This Certified Refurbished Dell Laptop Comes With Large Scratches And A Pirated Copy Of Microsoft Office

Ever wonder if “certified refurbished” is just corporate doublespeak for “not entirely broken crap?” Well, at Dell, it is! The refurbished Dell Studio Joseph bought as a gift for his father-in-law arrived with large scratches and a CD-R in the optical drive containing a pirated copy of Microsoft Office. Dell’s response? They’re willing to take back the laptop and waive the restocking fee, but that’s it.

Joseph writes:

I ordered a Dell Studio from Dell (My first mistake, I know). After I placed the order, where there were tons of helpful people eager to take my credit card number, I saw the Dell outlet center with some refurb laptops.

I called and cancelled my initial order, asked the lady on the phone (Name escapes me, but I KNOW they can find out who by my click to chat IDs) and asked her to compare, line for line, the two laptops. She assured me they were identical, component for component.

I then asked her about certified reburbs vs scratch and dent, which I did not want.

She says “Cert refurbs are conditioned to factory specification, the cases look just like a new laptop”. I pointed her to the description online that hinted at some damage visible, she says “oh they just say that, I have never seen a refurb with any damage on it.

I place the order. It is a gift for my father in law.

I get the order.

It looks like a bear clawed the front of the cover. Someone took a flathead and gouged the bezel in the front. It is not line for line the same laptop, missing features, wrong OS, etc.

Best thing was the “present”: a burnt .rar of Office 2007 corporate edition in the cd tray. It had a text file with the Warez site it was downloaded from as a reference. Yes folks, they sent me illegal software from a warez site. If this was refurb’d, where is the QA department? No one noticed a cd in the laptop?

I called corporate using Consumerist guidance, no help. I sent an email to corporate and CC’d, Got someone who honestly seemed to want to help me but “had hands tied”

Their compensation for a laptop that I cannot return (I was asking for a tech at least to come out and replace the case, drop off the OS I wanted, I was willing to eat the non-backlit keyboard) was this:

No restocking fee, return the laptop and get assistance ordering another.

I assure you, this was not “certified reburbished” but very much “scratch and severly dented”.

I cannot return it as it was a gift to be presented in front of about 20 folks, one of them my future employer. The future is suddenly not so bright.

This worth a letter to BBB?

Thanks a lot Dell. Any advice from consumerist? Seems like Dell is considering this a “case closed”.

Joseph doesn’t need assistance ordering a new laptop. He needs is the laptop he ordered delivered at the price Dell quoted. They should provide a system of equal or greater value, free of charge. An apology note wouldn’t hurt either.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Megladon says:

    I keep reading horror storries about dell, and I’ve had nothing but great experiences with them. I’ve ordered 2 laptops, 1 pc, and 2 flat screen monitors from them and they all work great. The company i used to work for ordered hundreds of dells, close to 500 a year i’m guessing and also had a very low rate of problems.

    • sleze69 says:

      @Megladon: Always order from small business or above and you will have a good experience. Everytime I have ever had to support a Dell Home purchase, I have to strong arm their service reps into doing what I want.

    • Preyfar says:

      @Megladon: Just keep in mind that Dell sells thousands and thousands of machines a day, and one or two may have a few issues. And unfortunately, sometimes you get that bad tech who (out of thousands) gives you a sour taste. Doesn’t always make the company bad, but… doesn’t help perception.

      Case in point: I just got a brand new E6400 at work the other day, monitor completely shot, blown. We’ve gotten almost a hundred other laptops, no problems. Things happen.

      Dell has a tech scheduled to come out and fix it, no questions asked.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @Preyfar: Except. What kind of brain-dead, customer-hating company would put a laptop out in their sales channel that apparently lost a fight to a grizzly bear and not fire the person responsible, and his boss, and his boss?
        Dell, that’s who. In fact, it seems it’s their SOP.

        PS: Dell sells you a DOA laptop and is “kind” enough to fix it. And that’s commendable in your book? Wow, ‘whipped much?

        • henwy says:

          @Trai_Dep: WTF? Who said it was DoA?

        • Preyfar says:

          @Trai_Dep: I’m not defending Dell on this. It was probably some slacker Q/A person who just signed off on the laptop as good, tossed it in a box and sold it as is. Didn’t do his job.

          I’m just saying this isn’t usually the norm.

          • ohenry says:

            @Preyfar: I agree. My folks got a dell a good 6 years ago, and it’s still working like new and has taken zero matinenance.

            Not that the bad stories don’t matter, but it’s not like they’re the majority of the transactions that happen.

        • enderx says:

          it was refurbished.

          most if not all, refurbished stuff is FINAL SALE.

          I don’t think dell did much wrong in this instance actually.
          I tend to be reasonable though, my bad. ;)

    • ajlei says:

      @Megladon: I hear horror stories as well, and my parents just bought a new Dell. I told them about some horror stories but they have another Dell laptop, tower, and their last two monitors. They seemed quite happy with all of their Dell stuff so I gave up. As long as they’re happy, I guess that’s fine with me.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @Megladon: guess you lead a charmed life, but that doesn’t mean this and other horror stories didn’t happen, so thanks for the meaningless post.

      • MerryLifeAndaShortOne says:

        @Con Sumer Zealot:

        I live a charmed life as well. Would you mind making another non-post pointing this out to me?

        I nabbed a dell for out lobby computer. Worked great, the person I ordered from threw in a free internal wireless network card as well.

    • zaq2g says:

      @Megladon: I’ve had no problems ordering from dell since about 1997 for work. Then I decided to order one for myself late last year and got nothing but problems. Shipping dates, delays, extra charges, free gifts that werent free, excuses and non helpful CSRs. The Dell cancelled my order without telling me. There was literally no regard for my customer satisfaction and seemingly no interest in keeping me as a customer.

      Since then Dell has lost all my business for work and home.

    • henwy says:


      I’ve also never had any huge problems. Well, my last laptop did break within the warranty period which they denied claiming water damage nulled it. The fact is I did spill water on it once, just nowhere near when the damage occurred. I assume they must’ve had some moisture detector in it which triggered early on. I can’t say I really blame them since I’m sure people spill shit on their laptops all the time and try to get it fixed.

    • defubar says:

      @Megladon: I’ve had the same experience with Dell. I ordered both my previous laptop and current laptop as certified refurbished from Dell. Both have been great. Both of my laptops looked brand new and my current laptop cost less than half of what it would have if I bought it new from Dell at the time.

      Seems like this guy got a raw deal. This definitely should have been listed as a scratch and dent and not a certified refurb. I would try linking Dell to this post, maybe that will change their tune.

    • PHRoG says:

      @Megladon: Having worked at Dell for 4 years and then loosing my job due to “downsizing”, I’m not exactly a Dell fanboy.

      However, I still order and recommend their products to this day. They are top notch, solid products with pricing that is hard to beat and good warranties.

      I honestly believe there is something missing to this story, this guy seems to have the “woe is me” overtone. Oh no, bought for my new boss! I might not have a job now!! Bribe much?

      Plain and simple, your personal issues are not Dell’s problem. They are simply following policy. You purchased it, are not happy with it and they accepted the return and waived shipping fee’s so you could order a new/different one. Is that not acceptable?

      Why do you feel you need “special” treatment in this case? It was a REFURBISHED notebook. You even admit that you read it MAY have scratches/dents. You knew this might happen. Asking the rep otherwise was just you seeking justification for cheaping out on the new one. The rep said they have never seen one that came scratched or dented. Even if they never saw one, how does that mean they don’t exist? They tried to warn you!

      Sorry the “gift” was supposed to be presented in front of 20 or so people. But if it was “that” important, maybe you should have picked one up at a big box store? What if UPS/Fedex had mangled it? There is plenty that could have gone wrong to “prevent” you from displaying this gift at that precious moment. Should have planned ahead and ordered it way ahead of time instead of last minute.

      I honestly believe this guy is most likely “embellishing” his story in an attempt to get something he really doesn’t deserve.

      Send the damn thing back and get a new one. If your nice, they might overnight it to you for free.


      • SybilDisobedience says:

        @PHRoG: The OP is allowed to purchase his laptop anywhere he damn well pleases, and we know from experience that big box stores often have customer service issues just as significant as Dell’s. Ordering the PC online is the least of his problems and irrelevant to the fact that he received a gouged piece of shit with warez inside.

        • PHRoG says:

          @SybilDisobedience: Where did I say he couldn’t make his own choice as to where to purchase it? Get your facts straight.

