Does Dell Owe Me Money?

I heard that Dell settled a class action lawsuit and all Dell computer owners may have a claim in the settlement. I couldn’t find anything on the Dell Web site, so how do we find out if we have a claim in this settlement? – Todd

Computers have always been a much more complicated consumer electronics device to understand and purchase and the practices of various manufacturers and retailers that take advantage of the lack of understanding by the consumer has gotten worse over the years.

Dell has been embattled in allegations of misleading practices for years and it has finally come to a settlement on one of the larger cases.

On January 12th, 2009, the Attorney General’s Offices of 34 states reached a $3.35 million settlement with Dell for allegedly misleading consumers about financing terms, warranties and rebates.

The states that participated in the settlement includes: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

According to the details, Dell will deposit $1.5 million of the $3.35 million into an account for the payment of restitution to consumers (and yes, the attorney’s fees and legal costs outpace the settlement to the consumers once again!)

The Massachusetts AG’s Web site posted this explanation: “Today’s settlement resolves allegations by the States that Dell misled consumers about financing terms; failed to pay rebates in a timely manner, if at all; and failed to provide prompt repairs and other customer support that Dell promised to its customers. The representations occurred both verbally via telephone customer service and in writing on their Web site.”

Even though only 34 states participated in the group action, other states have also settled with Dell, including Texas where Dell is headquartered, so check with your state’s Attorney General’s Web site to determine if you are eligible and for instructions for downloading forms and filing a claim.

If you made a purchase from Dell after April 1, 2005 you must fill out a claim form and provide supporting documentation to be considered as a claimant.

Eligibility for restitution includes one or more of the following:

  • A problem with a Dell financing offer 
  • A problem with a Dell rebate
  • A problem with Dell financing
  • A problem with a Dell repair, warranty, or servicing

Filing a claim does not necessarily entitle you to restitution and having supporting documentation is not critical when you initially file the claim, however, the more documentation you have to support your claim (receipts, e-mails, phone records, etc.), the better your chances of getting some sort of restitution.

The restitution will be based on out-of-pocket expenses, not your original purchase amount. If, for example, you had to pay a third party to perform service for something that Dell should have covered but refused and you have the documentation to support your claim, you may be eligible for reimbursement of the third party expense.

If the total amount of eligible claims exceeds the settlement amount, then those qualifying will get a prorated amount based on the total number of claims.

If you believe you qualify for restitution, I would highly recommend that you file sooner, rather than later as the logistics of getting the supporting documents reviewed could become an issue if you wait until the last minute.

The deadline for filing a claim are those postmarked by April 13th, 2009.

Ken Colburn
President of Data Doctors Computer Services, Host of the award-winning Computer Corner radio show, and Author of Computer Q&A in the East Valley Tribune newspapers.

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  • Ashryne

    Interesting post Chris. I mean Dell is a decent company but they have had their share of issues. I did not know that things were this bad with them. I guess you learn something new every day.

  • http://www.att.yahoo.com Daisy Perkins/Karen Perkins

    I purchased a Dell Inspiron 1501 Laptop(December 2007) and had problems from February 2008 to the present.

    I am requesting information, regarding a Class Action Suit against Dell Computers.

    My locaton is in Cleveland, Ohio(Eastern suburbs/Lyndhurst).

    I received an Inspiron 530 on July 28,2008, because of the problems with the previous computer(purchase in 2004).
    The computer was crashing every 3 months, beginning in 2005 to 2008. I have had 4 Motherboards and equipment replaced, by a Computer Technicial, from 2005 to 2008.

    Will I be eligible to be part of the Class Action Suit against Dell Computers?

    Thank you
    I