home & Small Business
Dell

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18 thoughts on “Dell Response to Wall Street Journal Article

  1. I am glad to see that Dell has responded and it is madeavailable to your customers. You have used the ideal forum. This transparency is welcomed.

    Since you’re the SVP of Home & Small Business, I am your customer. I am waiting to upgrade my Inspiron 300M but find that Dell’s laptop offerings lack pizzazz. I am willing to pay more for better industrial design or even a Tablet PC. I will not upgrade until Vista is available. By that time, I hope there are more appealing models out, otherwise my business goes to Sony or Lenovo. I have been a loyal Dell customer for years and hope to continue that way, but the ball is in your court.

    BTW, buying online does not bother me. I would rather have my exact specs than compromising.

    Please keep up the blogging. Thank you.

  2. I’m glad WSJ wrote an article on this. Good job GBAKMARS!!!

    Dell, STOP trying to defend yourselves. Everything said was TRUE.

  3. Thanks for all the blogging but we would appreciate if you keep reaching out to customers more as thats what I think you should address immediately.

    We are willing to pay more but we need better services .

    Regular day in a Storage Professionals Office Life – interesting blog http://storage-jobs.blogspot.com

  4. The most glaring omission in the consumer lineup is the availability of a Tablet PC. Why? Are there any plans to introduce a Tablet model in the future?

  5. I’ve recently been very outspoken on anti-consumer issues I’ve experienced with Dell. The "Dell Lied" username I’ve chosen makes this quite evident. And, I’ve written some harsh but true statements in response to some of this blogs posts, as well as on my web page/blog and in other forums.

    However, I have also experienced the efforts Dell is making, on an individual basis, to improve customer relations. I can say they are honestly trying hard.  There is a still a great deal of work for them to do in this area, and they seriously need to rein in the phrasing their marketing department uses to describe products, as it has ranged from outright inaccurate, to unwholesomely deceptive.

    But, as I said, I can see where they are making efforts to both rectify their internal problems, and make amends with their customers. I now have hope in the few individuals at Dell that have recently been in touch with me to address the problems I have faced with Dell services. And, they have proven to me that they can achieve sweeping change . An example would be getting improper product phrasing altered across all of Dell Sales and Dell Outlet websites.

    Unfortunately, they still have some major problems to work on. But, fortunately, they are actively doing so.  As I am a Dell customer, I look forward to the service improvements, and hope they can make me as happy with their service, as they have with their hardware and pricing.

    Because honestly, other vendors have made me happier with their service.  I just find Dells product mix tends to fit my needs best. If they acheive this turn around to even a level of "adequate", from the previous "horrible"service levels, then I will be happy to recommend Dell as a vendor once again, which is not something I have done in many years.  So for now I have hope. But, here’s to seeing what the future holds, because promises only mean something if they’re kept.

    -DL

  6. I know this may be off topic, but since you are a VP of Home & Small Business, I address my question to you: Why has Dell stopped shipping the Symantec System Restore on Dimensions ordered through the Home Division?  My post in your forum is here:

    http://forums.us.dell.com/supportforums/board/message?board.id=sw_other&message.id=53538

    It doesn’t make sense why you are still installing it on Small Business Dimensions, but not Home Dimensions.  I need to order another computer from Dell, but I *cannot* do that until I have a restore utility on the computer like it used to be a couple of weeks ago.

  7. I think Dell is still making excuses for its cheap hardware and failures of service to the consumer. Dell is a culture of arrogance and you, the moderator of this comment section, prove it so because you wouldn’t publish my example of Dell’s failure–taking 3 weeks to get my notebook computer repaired and back to me.

  8. I read the Wall Street Journal article and have an anecdote to add. Repair of my notebook computer took almost ***three weeks***. This is a great example Dell’s lack of "customer consideration" by totally ignoring the needs of the customer. The fact that Dell’s repairs are done by Solectron and that Solectron uses DHL for shipments is immaterial. To me, the customer, it’s all Dell regardless of who the sub-contractor is.

    DHL does not service my part of the country. The nearest DHL depot is in Spokane, Washington, a three hour drive from where I live. When I spoke with the Dell rep on August 17, I begged him not to use DHL for the shipment. Of course, to no avail. Dell has its system and if it inconveniences the customer that too bad. Keep in mind that UPS and Fedex drive past my house every day.

