Dell Arbitrarily Decides Your 2008 Warranty Ends In 2007

Dell has decided that Saundra’s warranty, which ends in 2008, ends in 2007, and won’t repair her motherboard for free. Saundra has informed them of the error and sent them the relevant documents, to which Dell has shrugged. Saundra has now decided to sue Dell in small claims court. Which mall kiosk which she deliver the court papers to? Who knows, there’s got to be thousands of them around the nation… Her story follows.

invoice22222222.jpg

Sep 6 2007

I bought a Dell laptop in 2004, and in 2006 was told my warranty was going to expire. I responded to the notice, which said that for $248 my new warranty expiration date would be June of 2008. I paid the amount and have the credit card statement proving this.

Unfortunately, no one at Dell seems aware of this agreement, and it seems Dell has arbitrarily decided that my warranty ended in June of 2007. This comes into play now because it appears I need a new motherboard (again). I placed calls to the warranty department, then to customer service. I faxed them copies of the relevant documents (the notice, the credit card statement) and have been dealing with this for a month, but to no avail.

I was told my case was forwarded to the appropriate department. That was over a week ago, and I’ve yet to hear anything back. I sent another complaint e-mail to the manager I was dealing with, but have yet to hear back.

For Dell’s part, the 2008 may have been a typo, but that doesn’t change the fact that 2008 is the agreement.

So I’m thinking small claims court, but first, I was wondering if you might be able to help me find out executive customer services numbers that might be more expedient, or if you happen to know of a better route I might take.

Saundra Sorenson

Sep 18

Hi Ben,

just wanted to give you an update on my Dell issue. I finally heard from Dell’s customer service department today, telling me that they’ve decided my warranty is expired. (I’ve attached the invoice I mentioned, which promised me that if I paid $229, the warranty would expire in 2008).

When I brought up this invoice (which I had faxed to Dell twice) nobody had a good answer for me, and said simply that my case had been “escalated” and that my warranty was expired. I called the corporate line to get some contact info for the legal department and dropped the term “small claims court’ several times. They gave me an address and fax number for the offices in Round Rock, Texas, but I think I may do as it was recommended on your site– deliver small claims papers to the Dell kiosk at my local mall.

Any advice on further steps to take before I go the small claims route? Any advice about taking a corporation to small claims?

Thanks,
Saundra

Oct 3

Did you fax them the relevant documents? I would do that before taking the small claims route. This post, ““How To Take Your Case To Small Claims Court,” is also a good primer for how to go about going to small claims court:

Ben,

I did — and then I e-mailed them to another representative. And then I asked the representative who told me my warranty had expired if they had received these documents, and the rep said yes. So I told them to make a note in my case file that I was unhappy with this decision, was not satisfied, and would be pursuing a legal route (in small claims).

Any advice about small claims or another next step?

Thanks!
Saundra

Nope, sounds like you’re all set. Read that article, and go for it!

Dell can avoid losing their ass in small clams court by emailing tips@consumerist.com and we will be happy to put someone with a working brain cell in touch with Saundra.

(Photo: fallenposters)

Comments

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  1. joeblevins says:

    Good complaint. She has a legitimate complaint and has all of your documentation. Ben is providing good guidence. I would like to see how this one ends. Please keep us updated.

  2. RvLeshrac says:

    Dell strikes again!

    Not only will they refuse to sell service parts to anyone but the customer, but now this!

    Totally waiting to see the Apple fanboys who were complaining about the complaints about Apple the other day jump all over Dell for this.

  3. DeeJayQueue says:

    @joeblevins: I think that was the most sane and rational comment I’ve read on here in months! Good On Ya!

  4. AdamthePugh says:

    Take them to task on this one!

    I was a fan of Dell a long time ago until I finally ordered a desktop which after a week would shut off intermittently for no reason. I called support, and waited for a half hour for a rep, they were no help. They had me send the machine back, and sent me a new one. This did the same thing.
    After spending hours on the phone with support they finally fixed the problem. Which after a week or so, appeared again, but not as often. About two months after the warranty expired – the motherboard died. These computers are so buggy they make me nuts. I am using a friends old Dell to get me by until I can find a truly reliable computer. I will never buy another Dell again. Anyone have a good idea for an affordable to new desktop?

  5. urban_ninjya says:

    If I were Dell, I’d like to keep this person as a repeat customers. People who buy extended warrenties are extremly profitable customers.

