If you read the article in the NY Times this past Monday http://nyti.ms/cLeFl6 you saw that Dell Computer had a series of problems with its computers failing at the University of Texas (among others like Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo and the Mayo Clinic to name a few). It’s a sad, sad story of a once high-flying company that had it all (brand reputation and market share) whose star has come crashing down to earth.
It was such a great story. College student Michael Dell has an idea and creates the model of selling personal computers directly to customers while a student at the University of Texas. Being a direct response guy Dell Computer was the paragon of how direct to consumer sales can be a rousing success. The Dell name was synonymous with quality, reliability and service. It also was the harbinger of corporate outsourcing that became a regular business model for other companies. The early 2,000’s television campaign ‘Dude, you’re gettin’ a Dell!” was a winner all around and was fun at the same time as it demonstrated the brand promise.
As time went on consumers began to accept that one might pay more for a Dell than other brands but the positives far outweighed the negatives. My company was one of those companies as our entire team has had Dell’s for years. And they have performed very well.
Dell employs somewhere just under 100,000 people. Most of them are no doubt hard working and principled employees. But there reportedly also employees that went out of their way to hide the problems. Now Dell is being sued by the University of Texas and can expect other companies to follow that lead as the news has come to light.
Dell compromised on the promise and brand reputation it had painstakingly built over 25 years. Now Dell will be in full damage control but the damage as far as I can see may already be the beginning of the end. I know I will personally never feel the same way about a Dell Computer again. Chances are I will have a great deal of company there. They’ve besmirched their own brand name, while at the same time tearing down a direct marketing made turned mass-retail feel-good story.
I could not be more disappointed and in addition I am worried that people in my own company possibly have bad machines that could go at any moment or worse pop and leak fluid (read the article).
Do you feel the same about Dell Computer?