Recently unsealed lawsuit documents from a three-year-old case reveal Dell knowingly sold at least 11.8 million computers from May 2003 to July 2005 that were almost certain to fail due to bad capacitors. Dell employees were ordered to downplay the problem, and customers like the math department at the University of Texas got to hear that their machines were failing at such high rates because "the school had overtaxed the systems by making them perform difficult math calculations".
A study by Dell found OptiPlex computers with the faulty capacitors were expected to cause problems up to 97 percent of the time over a three-year period, and to make things even worse the company reportedly replaced faulty motherboards with other faulty motherboards.
Documents recently unsealed in a three-year-old lawsuit against Dell show that the company’s employees were actually aware that the computers were likely to break. Still, the employees tried to play down the problem to customers and allowed customers to rely on trouble-prone machines, putting their businesses at risk. Even the firm defending Dell in the lawsuit was affected when Dell balked at fixing 1,000 suspect computers, according to e-mail messages revealed in the dispute.
According to company memorandums and other documents recently unsealed in a civil case against Dell in Federal District Court in North Carolina, Dell appears to have suffered from the bad capacitors, made by a company called Nichicon, far more than its rivals. Internal documents show that Dell shipped at least 11.8 million computers from May 2003 to July 2005 that were at risk of failing because of the faulty components. These were Dell’s OptiPlex desktop computers — the company’s mainstream products sold to business and government customers.
A study by Dell found that OptiPlex computers affected by the bad capacitors were expected to cause problems up to 97 percent of the time over a three-year period, according to the lawsuit.