Dell’s Perpetual Purgatory?

Dell has been to Hell and back in recent years for its monumental crisis management missteps, especially in the realm of digital communications. Blogger Jeff Jarvis single-handedly damned the company for its poor customer service record a few years back and, despite moderately successful attempts to rebound its reputation by finally participating in the blogosphere, consumer spite has reared its ugly head again.

On May 2, a U.K. customer posted a rant in a chat room informing fellow Dell users of a glaring error on select models of Vostro laptop keyboards—that is, a much-too-long shift key threw an entire row of keys out of whack, making it nearly impossible to type properly.  The real rub, though, is that the faux pas spawned a diatribe on Flickr, complete with a picture of the faulty keyboard and frequent updates by one user.

This is just one more example of how crisis can spin out of control when angry consumers are at the helm.  Granted, if anyone was trying to post with one of those Dell machines, their message wouldn’t be as easy to decipher. Perhaps that was all part of the plan?

By Courtney Barnes

  • Jonathan Bernstein

    Microsoft had a similarly horrendous reputation until Robert Scoble, the now-famous pioneer in the field of corporate blogging, launched what became that company’s “Channel 9” project. We all still make fun of and complain about Mr. Gates’ domination of the world, but the company is at least perceived as being a bit friendlier, responsive and less “giant living in the sky, dumping on all those below” as a result of its active blogging and related PR activities. Perhaps, in time, Dell’s initial efforts can achieve the same result? Or not!

    Jonathan Bernstein
    Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.