          It is absolutely relevant that he received a REFURBISHED notebook when he ordered one. If cosmetics were his primary concern he shouldn’t have. I mean seriously? He read that it could have cosmetic issues. He knew that it might. He even admits it.

          However, to justify his own decision, he “claims” he asked the rep if it would be cosmetically damaged. He then claims the rep told him they replace the chassy in those cases. Really? Then why do they TELL YOU it could have cosmetic issues and specifically categorize them as scratch and dent?

          I just received a home phone system I purchased from a large, online retailer. It was refurbished. There’s a couple of scratches here and there. Am I going to call up said retailer, bitch and moan because it has scratches? No. I knew what I was purchasing was refurbished. If I wasn’t happy with the product, I would simply return it.

          This man was given that option, he is the one that is choosing not to take it.

          IMHO the warez CD issue it moot. You think Dell images all their machines by putting a CD in each and every one? No, the hard drive itself gets imaged, they never go near the DVD drive. Let’s not mention Dell can’t possibly be liable for a customer leaving a CD in a machine.


    • zonk7ate9 says:

      @Megladon: Same here. I’ve purchased 2 Laptops and 1 Desktop from Dell, and I’ve always had good experiences with them. My parents have also purchased 2 desktops and a laptop from them as well, all with no issues. I’ve never had any issues on warranty claims, and Dell is the only PC brand I recommend. My last 2 purchaes were XPS which I hear has better customer service then normal, but I’ve never had any issues. I’d like to know what is different.

  2. opticnrv says:

    Dude…you got a Dell…

  3. tsume says:

    That picture am not office 2007… it are office 2003 :O

    • DoubleEcho says:

      @tsume: Pssht, stop arguing semantics. The important part is that I now know where to get all my l33t War3z shit at! Join today!

  4. Roclawzi says:

    I think the fun thing to do here would be to call Microsoft and ask for help installing Office 2007. The only problem there is that they might not believe that it came with the Dell.

  5. fantomesq says:

    Didn’t they just provide a system of equal value by accepting return on the laptop and helping him reorder? The laptop was worth whatever he paid for it, which they are refunding and he can reorder. One of the problems with ordering refurbished is if there is a problem with it, they may not have another unit to simply swap for it.

    Don’t get me wrong. Dell dropped the ball here on the refurbishment process (which honestly is probably farmed out but still their responsibility) but they still did everything that can honestly be expected by expediting the return… A company would have upgraded him and shipped overnight but, honestly, this is Dell. Are we really EXPECTING Dell to go the extra mile for their customers?

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @fantomesq: He originally states he placed an order for a non-refurbished laptop, and after seeing they sold the same laptop for cheaper, he decided the cheaper one and cancelled the original order to save money. He was willing to buy a brand new one to begin with, what changed that?

      I wonder if there was/is any way he could reorder the brand new laptop, and send the severely mauled one back. Or even just find a small computer store and buy one. I live in a pretty rural area and we have plenty of small computer shops that refurb their own laptop assortments. He said he could salvage the sale if Dell gave him the correct OS disc(s)- Why can’t you borrow them from someone and use the Windows serial key that is usually attached to the bottom of the laptop? Buy a super nice laptop cover?? Of course this isn’t what he paid for but if he plans to give it as a gift, might as well do SOMETHING to improve it.

      I mean, there are options. I agree, they gave him an acceptable resolution, albeit not the one he was seeking.

      • fantomesq says:

        @verucalise: Sure he can reorder the original laptop. They are expediting the return and the refund and he is free to reorder anything he likes. There are actually benefits to the customer in doing it this way since he has control what it is replaced with, as opposed to Dell making that decision for him.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @fantomesq: and why shouldn’t we expect that, exactly? Especially after SUCH a major fubar?

    • Anonymous says:

      @fantomesq: @fantomesq: By not simply replacing the unit, they are forcing him to pay a second S&H charge to correct their cock-up. An excellent customer service organization would overnight an equal-or-better replacement to him, with a letter of apology and return postage for the damaged unit.

  6. Admiral_John says:

    When I took my A+ class the instructor told us that the possession of a burned piece of software wasn’t a crime. It was illegally obtaining a serial number that made it a crime. So, just playing devil’s advocate, if he was correct and there’s no serial number on the disk then it’s not necessarily pirated. I’ve downloaded copies of XP in the past when I’ve reinstalled OS’s for people with legitimate CD keys but missing media and my understanding is that’s not illegal, since they have the license to use the software already.

    • coren says:

      @wchamilton: That may be, but the file from the Warez site generally includes a serial or the rar will have a keygen – otherwise it’s useless (most people who go to such sites are not looking to replace legit copies of software)

    • Chizzer says:



      You just beat me to it. If it’s from Warez site, it will absolutely contain crack/serial information to run the software.

      Then if it’s burned, there could be some sort of software distribution laws violated as well.

    • eelmonger says:

      @wchamilton: You can download a full version of Office 2007 from Microsoft’s website right now. It will just stop working after 60 days if you don’t have a valid key.

    • RodAox says:

      @wchamilton: you are still making unauthorized copies of the software…

    • oshae says:

      @wchamilton: “When I took my A+ class the instructor told us that the possession of a burned piece of software wasn’t a crime.”

      Did you actually write that?

    • shepd says:


      Your A+ professor is wrong. No statute anywhere discusses serial numbers. Rather, they discuss (in general) duplication of the information and that any information with a (c) symbol requires an author’s (or other owner’s) permission for legitimate duplication (And, in many places, that the (c) symbol is implied if missing, unless the author specifically disclaims copyright protection).

      I know that Office 2007 carries a copyright symbol and is given the full protection of copyright law.

      I also know that copyright law requires a certain amount of human thought go into something before it can be legitimately copyrighted. A serial number is the perfect example that does not qualify for copyright (nor do random numbers), and, oddly enough, is the one piece of the puzzle you are welcome to make copies of and distribute (Although, M$ retains the right to disable the key) unless you specifically sign a document stating you won’t (eg: In the case of corporate keys).

  7. Communist Pope says:

    And the funny thing is, they’ve been furtively blaming lackluster Vista demand for their astounding 63% drop in profits. Yeah, they’re right, it probably doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with customer satisfaction issues…

  8. ab0rtretryfail says:

    I don’t know why Consumerist thinks Dell should give the customer a “system of equal or greater value, free of charge.” Sure, it looks like they made a pretty embarrassing mistake, but they offered to replace it so I don’t quite understand why he continues to insist to escalate it. Beyond the replacement, which Dell’s already offered, and an apology, I don’t know what more the customer thinks he’s entitled to. Things happen, even weird things like this, and Dell’s offered to make good.

    I don’t quite understand why the customer refuses to exchange it with Dell because the refurb’d laptop was a gift… a gift which he says future career was for some reason depending on. It’s a little tacky anyway to offer a refurb’d product as a gift.

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      @ab0rtretryfail: Yeah, I’m not really seeing what horrible sin Dell is committing here.

      Dell screwed up, Dell is willing to replace it and apologize for the problem. This sounds reasonable to me.

      Given the volume of stuff that Dell handles, it doesn’t seem all that unbelievable tbat something is going to slip through the cracks and get put in the “refurb” pile when it should have gone in the “scratch and dent” pile and then get shipped out.

      I’ve done similar things at work and I deal with a lot less computers than Dell does.

  9. coren says:

    Let’s be clear here – he *can* return this item. This is not his desired outcome, but to say that it’s not possible is misleading.

    Obviously he can’t gift it in this condition, so how does he expect it to get resolved without returning it?

    Damaged products go out all the time – even ones that are meant to have gone through Quality Control. A return/reorder is usually the case there – I think Dell’s just about doing the right thing here (they should also pay his return shipping)

    • supercereal says:

      @coren: From what I can gather, he is going to gift it:

      I cannot return it as it was a gift to be presented in front of about 20 folks, one of them my future employer.

      If I’m interpreting this correctly, it’s more important to have a gift, albeit a crappy and broken one, presented on time than it is to have a much nicer gift arrive a little late. Presenting a used piece of crap will definitely win the in-laws and those “20 other people” over…

      Sounds like too much pride to take Dell up on their offer of allowing him to return it, fee free, and helping him get another one. How would it not take more time to have a tech repair it than to return this one and order a new one?

      I just don’t see exactly what he wants here…

      • coren says:

        @supercereal: I assumed, maybe incorrectly, that he would not give such a piece of junk as a gift. I certainly wouldn’t give it to anyone!