  6. tinychicken says:

    It says there are comments but I see no comments. WTF?

  7. Hawk07 says:

    We all know what happened the last time Dell’s legal department tried to manhandle the Consumerist.

  8. boandmichele says:

    well, having worked for a few years in the past…

    its hard to get anywhere when everyone youre talking to is in india.

  9. I see that picture every freaking day when I’m going to and from work. It’s in the Courthouse stop of the D.C. metro.

    As for advice: I’d go to the least nice dell kiosk you can find, assuming that the people who work there wouldn’t care enough to ask anyone what to do next.

  10. boandmichele says:

    oops…

    having worked for DELL a few years in the past. my bad

  11. kahri says:

    Saundra seems to me you’ve done everything in your power to resolve this issue outside the courts. And you should, at the very least, get a refund on your extended warranty as the service you paid for was not rendered. Just make sure you keep physical copies of all your attempts to show your initial desire to resolve the issue with them directly. good luck.

  12. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    And who said Dells are cheap? I just extened my Acer laptop’s warranty for *two* additional years for $100.

  13. Antediluvian says:

    I’ve said it before, possibly even here at consumerist.com:
    do not buy from the home / home office division of Dell. Buy from the Small / Medium Business division of Dell.

    Better prices, more customizations, and FAR FAR FAR better support.

    I’m curious from which section of Dell Saundra bought her machine. Saundra / Ben — any insight?

  14. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @AdamthePugh:

    We’ve had really good luck with Systemax PC’s at work. Just make sure you upgrade the power supply.

  15. magus_melchior says:

    @AdamthePugh: Depending on how much you know about computers, you can build a decent box from mid-range parts. Unless you want a screaming gaming rig, you can get a computer with good specs on the cheap. Or, find a local geek in your community who is willing to help you build the box (Linux user groups are a great place to start– but I’ll caution against asking them to do all the work). About the only thing that’s rightly intimidating about it is knowing what types/speeds of memory and video hardware you want to use.

    This way, you can be sure you’re using quality components that work, and you never have to wrestle with an unhelpful customer support critter. Of course, you won’t have any warranty protection other than what your credit card offers, but there’s a reason why many home builders keep parts from dead PCs lying around—they still work.

  16. rmz says:

    This is one of the more egregious things that I’ve seen here in a while. Despite having the original documentation proving that clearly says that her warranty will be extended until June 2008, plus the credit card statement proving that she paid for it, Dell still has the balls to refuse her repair?

    I hope the case is as open-and-shut in small claims as I think it will be.

  17. kimsama says:

    @krylonultraflat: Courthouse represent! Man, that 666 guy (group?) is persistent. I can’t remember how long it’s been going on, must be years now. Good times.

    I know if I were an advertiser, I’d specifically ask that my ads not be posted at Courthouse ^_^

  18. calldrdave says:

    Fortunately, the service tag was not blotted out at first. I checked and it appears the quote was for extended the warranty to 3 years from the purchase date of 6/4/04..not 3 years from the date of the warranty purchase. Those 1150′s are subject to many problems, so I doubt if they’d give a four year warranty from date of purchase for only $248. General it’s about $125-$150 a year to extend the warranty after the initial purchase offer.

    It appears that the warranty was extended twice. The account shows on 5/30/06 complete care was extended to 3 years from the purchase date.

    Note we are only viewing an invoice. Not a confirmation. I suspect the bill was paid for a 3 year warranty on the product, though she was quoted an additional 3 years when she called. Probably a misunderstanding.

    Generally, the customer gets a confirmation explaining the terms of the new warranty, which usually differ slightly from the original. If she paid that, then it’s a slam dunk

    If she has proof via confirmation that she paid for a 3 year warranty, she said she paid via credit card. She could get that money back via a chargeback. That unit was a 2.4 Celeron with 256 Meg of RAM, DVD, 30 gig hard drive. If she got $250 back from the credit card,she’d be ahead of the game, because the unit is not worth $250. It sounds like she actually is better off if she can prove to the credit card company that Dell refused to deliver on the product she ordered.

    Tip: regardless of the product, when purchasing an extended warranty, confirm that it is extended. Humans make mistakes. You can plug any service tag number on Dell’s website and confirm a warranty. Same with Apple and Gateway.

  19. Extended-Warranty says:

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a real life valid complaint like this on this site.

    It is possible it was just a typo by Dell and no intentional wrongdoing. However, Dell is garbage and no one there has any intention of fixing this.

