NY Attorney General Sues Dell on Deception

michaeldellNew York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against computer maker Dell and its affiliate company, Dell Financial Services LP, allegeding numerous deceptive “bait and switch” advertising and failing to live up to customer service promises.

“At Dell, customer service means no service at all,” said Cuomo in a statement. “Dell’s consumers were intentionally misled, and they had to pay for that privilege. I hope this lawsuit sends a message to companies large and small that delivering a product is simply not enough—the promises they make must be delivered as well.”

The case is being handled by the state’s Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, which claims to have received an unprecedented level of complaints about Dell and its financing partner. According to allegations in papers filed in Albany, New York, Dell repeatedly failed to provide timely onsite repair to customers with service contracts and promises of “expedited” service and pressured customers on service contracts to service hardware components themselves. The suit also alleges Dell discouraged customers from seeking technical support by subjecting them to long wait times, disconnections, and repeated transfers, and claims the company used known-defective “refurbished” parts to repair and replace consumer’s gear.

The lawsuit also accuses Dell of enticing customers with “classic bait-and-switcH” schemes, offering “no interest” and “no payment” financing plans, but then denying those deals even to consumers with good credit scores.

In a written statement, Dell spokesperson Bon Pearson denied all the charges. “While even one dissatisfied customer is too many, the allegations in the AG’s filing are based upon a small fraction of Dell’s consumer transactions in New York,” Pearson wrote. “We are confident that our practices will be found to be fair and appropriate.”

Cuomo is seeking restitution for impacted customers, civil penalties, and promises from Dell that it will not engage in such practices in the future.