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Dell Knew Some PCs Were Faulty, Court Documents Reveal

PC maker Dell has been accused of selling thousands of desktop PCs despite knowing the machines contained faulty components, according to recently unsealed court documents first reported about on Tuesday by The New York Times.

Court documents unsealed in a civil case against Dell in Federal District Court in North Carolina accuse Dell employees of having prior knowledge that the company's OptiPlex PCs sold to customers were likely to break, the newspaper reported.

Dell shipped around 11.8 million OptiPlex computers between the May 2003 to July 2005 period that were at risk of failing because of the faulty components, according to the unsealed court and internal documents. Dell sold OptiPlex desktops to companies and business customers including Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo.

The problems stem from bad capacitors on motherboards. which could cause systems to fail. The documents also say that Dell employees knowingly tried to play down component problems, which put customers at risk.

Dell salespeople were told to say "don't bring this to customer's attention proactively," in an effort to conceal system problems, according to the documents reported on by the Times.

Dell has had customer support issues in the past few years. The company took a US$442 million charge during the third quarter of 2006 to account for a number of issues including the costs associated with replacing faulty capacitors on some of its OptiPlex desktops, layoffs and inventory writeoffs.

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