  20. warf0x0r says:

    I haven’t heard anything about an acknowledgment letter or indication that her received payment was credited to an extended warranty. Even still she should win in small claims court. Ask them to give you a new xps 1300 those things are nice!

  21. calldrdave says:

    warf0x0r: The most she could win is the price she paid for the warranty, which it would be easie to do a chargeback for.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This problem is systematic in Dell

    The SEC are looking at the stunts between Dell, Dell Finance and Citibank.

    From the end user’s perspective if a purchase was made on finance, warranty uplifts are lost. Depending on the care of the staff (don’t expect this from mgmt) this happens half the time, and only corrected in the customers favour about 1/6th of complaints.

    Hence the New York state antitrust action.

    They will try and make you take the case in Texas, but if you get good professional advice they can’t force this.

  23. guspaz says:

    @Antediluvian: While working at Matrox, I attempted to do an RMA on a Dell desktop through their Enterprise/large business support. You’d think, here’s a large company that buys thousands of Dell systems, they’ll take care of us, right?

    Wrong. It took me HALF A WORK DAY just to REACH somebody at Dell. Every time I called, even though I selected the same menu option, I was redirected to a random department or person. Several times I got consumer Inspiron support, and once they even transferred me to an outside number. Outside as in, a random telephone number where the poor lady hardly knew what “Dell” was.

    I was told by several people at Dell that various parts of their phone system were “having problems”. After hours of calling Dell over and over again, I eventually got fed up and called customer service. I then requested that she find somebody who could help me, get them on the line, and then connect us directly as opposed to being transferred.

    Yes, once I actually got through to the enterprise support rep, getting the RMA organized was a breeze. But it probably cost Matrox more in a half-day’s salary than the replacement part cost Dell…

  24. Antediluvian says:

    @calldrdave: Excellent points. It may well not be worth it to replace this motherboard and for the small-claims filing fees + Saundra’s time, perhaps she could upgrade to a newer machine.

  25. Antediluvian says:

    @guspaz: Wow. I’m never gonna apolgize for Dell (they need to do that on their own), but I work for a small company (25 desktops, 3-6 servers) and we have a dedicated sales rep. I always start any calls to him and go from there.

  26. infinitysnake says:

    @AdamthePugh: Do it yourself. We picked up an Oreilly guide with reviews of various motherboards, etc., and I have a very nice setup for about $500 less than a standard model with similar capacity.

  27. Buran says:

    @calldrdave: You see the part where, above that 2008 date, it says “new expiration date”?

    Yeah. She’s got a case.

  28. calldrdave says:

    @Buran: That’s a past due invoice, not proof of payment. When you order something…you gotta pay for it, and the proof isn’t in the bill, it’s in the receipt.

    Not saying this isn’t the case…but a past due bill isn’t proof of payment. Also there is a mistmatch regarding what she says she paid and what the invoice says. I think she got what she paid for, though may not have got hat she ordered.

  29. MrEvil says:

    I don’t mean to plug another website, but I’m a moderator at a laptop related forum. The board’s for all brands, but we have some Dell folks that browse the forum from time to time under the name DellCA. They’re pretty sharp and they’ve been able to help several of our members with warranty claims that were improperly denied. I’ll gently nudge them in this direction.

  30. swalve says:

    @guspaz: Matrox? How long ago was that?

    And Dell doesn’t do RMAs for desktops.

  31. Buran says:

    @calldrdave: Please explain why a bill would list the date of warranty expiration. How more plain and simple can you get beyond “new expiration date: xx/xx/2008″? She was billed for the warranty extension, ending on that date, and the warranty info, showing what she paid for, is on the bill. She PAID FOR A WARRANTY EXPIRING IN 08. And people are still arguing this when it’s right there in front of their noses?

    It’s clear she’s covered. Dell is trying to get really freaking cheap here, and hope she doesn’t have the spine to sue.

    They’re wrong, and they’re going to pay.

  32. BigNutty says:

    I have had product and service problems with Dell and Sprint this year. Both ignored my emails and phone calls.

    For Sprint, the mailing of a certified letter to their legal dept. with the heading “Notice before Lawsuit” was answered with a phone call 3 days later informing me my account was credited the $175 in dispute.

    For Dell, I received my laptop and the day after I was emailed an advertisement for the same laptop for $100 less. After 2 weeks of complaints I called to say I was returning my laptop and asked for an RMA number.

