Dell ordered back to court in laptop dustup
'Unconscionable' arbitration overruled
Dell has been ordered back into court to face claims it knowingly sold defective Inspiron 5160 and 1150 laptops.
In October 2006, three Inspiron owners - Michael Omstead, Melissa Malloy, and Lisa Smith - filed suit against the PC maker, charging the company with "misconduct in connection with the design, manufacture, warranting, advertising and selling of the affected computers."
The trio complained that their laptops' cooling systems were inadequate, that their power supplies and cooling systems failed prematurely under normal use, and that their batteries either failed to charge or would only hold a charge for a short time.
Omstead et al. were also steamed that the software patch Dell issued to fix the overheating Inspiron did so in part by slowing the clock speed of the allegedly defective Inspirons, and that "for some period of time presently unknown," Dell not only replaced defective parts with parts of the same design, but also charged customers for the parts and labor involved in those swap-outs.
United States District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, however, dismissed the suit in May 2008 because the plaintiffs refused to follow a court order sending them into arbitration.
Omstead, Malloy, and Smith filed an appeal a month later, and this Friday, Reuters reports, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with them. Judge Lyle Strom said that the District Court should not have dismissed the case, and that it was in the public's interest to let it comtinue. Strom also said it was "unconscionable" to enforce a provision in customers' sales contracts requiring arbitration, according to Reuters.
And so it's back to square one for Michael Dell, Michael Omstead, Melissa Malloy, and Lisa Smith - although the plaintiffs now have a victory under their belts, and a judge's opinion that requiring the arbitration of individual cases of $1,200 to $1,500 laptops is "unconscionable." ®
Re: Dell ordered Back to Court
I have always disliked arbitration as the company always get to pick the arbitrator "judges". These people are nothing more than corporate types with an aim to please the corporation. In theory arbitration sounds good but the corporations in the US have corrupted the system.
I personally have had a friend who had to go into arbitration over being fired. He should have won by any standard instead he lost. Too bad his case involved civil rights and the appropriate laws were passed but 15 years after the fact.
Dell as a corporation prefers arbitration as they control the judges.
What happened to Dell?
It seemed like not that long ago that the word "integrity" and the phrase "customer focus" was synonymous with Dell. This episode shows that Dell, like so many others, now smells like a dead fish. I too have been burned by the gap between their so-called "cusotmer focus" and the sad reality that is now Dell.
I used to really like Dell
I can see why Dell might want to release all its legal might against 3 punters trying it on but this is a bit nasty.
Rather than downgrading their machines to run at the speed of an 8088 they should have just given them a new different model laptop. The users would have been elated and goodwill would be huge. Instead they have created a load of bad will.
As it is they close factories in Ireland only to get a grant to open one in newer EU countries and then flog off the factory to the far east.
Dell needs to make a step change in customer service, it may not be profitable in itself but they need to look at the bigger picture.
Court Acts Justly. FTW?
In a ruling widely held as unprecedented an American court has required justice to be observed instead of simply allowing a corporation to run rough-shod over the American sheeple. Clearly this court is backed by communist insurgents.
RE: Dell being Dell then
The company runs on Excel spreadsheets...
Also, visitors have to check in with security at each building and get a new badge (security desk systems were not linked last I heared - I hope this changed).
of course, all of this was from a few years back (when the case first went to court), so things may have changed.