Millions of Dell computers fell over "doing sums"

Dell sold millions of PCs that were liable to break before their three-year warranty expired. Yet the company continued to flog the systems even though it was aware they were blighted with dodgy far-eastern capacitors and even went to some lengths to blame customers for breaking the computers, recently disclosed court documents show.

The outfit sold at least 1.8 million Optlplex-branded PCs from May 2003 to July 2005 that were effectively knowingly undersoldered. These computers failed up to 97 per cent of the time, a lawsuit fied against the company alleges.

Bad capacitors were to blame, but the company brazenly blamed anything but, documents seen by Ashlee Vance at the New York Times show. In once instance, boffins in the maths department of the University of Texas were told their computers had given up the ghost because they'd tried to get them to do difficult sums.

Dell hired a third party-company to investigate the faults which found that Dell was replacing faulty motherboards with other faulty motherboards.

Dell employed a tactic of bluff and bluster to cover up the problem. The recently-released documents detail the extent of Dell's shenanigans. “We need to avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had ‘issues’ per our discussion this morning,” an employee wrote in an email.

“Don’t bring this to customer’s attention proactively” and “Emphasize uncertainty,” another wrote.

The documents were recently unsealed in a civil case against Dell in Federal District Court in North Carolina. They show that even the law company defending Dell in the case had been affected by the problem.