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @supercereal: I think he’s just being prideful, or his culture puts a lot of emphasis on gift giving to elders (not from a materialistic point of view, but a gift in terms of recognizing your elders and their special occasions).

        In any case, I would think common sense would trump pride here and he’d realize that you can’t possibly give a bear-mauled laptop as a gift, under any circumstances. I don’t think the OP’s spouse would appreciate that, and I don’t think anyone else would either.

  10. Ian Beyer says:

    I ordered a Latitude XT , an MD3000i, and a PowerEdge 2950 from the outlet recently. The tablet was perfect in every way (and less than half the price of a brand new one, and the server arrived with a major CPU fault that showed up after 3 hours of power on. Someone grabbed the MD3000i before my order was able to be completed. All in All, we’re talking about $25 grand worth of new hardware, and about 13K on the outlet.

    Dell overnighted me a brand new server (and even added a DRAC card that I forgot about) and everything is good.

    Dell also sent me an MD3000i from new stock for the same price it would have been on the outlet.

    Like others have mentioned, I keep hearing horror stories about Dell and compare them to my experiences with them and just scratch my head. Dell has been exceedingly good to me and our organization.

    • reynwrap582 says:

      @Ian Beyer: It sounds like you’re probably ordering through the Dell Business sites, and not Dell Home, which is the best thing you can do to assure you’ll get good service. I don’t buy anything through Dell Home anymore, even if it’s not business related. I’m on Outlet computer #6 and they’ve all been exceedingly great. While I’m all for a pro-consumer site that points out bad products and bad services

      • reynwrap582 says:

        @reynwrap582: Sorry, my pet rat decided to jump on my tab key while I was typing and I hit space and submitted that post…. as I was saying, I’m all for a pro-consumer site that points out bad products and bad services, but it’s equally important for other consumers to share their positive experiences through the comments as well.

    • rellog321 says:

      @Ian Beyer: Just an idea, but do you think they’re more likely to bend over for orders of your magnitude, or from people with smaller orders? Maybe they just don’t care about the little guy… I don’t personally have experience with them, I ‘ve only had orders canceled through them, and have heard the ridiculous prices for memory for their stuff…

  11. eelmonger says:

    Since description of the item said it had visible damage, there isn’t much to do from a legal perspective. Sure, the rep said she’d never seen one with significant damage, but that’s just her anecdotal experience and not a guarantee.

    Dell is offering an even exchange, so I’m not sure what more the OP wants. I guess if it’s a time sensitive issue they could offer to cross-ship the replacement.

    • reynwrap582 says:

      @eelmonger: I bought a refurbed Dell XPS M1210 once, and the battery it came with was bad. Wouldn’t hold a charge, or anything. I hopped online and walked through some quick tests with the online support chat people, and in about 5 minutes they had one shipped out to me via DHL, and when the DHL guy arrived he had a second box that I tossed my bad battery into as an exchange. So, in one business day I had a brand new battery and had returned the old one, without even putting on pants. I imagine they’d be able to do something similar with a laptop (although maybe it was only something they could do with DHL, which isn’t around in the US anymore? I think UPS and FedEx have similar services available though.)

  12. gauden44 says:

    This is strange. Every laptop and desktop I’ve ordered from Dell Outlet has been wonderful, and that seems to be the general consensus on the computer forums as well. My point is, don’t let this aggressive article phase you.

    • Zclyh3 says:


      Yeah I’ve ordered a Dell Mini 9 and an Inspiron 13 from Dell Outlet at kick ass prices. The Mini 9 was literally brand NEW. The Inspiron 13 latop had a very faint small scratch on the LCD, but that was it. This being Outlet I wasn’t expecting much, but given the pictures I see in the article it shouldn’t be like that.

    • Con Sumer Zealot says:

      @gauden44: Well I work as a tech and I deal with Dell business every day and they mess up something on orders or ship defective hardware 60% of the time, so don’t let these Dell-worshippers phase you, yes, they will screw your stuff up sooner or later.

  13. Robert Page says:

    Why the OP didnt think of inspecting the laptop before giving it to his father is beyond me. I have bought those cheap ebay refurb dells for my father before and you better believe i made sure it was perfect before I gave it to him. (I had to fix a noisy fan)

    I know the Dell sales rep told him its like new, but come on, its a refurb, they call it that for a reason.

    • Andrew Mussey says:

      @Robert Page: Had he already given it to him? I was under the impression from “I cannot return it as it was a gift to be presented in front of about 20 folks…” that he hadn’t given it to him yet, but there just wasn’t enough turn around time to get a new one.

  14. legwork says:

    Yes, that’s the worst “refurb” I’ve seen. (short of shipping damage) Take their offer asap and stop the bleeding. Consider it a lesson.

    Buy a new, sale-priced business model from Dell Small Business. Check the Laptop Deals section. Order, then call to check status and let them know what happened. You should see it in short order. Note the Vostro models are good, but the Latitude models tend to be tougher, which could be important depending on the intended use.

  15. __Ken__ says:

    “They’re willing to take back the laptop and waive the restocking fee, but that’s it.”

    What else should they be required to do – buy them a Mac?

    Yes, it sucks, but you buy a lemon and they take it back – woot!

    • macinjosh says:

      @__Ken__: Yeah, am I missing something? He got a shitty product, and they’re offering to wipe the slate clean by taking it back and not charging a fee.

  16. Trai_Dep says:

    …And people wonder why Apple owners are “smug”.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @Trai_Dep: I do still wonder, actually, since my friend’s Mac is chock-full of problems while my PC has only had one issue, and that was an easy repair. Her computer is almost constantly either being repaired or partially-functioning and in need of repair. They’re both about the same age and get the same amount of use, and hers just doesn’t perform nearly as well.

    • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

      @Trai_Dep: I was guessing it’s because they have inferiority complexes that they try to hide by purchasing overpriced and trendy consumer goods.

      That said, I like a lot about my iPods (except the lousy launcher on the Touch….)

      • trujunglist says:

        Just take the refund@From the cubicle of PGibbons:

        Or they’ve just always hated Windows, starting with Windows 1.0, and even though Windows has made a lot of progress, they still think it sucks ass. At this point, migrating over to Windows to use an inferior product would mean spending a lot more money than just continuing to use Macs. Plus, they wouldn’t have to use Windows. Could be that.

        • trujunglist says:


          … btw, nowhere in there did I give Apple a free pass, so read my comment and understand it fully before you say anything. Apple has done its fair share of fucking me over, but Wintels are a whole different issue.

  17. sickofthis says:

    The OP’s future isn’t looking so bright because there was a problem with a gift he wanted to give his father-in-law?

    Way to bring the drama.

    • reynwrap582 says:

      @sickofthis: I think most people would probably be okay with “Hi, I was going to give you this as a gift today, but due to a problem on Dell’s end, it’s going to be slightly delayed.” rather than “I bought this and it’s scratched to hell and has incorrect software in it but I decided to give it to you anyway instead of replacing it with something, yano, nice and new, because I was trying to be impressive.”

      Also, Dell Outlet computers usually have a big red “REFURBISHED” sticker on the bottom. Some people won’t care to get that on their gift, but some people will.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @reynwrap582: It’s kind of hard to tell from the tone of the article, but perhaps from a cultural standpoint the OP’s gift would have been very important…or maybe he was on shaky ground with the in laws already.

        But I think most people would accept a very reasonable answer, and be okay with it. I think the OP’s refusal to send it back is ridiculous, because he obviously shouldn’t give that laptop as a gift. I don’t think anyone, least of all a future employer, would be impressed by the OP’s decision to give a broken and crappy gift (to be presented in public, nonetheless) just because he didn’t want to fix the error and give the proper gift.

        It’s Dell’s fault that the OP got a wrecked laptop, but they offered to take it back and give him another laptop – what’s the problem? Because the OP has pride issues about giving crappy gift vs. no gift, but polite and reasonable explanation someone’s father in law has to get a bear-mauled laptop (and the OP says isn’t even the same, because the software features are wrong), and his future employer sees his terrible show of gift giving.

  18. chucklebuck says:

    I really usually find myself appalled at the company in these stories, but the facts as I see them are this:

    1) Website said item may have physical damage
    2) CS Rep said she’d never seen a damaged refurb, but what she didn’t say was “This refurb you’re getting is not damaged”.
    3) Item arrived damaged (it does look like a bear hit it, I gotta say).
    4) Dell is informed, they will take the item back with no restocking fee. I agree with the poster above that they also need to handle return shipping.

