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Question about taking Dell to arbitration

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? California

Hi everyone,

Let me start by saying thank you to anyone who takes time to help me with this situation, it is very much appreciated. I'll try to be as brief as possible, but it's kind of involved, so here goes....

Back in September of 2004 I purchased a computer from Dell Corporation for $1500. I did this by applying for credit through Dell Financial Services. They were nice enough :mad: to extend an offer of credit to me at the wonderful APR of 29.99. :eek: Now, even though this is highway robbery, I understood what I was getting into, so I went ahead with the purchase.

Three months later, I went into my office one morning to turn on the laptop, and nothing happened. I called Dell Support, who "troubleshooted" the problem over the phone, then determined that I needed to ship it to their depot to be looked at. A week later, the box finally arrived for me to ship it out, and 10 days after that, I got a call from a Dell employee. He stated to me that 'the motherboard was shorted, you don't have complete care so its not covered under your warranty, but we'd be happy to replace the motherboard for you for $750' :mad: I asked why it wasn't covered, he said they found evidence of a liquid on the board.

One thing I know, there was never, ever any liquid spilled by me near that computer, so I asked to speak with a manager. This "manager" proceeds to tell me its 'our word against yours', and that they were not going to fix the computer. They shipped it back to me, not entirely put back together, and so there I was, owing $1500 for a product I don't even have use of.

I started what I thought was the dispute process through Dell Financial Services, thinking that while I was disputing payment for a bunk product, I would be ok withholding payment. I was wrong. Several months later, I found out that Dell Financial, because I had not sent a letter by regular post, was reporting me to credit bureaus and ruining my credit. They reported me 30, 60, 90, and 120 days late, marring my credit reports terribly.

So I started paying again, I didn't know what to do. I got back on track, but after all the fees and finance charges and the 30.55 effective APR, to date, I still owe $1400 of the $1488 originally financed. How can they hold me responsible for a debt like this when they sold me a faulty laptop? I cannot allow myself to be bullied like this anymore, so I am looking into taking them to arbitration, and I have a few questions.

1) Should I be concerned with Dell Corporation, or Dell Financial Services, or both?

2) Am I correct in thinking that the contract between DFS and myself shouldn't hold since
the parent company sold me faulty computer? Or am I nuts even thinking I should get satisfaction?

3) Do I have different options because I live in the state of California?

4) Do I need counsel to go through arbitration?

The thing is, I'm not asking for damages or anything. I just want them to make the situation right. I understand I agreed to the so-high-it-should-be-criminal 29.99 APR, and would be willing to pay as agreed, IF I have a product that justifies the expense. If they fix it for me, that's fine.....or negate the contract, fine too. But I'm not trying to get money from them or anything.

I apologize again for the long post. If anyone has some advice for me, it would be so appreciated. Thank you for taking time to read the post.

Regards.What is the name of your state?


Junior Member
NO Legal Advice

Hi .... i came across your post ....

Firstly.....the exact same thing happened to me .... my comp was 2 months old ... I spent over 18 hours on the phone .... they eventually sent me a new motherboard "as extended courtesy" at no charge - as long as I returned the other. I firmly believe it was because I was so persistant and kept asking for "a higher up"

Secondly ... the same thing happened to a friend ...he landed up with a very familiar bill to yours

Thirdly .... I now have another friend (After i recommended a Dell - dont get me wrong - I LOVE this laptop) and she is going through the same thing....

Good luck!

It wouldnt be an Inspiron 8600 would it?


Junior Member

Thanks for your reply. No, it's not an 8600, its an Inspiron 5150. Did you have complete care, or just regular warranty? They sent you the motherboard without installing it? When I wouldn't let them price gauge me out of $750, the shipped my comp back and didn't even bother to put the screws back in !!:eek:

Maybe I should talk to the California attorney general about this; big business has ruined too many Americans lives by ruining their credit, etc.....It has to change.



Junior Member
Wow, that's a messy situation... I would probably either (a) contact your attorney general about the larger issue involved in the way they're treating their customers, but more immediately, I would (b) arbitrate with Dell themselves. You probably won't get any satisfaction from Dell Financial because you did stop paying your bill -- even though I would agree with you that you shouldn't keep paying for something that isn't performing up to what it is supposed to, legally you're required to keep paying, and their recourse is to jack up your credit. Sucks, huh?

I would probably take the laptop to some other computer professionals, whether it's an independent (read: CERTIFIED) computer repair tech, Best Buy's Geek Squad, etc. to look at the computer and see if they find any evidence of water damage. You will need them to sign an affidavit attesting that they did or did not find any liquid damage.

California has some pretty stringent consumer protection laws, so you might do some research into those to see if they might play in your favor.

Finally, you don't have to have counsel to arbitrate, (as is my situation), but it certainly is helpful if you're not familiar with arbitration, negotiation, or dispute resolution.

Best Wishes,


Junior Member
Thanks for the response.

I finally have a little help on the horizon. The Department of Consumer Affairs Complaint Mediation Program here in California has taken on my complaint with Dell. I'm not sure exactly if this will fix things, but I feel good knowing that the State, not a for-profit ADR firm, is initially looking at the complaint.

Wish me luck:D

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