    That resulted in $100 credited back to my credit card and an additional $50 credit for any merchandise they sell.

    My question is why do these companies make it so difficult to get fair treatment to begin with?

    My opinion is that most consumers give up to easily and companies know this thereby saving them money.

  33. mrjimbo19 says:

    former Dell Kiosk manager here (not the person who was a kiosk lead, I was an actual dell employee and the person you were more then likely talking to when the kiosk guy called someone when Dell screwed up) and I can tell you that this is pretty common when it comes to paper work being randomly changed or lost. Dealing with Dell tech support will yield little to no results and going to the kiosk will not really help. If your serve the kiosk papers and they know what they are doing they will be faxing it into the legal dept and leaving it in their hands maybe it will get you results?

    You could email Michael_Dell@dell.com and see if that gets you in contact with executive escalation team. I personally like the idea of taking them to court though if they are not dealing with you in a way that is going to get the issue corrected.

    On a side note I ordered a laptop from the refurb site, checked the warranty status when it arrived on Dell’s website via the warranty tool and it showed being covered for NBD until 2010, checked a few weeks ago again and it showed as expiring in 2008… calling and emailing into my former employer has yielded zero results. Hope you have better luck and as others have said please keep this updated!

  34. kadath217 says:

    I’m currently a Dell Certified Tech, and I work for a school that processes about 100 or so Dell warranty requests each semester.

    As I understand it, Dell warranties are only held by the company for about one year, then they’re usually sold off. The delay after 1 year is common, since your request has to be routed through the new “owners” of your warranty policy. It’s also quite common for our students to be told their warranty expired, simply because Dell does not pass along the correct date to the new warranty “owners” (or those other companies fail to receive them, take your pick). This seems to happen more frequently with warranties that have been extended.

    However, these mistakes are usually corrected within a few days of sending proof of warranty, such as an original contract. This case seems unconscionable. The only explanation I can think of is that Saundra spooked them into shutting up by referring to a lawsuit too quickly.

    I’ve never seen the problems that calldrdave mentioned. We usually get a confirmation within a couple of hours when we need a part replaced under warranty.

  35. Trojan69 says:

    Why is this necessarily a small claim?

    Dell should be made to pay punitive damages. I can’t imagine that there isn’t a class action availability with Dell warranty fraud – this can’t be the only “misplaced” paperwork. I’d sure as heck check into the possibility.

    I love that legal service against Dell can be made at any kiosk. That is too funny!

  36. Jerim says:

    I have longed viewed extended warranties as a complete scam, and this case proves it. You paid for the warranty and that can’t be disputed, but what does the warranty cover exactly? Extended warranties most often cover slightly less than the original warranty. As long as the warranty expressly covers your issue, then you are all set. Be prepared for Dell to say the issue isn’t covered under your extended warranty anyway.

  37. philm98 says:

    I have had great luck working with dell tech support. We purchased an inspiron 1150 for my father in law along with a 2 year warranty. The machine overheated and fried the motherboard after the extended warranty had expired. Since I found out that this is a common issue with the inspiron 1150 and found information about class action suits against dell for this particular reason, I was able to call dell support and convince them to repair the laptop for free. I have found over the years that dell tech support people are usually willing to work with me as long as I’m nice on the phone with them, explain the situation with the machine, explain what i’ve already done to troubleshoot, etc. If I happen to be talking to someone in India, I get on their good side by asking about how the IT job market in their country is doing. This gets on their good side very quickly.
    In the case of Saundra, take them to small claims court since they are unwilling to work with you or even acknowledge that you purchased this extended warranty.

  38. Terminixsux says:

    Dell sucks, period. They don’t care, because they know most people will just give up. File the case, and I expect they’ll settle this immediately upon reciept of their notice. Meanwhile, don’t waste your time and money buying their crappy products. As noted above, they use whatever parts are the cheapest, so even two of the same model will include junk bits that don’t match.

  39. Craig Huffstetler / xq says:

    Yes, I am in complete agreement that Dell does indeed suck at this point. I used to view them as a fine company but their customer service quality and technical support has gone to hell in a hand basket. I do not even know if they are training their technicians anymore.

    I had one technician over a year ago (on site) who came out, installed RAM and CRACKED OPEN the mother board. He did not even turn on the PC to see if it worked — he broke my computer!!! Dell took over a month to send someone else to replace it. They kept throwing random parts at it.