Compaq accused of bullying customers over warranties
Two more class-action lawsuits
No sooner has it got rid of one class-action lawsuit than Compaq gets hit with another two. This time they involve allegations of warranty bullying tactics.
The suits, filed in state court in Beaumont, Texas, by the law offices of Wayne Reaud, concern the PC maker's iPaq Pocket PC handhelds and iPac and Presario computers.
They allege Compaq "systematically defrauds consumers through their express warranty procedures and knowingly denies consumers implied warranty rights," according to a statement from Wayne Reaud today.
The first case, Pope v. Compaq, accuses Compaq of making customers sign release forms when computers are replaced or customers receive a refund through its one-year express warranty.
These forms make the customer promise to keep all information secret, including any faults with the machine - or they risk losing the computer and getting stung with a lawsuit from Compaq.
The suit wants to force Compaq to scrap the signed releases idea.
Wayne Reaud is part of Orgain, Bell & Tucker, the same lawyers that forced Toshiba to shell out more than $2 billion in a settlement over faulty floppy disk drives in 1999. The law firm claims it has heard from many "dissatisfied customers who are fed up with Compaq's tactics".
The statement cites one customer who had to wait six months to get a product they could use, but was told they would receive it only if they signed the form agreeing not to discuss the situation.
"Compaq is not standing behind their products and is attempting to bully its customers into keeping their mouths shut about the problems they are having," said Patrick Woodson, a representative of the plaintiffs.
The second case, Albanese vs. Compaq, alleges Compaq misleads customers about their rights, and violates federal law by excluding all implied warranty rights. In the US companies can limit, but not exclude, implied warranty rights for products.
The lawyers want to get customers their full four-year implied warranty rights back.
"These cases are about forcing Compaq to stop short-changing customers who are getting stuck with defective products," said Woodson. "These are deceptive practices, they are wrong and they need to stop."
Last month a US District Judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Reaud against Compaq, which alleged the vendor had for years knowingly sold machines with dodgy floppy disk drives. ®