    So it definitely sucks that the guy’s going to be without gift, especially since it sounds like he’s going to be in trouble at work without one, but Dell seems to be doing right here.

    Now, they definitely have an opportunity to win some goodwill by 2-day/overnighting the guy a comparable model, whether new or refurbed, right away so that he has it in time to give. I have a feeling that if they had done that, we’d be seeing an Above and Beyond story with many of the same details but a much different tone/ending. And that’s an opportunity many other companies aside from Dell miss.

  19. Imperialist says:

    Dell can be frustrating at times.

    But for the record I’ve ordered a certified refurb from Dell Outlet before. The first laptop they sent me had a crack in the case and I sent it back, to which they sent me another laptop that was flawless. There is a difference between buying a “scratch and dent” versus “certified refurb”. I don’t see why they refused the return.. there’s a 21 day Dell return policy for Dell Outlet.

    • reynwrap582 says:

      @Imperialist: They didn’t refuse the return, they were perfectly willing to accept the return and waive the restocking fee. It’s the customer that decided not to return it.

  20. yagisencho says:

    I learned this same lesson when I bought a ‘refurbished’ monitor for my brother years ago. Sorry, bro. =(

    If only there were a government organization that could define and enforce some guidelines regarding ‘refurbished’ merchandise…

  21. Matt Phillips says:

    They should get the police involved, Dell is illegally selling pirated software.

  22. paheadley says:

    The only problem ive had with Dell was after I refurbished my pc. I couldnt get the internet working again on it. I Called for support and after talking to 4 reps, and trying the same method of fixing it 5 times, was told it could only be fixed by the $100 tech they would have to send out. I opted not to use them, and about 20 minutes later i managed to get it working completely on my own, for free. Their support is pretty horrid.

  23. BillyDee_CT says:

    Dell has turned to utter crap. I work for a fairly large school district and we had been plagued with over 300 defective Dell Optiplex GX-270s and GX-280 computers, not to mention almost as many flat panel monitors with defective capacitors. Dell sent us replacement main boards (meaning the school district had to eat the costs of labor by having their own technical staff remove and replace the boards) but not long after these main boards started to fail as Dell would only repair the obviously blown components and not all the known defective components on the boards. I know for a fact that those higher up in the district contacted Dell and they seemed no to care about assisting them. Guess what? The district switched to Hewlett-Packard. It does seem that some goodwill may have kept the district as a customer but Dell could care less. If I were the original poster I would get local media involved with his situation and for everybody else I would just plain avoid Dell. After what I’ve seen I wouldn’t buy a Dell if it was the last computer on the planet!

    • reynwrap582 says:

      @BillyDee_CT: When you said Hewlett-Packard I thought to myself “Are they still around?” and then I realized, osnap thats what HP stands for.

  24. VPea says:

    It wouldnt have been so bad if it came with a Buckets O’ Cum DVD

  25. Kaisum says:

    I bought a mini two days ago. Has a damn scratch on the top cover. “Certified Refurbished” my ass. I’m sending mine back because it runs like crap, also.

  26. TheSurlyOne says:

    The Dell Outlet categorizes units in one of three ways- Previously Ordered New (NEW), Certified Refurbished and Scratch & Dent. The description of Certified Refurbished includes the statement: “System may have observable cosmetic blemishes”. Scratch & Dent units “may have CONSIDERABLE cosmetic blemishes”.

    In all fairness, this laptop should have been tagged as Scratch & Dent, not Certified Refurbished. The bigger issue is that the hard drive wasn’t restored to the factory image (which would wipe out anything that was installed by whomever used this laptop)!

    I’ve ordered at least six laptops and two desktops from the Dell Outlet. The only problem I had was that one laptop arrived with the screen bezel cracked. I sent it back and got a similar one that looked brand new. Otherwise, I’ve had great luck and saved hundreds (thousands, even) ordering from the Outlet.

  27. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Okay, so return the laptop and order another one.

    There’s no question in my mind that this unit doesn’t meet quality standards for a refurb (which at worst, may have “slight cosmetic imperfections”) and that somebody at Dell didn’t do their job. Dell screwed up. But, Dell is offering an even exchange, so I don’t understand the problem here or what else the OP expects Dell to do.

    I cannot return it as it was a gift to be presented in front of about 20 folks, one of them my future employer. The future is suddenly not so bright.

    Uhh…wouldn’t it have been smart to check the condition of the unit before giving it as a gift? If this was such an important social occasion and was going to be given in front of my future employer, I would have at least checked it out beforehand (or just bought a new machine instead).

    I considered buying a Dell Studio refurb from a third party (not the Dell Outlet) but the vendor was only offering a 30-day warranty on it and it wasn’t much of a savings over the new one (which was 20% from Dell Online).

    • Karita says:

      @☠Grяrяrяrяrя sings the doom song now!: I don’t think it was unreasonable to NOT check the condition of the gift – after all, even refurbs usually come in a sealed box, and I know I’d feel weird giving a gift that had obviously been opened.

      I almost always buy refurb when I can, and all the items I’ve received from various companies have been indistinguishable from brand new. I guess I’m lucky, and I suppose some day I will get something that is clearly used. But for now, the only thing I’ve had to exchange over the years is a MacBook that I bought brand new. And based on that experience, I’d rather give a sealed box than open a gift to check for problems that I have found to be nonexistent.

      • Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

        @Karita: Well the OP makes it sounds like his entire future was resting on this gift. Regardless if it were new or a refurb, he could have gotten a bad one right out of the box. Trust me, if there is a pile of 10,000 laptops or TV’s, I’d pick out the one broken one, so I would have checked it.

        I’ve bought refurb stuff in the past and have had very good experiences, so I wouldn’t hesitate to do it, but personally I would definitely want to inspect it before I gave it as a gift.

        But hey, we can agree to disagree.

  28. dave_coder says:

    Alright so here’s the story:

    1) Customer orders a laptop where the description says: “Has scratches” CSR assures him that “all of the refurbs I’VE SEEN are not scratched”
    2) Gets crappy Dell laptop.
    3) Calls Dell and they waive restocking fee while issuing an RMA.
    4) Customer decides to go for more then he is entitled to and declines RMA.
    5) Letter to Consumerist where Dell gets publicity for pretty much no reason.

  29. PsiCop says:

    The more I hear about Dell, the more I’m convinced it’s actually two different companies.

    On the one hand, it’s the company I dealt with at two different employers that were “Dell shops.” Calling in for service could be time-consuming, but eventually I figured out how to cut down the time needed to get them to send out a tech or set up a depot repair ticket. When a tech came, the problem was fixed, period. When they sent us anything, we got exactly what we ordered and always in good condition. That Dell company is one I’ve never had a moment’s trouble with, and would be loyal to, if not for …

    …the other Dell company, the one I dealt with when I was hired to work on a small business’s computer network made up of Dells that were being upgraded. They shipped a monitor, which was supposed to be brand-new, with a nick in the back of the cabinet and a gap between two panels. Cosmetic damage, yeah, but it never should have passed their QC. A laptop came with a battery that wouldn’t hold a charge and needed to be replaced. A desktop wouldn’t always start up when it was turned it on; I called Dell tech support assuming I could get them to send me a new power supply for it, but after being on hold for 1 hour and dealing with an idiot for almost another hour … an idiot who kept telling me I had to run the “restore CD” even though the problem was with the power, not the computer’s functionality … I finally demanded a supervisor, who eventually obliged me, and told me he’d Fedex a power supply overnight. But that power supply came by UPS a week later (not one day) and was the wrong one, it needed to be replaced.

    The bottom line is, in my experience, you NEVER KNOW what you’re going to get with Dell. You can get a great, responsive company … or you can get The Company From Hell. Overall, the risk is too great for me; I refuse to recommend Dell to clients and would never buy from them myself. They’re just too iffy.

  30. BlueEyesTM says:

    While it’s good to contact Dell and work your way into their executive offices, I think people should take more control of what’s at their disposal.

    First, especially if you purchased it with a credit card, YOU are in control. Call your credit card company and ask them what to do.

    If you feel you’ve gotten to the top of the company, and aren’t getting a satisfactory resolution, go directly to the Better Business Bureau.(Make sure you have a list of the names and positions of the people you spoke to, the dates, and what was said.). 8 times out of 10, you’ll get an acceptable resolution through the BBB bureau.

