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Michael Dell's Australian nightmare

Founder has little to say down under

Unhappy customers have had Dell founder Michael Dell on the back foot since he arrived in Australia this week.

Not surprisingly he was very selective when it came to topics he was willing to discuss at the well-orchestrated press conference.

Recycling and the company's growth were two favoured topics, but ask about exploding batteries, AMD chips or LAN (local area network) switches and conversation came to an abrupt end.

It hasn't been a good week for Michael Dell.

It began with a group of unhappy Chinese customers threatening a lawsuit because their laptops did not ship with Intel Duo T2300 processors.

The problem first emerged in July, forcing Dell to offer a full rebate to customers who returned their laptops.

Also this week, Dell recalled 4.1 million laptop computer batteries because of a potential fire hazard.

At the media event in Sydney yesterday, Michael Dell said very little about overheating.

He said even less when asked about Dell's LAN switches. Customers love the price, but haven't been so enthusiastic about the switches.

Some ugly installation stories have meant too few enterprise customers are making the switch from Cisco to Dell.

Asked how the company planned to address this issue, Dell said he was happy to discuss the company's high-volume business such as servers or storage, but wasn't willing to talk about switches.

"But customers can always contact us," he added.

Topic selection just got smaller when a journalist asked when Dell would start selling computers with AMD chips. The reply? A firm 'no comment'.

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