    Here’s the chronology of a three week repair. Thursday, August 17, I spoke with tech support (took my entire day) and they arranged for repair. Thursday, August 17, the return carton is shipped to me via DHL. DHL delivers to Spokane and DHL hands off the package to UPS for final delivery to me. I receive the carton on Tuesday, August 22 and immediately call DHL for pick up.

    I wait all day Wednesday for pick up but no pick up. At 4 pm on Wednesday I call DHL and am told that they use an independent contractor to pick up in my area and he reported that he left a message for me to bring my pick up down to the Napa store on the main highway.  I was home all day and received no message about that pick up from this independent contractor face of Dell. Note UPS and Fedex drive by my house everyday but DHL’s guy can’t be bothered.

    I rush the package down to the Napa store. Its picked up by DHL’s (Dell’s) contractor on Thursday, August 24, but doesn’t get into the tracking system until Friday August 25. On Monday, I receive a message from a Dell support rep telling me the he sees that I have not sent the return. Note the arrogance–he doesn’t say that Dell hasn’t received the return–its I haven’t sent the return.

    On Tuesday, August 29, I am notified that my computer was received by Dell. The next day, Wednesday, August 30, I am notified that my computer was shipped to me by DHL 2 day delivery. Today, Sept 1, I check the tracking and find that my package arrived in Spokane at 6:30 am today and is scheduled for delivery today. Well, 6:30 am is too late for DHL to hand off the package to UPS for delivery to me today. Monday being labor day, I will probably receive delivery on Tuesday September 5.

    That means the process of repair started on August 17 and I will receive the computer about 5 pm an September 5. Three weeks for a repair. DHL knows they don’t cover this this area very well. Probably so does Solectron. Now Dell knows. The big question is: Does anybody at Dell really care? I’ll make sure all of my neighbors and acquaintances in this area also know that they can expect three weeks for a Dell repair. What other recourse do I have?

  9. I sometimes wonder if people think about what it is they say. Yuhan said "Dell STOP trying to defend yourselves." To me, that makes absolutely no sense. If someone writes something about you, and you feel it isnt true, are you just going to let it slide or are you going to say something? I think that comment was idiotic.

    **I said that to see if Yuhan comes back to defend himself.**

  10. Good to see the post. It will be interesting to see what you and other members of the Dell blog team have to say about the changes you’re making to improve the customer experince… hopefully a continuing dialogue.

  11. Hi diverse,

    I’ve posted quite a few comments in this blog, not just the one on this thread.  It takes some time for Dell to approve comments, as someone at Dell has to read through them, filtering the ones with naughty language, or customer-personal information that shouldn’t be posted to the public.

    I know one or two of my comments haven’t been accepted for posting, but a majority of them have, including some rather scathing and negative commentary against Dell.  

    So, just be patient. It sometimes takes days, not hours for Dell to review and approve comments, but from what I see, the most pertinent comments do get through, and are published. I dodn’t mean that in a egotistical manner because mine have been posted, I meant that I try to keep them on-topic for that particular post/thread.

    Oh, and I noticed that both your posts were approved, and your backlash was issued 9 hours after your first post. So, I’ll say this.. Dell does have a big problem with responding in a timely manner across the board, from e-mail to this forum. But, that may just be due to the sheer volume of e-mail they receive.  Hopefully, this will be one of the issues they strive to address. Because even though it’s "understandable", it’s not always acceptable.

    And, good luck with getting an improved shipping method established with Dell for your area.  I hope they find a way to enable the use of multiple shipping companies everywhere.

    -DL

  12. diverse: My apologies for the frustration you have experienced up to this point.
     If you can send me another comment (that I won’t publish) with your
    e-mail address and your order number, customer number, or service tag,
    I’ll have someone from the support team follow up with you.

    Fred: I’ll be sure to flag it to the EMEA team.  If you still have an open issue, please do submit a comment with your e-mail (it will not be published).

    Networks: Saw your comment with your e-mail.  As promised, I’ll have someone get back to you.

