Dell Charging Users For Recalled Exploding Laptop Batteries?

UPDATE: No, they’re not.

When you’re Dell and your laptops start spontaneously exploding, even taking out trucks and houses in the conflagration, it only takes every single site on the net posting pictures of the fires to prod you into doing the responsible thing and initiating a recall.

But recalls are expensive. How best to recoup losses? Heck, why not charge the customers?

Lowel G. wrote us with a rather horrifying story of being sent an invoice for his recalled Dell battery. Worse yet, he can’t get any response from Dell, who claim that every time something leaves the warehouse — recall or not — they send out an invoice. And, no doubt, many hapless suckers pay them.

Shame on Dell. First, they sell you a hand grenade instead of a laptop; then, they invoice you when you aren’t willing to pull out the pin with your teeth and drop it down your pants. Lowel’s email, after the jump.

You can see the the look of surprise, or should I say a look of crazed madness on my face after receiving a billing statement from Dell for a battery they recalled.

About a month after Dell started recalling the laptop batteries a friend told me that Dell was recalling laptop batteries and if I had checked mine to see if it was on their list. To my shock and horror my battery was on their list! But why didn’t they call me, email me, or send a letter in the mail about the recall? Ok, so I went to their web site and put my info into their system so that I could receive a new battery.

Two days later the battery arrived. Wow, that was fast, But wait a month later I received a billing statement in the mail showing I owed Dell $74.92 for the recalled battery replacement.

So being the crazed madman that I am when It comes to companies that down right screw up, I called Dell asking why I received a bill for the replacement battery. The Dell customer service representative, Chinese I think, no Indian, Oh wait it was…….. Hell I don’t know what the customer service representative was, but all I know was I had the worst experience trying to get this woman to understand my problem.

After about 40 minutes on the phone with her I threatened to take my computers and blow them up, and then go out and by a Mac. For some reason she started understanding my problem, and stated that any time a product leaves their warehouse that an invoice is generated (I wonder how many people paid that invoice). Boy, I flipped out on her after hearing that, and asked to speak to a manager so that I could file a complaint. Of course She started having a hard time understanding me again. 20 minutes later she finally told me that I would have to call back on a Monday because no manger was available on Friday’s and that I could make my complaint then.

Of course being unsatisfied with that answer, and like I said before, being the crazed madman that I am when It comes to companies that down right screw up, I went to Dell’s web site to get a “contact us” email address write to and file a complaint. Once again, I got the run around, but this time it was on their web site. Finally I found a way to contact them (you know those “leave your comments” boxes) So I sent in my complaint through their site.

I received an email back right away (automated ~e-mail Dell should have sent to tell me about the recall in the first place ~ see attachment). So I waited, and I waited, and I waited, for a real reply, finally I received an e-mail back from Dell (See attachment). Now I am pissed off more than ever before and was wondering if you folks could help me out by finding an address to the President or an upper level so that I can write and file a formal complaint. If I can get an address and write to them and still get no satisfaction, then I’ll make a video of me blowing up all my Dell computers (3) plus my wife’s laptop, and my sons laptop (five Dell’s total) which I’ll send to Dell. Then I’ll go buy HP, Compact or other type computers. Really makes me wonder how long stuff like this has been going on with Dell, and how may people actually paid those invoices! I think I’ll send them a invoice for $74.92 for my time being wasted!

Comments

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  1. LTS! says:

    This is one of those situations where Consumerist would be well served by investigating the issue in detail.

    There are a lot of open areas here, not the least of which is that rather than blow up the Dell laptops you can send them to me. Dell won’t care either way.

    However, we deal with a ton of Dell laptops here easily over 1,000 and a large amount of them fit the battery recall. Not one person I support has spoken of being invoiced for a battery.

    I’d love to find out what the actual truth to this story is and why an invoice was sent.

  2. Ben Popken says:

    Did you send the old battery back? If memory serves from when I had them replace my battery, when they send you the new battery, you’re supposed to put the old in the box and send it back. Otherwise they will charge you. Even if that’s the case, it seems pretty asinine that customer service won’t tell you what the charge is for.

  3. Jesse McBesse says:

    Worse yet, he can’t get any response from Dell, who claim that every time something leaves the warehouse – recall or not – they send out an invoice.

