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Media Open Source Software Hardware

Customer: Dell Denies Speaker Repair Under Warranty, Blames VLC 526

An anonymous reader writes "VLC is incapable of increasing the actual power past 100%, all that is being done is the waveform is being modified to be louder within the allowed constraints. But, that didn't stop Dell from denying warranty service for speaker damage if the popular VLC Media Player is installed on a Dell laptop. Also we got a report that service was denied because KMPlayer was installed on a laptop. The warranty remains valid on the other parts of the laptop. VLC player developer [Jean-Baptiste Kempf] denied the issue with VLC and further claimed that the player cannot be used to damage speakers. How can I convince Dell to replace my laptop speaker which is still in warranty? Or class action is only my option?"
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Customer: Dell Denies Speaker Repair Under Warranty, Blames VLC

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  • Small Claims (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:34PM (#46203837)

    IANAL, but your first path for court action is small claims, not a class action.

  • bad engineering? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:37PM (#46203861)

    Any decent hardware engineer would not put out electronics for mass production that can be destroyed by software. Hopefully an EE from Levono or HP will reverse engineer the circuit and determine if the is bad engineering and put all of the information on the web. This may be the only way to get Dell to put out quality (or at least not defective) products into the marketplace.

  • Well, I sued... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:37PM (#46203865)

    So to keep,a long story short, I had to sue Dell over a overheating Alienware M11x GAMING notebook.

    I had a friendly but non helpful support case with Dell and a short also friendly but also non helpful discussion afterwards. Then I sued.

    I won.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:44PM (#46203933)

    That's the beauty of a digital signal: You simply can't put in a stronger signal than the bits allow. Yes, a "clipped" signal has high energy harmonics, but the same harmonics could be encoded right in the audio source signal without additional player amplification. For example, using mp3gain to set a high gain on any MP3 file will cause the decoder to happily produce a clipped time domain signal. Even Windows Media Player will play it clipped. Designing an audio system such that it can't handle any signal you could put in a WAV file is just idiotic. Such penny-pinching certainly isn't the user's fault and would not void legally mandated warranties. Dell can of course exclude anything they like from a voluntary warranty, if they make it clear upfront what is excluded.

  • Already in the law. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:48PM (#46203953) Homepage Journal

    Warrantors cannot require that only branded parts be used with the product in order to retain the warranty.[7] This is commonly referred to as the "tie-in sales" provisions,[8] and is frequently mentioned in the context of third-party computer parts, such as memory and hard drives. []

  • Re:Tell them... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:51PM (#46203981)

    Do you realize that the "fuck beta" comments are already much more annoying than the actual beta?

    Fuck "fuck beta" comments.

  • Re:Small Claims (Score:3, Informative)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:12PM (#46204171)

    IANAL, but your first path for court action is small claims, not a class action.

    OK, but to make the true claim of Unfair competition, and ANTICOMPETITIVE BEHAVIOR against open source software (VLC product), in favor of Dell Partners' products, a small claims action is not going to fit the bill.

    This should be the American People VS Dell, for half a billion dollars.

  • by pem ( 1013437 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:41PM (#46204427)


    The people who advocate small claims are half right. In many states, you have to send a demand letter before you can do that anyway.

    Some idiots will say to email the CEO, but if you're lucky, that will just get down to the lawyer, and the lawyer will already be miffed because you've piled more work on him from above. Better to go straight to the lawyer.

    I have had several successes, some quite large, and no failures, with the following strategy:

    1) Try sincerely to resolve it through normal channels, as you apparently have.

    2) Document how that didn't work. If you don't have good documentation, do (1) again.

    3) Find the attorney or registered agent's email address. I have never had a problem doing this, but I'm pretty good at the google-fu. Good starting points for names are corporate bios, 10K filings at the SEC, and the Secretary of State's office (which might require a phone call). Since Dell is in Texas, they are required to have a registered agent with the Texas Secretary of state. I live in Texas, and I got Fry's registered agent's name from the Texas Secretary of State when I had an issue with them.

    4) Send the attorney an email POLITELY explaining exactly what happened, and what needs to happen to make you a happy camper. Give them two deadlines. The first one should be about two weeks out to let the legal department research the problem on their end. The second one, at the end of the email, goes something like this:

    "Please acknowledge receipt of this email within three days to save me the time and expense of sending a registered letter."

