NY Sues Dell For So-Called "Award-Winning Service"

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is suing Dell, alleging deceptive marketing.
The computer manufacturer promises “award-winning service” available “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” but customers have to navigate a labyrinth to get any help. Dell also led customers to think they qualified for zero percent financing when very few people did, and some customers ended up paying 20% on the computer, the suit says.

The suit seeks an injunction against Dell and unspecified damages for consumers.

Dell replied to the accusations saying, “We are confident that our practices will be found to be fair and appropriate… “While even one dissatisfied customer is too many, the allegations in the Attorney General’s filing are based upon a small fraction of Dell’s consumers.”

The complaints listed here and elsewhere put that statement into question. — BEN POPKEN

Dell Hell: Computer Giant Faces Consumer Lawsuit [ABC] (Thanks to pangeloni!)

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  1. rmz says:

    Dude, you’re getting a lawsuit!

  2. Hallik09 says:

    About frigging time! Any chance of NY Dell customers getting any moola?

  3. drewheyman says:

    maybe the awards they won are “most difficult IVR labryinth to navigate” and “most vague interest rate discussion before purchase”.

    Then they technically aren’t lying.

    Or maybe for the competition you have to fight a Minotaur after navigating the IVR labryinth, so Dell’s, with no Minotaur fight, really is the best.

  4. swalve says:

    I have no problems whatsoever with my communications with Dell. But maybe that’s because I have good credit and I can understand what the phone is telling me…

  5. Tallanvor says:

    While I haven’t had any problems with Dell, I’ll say this:

    In the computer industry, just like most others, if you want to be “Award Winning”, there are plenty of magazines who give awards to just about anyone who advertises with them. “Winning” awards is easy. Winning them without paying money is much harder.

  6. JGNJ says:

    If swalve took the time to read the article, they would see that even people with excellent credit did not get the 0% financing

  7. quantum-shaman says:

    I don’t get it. Does Dell like to give its New York customers an especially hard time? I found their phone system easy to navigate, and their service was fast and more than I asked for. And while Dell certainly isn’t obligated to give even the Pope 0% financing, I hardly think it’s worth a class-action lawsuit. For example, it’s a much greater affront to my sensibilities that I can’t own a ferret in NYC. The nerve of these people.

  8. raindog says:

    Yeah, car dealers used to get in trouble for that all the time…. probably still do. Advertise no money down, no interest, no whatever, and tell basically every customer that they didn’t qualify once they actually showed up. It’s called “bait and switch,” and it’s also known as fraud.

  9. nffcnnr says:

    …some customers ended up paying 20% on the computer… That sounds like a good deal to me.

  10. Tallanvor says:

    @JGNJ: I remember trying to buy a mattress once, they had a 0% financing deal that I couldn’t qualify for. When I wondered why, I found out it was probably because I rented. Apparently companies will advertise 0% financing, but won’t tell you that if you don’t own your own home, you can have excellent credit but still not qualify for their deal. Definitely shady.

  11. nffcnnr says:

    Oh, 20% in interest. Now i get it.

  12. kalikidtx says:

    its about time someone did something about Dell’s terrible foreign customer service and tech support. I would hope that Dell would have been the one to fix this a long time ago, but in their absence, I am glad to see someone trying to change it…

  13. whodovoodoo says:

    Dell has done lots of sleazy/incompetent things. I know, I used to work for them at one of their Kiosks.

    Regarding the 0% interest rate- My guess is about 60% of the people who applied for credit qualified for the 0% financing offer.

    As to Dell’s tech support, my experience with their tech support is entirely random. I’ve talked to great people who really know their stuff, and who spoke great English. I’ve talked to “techs” of who I doubt could tell a Nacho chip from a DDR2 chip.
    The Dell secret: Get into the Dell tech support chat rooms. You get the smart techs there who can’t speak English, but can read it and write it decently enough.
    Free added Bonus: You get a chat log so if Dell ever tells you something they don’t follow up on, you can reference that.

  14. Triteon says:

    I have to admit, you guys in New York have had a couple kick-ass AG’s in recent years.

  15. Bay State Darren says:

    I love this AG. He’s holds the companies accountable and really works for consumers.

  16. mac-phisto says:

    @quantum-shaman: if they advertise “all popes qualify for 0% financing”, then yes, they are obligated. my guess is their promos don’t match TILA wording. & incidentally, ferrets suck.

    something can definitely be said about NY AGs & what they’ll do for their constituents, like “if you remember to elect them governor in a few years, they’ll sue god for you.”

  17. funtasticguy says:

    I own a Dell M170 laptop and I did qualify for an 18-month 0% loan. In addition, last week 3 of the keys on my keyboard came off because my 2 year-old took them off. I used their chat service, told the rep of my problem, and the very next day, I had a new keyboard shipped with easy instructions on how to install it. In short, I have nothing but praise for Dell!

