Does Dell Owe You Money?

If you've ever received shoddy service from Dell, now's your chance for payback -- literally.

Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley's office, along with 33 other state attorneys, reached a $3.35 million multi-state settlement with Dell and Dell Financial Services, for allegedly misleading consumers about financing terms, warranties and rebates.

$1.5 million of the settlement will be deposited into an account specifically for customer restitution. The rest goes to attorney fees, litigation, and other legal mumbo jumbo.

The lawsuit began last year and highlighted the many ways in which Dell treated its customers poorly, including but not limited to never providing proper refunds, failure to provide prompt repairs, and misleading customers about financing terms. PC World plunged into extensive interviews and research regarding these allegations in mid-2007.

Dell has yet to provide a press release or comment on its webpage, but we can expect to hear something from them soon.

So how can you cash in? If you bought a Dell product between April 1, 2005 and April 13, 2009 and experienced any of the following, you may be entitled to a slice of the money pie:

  • 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

Go to the Dell Settlement Claims webpage (or download the PDF form here), fill it out and send it in by April 13, 2009. It's important to note that you may not receive restitution based on your claims but hey, it's worth a shot.

The best part about this lawsuit is how Dell has now committed to changing its evil ways. Here are some of the ways -- in less lawyerly language -- Dell has to change its ways:

  • Dell cannot send you to a collection agency for late payments if you claim the debt is invalid with supporting documents.
  • Dell must mail rebate payments in a reasonable time that shall be disclosed to the customer. If Dell doesn't disclose a timeframe, it has to be done within 30 days.
  • Dell must provide a receptacle for all customer complaints in the form of mailing and e-mail addresses and fax numbers.
  • Dell cannot claim it provides warranty, on-site repair, or technical support unless it first clearly states the customer first must go through telephone-based troubleshooting.
  • Dell must be super-clear about its credit offers. It must disclose terms and conditions, minimum monthly payment requirements, interest changes, finances charges, penalties, and more.

This lawsuit represents a huge pull for customers. Hopefully it'll strike fear in the hearts of other companies accused of providing poor service and unclear terms. In the meantime, see if you can't stick it to the man.

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