Dell Demands Takedown Of Our "22 Confessions Of A Former Dell Sales Manager"

UPDATE: Dell Admits Error In Asking Consumerist To Remove Post

from Tracy Holland
date Jun 14, 2007 4:39 PM
subject Posting by former Dell employee

Dear Ben,

Please remove the posting located at the following link:

It contains information that is confidential and proprietary to Dell.

While not all aspects of the entry are accurate, ostensibly an ex-employee posted Dell’s confidential information in violation of his or her employment agreement and confidentiality obligations (which prohibit the disclosure of such information both during and after the period of employment).

We would appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please confirm that the posting has been removed by the end of the day tomorrow.

Thank you, and please give me a call if you would like to discuss further.

Tracy Holland

Tracy J. Holland
Dell Inc.

from Ben Popken
to Tracy Holland
cc Gaby
date Jun 15, 2007 12:58 AM
subject Re: Posting by former Dell employee


I am forwarding your request to our legal counsel, who will communicate with you from here on.

– Ben

from Tracy Holland
cc Gaby
date Jun 15, 2007 1:50 AM
subject RE: Posting by former Dell employee

Thank you. Note, though, it has been almost nine hours since we made the request, yet the posting is still up, with the number of hits growing logarithmically.

Also note, we do not make these requests often (as I’m sure you know, there are thousands of blogs and other online postings that relate to Dell and its products), and we do not make them without good cause. Therefore, while we wait to discuss this request with counsel (despite the source and the clearly confidential and proprietary nature of the information), we ask that you act in good faith to minimize the potential damage caused by this disclosure, and take down the posting immediately. Dell will not regard any such immediate action as an agreement regarding the merits of the request, or as an admission of any liability on the part of or any related person or entity.

If after any necessary discussion between counsel we cannot agree that this was indeed the appropriate course of action, you can always re-post the item.

Thank you,

Tracy Holland

from Gaby
to Tracy Holland
cc Ben Popken
date Jun 15, 2007 7:33 AM
subject Re: Posting by former Dell employee

Dear Ms. Holland,

Despite some suggestions to the contrary among some of our fellow beings, most humans need to sleep. Some of us also receive hundreds of emails a day and have to deal with every one of them. I received this email at 12am last night. It is 7am now. That’s a pretty good turnaround.

Nonetheless, that’s immaterial to the matter in hand. I’ve reviewed the post, and it appears to me that it is valid, useful and apparently overwhelmingly accurate. It’s not bitter, angry or destructive. It is quite simply good and useful information for consumers. And it appears that a Dell rep has already provided updates to various sections, which we have published, which, since they have only corrected certain parts of this report, implies that the uncorrected parts must be true. If that’s not the case, please feel free to send us more clarifications and we will update the post further with your additional notes.

We came by this material entirely legally: we were provided it by a third party voluntarily, we did not use any improper means to solicit any Dell employee to breach any agreement he may have had with you. Therefore, we do not believe we are in breach of any law in reporting on this material and, as such, cannot comply with your demands.

In addition, as I am sure you must realise – and there is certainly a history of this with Dell already – consumers tend to react far better when a company responds collaboratively to criticism, than when they act heavy-handedly or dismissively. Removing this story would be far far more damaging to Dell, I assure you, than responding to it on the Dell blog or elsewhere, since in telling our readers that Dell shut down our reporting, we would unleash a chaos of fury and acres of criticism in the press. Forget any legal position you may want to take, meritorious or not, I am deadly serious when I say that I simply cannot recommend this as a course of action. I’ve seen it happen before and it is really not pretty and I have no doubt that you will regret it.

Of course, it is your decision whether you want to pursue this matter, but I advise you to talk to the team that had to deal with the falllout from the Jeff Jarvis affair before you decide to try and silence your critics. Work for the customer, not against them.

Best regards,


PREVIOUSLY: 22 Confessions Of A Former Dell Sales Manager