  18. delltech says:

    Hi, I’m a tech here at Dell, I live in phoenix arizona and have about 10 years of experience in tech support. We have a direct number that one can find on dell’s website. I just counted, it takes 3 clicks to find our number on dell’s site. We currently only have 2 people waiting to talk to us, and they’ve been there for only about 2-3 minutes.

  19. kurtmac says:

    While I have no experience with Dell’s financing, and I’ve had nothing but dependability from their hardware, I would agree that their “Award Winning Service” claim contains quite the delusion of grandeur.

    In the few times I did contact support, it seems that their first and only suggestion to cure all computing ills is to “Reinstall Windows”. I never took the advice and ended up resolving my issues on my own, but my Aunt was not as unfortunate.

    My Aunt’s CD-RW drive on her Dimension desktop quit on her one day, so she rang Dell Support and, like clockwork, the first and only suggestion was to “Reinstall Windows”. She asked if all of her data would be safe and the rep said “Of course!”

    Of course, it wasn’t. But being a non-computer savvy person (like the majority of all home computer users) she reinstalled Windows and poof! A year’s worth of digital family photos and documents and everything else was gone forever… PLUS the CD-RW still didn’t work. The tech that eventually came out to her house to service her PC told her “Never follow to what those people at phone support say.”

  20. delltech2 says:

    In the interest of full disclosure–I am a tech support agent for Dell. All I have to say, however, is that if Dell has won any kind of award for their tech support, and you can get help 24×7, then the grounds for this suit are contradicted.

    If you can’t get tech support from Dell, then what are they paying me for? And why do I get calls from Dell computer owners in New York?

    This guy isn’t chasing ambulances–no, he’s chasing nerds.

  21. jl13 says:

    Being a long-time Mac owner, I don’t have too much experience with Dell. That said, I’m about to purchase a Windows desktop for my firm in the next few days. From reading Consumer Reports in preparation for this purchase, I got the impression that tech support for all the major PC makers was uniformly dismal.

    So why is Dell being singled out here? Is Cuomo using the “award-winning” slogan as a blunt instrument against Dell, or is something else working here? The article said that NY received more consumer complaints against Dell than any other company, but isn’t that partially attributable to the fact that Dell, as the #2 PC seller, is one of the easiest targets?

    I scanned some of the comments connected to the ABC article, and there’s no question that there are a lot of people out there nationwide who feel burnt by Dell. So what is HP, Gateway, Toshiba, etc. doing right?

  22. imajoebob says:

    Their “award winning service” advised me to enter a code that reconfigured my troubled, not-backed-up, 18GB drive into a 5MB (yes, MEGA byte) drive. It took a blood-curdling screaming match with one person in the executive offices and a very nice lady above her to get Dell to pay all of $390 to recover the drive.

    The current Dell website is more than happy to sell you 4GB of SDRAM for $1,500.00 (that’s right, one and a half G’s), even though your Core 2 Duo computer can only access 3GB of memory. And there’s no option to buy just 3GB.

    That deserves an award all by itself.

  23. weave says:

    I know it’s boring, but read the actual entire suit…

    http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2007/may/delllawsuit1.pdf

    Saying “Congratulations, you were approved for preferred status” and then not disclosing the real interest rate until after the 21 return policy has expired is really shady. *

    * Read PDF for full details.

  24. vodka says:

    Im a Dell certifited Tech and was in India as a laptop technican, and trust me on this I’v never seen a company like this who are coustomer centric and iv worked for British telecom and British gas but couldnt find a professional company like this before. In our call centers we had best ratings than our sites around the worl like Canada, Elsavador. I was working in a team where we served customers who dint have any warranty on the system and the best part was that it was the only center in the world for American customers, and if somebody called for the same issue for more than twice the agent would be in great trouble, that means we had to solve the problem on the spot, and we did it.

  25. samftla says:

    Dell and customer service is a contradiction in terms. I purchased a Dell laptop in 2005 and did experience some problems with the system and finally gave up with seeking assistance from Dell since the tech support seemed more confused than me on what the problem(s) might be. So I just learned to live with them. Then last year while on business in Argentina I experienced a melt down and called the Latin American Dell support number to find out where the Dell Service Center was in Buenos Aires. And YES there is one, but they would not tell me since my computer was out of warranty. I explained that I was not seeking free service only experienced Dell techs to try and fix the problem. BUT NO!! Upon on return to the USA I just purchased a new computer and as you might guess it was not a Dell, nor will I ever purchase another Dell product.

  26. mac-phisto says:

    i still have one of those sell preferred accounts. after reading thru the lawsuit (thanks weave!), i remember what a hard time i had trying to figure out if i got the promotion or not. i think when i got the bill the following month & noticed finance charges, i just paid it off.

    dell’s not bad if you’re looking for a cheap computer, but their fail rates are some of the highest in the industry. as much as ppl rag on hp, i’ve always found their machines to be extremely reliable (esp. in a work environment).