  13. Diverse

    as posted elsewhere on this blog:

    — I had a "performance standards" issue (next-day-onsite was ?seven days later?) — an attempt to ‘complain’ resulted in absolutely no response for 45 days — after I finally had a ‘supervisor’ point out the way to communicate a ‘concern’ —- I received:   "And in this matter let me tell you that the promise of a Next-business-day services it all seems to be a misperception because you purchase a BancTech Service Corporation Contract, this states that the Next-business-day has a principal period of maintenance." email datestamped Aug 1, 2006 9:53 PM from a person identifying themself as a representative of Dell

    — and I have yet to figure out (or receive a translation) what the Dell Representative was trying to communicate

  14. Mr. Parra’s letter is not responsive to the WSJ article and its identification of some of Dell’s serious corporate culture and business climate problems.  In fact, the letter only typifies them.

    The article didn’t purport to tell Dell’s "full story".  It aspired to identify a subset of serious problems and company mistakes that are reflected in the destruction of shareholder value.  Thus Mr. Parra’s complaint about the absence of "the full story" is not really responsive.

    The WSJ article pivots around Dell’s falling behind in the high growth consumer notebook and consumer area generally as symptomatic of a lack of vision and innovation (as in, Kevin "the iPod is a fad" Rollins) and business model problems.  As a result of these and other problems, e.g. service, Dell has shuffled and dodged in five quarters of earnings reports and its leaders now have zero credibility with investors.  Mr. Parra says the article, " factually rehashed many of the issues we have acknowledged and addressed for some time".  Has Dell acknowledged that running its reputation for quality and service into the ground in a mere 2 years, a stupid squandering of an irreplaceable asset, is the stuff of b’school case studies?  Has Dell acknowledged any connection between Rollins’ tenure (at a mere $40 million/year compensation) and a 50% plunge in shareholder value?  Michael Dell stands by him and says he’s an excellent executive.  How’s that exactly?

    Mr. Parra’s complaint that the Journal didn’t tell the "full story" misses these particular problems and is typical of the company’s state of denial, "we know best" mentality — a fundamental part of the problem.  (Look, for example, elsewhere on this blog at the company’s defense of its unimaginative, tacky looking retail store in Dallas.  "We designed it for Dell", they say, i.e., Dell has nothing to learn from Apple whose industrial design is about 5 categories above Dell’s.)

  15. In connection with the WS Journal article to which Ro Parra responds, we have another example this week of Dell’s damage control in an interview of Michael Delland, reported on-line, by a Fortune magazine journalist, “This Has Been a Wake-up Call for Us” and “The Challenge Ahead for Dell”.   Mr. Dell wastes this opportunity to get the company’s side of its  problems before the public by talking about Incas and Mayans and how they would throw victims onto fires.  What is he talking about??!!

    Maybe Mr. Dell has a long-standing interest in ancient Mesoamerica but his references are so obscure, so weird that they connote nothing to the average reader.  What is communicated by this bizarre Inca imagery that has nothing to do with Dell’s situation?   (Mr. Dell was talking about media exaggeration of Dell’s problems.  By the way, Michael Dell noticeably did not say a word about the financial analysts  whose one-sided and misleading trashing of the company is much more damaging than that of the journalists.  The journalists take their lead from the analysts.  Mr. Dell’s failure to criticize the analysts in this visible forum is not exactlly a profile in courage.)

    This difficult period presents new challenges for Dell, the company, and constitutes a battle being fought out on terrain where Dell had no known, previous aptitudes:  Crisis control, strategic vision, innovation, etc.  These media inter-actions show the need for the company to add yet one more weapon to its current offensive — some sharp-elbowed Strategic Communications personnel and plans — that seem to be sorely missing.

    By the way, it’s good to hear someone state the obvious like the product designer quoted in the Fortune article: The Dell XPS line is “ugly”.  If that represents the new, industrial design-conscious Dell, there’s a problem.

  16. When one of our computers, under warantee, was broken, we telephone Dell support for an answer.  A new hard drive was prescribed.  It arrived, some days later, along with a telephone request to send the old one back.

    We had time, a couple of weeks later, to try to install the new solution.  No directions were supplied.  No instructions.  We tried to get through to the Dell help line, but several half-hour waits later, we were unable to get through.

    When  we finally did get through, some weeks later, we were told that Dell had made the wrong diagnosis the first time, and that we needed a new motherboard, but that, in the interim, our warantee had run out.

    So Dell would do nothing.

    When we returned telephone calls, Dell hung up on us.

    Would you let your company depend upon Dell?

  17. D. Harrison: I am sorry for the experience you’ve had up to this point. I will be glad to put you in touch with someone on our Tech Support team if you will please submit another comment with the email address completed. Until then, we don’t have a way to contact you.

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