    A registered letter is exactly what you need to do, in most cases, to put them on notice before you file in small claims. So this sentence puts them on notice that you are preparing to legally put them on notice, and since your speaker repair is way cheaper than dealing with you in court (you're not claiming the bad speaker damaged your hearing, or lost you business when the presentation went awry, are you?), they should be more than happy to do that.

    One purpose of the letter that cannot be stressed enough is that you are not arguing with the lawyer. You are essentially presenting the same case that you would present in court. Your letter should be polite, without speling or grandmar erors, and compelling. Do not attempt lawyerese, because that is not required or even encouraged in small claims court. Just write it in plain English. You are not arguing with the lawyer, but you are showing him that you will present yourself well in court, and after expending time and money to defend, he will stand a good chance of losing.

  • Re:Tell them... (Score:2, Informative)

    by LookIntoTheFuture ( 3480731 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @04:44PM (#46204909)

    Do you realize that the "fuck beta" comments are already much more annoying than the actual beta?

    Fuck "fuck beta" comments.

    How should people voice their displeasure with the potential death of Slashdot?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 09, 2014 @04:45PM (#46204923)

    Ex Dell grunt here. They fucked me and my town over, and are fucking over shareholders by going Private (the first thing they did when they no longer had to answer public questions was to outsource a bunch of jobs to themselves, the same thing they did to fuck my town over), so let me tell you how to fuck back.

    Escalate to a manager. The managers almost always capitulate. Doubly so if you keep calling back and keep escalating. Typically they bump you to a "resolution manager" which is just a Tier 2 tech with a very specifically worded title (Resolution Manager - see, they're MANAGERS) to prevent you from having to escalate directly to someone in charge. Escalate again, and you'll get a real manager.

    If you have a sales rep working with you, contact them directly. The sales reps will give you what you want to shut you up. If your employer or school has a Dell contract, THEIR sales rep can usually help - contact your IT staff or University's IT staff and see if they can help you. I replaced many a laptop part I shouldn't have because it was one of my contact's "boss's laptop" and they totally needed me to save them. And some universities are on a "just give the fuckers what they want" basis - the assclowns at Quinnipiac were the worst for this.

    Email support may be a better route - email support is usually handled by more advanced techs, often by people in the US or Canada.

    Don't threaten legal action directly, they have policies in place that basically say to end the call and blacklist you if you do.

    If you manage to get the idiots in consumer (India) annoyed enough at you they'll punt you over to their Pro Support for business just to be rid of you, who will capitulate if they can. It depends on the mood of the managers, they're not SUPPOSED to be working on non Pro Support systems. Unless they're workstations, because the Workstation customers usually can't deal with India.

    It's entirely possible the script has been updated to try and fuck you over if you ever use non-standard software on the PC, since Dell is bleeding money and can't afford to honor their warranties anymore. Keep fighting. You paid for that warranty and you're literally owed replacement speakers.

  • Re:physcial damage (Score:5, Informative)

    by _merlin ( 160982 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @05:24PM (#46205165) Homepage Journal

    It isn't practical. Speakers can handle far more of a reasonable signal than a horribly clipped almost square wave. While a "normal" audio signal will be converted to transducer movement, a square wave will end up being dissipated primarily as heat in the driver coil. Speakers can handle normal overload far better than they can handle severe clipping. It's easier to destroy a 500W speaker with a 30W amp driven to clipping than with a 1000W amp driven to make the peaks push your threshold of pain.

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @11:11PM (#46207283)

    Of course, they will fuck you on warranty to the point where EU had to tell them to stop. But hey, it's apple, so even them fucking entire nations on warranty is a great feature!

  • Re:Small Claims (Score:4, Informative)

    by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Monday February 10, 2014 @04:55AM (#46208471) Homepage

    Since you can remedy the defect by plugging in a $5 external speaker, the possible claim in civil damages is no more than $5.

    It's very unlikely that a court would decide it on that basis. Plugging in an external speaker isn't remedying the defect any more than Ford offering you a bus pass if your car breaks under warranty. Additionally, having someone other than dell replace the broken component would void your warranty which means it is a valid remedy (given that the warranty is a considerable part of the value of a device bought with one).

    As with anything it's worth consulting in person with someone who has relevant legal knowledge before doing anything involving a court.

    Your argument is analogous to "My gas cap no longer affixes properly, therefore, Mercedes is due to replace the full value of my car"

    And your response to the original issue was analogous to suggesting that an appropriate remedy would be buying some duct tape and taping it up after every fill so I wouldn't get up on too high a horse in your position.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith