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Division of Consumer Affairs
Press Release

Attorney General
Anne Milgram
Division of Consumer Affairs, Director
David Szuchman
   
For Immediate Release:
January 12, 2008  
For Further Information Contact:
Lee Moore (609) 292-4791
 
AG Announces Settlement with Dell, Inc., Dell Financial
Over Disclosure of Financing Terms, Customer Service

Agreement Means Restitution for Consumers Who Experienced Problems

TRENTON – Attorney General Anne Milgram announced today that New Jersey has entered into a settlement agreement with Dell, Inc., under which the retail computer firm will provide restitution to customers who experienced problems with its financing promotions, rebate offers, technical support and repair policies.

The agreement calls for $25,000 to be placed in escrow by Dell to cover restitution to customers in New Jersey. New Jersey consumers who file claims by April 13, 2009 may be eligible for restitution.

A similar but separate agreement involving 34 other states calls for Dell to put money into escrow to fund consumer restitution. Under the respective settlement agreements, Dell, Inc. and its subsidiary, Dell Financial Services, admit no wrongdoing.

In addition to the financial terms, New Jersey’s settlement with Dell includes numerous disclosure provisions aimed at ensuring that Dell customers are given clear and accurate information about the terms of any financing offers, as well as their right to cancel orders within three days of receiving final credit approval. The settlement also requires Dell to, among other things, fulfill warranty obligations within 30 days of being notified of a defective product or other problem, and to mail rebates within the time frame specified or, if no date is specified, within 30 days.

“ This settlement goes a long way toward protecting New Jersey consumers by ensuring they have all the information they need to make a considered purchasing decision, and to know their rights as buyers, “ said Attorney General Milgram.

“At the same time,” Milgram continued, “the agreement includes numerous provisions designed to ensure that, when warranty issues or problems with the product arise, Dell is responsive to the needs of the consumer. We are committed to holding businesses accountable, and to ensuring that New Jersey consumers are dealt with fairly.”

Dell is a Delaware corporation with its headquarters located in Round Rock, Texas. Under terms of its settlement with New Jersey, Dell has agreed to the following:

Financing and Credit Offers

To disclose in its advertising of promotional credit offers that the majority of consumers who apply won't qualify for the best annual percentage rate (APR), and disclose the range of initial APRs that consumers who are not considered the "most qualified borrowers" are likely to receive.

Inform consumers considering applying for promotional financing that the application is for a revolving open credit account, that minimum monthly payments are required and that approval of the account does not guarantee that the consumer will also qualify for conditional financing promotions (such as zero-percent interest for 90 days). Explain how finance charges are calculated, disclose any penalties and inform the consumer whether subsequent purchases made using the credit account will be subject to the same or different financing terms.

At the time of credit acceptance, disclose whether the applicant has qualified for any conditional financing promotion.

Warranties and Services

Fulfill its warranty obligations within 30 days from the date of notification or receipt of a defective product.

Disclose whether phone-based troubleshooting or remote diagnosis is required before Dell will provide on-site repair or warranty-related service.

Rebates

If a rebate is available, provide the necessary rebate documentation at the time product is delivered or the service is provided.

Mail rebates within the specified timeframe, or within 30 days if no date is specified.

Dell also has agreed to implement written policies to ensure compliance with the settlement, including procedures that address issues such as:

Informing consumers of their right to cancel orders made with the Dell Credit Account within three days after receiving final credit approval and the written terms and conditions.

Improved communication between Dell and Dell Financial Services when a consumer returns a product purchased with credit.

Removing consumer accounts from collection agencies and providing accurate information to credit-reporting bureaus.

Substantiate any claims Dell makes about the quality of its customer service. Dell can use the term "award-winning" to describe its customer service only if the company received such an award within the past 18 months.

It is not yet known how many consumers in New Jersey may be entitled to refunds under the settlement. Consumers may be eligible for restitution if: 1) They have a valid complaint concerning a product that was purchased between April 1, 2005, and April 13, 2009, and is addressed by the agreement and 2) Dell owes them money.

New Jersey residents who have not submitted complaints to date but believe they are eligible for refunds should contact the Division of Consumer Affairs at (800) 242-5846 (toll free, New Jersey only) or (973) 504-6200 or visit the Division Web site at http://www.njConsumerAffairs.gov/ . The deadline to submit claims is April 13, 2009.

Deputy Attorney General Cathleen O’Donnell, assigned to the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section of the Division of Law, handled the Dell settlement on behalf of the state.

Dell Financial Order 

Consumer Complaint Form [665K]

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