I had similar problem with storing very long numbers in excel. I solved it by putting a single quote (') in front of the number. This way it was able to display the number properly and could also take this number in account in formulas and computations. Perhaps this trick could work on dates too. try putting '01 Jan 2012 in the excel and see if excel could recognize it as date.
Sadly, I don't have excel on this computer otherwise i would have tried it before posting.
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