How long should an AC adapter for a laptop last? Michael writes that the adapter for his Dell Inspiron laptop stopped functioning after less than two years of use. He finds this unacceptable. While most people would have shrugged and ordered a new adapter, not Michael. He found the situation unacceptable, and deployed the fearsome power of the executive e-mail carpet bomb.
Here’s the letter that he launched at Dell.
To whom it may concern,
My name is Michael [redacted]. I own a Dell Inspiron 1420 with a service tag of [redacted]. I purchased this laptop in July of 2008, and with it came an A/C adapter. The computer has functioned with relatively few problems, but in the past week the A/C adapter has refused to function properly. It will intermittently transmit a charge, and when it does power the computer, any attempt to move the A/C adapter results in its failure to operate. I’ve attempted to work with the normal means of communication to make this problem right so that my system can function, but so far I have been extremely disappointed in the quality and courtesy of the customer service associates I have spoken with.
I called Dell Customer Service last night and spoke with an agent to try to rectify this problem. The agent was very kind, but stated that as Dell’s warranty had expired in July of 2009, the only recourse would be to spend $60 on a new adapter. She acknowledged that most A/C adapters last several years with no problem. She advised me to call Dell’s Customer Care line, (888) 242-0938.
I did so today at 4:03 EDT, and spoke to [N.]. He repeated the prior agent’s statement that the only recourse would be to purchase a new adapter. He acknowledged that adapters should last several years. After N. refused to consider any points beyond purchasing a new adapter, I pointed out that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in which the laptop was purchased and exclusively used, has an implied warranty regulation; specifically, Massachusetts General Law c. 106, section 2-314. This law states that any products sold in Massachusetts must function for a reasonable amount of time, and the retailer must replace said product if it fails to meet this standard. N. said that the law was irrelevant, and that he could not help me beyond repurchasing an adapter. I asked to speak to a supervisor; N. claimed one was not available. He said he might be able to find another associate, and placed me on hold. Several minutes later, I spoke with [C,] who claimed to be the supervisor. He stated that there was absolutely nothing that anyone would do aside from tell me to purchase a new adapter, regardless of how long I stayed on the phone or who I talked to. I thanked him and hung up. The call was 32 minutes long.
I am extremely disappointed that Dell’s customer service has shown a disregard for courtesy and the laws under which they operate. As a long-time Dell user, I am questioning whether future purchases of Dell products are in my best interest if this is the type of support and warranty provisions I can expect.
Thank you for your time,
I received a phone call today saying that Dell is shipping a new AC adapter, free of charge, as well as a replacement motherboard in case that’s the problem. They offered to send an on-site technician, but as my school has an authorized Dell repair center, I said I could have it repaired there. Thanks Consumerist for saving me $60+ and showing me how to get results!
You’re welcome, Michael! Great letter, and well done. You’re an inspiration to us all.
Was his complaint not all that big, in the grand scheme of things? Yes, it’s true: $60 doesn’t buy you very much in Dell’s catalog. However, his points that products should function for a reasonable amount of time and that Dell shouldn’t ignore consumer protection laws? Those are valid whether the product that stopped working is worth $60, $600, or $6,000.