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Dell forgets to think first, thinks last… forced to apologize
When I was interviewed last week for a podcast with a semi-corporate audience, the moderator asked me at the close for my last words of advice. My advice was one word: Think. We have seen time after time where large companies forget to think and screw up. Today, when a corporation screws up, it will be shared with the world in minutes. No more waiting for the daily newspaper to tell us of the screwups, no more evening news. Immediate.
A former Dell employee submitted a post to Consumerist on June 14. The submission discussed 22 confessions (or tips) on dealing with Dell… things ranging from how to get the best price to backup disks to support plans. Pretty interesting information.
So what did Dell do? Someone in Dell corporate saw this post and got on the ringer to legal. "We can't have this here, get someone to demand a takedown stat" and Consumerist received a take-down demand letter shortly thereafter. Close to 6000 diggs across the two posts.
Consumerist exchanged emails with Dell legal counsel several times and basically said they would not take it down. They claimed all of the information was factual and that they did not solicit the information.
Last evening, Dell finally posted on their blog that they made a big mistake. Digital Media Manager Lionel Menchaca explained their goof-up. I wish he would have stopped there. An apology with a "but" means nothing in my book. The Dell attempt at an apology went half way with me as Lionel decided this would be a great time to go point-counterpoint on the confessions.
Most people here and here seem to think Dell did a good job in apologizing. Ars Technica notes that they receive these take-down notices on a regular basis. The issue is that you can't burn the Internet press plates. Once out, it's out.
So my advice to Dell is simple: Think. The truth is that if we all just thought a bit more before responding, the world would be a much better place. Everyone reacts with emotion (we are humans right?) and that's when the issues begin.