    But even in the event that Dell shines you and the BBB on, file a small claims action against them.

    The great thing about filing in small claims court against Dell is that 1) they have to appear in your local court, and 2) they cannot send an attorney to represent them. If you think about it, once served, what do you think Dell will choose to do: 1) send a representative — probably from Round Rock, Texas, paying airfare and costs or that person for a day, or 2) just settle with you. And as long as you file correcty and follow the law yourself, the judge will probably grant judgement in your favor if they are a ‘no show.’

    My point is to take control of any situation with Dell (or any large company). It’s YOUR money, and you have rights and resources available to you when you are sold shoddy merchandise, lied to, or don’t receive services or merchandise as expected.

    • fantomesq says:

      @BlueEyesTM: Sure file in small claims court and get a judgment for what he paid… which is what Dell is already offering him, so why involve the courts? Absolute greediness that the OP didn’t just accept the return that Dell offered.

      • BlueEyesTM says:

        @fantomesq: The advantae is leverage to get things done much sooner than later. Chances are that it will never make it to court, once scheduled. Filing just nudges Dell corporate into acting. And when filing a small claims action, you can also include costs for your time and inconvienence and any other damages you sufferred trying to get a resolution. So file the amount in small claims accordingly, and demand that much in merchandise, credit, and/or cash from Dell in order to settle your small claims action. If they don’t agree to the amount, see them in court. Once you pick the ‘justified’ amount for your judgement, stick to your guns. Don’t be greedy though (you DON’T deserve $1,000 for 2 hours on the phone). And be willing to say “no thank you, that’s not acceptable” when they are trying to haggle with you. In the end, what you are asking for in your case has to be an amount that doesn’t exceed what it would cost them to send someone out to court in another state for a day. After you’ve filed, it has to be much cheaper for them to settle with you than to go ahead and go to court against you —- WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY.

        • supercereal says:

          @BlueEyesTM: I think fantomesq‘s point was that Dell is offering to take back the laptop and give a refund with no fees, but the OP is too greedy and prideful that he apparantely wants more than what is reasonably expected.

          He’s not really entitled to any money, nor has he been “wronged.” Dell offered what is a beyond reasonable solution. In this case, he can’t sue to get more back then he had to begin with.

        • fantomesq says:

          @BlueEyesTM: I agree that filing small claims court case is a viable option, if Dell was stonewalling him, but in this case they aren’t. Dell offered him a full refund. I don’t know what more you are hoping to get in judgment from the court. Small claims court is NOT going to compensate you for your lost time ordering, opening and returning the laptop… you MAY get consequential damages for the cost to ship the laptop back. You probably WON’T get court costs and filing fees, so your time wasted and the court’s time is wasted for, what? $10-20 shipping costs maximum? Accept the return from Dell for a full refund. They offered a perfectly acceptable solution.

  31. Ed Greenberg says:

    Sounds like something slipped through the system. Since they were willing to refund it, I would think that ends the matter.

    I’ve bought four systems from the Dell outlet store and have been satisfied with all of them.

    Even if the system had come in without any problems, I wonder how the gift recipient would have liked the big “REFURBISHED” sticker on the bottom.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I’v actually had a reasoably good luck with “Dell Certified Refurbished” hardware… looks like this one was miscategorized!… Never seen that one badly abused, since they usually do a plastic case swap on most laptops…

    Iv bought 2 x XPS’s (both were fine)
    One inspiron and one Studio 15 laptop (Studio had a flakey F2 key, inspiron was fine)…
    And a dell Mini 9…. (Camera unit was DOA on the refurb. sent it back and the camera and the cable for the built in camera was replaced)…

    In general if you stick with the “Certified Refurbs” you wont have an issue… some of the S&Ds are in a little worse shape but most not as severe as the one you got… Actually very surprised they didnt do a back cover swap just to keep you happy as a customer..

  33. crutnacker says:

    I was through with Dell when I called to order and was told a bunch of lies by their outsourced sales force. Previously I’d owned four other Dells and had flawless service, including a full replacement of a laptop with a much better one when something like this person had happen happened to me.

    Dell used to be THE company in my opinion. Now they’re just a nameplate.

  34. bananaboat says:

    I’ve bought 2 Inspirons and 3 1500 Dell refurbs over the past 2 years. Everyone of them has looked brand new and they come with the same warranty as a new one. The refurb description since it might have some scratches but this one sure looks like a scratch & dent. No excuse for the pirated software but something seems odd since they are suppose to reimage all machines.

  35. sanjsrik says:

    Why not call the SPA? After all they have a toll-free number for reporting proliferation of pirated software. Plus, I seem to remember reading that they offer rewards.

    • fantomesq says:

      @sanjsrik: Nix on the rewards. The SPA is looking for large corporate offenders with multiple (tens, hundreds, thousands of violations) not for the one-off, refurbished machine didn’t get restored or checked. This will not generate you a reward.

  36. MustyBuckets says:

    @Mike Kosten: Excuse me, but did you read what I wrote before you decided to sound like an ass? I didn’t write a lot, but I’ll try to break it down further as other people have for you.

    I said:
    The rep was incorrect in saying that, and the OP was incorrect in believing it. We agree on that, believe it or not.
    Deep scratches are NOT minor cosmetic damage.
    The pirated CD in the drive leads to the conclusion that it wasn’t even looked over.
    It was not sold as described, lacking features and software that he was told it to have. Not his fault for believing the rep on that.

    Oh, and instead of reading, I should have said comprehend. I suggest you go back through it, and look up all the big words you don’t understand in a dictionary.

    • supercereal says:

      @MustyBuckets: Big words from someone who said:

      He was assured that it was the same, every feature, and would have no damage. Although the rep was incorrect in saying that he would receive a 100% undamaged unit

      When the actual story says:

      oh they just say that, I have never seen a refurb with any damage on it.

      Claiming to never have seen a damaged unit does not, at all, in any way, mean that it will be “100% undamaged.” It’s not a promise or a guarantee…it’s a personal experience. I guess I missed the “100% undamaged” claim…can you please point it out?

      Keep doing what you’re doing, though. It’s fun watching the misinformed correct the misinformed.

      • MustyBuckets says:

        @supercereal: excuse me, I meant to say “…Although the rep was incorrect in IMPLYING that he would receive a 100% undamaged unit.”
        The lack of an edit function on the posts is kind of a downer.

        Regardless, I believe that everything else I said was completely factual, correct me if I’m wrong (which you seem to have no qualms about).

    • MinorAnnoyance says:

      @MustyBuckets: And if it wasn’t even “looked over” as the presence of an illegally copied disk in the drive indicates… how the heck can you sell it as a “refurbished” machine in the first place?

      This was a used… VERY used from the sound of it… computer, not a refurbished one.

  37. Tamar Weinberg says:

    “Ever wonder if “certified refurbished” is just corporate doublespeak for “not entirely broken crap?” Well, at Dell, it is!”

    In Dell’s defense, I’ve probably purchased 7-8 Dell refurb laptops over the years and have never had a problem. I still strongly recommend buying Dell refurb. Accidents happen, but in my experience, not very often. This story is more of an anomaly to me.

  38. res1i3js says:

    Rofl, they accidently sent a system that was sent in for repair, refurbs come from the same place. It was a mistake, lol.

    • edrebber says:

      @res1i3js: That might be true, but Dell won’t admit to the mistake and ship out another laptop. Dell deserves to lose the money, the laptop and a charge back fee.

      • dave_coder says:

        @edrebber: “Dell deserves to lose the money, the laptop and a charge back fee.” No. They offered to give OP his money back. OP declined. What more are you expecting Dell to do?

        • edrebber says:

          @dave_coder: Dell needs to make arrangements to inspect the rejected shipment. If they refuse to inspect the shipment, they need to refund the money or ship the correct item.

  39. pika2000 says:

    Although Dell outlet often offer great deals of refurbished models, their quality control is erratic, definitely not in the same class as Apple. Buying a refurbished Apple products from Apple is like getting a new product in a generic box. With Dell, it’s random. I ordered 2 mini9s from Dell outlet. One has a scratch on the battery (cosmetic only), the other one is fine, but the packaging was extremely sloppy (the laptop is not even secure inside the box, I can hear it flipping back-n-forth, the person seems to just dump in the support foams inside without actually putting the laptop is its proper place). I ordered a refurbished studio hybrid, the wireless keyboard & mouse came quite dusty and unwrapped (the plastic used to wrap them are crumpled inside the box) with their batteries still in them. It’s like somebody just returned them, and Dell didn’t bother to look into them and just ship it away. Note that all Dell refurbished computers I have ordered work just fine.

