Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Dell Hell – It’s Over and I won :)

I’ve just come out of court from the hearing to decide my claim for compensation against Dell Computers.

If you have read my blog, you will know that I chose to take Dell to court at the end of a long dispute regarding two Inspiron 1545 laptops I ordered pre Christmas.

My decision to take this to court was twofold:

  • First, to receive recognition and some compensation for the appalling customer service that I experienced that resulted in my 12 year old son Daniel not receiving his Christmas present in time
  • Second, to demonstrate to Dell that they can’t expect to treat customers like this without consequences. I want to show that they need to treat their customers with respect and be responsive to complaints more effectively than in this case.
The hard thing in this case was how to value my time and set an appropriate level of compensation. I did this by calculating how much time I had spent and valuing this at an hourly rate that I regularly charge for my consultancy business.

I was also claiming for loss of use of the laptop by my son and the value of missing software that was in the original order but did not make it into the replacement

In court today, attending on behalf of Dell was a barrister and a solicitor, whilst I chose to represent myself. I’ve had some experience of courts through my divorce, but I was surprised to see a barrister in attendance
My approach to the case was to claim that Dell were in breach of their own terms and conditions for not providing confirmed order documentation and not communicating with me in the manner or the timescales outlined in the conditions.

Dell’s approach was to focus on the minutiae of the law regarding : legal liability for an order; at what point was the order confirmed; what was a reasonable time to deliver it and what was a reasonable time to resolve a dispute

Interesting to note, Dell reserves the right in their T&Cs to change the specification of a system so long as the changes offer at least equivalent functionality

In my case, the original laptop included Napster software and a 12 month subscription to the online streaming service – this was not in the replacement laptop and dell offered me Office Home and Student as an alternative

Both I and the barrister had opportunity to put forward our case, answer questions from the judge and clarify and question each other on the evidence given

The judge then made a quick decision and in summary he found:

  • Dell were in breach of contract to deliver the laptop in a reasonable time frame, although from a legal perspective “Time was not of the essence”
  • There was a period of 2-3 weeks when there was a loss of use
  • The missing software should have been replaced or an appropriate alternative
  • I did not prove my case to receive compensation either for the amount of time or at the rate quoted
  • I also received partial costs paid and did not have to pay Dell’s costs
Why did I not get all my costs? Well last week, Dell made me an offer to settle in advance of court. However this offer was conditional on not publicising the settlement, so I refused.

The judge found that as I could have accepted that offer, worth more than I received today, I could have avoided the court listing fee for today.

Consequently, whilst I won, it is a pyrrhic victory and I am slightly out of pocket.

Despite this, I have no regrets for the action I have taken. I strongly believe that if consumers do not stand up to big business occasionally we will all suffer. I took on a multi-billion dollar company and won!

It is National Complaints Day tomorrow, Friday 13th and I support this wholeheartedly and have started to participate in the forum at Complaint Community which is a very interesting approach to resolving these emotionally charged and frustrating issues

Actually I do have one regret: if I had received larger compensation then I would have gone out and bought myself a new Apple iPad – sorry Dell not interested in the Streak

Off on holiday soon, but if you would like to contact me regarding this situation, email me

My Dell Hell - In Court today

Just a quick post to say that I am just leaving now for my court case with Dell computers.  I am confident I will win my case and I shall post here later with the results - whichever way it goes

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Dell Hell - Posted on Complain Community

just had an interesting talk with the sponsors of National Complaints Day, 2010, namely Complain Community

It is an interesting approach to collect multiple complaints and group them by companies people are complaining about.  They then engage with the brands concerned to see if resolution can be reached.

It's a bit late for me, as I am currently still expecting to be in court this Thursday with Dell Computers, but I would encourage you to check their site out - for anybody who feels they have a complaint, or what sounds likemore often, people who have a complaint about how their original complaint has been dealt with.

It is also possible that we can levferage my experience for some media coverage this week for National Complaints Day - watch this space

My Dell Hell - It's National Complaints Day this Friday

Just had an interesting chat with Sarah Pennells at Savvy Woman regarding my court case with Dell Computers this Thursday, 12 August.

She told me that this Friday is National Complaints Day, so I have made contact with them to see if they want to use my situation as a case study - more news soon.

If you would like to help publicise my case and you use Twitter, you can follow me or tweet using the hash tags #dellsucks or #ncd2010

Or of course please feel free to blog about this, post on Facebook - use this link to my Blog with all articlaes posted about Dell

My Dell Hell - Dell vs Dave Mutton - In court this Thursday 12 August, 2010

It’s been quite a while since I updated this Blog for lots of different reasons, but the main factor was that court proceedings in the UK can take a long time to process

In the last few months several important things have happened:

  • I had contact from a solicitor working at Geoffrey Leaver solicitors, on behalf for Dell. He had two objectives, one was to re-arrange collection of the extra laptop which finally happened in mid April and the second was to discuss my claim
  • We had several conversations based around the fact that I was looking to achieve two core objectives:
    • Primarily to have Dell publicly acknowledge and apologise for their poor Customer Service
    • Receive appropriate compensation for the time and effort I have gone to and for my son for the upset and inconvenience of not receiving his Christmas present on time
  • Despite several calls, I think the main focus from the solicitor was retrieving the laptop and he never really gave serious consideration to my case
  • Consequently, time passed, various deadlines for the court elapsed and I continued the process
  • On Monday 2nd August, I had to pay a final listing fee to the court for the case to proceed. I received a letter from the solicitor on Saturday 31 July with a Without Prejudice offer from Dell. This offer of several hundred pounds would just about cover my costs incurred so far, but I feel still did not give me any compensation for the all the hassle I have gone through. Furthermore, the offer was conditional on not publicising the offer and payment in any format, such as this blog.
  • I replied to the solicitor, making these points and stating that not only was the cash on offer unacceptable, but also the fact that I would not be allowed to mention the settlement was totally against one of the primary purposes of me taking this case to court in the first place
  • I suggested that an improved offer, accompanied by a public letter of apology from Dell would be acceptable.
  • This was formally rejected by Dell, their solicitor stated: “My clients do not consider this proposal to be reasonable and it is rejected.”
Consequently, this Thursday at 2pm I will be attending the High Wycombe County Court and defending my case for compensation from Dell Computers for terrible Customer Service

What is most interesting is a story that I saw on BBC TV news this week – which is also available on the BBC News website – here

This story was about a 59-year-old man from Rotherham who has successfully billed British Gas for his time after two years of ongoing disputes with the energy supplier.

Barry Payling said he was paid more than £2,000 by the company after he threatened to take them to court for a "horrendous catalogue of errors".

British Gas said it had paid the money as "a gesture of goodwill, an apology" - not for Mr Payling's time.

BBC TV News interviewed Sarah Pennels, a well-known personal finance journalist and broadcaster, who runs

This is perfect timing for me, setting a great precedent and I will contact Ms Pennels to see if she is interested in my case

I will try to update this blog over the next few days as and if things develop, watch this space