    They may want to reevaluate this claim because, um, they don’t. Not once, but twice now, I’ve received an order from dell three or four times and have only been charged once. I didn’t receive multiple exploding laptops or anything, but I did get three battery charger thingies and four wireless mice. Silly Dell.

  4. bwmcadams says:

    Reminds me of trying to help my mom finally get her crappy dell desktop fixed. Dell had already sent out 3 repairmen, who replaced various parts on the system. The machine kept blue screening, randomly rebooting. As you can imagine, I pushed the whole lemon law bit, having been through 3 repairs.

    The Indian gentleman (And I use the term loosely [gentleman, not Indian]) on the other end just didn’t seem to get what I was saying. Of course, he understood *JUST FINE* until I started demanding oh so politely that they replace the entire machine. When I asked to speak to his supervisor, it reminded me a lot of the old Strongbadia Internet Strongbad Email from HomestarRunner.

    He picked the phone up himself, again; put on a really BAD fake Texan accent (It was obviously the same guy) and pretended to be ‘Rusty the Call Center Manager’. He flat out refused to send out another technician, claiming my mother had ‘obviously done something’ to the machine; or maybe my ‘younger brother’ (Sorry; I’ve got a younger sister who hasn’t lived in the house since before my Mom got the machine) ‘installed something he shouldn’t have’.

    Obviously I should have followed good consumerist advice and pushed back. It was at that point that I hung up. She’s still having problems but refuses to replace the machine, claiming it’s too much hassle. I can’t imagine what gave her that idea…

  5. joehowe64 says:

    As an employee, don’t buy HP…..

  6. Sallykat says:

    I found this email in my inbox this morning:

    Date 10/17/2006 5:49:45 PM

    Dear Customer,

    Thank you for participating in the Dell recall of certain batteries built with Sony cells. Your replacement battery has been shipped. Separately, you may receive what appears to be an invoice for your replacement battery. Please disregard this document which was automatically generated by the tool for standard replacement parts. Batteries replaced as part of this recall are provided at no charge to you.

    You may continue to use your notebook computer safely by turning the system off, ejecting the battery, and using the AC adapter and power cord to power your system until your replacement battery is received. With your replacement battery, Dell has provided a means for you to return the affected batteries for proper disposal.

    If you have additional questions not covered on the recall website, or cannot access the website, please call Dell toll-free at 1-866-342-0011, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. CST.

    You also can write to the company at Dell, Attn: Battery Recall, 9701 Metric Blvd., Suite 200, Austin, TX 78758.

    We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this issue. As always, if you have questions or concerns about this or any other subject, please feel free to contact us.

    Sincerely,

    Dell

    Attn: Battery Recall

    9701 Metric Blvd., Suite 200

    Austin, TX 78758

    USA

  7. JohnP at Dell says:

    Hi Lowell G. — Totally understand your frustration. If Dell sent you an invoice for a recalled battery that was definitely our error and we do want to make right. Please shoot an e-mail to customer_advocate@dell.com and the situation will be corrected.

    And while we’re on the topic of battery recalls, Dell was the first PC maker to get to the bottom of what turned out to be an industry-wide issue. We weren’t “prodded” by anything other than concern for customer safety by being the first company to voluntarily issue a recall.

  8. Lowel says:

    Yes, I sent the recalled battery back! Just to clear things up.

  9. Lowel says:

    customer_advocate@dell.com are we talking about the bottemless filing cabnit sitting off in the corner of Dell’s Basement? I’ll shoot a letter off to see what takes place. If you truely was one of the first to deal with this issue, then why didn’t I recieve some kind of notice on this recall? Took a friend to tell me, who by chance saw the story on the local news. When A customer spends thousands of dollars with a company such as Dell, one would expect better customer service than what I recieved. I’ll shoot a complaint letter off later today and see what takes place. But in the mean time, Thanks for your response.

  10. LTS! says:

    Did you register your information with Dell when you bought the laptop? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you did and that’s why you are a little mad. Dell probably should have notified customers who had registered their purchases with them.

    Please don’t let me be wrong and find out you that you never registered and therefore Dell did not have your information and therefore could not contact you.

  11. Lowel says:

    LTS,
    Now that’s funny! Yes I registered all my products that I purchased from Dell. I’m a stickler when it comes to things like that. But I can see where your coming from because so many people don’t. And yes that is partly why I was upset over not receiving any kind of notice from Dell on the recall. Thank God for friends who look after you!