    Nonetheless, they’re still good deals. Watch for the icon representing the item in Dell Outlet. If you ordered one labeled as scratch & dent, don’t expect much. Other than that, as long as you don’t expect Apple-like quality control, Dell outlet is good.

  40. edrebber says:

    The item clearly does not conform to the sales agreement. This is a rejected shipment under the Uniform Commercial Code. The merchant return policy does not apply to a rejected shipment.

    Inform Dell that you are rejecting the shipment because it does not conform to the sales agreement and try to set up a date and time for them to come inspect the laptop. If Dell refuses to inspect and does not issue a full refund, then contact your credit card company and initiate a charge back.

    You’re probably not the first customer that Dell has tried to stiff with this piece of junk.

    • fantomesq says:

      @edrebber: You say its nonconforming goods… the OP was notified of the scratches prepurchase, so it may well be considered a perfect tender of conforming goods. The customer’s chargeback would then be breach.

      The chargeback is not going to be successful though unless the OP has first returned the laptop to Dell. The credit card company won’t be party to fraud. The chargeback will not be necessary after he returns the laptop to Dell because they will have initiated the return on his card.

      The UCC is only the default set of rules when buyer and seller have not established superseding agreements. The seller’s return policy is part of that superseding agreement, so the UCC’s default rules do not apply. The sale was FOB Seller’s warehouse anyway so any rejected tender must be returned to seller’s warehouse to be complete.

      • edrebber says:

        @fantomesq: The customer was not notified of “missing features, wrong OS, etc” and and “that someone took a flathead and gouged the bezel in the front”. This item clearly does not conform to the sales agreement and is a rejected shipment. Dell’s return policy has nothing to do with a customer’s legal right to reject a shipment that does not conform to the sales agreement.

        The credit card company only requires one attempt to work things out with the merchant. Dell refuses to inspect the rejected shipment and will not issue a refund or send a replacement.

        This is a common scam perpetrated by mail order businesses to try and dump non conforming goods on customers and then try to process it as a return if the customer complains.

        No doubt this pile of junk will be sent out again to another unsuspecting customer if it is returned to Dell.

        • puka_pai says:


          No doubt this pile of junk will be sent out again to another unsuspecting customer if it is returned to Dell.

          Before returning it, Joseph should write the URL of this story on the pirated Office CD. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the new owner of that very same laptop posted here?

  41. mrooney says:

    To even this out, I bought a refurbished Dell XPS M1330 and it was completely like-new; I studied it and couldn’t find a hint of use. I’ve been using it for 6 months now and love it. I agree with the sentiment above, when a company sells as many machines as Dell does, even if they have a lower disappointment ratio, there are going to be more disappointments due to their volume.

    Definitely sounds like it should have been a scratch and dent though, I’d return it making sure they pay for all shipping and give you expedited shipping on a similar if not slightly better model.

  42. rambow681 says:

    Joseph ordered a scratch and dent. He didn’t realize it because he was too busy talking to a woman in India and not reading the actual description of what he was buying.

    Why does Joseph need someone else to compare “line for line” the specifications of the two computers? Surely he’s capable of doing this himself. Further, why when he’s reading Dell’s PUBLISHED description of this computer that “hinted at some damage visible” does he rely on a sales person to define that statement? It’s already abundantly clear: this machine WILL have VISIBLE damage.

    I cannot return it as it was a gift to be presented in front of about 20 folks, one of them my future employer. The future is suddenly not so bright.

    I don’t quite follow. Why can it not be returned? I buy a gift, it’s broken. That might prevent me from GIVING the gift, but it in no way prevents me from returning and repurchasing the gift.

    And lastly, when you dabble in completely ethical gift-for-job trade you may want to go ahead with the more expensive, not possibly “visibly damaged” gift.

    My guess — Joseph’s no-so-bright future has something to do with the financial markets and nothing to do with reading, computers, or even reality.

  43. punktlich says:

    I bought a Inspiron laptop for my daughter to use at college. I bought the extended warranty. A couple of weeks before the warranty expired I rang Dell to say a hinge had broken (metal fatigue) and I wanted it fixed. They (or their call center in India) said it was not covered, it was user damage. I complained to HQ and got no satisfaction. I filed a small claims court suit. Almost immediately I got a call from a woman who said her job was to “deal with lawsuits” and that the laptop would be collected forthwith for repair. Which it was.

    Moral: sue first, discuss later.

  44. tworld says:

    Dell SUCKS. I bought a computer from them and had nothing but trouble. Their Technical Support, usually named “Chip” and “Cathy” to (they think) disguise you’re speaking to someone in India, is a joke, only you’re not laughing. Especially when you have a problem and Chip and Cathy know NOTHING, and keep putting you on hold to read the same non-friendly Dell manual you’re holding in your hand. I would NEVER buy from Dell again.

  45. WeAre138 says:

    Great – Mac is going to make a commercial out of this.

  46. Mike Kosten says:

    Tht’s wht y gt fr bng chp nd byng rfrb s gft. Frm th tn f yr vc t snds lk y’v nvr bght rfrb bfr.

    Lt ths b lssn. Dn’t by smthng fr smn tht y wldn’t by fr yrslf.

    • Chizzer says:

      @Mike Kosten:

      When a company markets something as being up to new factory model specification, that’s what the consumer should receive upon ordering it, regardless of whether or not it’s a refurb. ESPECIALLY if a sales representative assures the consumer that the item will be as-new, and in perfect working order.

      You can’t blame the consumer for being duped, you twit.

      • Mike Kosten says:


        But the OP stated that the website stated it could be damaged. I’m pretty sure that’s why it says that on the website.

        Nice try though.

    • MustyBuckets says:

      @Mike Kosten: He was assured that it was the same, every feature, and would have no damage. Although the rep was incorrect in saying that he would receive a 100% undamaged unit, a unit with deep scratches and a pirated CD in it is past the ‘certified refurbished’ category and well into the ‘used’ category.

      Next time you go out and blame the op, I’d suggest reading the article.

      • Mike Kosten says:

        Y knw wht s rnc bt cnsmrs, f thy rd plcy n prnt nd th prsn n th phn ssrs thm tht t s nt crrct, thy mk wht tht prsn sd s plcy, BT whn plcy cntrdcts wht th prsn hs tld th cstmr whn t bnfts th cstmr, thy rs hll.

        Y cn’t pck nd chs whn wrttn plcy s vld nd sn’t vld.

        Jst lk t strs, whn smthng s msprcd n yr fvr, ‘m sr y crp nt bckt ntl thy gv y tht lwr prc, bt th str dsn’t chrg y mr whn thy hv n ncrrct HGHR prc.

        Nxt tm y try t schl m, try t gt n dctn nd sm rl wrld xprnc.

        • Con Sumer Zealot says:

          @Mike Kosten: Mike why don’t you just leave this website? It is a pro-consumer website, not blame-the-consumer website.

          And while you are at it, shut your face, because you are a consumer too, and I’m sure you don’t like it when YOU get ripped off and someone then comes and blames you for being stupid, greedy selfish, whatever.

          • Jonbo298 says:

            @Con Sumer Zealot: There are times when the consumer is WRONG or to be blamed. This could be an example. He needs to show how the order was placed. Dell has an option in the outlet site called SCRATCH & DENT. If the OP had chosen that option, then by all rights he can receive a laptop like this.

            If he can prove it was not Scratch & Dent in the order, then Dell could replace for something of that matter. Unfortunately, he doesn’t provide proof of what he specifically ordered. So by all means I will blame the OP until proof is shown he actually ordered certified refurb and not Scratch & Dent.

            • Con Sumer Zealot says:

              @Jonbo298: Even when they are “wrong” they are right – it is THEIR money and time invested, not the corporation’s money.

              I’m sure people reasonably include proof of what happened, if you don’t like what they have or haven’t included take it up with Ben, these stories are edited before being posted, and also, some of that “proof” may be none of your business if it has private or personally identifying information in it, just in case you would use that to steal their identity or harass them.

              Oh and Dell doesn’t have “Scratch & Dent” class service.

              Finally what A$$hole MORON at Dell ships a laptop looking like that to a customer after they have paid money for it. Shouldn’t have sold it, shouldn’t have shipped it – Mofo-Period.

