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The Trouble with eMachines

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OK, I have a problem and I need some sort of direction on it. Please feel free to contribute as possible.

In August of 1999 I purchased an eMachines computer, specifically the eOne 500. To make a long story short, I had several problems with it throughout this past year (which involved me shipping it across the continent and spend over $150.00 in the process).

Two weeks ago, I was told that I was getting a refund in the amount of $850.00. They told me to fax my original receipt of purchase with some personal information so that they could process my claim and get my check out to me within six to eight weeks.

This past Monday, I came to find a brand new eOne at my house, left by the UPS man. They had replaced my computer as if I were not entitled to a refund.

I did some research, and it turns out that I am entitled to keep the computer and receive my refund under the Code of Virginia, section 11-2.2, which states the following:

"If any person, firm, partnership, association or corporation, or any agent or employee thereof, shall in any manner or by any means offer for sale goods, wares or merchandise when the offer includes the voluntary and unsolicited sending of any goods, wares or merchandise not actually ordered or requested by the recipient, either orally or in writing, then the sender of any such unsolicited goods, wares, or merchandise shall for all purposes be deemed to have made an unconditional gift to the recipient thereof, who may use or dispose of such goods, wares or merchandise in any manner he deems proper without any obligation to return the same to the sender or to pay him therefor."

It seems to me that this computer that I received on Monday was a gift, and I am entitled to that. By the same token, since we orally agreed on a refund, I believe I am entitled to that as well.

Unfortunately, the people at eMachines do not agree. They provided me with an ultimatum earlier this evening: either I keep the machine, or I send it back and get my refund. I reiterated my position, telling them that the law states that this computer can be deemed as a gift, And since we verbally agreed on a refund, I told them that I had that coming to me as well. They did not budge, and I told them that I would consult an attorney.

Trouble is, I'm a college student and quite poor. I'm afraid that getting an attorney and fighting tooth and nail will be more trouble than it's worth. But I do not want to give up. I want to get as much out of eMachines as I can because they've dragged me through the mud for an entire year, and I'm looking for retribution.



Senior Member
As I understand it, you want a 100% refund AND a free replacement computer. Though I understand your desire, and your legal finding of the 'gift' is supported by both state and federal law, you are fighting an uphill battle with very little ammo!!

First, the merchant holds all the cards in this game. They have sent you a replacement computer (which probably cost them far less than the refund) and you recieved it. They will not send you a refund check AND let you keep the computer. You need to try to balance the playing field.

Since this is not a matter of legal issues, I will tell you what I would do to protect myself in this transaction.

Contact the merchant and tell them that you want their offer of a refund in writing. Also, tell them that when received in writing, you will accept their offer of a refund. If they make no mention of the computer in your possession, great. If they say that they want it back first, tell them that after all the back-and-forth you don't trust them to send the check if you return the computer first. Also, tell them that they need to pay the return shipping before your will send the computer back.

This issue of computer v. refund is very important in trying to get this resolved. You want the same advantage that they want to have over you; that is to possess both the refund AND the computer. Haggle with them, and try to get them to send the refund first.

If you are able to get the refund check first and they pay for the return shipping, then you should return the computer to them. You are now what is called 'legally whole', you are back to the same condition as before the dispute (assuming that they have paid for all the return shipping also).

I agree with you that you are probably not legally bound to return the computer (by law, it is considered an 'unsolicited gift'). Let your ethics be your guide. If you do decide to keep the computer, at least refund their return shipping back to them (use a money order).

Steve Halket
Judgment Recovery of Houston
[email protected]
This is my PERSONAL OPINION and is not legal advice! Consult your local attorney for your specific situation and laws!

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