Chinese Sue Dell for Processor Mix-Up

Dell is in hot water among some clients in China for allegedly misleading customers in their marketing materials. The group of Chinese customers, whom I presume would constitute corporate buyers, has filed a class-action suit against the company for marketing laptops with the wrong type of microprocessor.

The Dell customers thought they were buying laptops with Intel Core Duo T2300 processors, but ended up with machines based on the Core Duo T2300E processor instead. After discovering they had received systems with a less capable chip, a group of users threatened to bring legal action against Dell, accusing the company of false advertising.

The T2300 and T2300E processors are identical in many respects, but there are important differences. Both chips are produced using a 65-nanometer process, have 2MB of cache, run at a clock speed of 1.66GHz, use a 667MHz front-side bus, and consume up to 31 watts of power. But the T2300E doesn’t support Intel’s Virtualization Technology, which allows users to run multiple operating systems and applications in independent partitions.

Dell argues that not everyone needs Virtualization, and I agree. However, the point is that they were advertising their laptops–perhaps inadvertently–as having processors that do have this technology. After all, the difference is just one letter away: T2300 vs. T2300E. Buyers who are not familiar with processor technologies would probably not notice this, and it probably won’t matter, as they are likely to be novices and wouldn’t need such a feature anyway. But it sure would be a big headache if you had just bought your company hundreds of machines, or if you’re an enthusiast and you went for an upgrade, only to realize you got less than what you wanted just because of a typo.

It’s actually not the first time Dell has been in trouble because of misleading advertising, and stories still come up every now and then. For instance, claims that Dell misadvertised the E1505 laptop as having an integrated Sound Blaster Audigy advanced HD Audio, when in fact the machine only supported a software version, which entailed extra cost on top of the laptop purchase. Now the author went through customer service hell before finally getting a reasonable resolution for his trouble and disappointment.

Actually, Dell has let me down, myself (quite an expensive disappointment at that), as we had purchased a Dell 5150 a few years years back, but realized it was a lemon when the motherboard conked out this January. Apparently, it was a design defect that caused some parts of the board and casing to warp and melt due to overheating, causing various problems until the computer would stop working altogether.

The laptop was sent to the a system board specialist last month, and I await word whether it would come out alive. I had actually been advised to just sell the dead machine for parts. Sadly, Dell has not admitted the widespread problem to date.

Oh, and let’s not get into the exploding laptop issue. That’s yet another big marketing problem Dell has to handle these days.

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