              • Jonbo298 says:

                @Con Sumer Zealot: Yes, because obviously people can’t edit out personal info. Consumerist wouldn’t be dumb enough to post someone’s personal info on an order.

                Also, Dell does have a Scratch & Dent option in their OUTLET store.


                If the link doesn’t work, just Google dell outlet and click through a few links and you will see that you do have the option to choose Scratch & Dent or not via a check box.

              • enderx says:

                @Con Sumer Zealot: man, you sound like a typical victim. ‘even when they’re wrong, they’re right!’ – this is the 60s. when you’re wrong, you’re wrong. I’ll point it out to you, and I’m in customer service. I might compensate you for your mistake, but I don’t have to. Dell offered him to take it back. here’s what makes me think the OP is probably incorrect in this instance.

                “I cannot return it as it was a gift to be presented in front of about 20 folks, one of them my future employer. The future is suddenly not so bright.”

                – what?!

                • Trai_Dep says:

                  @enderx: I’m wryly amused that moments after MKosten proclaims, “Consumerist LOVES my trolly comments – they drive up pageviews!” he’s unceremoniously disemvoweled across the entire site. And, for all we know, across the entire Internet (yes, Roz is that all-seeing and all-powerful).

            • supercereal says:

              @Jonbo298: Oh, but there is proof of what he ordered…at least according to the story:

              …the description online that hinted at some damage visible…

              Sounds like “visual damage” should not be anything unexpected. Just because the CSR said that she hadn’t seen “visibly damaged units” doesn’t mean that they don’t exist, or that he won’t receive one.

              It certainly seems it was clearly stated that some damage is possible. I don’t see what the issue is here…at all.

          • Mike Kosten says:

            @Cn Smr Zlt:

            m wht y cll smrt cnsmr bcs dn’t by frm cmpns lk Dll. nd y ppl nd t rlz tht thrwng ***-ft s nt gng t gt y nywhr wth cstmr srvc.

            D y knw hw mny tms cn gt jst lttl xtr by bng vry plt nd cnsdrt t ths wh cn dcd th tcm f wht wll hppn wth my prdct r srvc.

            Th rdcls thng s tht ppl r xpctng th cmpny t d mr thn jst fx th prblm… y knw, gss h s xpctng Dll t gv hm fr lptp fr “hs ncnvnnc.”

            Th wy ths wbst wrks s tht whn smbdy ds th slghtst thng wrng t cmpny, thy’v ht th jckpt bcs thr thy’ll 1. Gt smthng fr fr r 2. B bl t mk th cmpny lk bd by pstng n xggrtd stry fr vryn hr t rd t bdmth th cmpny.

            Ths blg s bcmng ntpck nd whn blg.

            Nxt hdln fr cnsmrst:

            “Jm rdrs Bgmc, Cshr Dsn’t Lft Th Try Hgh ngh Whn Hndng Hm Hs Fd”

            Ths sn’t cnsmr wrnss, ths s jst btch nd rnt blg. nd f stry.

            • Con Sumer Zealot says:

              @Mike Kosten: Well you think you’re a smart consumer on some levels, UNTIL all the Dell-like corporations inevitably collude or mutually agree on and enforce WORST practices in customer dis-service because you didn’t complain loud enough with others like you, who you are claiming here doesn’t work to stop the practice, and then you are screwed, just like everyone else no matter how “nice” you are.

              Too bad you can’t be honest and find camaraderie with and be half as “nice” to other afllicted consumers and instead blame them for what you KNOW and ADMIT in your reply is DELL’s fault.

              Let me explain how customer service works to you: You screw up majorly, and you sucker punch people in your BADvertising and YES you need to then go the extra mile and bend over backwards to win them back. Simple psychology, bub.

              The “way this website works”, just as you describe it, is brilliant, it’s long overdue and it’s about frickin time. Corporations have beat up on consumers for decades, and now we have just a FEW weapons on are side and you are saying that is horrible. Whatevah! Consumerist staff work hard to substantiate these things, and issue retractions and clarifications.

              Consumers having the INSTANT exponential power of blogging awareness to bring stupid, careless, indifferent and wrongheaded corporations to their knees with all manner of email, phone calls, news stories 24/7 until they GET it and FIX it is JUST what this country needs. All too often, no, it’s not simply a bitch and rant blog, it’s a RESULTS blog, just not the kind you or corporations want – consumers win.

              And since you hate the site so much, Mike, like I said, what are you still doing here?

        • puka_pai says:

          @Mike Kosten:

          asked her to compare, line for line, the two laptops. She assured me they were identical, component for component.

          Before you suggest that someone get an education and some real world experience you might want to learn to read yourself. The above quote from the OP is fairly important.

          Regardless of the condition of the case — it looks bad, but that’s covered by the “visible damage” disclaimer so I’d say that’s pretty much a chance you take — the specs on the laptop that he ordered were supposed to match the specs of the brand new one he originally ordered. And yet,

          It is not line for line the same laptop, missing features, wrong OS, etc.

          So it’s not the same under the dinged-up hood, either.

          Sonny, I’ve got more years of real world customer service experience than I’d like. If one of my customers received a piece of junk like this, at the very least I’d make it right. And not just by refunding his money. Waiving the restocking fee isn’t enough either. Since they didn’t send him the laptop he ordered, he should be free to return it without penalty due to Dell’s error anyway. Sending him a new laptop with the specs he asked for, but at the refurb price should make this a win-win deal.

    • Imperialist says:

      @Mike Kosten: Have you ever ordered from Dell Outlet? I bet that’s a no.

      There’s a difference between “scratch and dent” and “certified refurb”, which according to their website, certified refurb doesn’t include “considerable cosmetic blemishes”.

      Stop being so hostile. Turn off your computer and go outside.

    • ajlei says:

      @Mike Kosten: Believe me, I have bought refurbished equipment several times and I’ve never had a single issue.

    • RodAox says:

      @Mike Kosten: I highly doubt they said “This refub is mauled by a bear and please accept a pirated copy of office”…Also dell is notorious for shipping out broken refub systems, it is their way of making the customer test the hardware and get paid for it….

    • MsAnthropy says:

      @Mike Kosten:

      Nothing wrong with buying refurbs per se. I’ve bought refurbs from Apple, and they’ve been as good as new every time. But yeah, I wouldn’t buy a new Dell for anyone, let alone a refurb, so I guess I’ll agree with that advice.

  47. Mike Kosten says:

    h, nd whl y’r t t, why dn’t y g nd by yr fthr-n-lw sm “prvsly wnd” clths frm grg sl. Y knw, snc h crs tht y svd sm mny by bng chp.

  48. pvaras says:

    I just purchased a Studio 15 from the Dell outlet site last week. It’s ben shipped and I should receive it next week. Although this story hits a bit close to home for me, I must say that I have never had any bad experiences with Dell. I opened a line of credit with them last year and purchsed my XPS desktop system, which has never given me an issue.

    I have nothing bad to say against Dell so far.

  49. djkatscan says:

    I have some horror stories about Dell’s tech support. A retired lady was told over phone support to start removing her own hard drive from a laptop. Not very hard to someone who knows what they are doing but to this lady, it was scary. Another older lady told to replace her own laptop keyboard. A missing key was not covered under warranty and they wanted to ship her the keyboard and use the online instructions to replace it herself.
    Another time *I* was calling for someone who was so frustrated she could not deal with it. She needed her OS/Driver/Software CD set. I had done this in the past with other MFG’s, for 30$ or so they send them to you. I was told that I could download everything I needed from Dell’s website…including the OS. I wanted to know where so I could download my free copy of Windows too.
    Dell support is a nightmare. They used to be top rated for support but they are horrible now. Thats a reason that I steer people away from Dell when getting a new machine.

  50. anduin says:

    haha thats AWESOME, I love Dell because if you know PC’s theyre actually a decent place to get a PC and not pay through the nose (as long as you know whats most compatible with what). I will admit they goof up often enough to give them a bad image in some peoples eyes but I still love both my XPS and my dads inspiron

  51. DH405 says:

    When you CHOOSE to order a refurb, and you save a ton on it, this can happen. When they volunteer to replace it by accepting the return with no restocking fee, then that’s the end of the story. What you you want, a higher end laptop overnighted? Want a pony with that?

    If you can’t afford to lose a little time in the process, go buy a full-on NEW product. Don’t go to Al’s Used Junkers and expect the red-carpet treatment and a brand new luxury car for $2000.

