PC Makers Rush Equipment to Clients Hurt by Attacks

Several major direct computer makers are scrambling to get firms affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks operating as soon as possible.

Dell Computer Corp., Compaq Computer Corp. and IBM had more than 2,000 business customers in the World Trade Center or surrounding area.

“We first called as many as we could get hold of to find out if everyone was all right,” said Matt Boucher, spokesman at Dell, Round Rock, TX. “After that we began to ask them what they were going to need to get their infrastructure back up and running and what they were going to need from us.”

To meet the needs of Dell's affected clients, which number 85 “big customers and too many smaller ones to even count,” the firm has sent more than 20,000 systems to date. Boucher said that includes desktops, notebooks and servers.

Boucher, who said Dell began shipping several hundred orders the next day, thinks the company's direct sales model helped it to have almost immediate contact with clients after the attacks took place as well as have a good idea of what they were going to need.

“Because of our direct model we know exactly who our clients are and what they purchased from us,” he said. “We were able to get in touch with all of them in a fairly short amount of time.”

Boucher said the usual policy procedures involved in shipping and fulfilling orders went out the window to get clients the equipment they needed as soon as possible. Since all commercial air flights were grounded, Dell sent the equipment by truck.

“They told us what they needed on Tuesday,” he said, “we sent it up on Wednesday, and people started receiving equipment on Thursday.”

Dell also has created a priority manufacturing order list to help determine who will get what first. Federal and law enforcement agencies top the list. Healthcare organizations are second, and financial services companies and law firms are third.

Dell has donated $250,000 to $500,000 worth of equipment to the American Red Cross.

Compaq set up a command center in New York to help its customers.

“Their goal was to get in contact with our impacted customers and understand and assess their damage and see what it is that they will need from us,” said Gerry Abdella, director of North America service delivery for Compaq Global Services.

Compaq is still determining how many customers were affected, but it was already working with 50 or so to get them back online. Abdella said that the company also provides equipment to the Pentagon and will work to provide needed replacement equipment. In the first week after the attacks, Compaq shipped several thousand systems to affected firms and government agencies.

Affected Compaq clients may use its Business Continuity Solutions Program, which provides clients with needed tools and services resulting from a loss of equipment. If clients had not signed up for it in the past, they can do so now.

“Each case was different,” Abdella said. “For some it was just a minimal relief effort like providing phone support. For others it is a major restoration effort of their entire system. So we have to meet with each one and come up with a recovery plan.”

IBM has more than 1,200 clients from the World Trade Center towers and the downtown area. Laura Keeton, a spokeswoman at IBM, Armonk, NY, said the majority of clients had major problems at what she called “their in-points,” or desktops and laptops. She said the company is providing many servers to companies as well.

She did not have a total number of desktops, laptops and servers sent to affected companies.

Dell, Compaq and IBM said they would not make any outbound effort to bring in new clients among firms affected by the attacks but that they have been contacted by non-customers looking for help and equipment.

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