Searching the Haight for Signs of Life

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dell Bloatware

Someone representing Dell posted a long comment in response to my blog about Dell Bloatware. Here is my threaded response.


If you have not already received them, I can easily send you the reinstallation CDs (OS, drivers and Dell applications) for your system. I would just need to get the service tag or order number for your computer (to make sure I send the correct disks) and the address you want them shipped to. I can be reached by email at (please add 'ATTN: Larry' to the subject to ensure it gets to me).

->Larry, let's kick this off with a couple questions:
->1. How many people were involved in writing your comment?
->2. Do you work for an advertising or public relations agency? Which one?
->3. Did you make an effort to contact Shawna or Josephine as listed in my article?
-> Please try and answer honestly. I worked for an ad/PR agency once upon a time, and Grey Advertisng (wink) offered me a job once.

The reason some Dell systems shipped without those CDs is that some customers requested that as an option, and after looking at it a decision was made to give it a try as it would potentially save a lot of money.

->Come, come Larry. The reason you ship your systems as you do is because your bloatware is advertising bought and paid for by software vendors. This statement is at odds with, or at least suspicious, in light of your admission below that "My understanding is that companies pay the computer makers money to include this "extra" software, which is why it is so pervasive."

Just recently that decision was looked at again, with the data from the last two years. It was decided that not shipping the CDs with those computers caused to [SIC] many problems for our customers. As of October 2006 the option when ordering a Dell changed to include the CDs (the default), or leave them off the system order for a $10 savings (for those that don't want/need them).

->Are you saying that well-publicized rants about Dell bloatware had nothing to do with Dell using an ad agency to fight the problem, with the decision to include the CD, with the option to get bloatware-free CDs on demand, or with your post here today? A simple yes or no will suffice.

Would you say that your software providers are pretty happy about this $10 incentive to not order a CD that would annihilate their software? Again, yes or no please.

The disks you are asking for are the Dell Windows Reinstallation CD (basically an OEM version of the standard Windows install disk), the Dell Drivers & Utilities CD, and the Dell Applications CD (for reinstalling Dell factory installed applications that don't have their own reinstallation disks). The OS and Drivers CDs are all that are needed to get the computer back up and running (although I highly recommend checking the Dell support site,, for the latest drivers for your system).

->I really don't NEED any of that, to be clear, but Dell is a behemoth predator with no scruples. Linux is availble for free but pushed out of contention by the PC makers, notably Dell, because of lucrative deals with Microsoft, hence stifling innovation and inflating prices. Dell was doing the same thing processor-wise with Intel over AMD, but changed recently due to legal danger. I can only hope the law will soon force you to provide other operating systems, or that Michael Dell will show some remorse for transforming his college dorm room business (which was so inspiring to someone like me) into a pawn for Microsoft and a fountain of wealth for a few lucky individuals.

To address your specific "Truth[s] about Dell":

1) For the most part, the people I have worked with here at Dell have been above average (some well above) for tech support/customer care reps. The overall competency of my coworkers was actually a pleasant surprise, compared to some previous companies I have worked at, when I started working here.

->You should work on this paragraph. You don't seem sincere at all.

2) Dell's bureaucracy isn't dumb, its just very large and effected[SIC] by inertia. Policies are created to handle specific situations, but the computer industry can change rapidly, sometimes much faster than a large organization like Dell. I know from personal experience that when a problem with a policy is identified, steps are taken to correct things as quickly as possible. Sometimes that can be quite rapid, other times it can take a while.

->Excuses, excuses. I think Dell isn't properly aligned around a good fundamental mission, and so all of its policies aren't working together and are made in an inconsistent way. Dell used to be about cheap and plentiful. Now, with all the support hassles and the commoditization of computers, and Dell's poor infrastructure, you have little to offer the market.

If you buy a Dell, you end up paying as much as you would anywhere else, you have to deal with tons of marketing gimmicks, and you end up calling India. That's always been my experience with Dell.

3) Dell hardware is as reliable as any other computer hardware. This is because we use industry standard parts for all of our systems.

->Woah there! First rule of PR: Don't comment on things you don't know anything about. One of the major things with computer defects is the assembly process once you buy these "industry standard" parts. One thing, and there are others, that correlates highly is how many times you touch the parts. Please provide some meaningful, compartive statistics before trying any of your hand-waving at me. Just because you use the same parts (something to brag about?) doesn't mean your computers are just as good.

The reason it appears to be a large number of failures is because of the even larger number of systems sold.


My understanding is that about 2% of systems have actual hardware problems (anything from cracked plastics that don't effect performance to entire systems needing to be replaced).

->Who's systems? Your's? Their's? Everyone's? Is there any statistical difference between whose systems fail more? Not that you'd provide I'm sure.

I believe Dell sells at least 40 to 50 million of each model of system during its product lifetime (a few months to a couple of years depending on the model). This adds up to a few million computers needing repair, even though that is less than 2% of the actual number of systems shipped.

->Stop trying to distract me and everyone else. The blogosphere is more unscripted argument and debate, not talking points, and your focus on this pointless arithmetic unveils a true unwillingnes to look at some numbers.

As for shipping a system without any of the "extra" software, I believe that is being actively looked at as an option. My understanding is that companies pay the computer makers money to include this "extra" software, which is why it is so pervasive. It is basically paid advertising, like full page magazine ads.

->That's the rub! Dell is getting paid to inconvenience me. Now, it is inconveniencing me soooo much, that I am wasting my time railing against you in public, and my time is valuable.

It's pretty easy to see why you are "actively" looking at the option. When I cause Dell enough problems that it is no longer profitable to cram bloatware down my throat, then the bloatware will stop.

If you have any questions about anything I've posted, just let me know. I'll be more than happy to answer them.

Larry, please answer my questions in public, spontaneously, or get someone who has the authority at Dell to answer spontaneously. All I did was write and spell-check, and I would expect the same courtesy from anyone who thinks it's their right to speak in the democratic blogosphere as an individual.

Dell Customer Advocate

Larry, the other thing about your post is how you talk about things like defect rates and bloatware as industry issues. That's fine, and I agree they are, but you don't represent the industry. You represent Dell.

This defective laptop infected with essentially a bundle of spyware/adware is my problem and your problem. What are you going to do about it? Here's the story so far:

0. My Mistake: Bought a Dell.
1. Battery doesn't work.
2. Andrew calls sales rep, transferred to India
3. Andrew on phone with India for an hour, who agrees to send new battery.
4. Andrew complains to India about bloatware, gets cut off during transfer back to America who handles bloatware issues apparently.
5. Andrew emails sales rep who is stalled on answering a week later.
6. Andrew gets new battery a day later.
7. New battery doesn't charge either.
8. Dell PR flack posts to blog before Dell sales rep. can take care of the issue.
9. Andrew now has to order new laptop, then return old broken one, probably stuck with Dell because lord knows you won't give me a refund and let me get an IBM, and will soon have to uninstall the bloatware on the new machine, which will inevitably break.


Post a Comment

<< Home