  52. dave_coder says:

    @undefined: @Con Sumer Zealot: Hey. When a large website like this takes to accusing Dell of bad service I would hope that they post ALL information relating to the matter. They can always black out identifying info but the onus is on the complaint-writer to prove that they were wronged.

    And about the “even when wrong they’re right” bit: A corporations money is invested as well, in the form of the product. Don’t forget that when you buy something it’s like a trade, you trade money for a product. Both parties have to be reasonable. Don’t arrogantly think you’re always “right” because you’re labeled consumer.

  53. FrankReality says:

    Not blaming the OP, but I think the word for the wise here is to:

    1) check with the vendor what “factory refurbished”, “factory recertified”, “factory reconditioned”, “factory retested” or whatever terms the vendor uses actually do mean before purchasing, so you know what you’re getting.


    2) be ready and able to return what you get in case it does not meet what you’re supposed to get.

    and, from personal experience

    3) make sure you test every feature of the product, as sometimes “factory refurbished”, “factory recertified” and “factory retested” doesn’t necessarily mean everything works.

  54. turkeyspam says:

    The lesson to learn from all of this is DON’T buy anything
    from Dell! They suck! This article is a prime example.

    1) Say out loud : “I won’t buy from Dell.”
    2) Repeat #1 when you feel weak after seeing
    one of their “buy our computers you stupid tool” commercials.

  55. CheritaChen says:

    I was asking for a tech at least to come out and replace the case, drop off the OS I wanted, I was willing to eat the non-backlit keyboard

    While I agree that what the OP received was not what he paid for (wrong configuration) and a failure of Dell’s refurb QA (possibly miscategorized as “Certified Refurbished” and shipped with someone’s warez disc still inside)…

    Swapping out the plastic case of a laptop is, for most models, not a trivial operation. Yes, it can be done, and some end users are comfortable enough to do it themselves, but the proprietary nature of most of these cases, coupled with the relative tightness of the components, makes it a fairly delicate and time-consuming process.

    I don’t have specific knowledge of this model or its case, but it’s likely that had Dell simply dropped off a new one, the new case itself or some other component would have been damaged by the OP in making the swap. Sending it back to Dell is really the most reasonable remedy they could have offered, both to ensure his satisfaction (which it now seems they just weren’t going to engender no matter what) and to meet their own end of the sales contract (which they should have done the first time around, obviously).

    I agree with the commenter who said this might have been someone else’s repair, sent to sales instead. Still, that would be a greater inconvenience by far to the dumbass whose lappie it really is than to this guy who probably should have gone with his first instinct and bought a new machine, if it was such a critical “gift.”

  56. Anonymous says:

    I had a bad experience with a refurbished Dell laptop as well. As soon as I received the laptop, I noticed something weird. A lot of missing “parts” such as the plastic cover for the PCMCIA card and the cover for the memory card. My girlfriend fortunately bought a refurb one that didn’t give her any problem, so I could compare mine with hers.
    When I turn my computer on, that thing started to make a noise SOOO LOUD that the only way to prevent from doing it so was to hold the power button to power it off. Closing the lid didn’t help. When I say loud, it was loud… it wasn’t hard drive or anything like that.. it sound like a woman screaming. I was kinda embarrassed wondering if my neighbors was hearing that.
    And calling customer service was a nightmare. It took me about three hours for them to finally agree to issue me a full refund and they actually did after about 30 days I shipped the laptop (junk) back to them.
    Refurbished Dell.. never.. ever.

  57. marike says:

    We own two XPS 700/750 hybrids that were purchased from the Dell Outlet about 3 years ago (one was certified refurbished and the other was “scratch and dent”). Both arrived in 2 days and were in brand-new condition. The “scratch” on the “scratch and dent” tower came off with a microfiber cloth. Dell has always treated these two systems as if they were purchased brand new by us (they even replaced the mobo during the mobo exchange eventho it was purchased at the outlet, hence the “hybrid”) and we’ve been very satisfied with the CS we’ve received (always through XPS tech chat online).

    But, honestly, if it’s a gift, why not buy him a new one? There are lots of deals in the outlet, sure, but there are lots of deals on new laptops, too. Or maybe FIL isn’t worth it? heh

  58. Biggbrother says:

    So you ordered a refurbished laptop for which the online description specifically stated the laptop had visible damage, yet you ordered it anyway based on the statement of a customer service representative who stated “they all say that”.

    I agree with you on the bootleg Office being in the CD drive, but I that was “extra” as you weren’t entitled to office pre-installed anyway.

    Dell looks to be offering fair compensation. Your asking for too much.

  59. palewook says:

    forget what dell is offering. turn dell into microsoft’s report piracy number:

    (800) RU-LEGIT

    getting dell a nice fine should make you feel better.

  60. TampaShooters says:

    I have bought over 30 refurbs (For friends, Co-workers, family, and myself) from Delloutlet and never had a problem with looks. A couple did have minor hardware problems, but dell fixed them under warranty. I can’t believe this story in any way. He either doesn’t know what he is talking about, or he is bull$hitting us. If you get a computer, and don’t like it, they have a 21 day return policy… simple… If they offer to replace it… do it… simple… what more can you ask for? retard.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Just wanted to clear some things up (I am Joe, original OP):

    #1) I agree I should have just sent it back. I read the comments and to be honest, it was more of an embarrassing situation than not. It isn’t that I COULD NOT PHYSICALLY return the laptop, it was that it is already in the hands of my father in law, and I guess I was too embarrassed to ask for it back. So, to the posters who said I should have just sent it back and been done with it, I agree. I should have gone HP maybe?
    #2) I was only asking for the case to be replaced, and I (wrongly) assumed that when the agent on the phone tells me it is the same laptop line for line, isn’t that what they are paid to do, to represent Dell? I guess I was being too idealistic on that one as well, although I felt a warm fuzzy when Dell assured me it was ok. Pie in my face, lesson learned, I move on…
    #3) I can assure you there is no falsehoods afoot here. I also didn’t know it came with a refurb sticker. I actually have no problem with that, it was the case condition and lack of 64bit OS.
    #4) I apologize for not making it clear on my letter, but I DID open the box, I DID contact them beforehand and I DO have the expertise to replace the case had they sent me a new (or less scratched) one.
    #5) Bottom line for me on this one: It is not certified refurb’d. It is scratch and dent, which costs less than cert refurb. I paid more for this than I should have, which prompted the email to Consumerist (Awesome site *cough cough*).

    I have gotten a return authorization code to return the laptop and wash my hands of this mess, which I am taking advantage of. Got a new laptop, stopped being cheap (yes, I was trying to save bucks) and to the posters who disputed my “future looking so bright” comment, I guess my opinion on that was that there was NO TIME to swap out the computer before the party, the guests knew a laptop was the main present and I could not afford to get another one. The extra gifts were laptop cases, mobile mouse, etc. Thankfully they were mature enough to realize this was out of my hands and did not hold me responsible for this.

    Yes, lesson learned. Don’t be cheap, don’t be afraid to replace a gift and don’t buy Dell.

    Thanks Consumerists!

  62. sashazur says:

    Why is this such a big deal?

    The item didn’t match the description (and/or could be considered to be damaged), so Dell offers to take back the item and provide a full refund.

    That’s all I would expect Dell to do, and they have done it (or have offered to do it).

    If this happened to me, it would probably make me not want to buy from Dell anymore, but it wouldn’t cross my mind to start writing nasty letters to executives.

    (But it also would not cross my mind to buy refurb anything as a gift).

    P.S. My only complaint about Dell is that their laptop power adapter bricks don’t seem to last more than a year, I’ve gone through 3 or 4 of them in the past few years.

  63. Fixta Fernback says:

    Dell, Gateway, HP… I’ve had problems with all their laptops and computers.

    But I’ve also had great experiences with all these companies so snafus really are random. I will say, however, that I’ve had the most problems with Gateway and the most success with HP.

  64. From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

    Could be worse – if he’d ordered from Hewlett Packard they have a nasty habit of randomly canceling orders for spurious reasons and not bothering to tell their customers. At least he got the pirate bear-claw “scratch and dent” laptop…

    I’ve personally been mostly impressed with the level of support I get from Dell, though the calls to India have hinted at trouble if I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. Business support is generally excellent.

    The presence of the warez CD indicates that it was never looked over well, and for that reason alone Dell should take it back and give him expedited replacement. The case scratch is a bit excessive too, Dell’d benefit by describing that level of damage to set expectations properly.