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May 7, 2017 Keeps Warranties Secret and That Could be Costly to You

Filed under: Computers,Electronics,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 7:32 am

Two years ago, Consumer World conducted a spot-check of 20 major Internet retailers to see if they were properly disclosing the manufacturer’s warranty on their websites for the products they sell.

Two-thirds of the sellers surveyed posted no warranties whatsoever for any of the items checked. Federal Trade Commission rules require online sellers, on or near the product description of items over $15, to either post the actual warranty or tell customers how to obtain a free copy from the seller.

At the time, for the five items checked at, none had the actual warranty language disclosed nor a statement of how to obtain it, and the length of the warranty was only sometimes disclosed.

From a practical standpoint, how might this affect a shopper? Case in point: Last year, MrConsumer assisted two friends who were in need of a new desktop computer. He wound up recommending a Dell that was on sale at the time at Staples for between $400 and $500. Current version of product listing:

Dell 3650 Dell specs

Fast forward 10 months later, and one of the computers needed to be repaired. Upon calling Dell, my friend was informed there would be a charge equivalent to approximately half the cost of the computer because in-home service was not covered in the warranty. What? A desktop computer weighing nearly 20 pounds has to be disconnected and mailed to Dell to be repaired? You bet.


Dell Mail-in

Sure enough, on the Dell website, the warranty that came with this desktop computer was mail-in only. Who would ever expect anything but in-home service for a desktop computer under warranty?

So we asked several Staples’ PR folks to explain why they were not complying with federal law and disclosing product warranties right on their website, and why they were not at a minimum even clearly disclosing that in the case of this computer that the warranty was mail-in. We also asked now that Staples was sensitized to this issue, what steps they would take to comply with federal law and be more explicit about the type of warranty that comes with their products.

Their response: [this space intentionally blank since Staples did not reply to three requests for this information.]

The lesson, of course, is to never assume anything about a product’s warranty and to demand to see it before you make a significant purchase.

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  1. Actually, I would have never thought a warranty for a computer would be for in home.

    Comment by lisa — May 8, 2017 @ 8:52 am
  2. IIRC, the mail-in scam was ruled illegal: one only needs return it to the point of sale for the warranty to be honoured. (Sorry, can’t cite the case at the moment)

    Comment by Leslie — May 8, 2017 @ 12:00 pm
  3. A bit off topic but how good is a computer if it has to be ‘repaired’ after 10 months?

    Comment by Gert — May 8, 2017 @ 3:37 pm
  4. If I was this consumer and they failed to comply with federal law I would file a class action lawsuit on behalf of everyone they screwed over and the feds need to go after them for the violation.

    it’s either that or let them screw you.

    as I say over and over…corporate america only cares about $$ not treating the customer fairly or honestly.

    Comment by rich — May 11, 2017 @ 9:32 pm
  5. One challenge with filing a class action lawsuit is that it often takes years to complete the trial and the reward usually isn’t worth the effort.

    Until the government issues serious penalties for blatant disregard of the regulation, these companies will ignore consumer complaints.

    Comment by Wayne — May 12, 2017 @ 11:14 pm
  6. I Never had any problem with stables until I purchase aToshiba laptop with warranty, front the ist month we started to have problems , about 5 times the laptop was fixed,one week before the end of the warranty for the laptop it when complete dead.
    they told me that the warranty was over, the mother board was dead, to replace it will cost over $500,00,

    Since then I stop doing bussiness with them, they are fraud co. should be close for good,they sale bad products,
    a few friends had the same issues
    I did file a complain to the FCC.

    Comment by Jack Webb — May 22, 2017 @ 3:05 pm

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