Dell dinged another $4 million after deception accusations

Eight months after computer giant Dell Inc. reached a settlement with 34 states over allegations that included the company duping consumers over financing offers, New York state's attorney general settled claims against the company for more than all the other states combined.

The 34-state settlement cost Dell $3.35 million. The New York settlement: $4 million.

Dell was sued by New York in 2007 for fraud, false advertising, deceptive business practices as well as abusing consumers in its debt collection. The company and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo battled out the claims in court, where a judge in 2008 ruled in favor of the state and upheld the the allegations. How compensation would be worked out had been up in the air since.

Dell did not respond to a request to its media relations office for a comment on the settlement.

The highest profile accusation was of Dell engaging in a bait and switch over an advertising campaign that falsely led consumers to believe they were going to get no interest financing deals. New York and the other states also said consumers were not properly explained the terms of "next day" service contracts and were not properly given warranty service or promised rebates. In addition, Dell allegedly subjected customers to harassment over debts that in many cases were never owed and were on the books due to errors made by Dell itself.

Under the terms of the settlement with New York, Dell agreed to a sweeping series of changes in how it communicates with its customers -- including explaining that their on-site or at-home warranties could involve the consumer themselves having to open up their computers and try to fix them as well as extensive preliminary consultation over the phone.

""Going forward, this deal means that Dell will have to clearly and fully disclose the terms and conditions of their products and services, to avoid this kind of fraud at the consumer's expense," Cuomo said in a statement. "...We encourage anyone who was ripped off by Dell to come forward and file a claim to get their money back."

Those eligible for the New York settlement (the claims period in the other states has ended) can visit a special web site for more information and claim forms.

To be eligible to receive compensation from the settlement, you must have financed your computer through what you thought was a no-interest financing deal, did not get a promised rebate, had trouble getting Dell to perform warranty or service repairs or did not receive a promised next day or on site service promised under a service contract.
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