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Dutch PC buyers threaten Dell

What do we want? TFTs! When do we want them? Now!

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A shortage of flat panel displays has led to a consumer revolt in the Netherlands. The Dutch Hobby Computer Club (HCC) - one of Europe's biggest PC hobbyist organisations with over 200,000 members - says it will intervene on behalf of unhappy Dell customers who are still waiting for PCs they ordered months ago.

Dell is simply not delivering, HCC warned this week on Dutch TV. Customers who paid for their PCs as early as November are still waiting for delivery. Others actually have their PC, but not the flat panel display they ordered. Or they have a monitor that doesn't work. Dell has offered some customers replacement displays.

The dearth of flat panel displays is industry-wide, says Paula Warmer of Dell UK. But "because of our longstanding relationship with our suppliers, we are able to meet customer demand - although it may take longer than usual."

A spokesman for Dell Netherlands admitted "there have been issues with flat panel display, in particular during December and January. No one in this business can cope with the demand."

Dell says there is light at the end of the tunnel. Frans van Houten, CEO Philips consumer electronics, says his company and other manufacturers of flat screens are opening new plants to speed production. "The shortages are only temporary," he promises.

This cuts little ice with Dell's Dutch customers: they say they can't wait any longer and want either their PCs or their money back.

And the HCC has not finished with Dell, either. Even before the current problems began, it announced its intention to sue Dell over the company's ambiguous sales terms. HCC says orders in the Netherlands need to be delivered within 30 days, but Dell doesn't state this clearly in its sales conditions. When customers order, they have to pay the full price up front. This does not comply with Dutch law, according to the HCC. ®

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