Dell one year warranty ended, after 50 weeks. How?
June 13, 2018 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I bought a new Dell laptop from a third party Amazon store 50 weeks ago. The harddrive just died. After contacting Dell, they told me it was "sold" on Oct 2016 and consequently the one year warranty has run out. They said they could help, if only I provide the "owners" name. I told them the situation, that it must be "XYZ Store", but no dice. I called Amazon for advice, and after being put on hold for only a few minutes, they said they'd "make an exception this time, and give us a refund." Huh? What just happened?

I now have a legit RMA and USPS shipping label for return to Amazon. I sent the seller an email via Amazon web form asking for the "owner", but Amazon says to wait two days for an answer. I don't expect one. The laptop was $500.

Was this some kind of new-but-really-refurbished scam? And why is Amazon eating this cost (or at least taking responsibility)?

I only have the laptop and power cable. I don't even remember if it came with anything else. Do I just stick it in a padded box and send it back?
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Likely scenario: a seller X who isn't an authorized reseller bought the laptop from Dell to resell on Amazon. Dell sees a laptop sale to X at date T. Dell's warranty starts at T.

X resells new unopened laptop to you at time T+1. For you, the new laptop warranty seems like it should start now, because you're buying a new Dell laptop. But you're actually buying a new Dell laptop that Dell thinks it sold at time T.

You call Dell. Dell confirms that they sold the laptop at time T and the warranty started then.

You contact Amazon, they eat the cost because it would be shady to not honor the warranty, and customer goodwill sometimes matters tremendously to them. It's in Amazon's interest for you not to feel screwed on an Amazon purchase, because they'd like you to buy Dell things from Amazon rather than from Dell.
posted by zippy at 11:50 AM on June 13, 2018 [11 favorites]

Was this some kind of new-but-really-refurbished scam?

Possibly, but it will be virtually impossible to find out. One of the several roles of my job is to deal with Amazon, from a manufacturer's point of view. Third-party sellers do all sorts of shit that they technically (and in some cases legally) aren't supposed to do. Amazon is rarely forthcoming regarding the details even when we catch a third-party seller doing something incorrectly.

In this case, the third-party probably sold the laptop when they weren't an authorized vendor. The purchase date was probably when the third-party company got the laptops from an actual authorized distributor/reseller.

And why is Amazon eating this cost (or at least taking responsibility)?

Because Amazon doesn't care about $500. It's cheaper to refund you than it is to spend the man-hours on finding out what went wrong in the first place. And you'll probably spend a lot more than $500 on Amazon over time, so no big deal.

Take your refund, get a new laptop, and be thankful it's this easy.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:53 AM on June 13, 2018 [5 favorites]

I just noticed you said Dell saw the purchase date as 2016 (I read it as 2017 initially).

Two possibilities:

1) some store / company / whatever bought a ton of Dell laptops, and this one sat on the shelf for the better part of a year, new in box, before the company decided to unload their excess.

2) it was used and repackaged as new.

Either case could have reasonably happened.
posted by zippy at 11:55 AM on June 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I concur with the scenerio zippy proffered, but I think the seller is eating this or that Amazon will simply kick them off the site. Amazon does not fool around with 2nd or 3rd type chances. I have seen FBA sellers kicked off of Amazon for not responding to customer inquiries within a certain time frame, for sending in pallets that were 1" over the 72" height limit, and for not having proper documentation from a manufacturer to resell on Amazon.
posted by AugustWest at 1:31 PM on June 13, 2018

1) Take money
2) Run
3) Get a refurbished one directly from Dell and pay the extra $40 for a one year warranty. I just got one for my daughter and we could not be happier with the condition, the price, the service and the delivery.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 2:05 PM on June 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

The only thing I'd add here is that often very easy to replace a laptop hard drive. (But not always on a $500 laptop). If the drive is replaceable, just do that. Otherwise, it's kind of like throwing away a whole car because the alternator died.
posted by cnc at 5:30 PM on June 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dell is being a bit shady themselves in that if you have a dated receipt that describes the item as being new many OEMs will adjust the warranty period accordingly even if the seller wasn't an authorized retailer. The date in their system is more of a default for use when there is a lack of better evidence of when the sale to the consumer occurred. (Is questionable legally whether they can start the warranty clock early when the final seller isn't an authorized retailer, hence the variation in policy between different OEMs)

The point being that if the laptop is worth more than $500 to you, it's possible you could get Dell to honor the warranty if you provide documentation of the date when you purchased the laptop. If not, take the $500 and buy something else.
posted by wierdo at 5:53 PM on June 13, 2018

Yeah, take the refund, buy a new hard drive (actually: get an SSD. It makes a gigantic difference) and enjoy the free money.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:54 PM on June 13, 2018

Amazon is amazing in so many ways -- I bought a computer that was *way* more computer than I needed, or even wanted, but I didn't know it until I had it here in my hands. I called them, they said "Absolutely no problem, we'll send you a sticker to mail back to us, thank you for being an Amazon customer. " Obv, they are my go-to on most items, because they want us to be happy and they'll do about anything to make that happen.

Send back the puter, take the refund, buy a different computer, all better.

(btw, I've had unreal good luck with Dell machines, I know a lot of ppl swear at them but I swear by them. And like Amazon, Dell has gone beyond in their customer service to me, a great organization.)
posted by dancestoblue at 4:07 AM on June 14, 2018

This is SO's laptop and they're a lifelong Dell customer, so we went ahead and bought another Dell (same model, because of Requirements), which happens to now be $600. XYZ Store did respond back within 24 hours, with "We cannot provide the associated owner’s name. We are the reseller. The warranty started when we purchased it." That doesn't fit my understanding of what a "reseller" is, but whatever. Hopefully Amazon will give us full credit.

>>buy a new hard drive ... and enjoy the free money

Not sure how that applies, since I won't have a laptop to put a new HD in to.

posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 6:40 AM on June 14, 2018

Ah, sorry - I misread.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:04 PM on June 14, 2018

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