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Has anyone ever been to small claims court or filed a customer complaint?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, I have had a few computer problems in the last few months, and each time, the company in question was very cooperative in honoring the warranty. But this time, it's another matter.

I bought a desktop computer in December and to make a long story short, it stopped booting properly a few weeks ago, and shortly after... caught fire.
I contact the company and explain exactly what happens and they tell me that it's considered "physical damage" (thus not covered by their warranty) and it's basically my fault (according to them, it's normal for a computer to catch fire if you turn it on and off too often).

So now I'm at the point where I will call the customer protection office and inquire about filing a complaint. Has anyone ever had to do that? Did it help at all?
If I have to go to small claims court, is that complicated?

I guess my main concern now is being without a computer for a long time while I wait for all of this to settle.

I hate fights. But there's no way I'm letting them get away with this.
post #2 of 11
I haven't ever done small claims court but I've filed complaints with state agencies and consumer protection bureaus. It may depend on what state you are in, and what state the business is located that sold you the faulty computer.

I have always gotten satisfaction from filing complaints, especially with the attorney general's office, ALWAYS. People who won't return your phone calls or give you the time of day over the phone suddenly can't respond fast enough when the AG or a state consumer protection employe lights a fire under their rear end.

I say go for it. It sounds to me like you have a bum power supply and those cost about $50. If they are willing to go to the mat with the AG over that it will cost them way more than the lousy $50 or even whatever you paid for the whole desktop.
post #3 of 11
It caught fire and they aren't willing to replace it??? It could have caused damage, injury or death! That company should be happy to replace it, IMO!

When I filed a claim for the company I worked for, I downloaded the forms from the county clerk of court's office. Be sure to include court costs in your claim. You will have to pay for them initially. I never filed against a company though, so I don't have a lot of info for you. Good luck!
post #4 of 11
i filed a complaint w/the Better Business Bureau about a car repair shop, but it did no good. i posted about the problem here.

basically, he never answered them, so they just gave up.

i think that's the only time i've complained about a product or service w/no results. [well, i've written to others w/no response from them, but those were not requesting anything other than an apology.] other complaints were filed directly w/the company in question, tho.
post #5 of 11
Fortunately, you're in California which offers a self-help website. The state also has a small claims program which provides an SC advisor, but being a free service, the advisors are usu. overbooked.
Anyway, here's the link:http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/
You can apply for a waiver of filing fees, if you qualify - it doesn't hurt to try and it's up to the judge - go for it & let him/her decide about the fees and ask them to do the service.
The state bar also has a great online pamphlet:
http://www.calbar.ca.gov/state/calba...=10581&id=2175
I think that you can call the bar and get 1 copy of any of their public brochures for free. They have lots of good ones
To protect a possible sc claim, I would request in writing that the company send you a formal complaint form with instructions on filing a complaint. Give them one month to respond, then send a "nasty gram" giving them an additional 10 days to resolve the matter to your satisfaction or else you will immediately seek civil remedy in the courts. If money is an issue, send the letter "delivery confirmation" (it's still over $5 but cheaper than certified).
If you can, log all your calls - date, time, who you spoke with, what they said. If you were left on hold excessively and had to give up the call, log that too.
The courts strongly encourage the "spirit of cooperation". Sometimes just the service of the small claims papers is enough to get a resolution from the other company.
Sending vibes that you get satisfaction soon
post #6 of 11
I have battled with companies who initially wouldn't honor their product. Long story short, I had an issue with a carpet installation where they wouldn't come back to fix the problems with their installation (I had 2 different dye lots seamed together). When the store wouldn't help me, I asked for their regional director's name and phone number. When the regional director wouldn't help me, I asked for the CEO's name and number. The CEO's assistant called me back and not only did I get new carpet, but they left the old piece (which I used in another bedroom), and a coupon to use in their store (furniture). I bought a custom made secretary's desk (worth $1700) with that coupon.

I did customer service for a retail store for a while. People at the service level don't always have the authority to fix your type of issue. Stand firm, and ask for the name and number of the next person higher than them, and don't stop until you get to the head of the company. People start to get scared when asked for their boss's name. You usually only have to go up a level or 2 before they fix your problem. I was frankly surprised that I got to the CEO in my case, but the perks I got from getting that high made the calls worth it. Just don't take no for an answer.

And if you can't find anyone in the company to fix your problem, then you start filing complaints with the state agencies, post against them on Angie's List, and make it known to others that this is a lousy company to do business with.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
I have battled with companies who initially wouldn't honor their product. Long story short, I had an issue with a carpet installation where they wouldn't come back to fix the problems with their installation (I had 2 different dye lots seamed together). When the store wouldn't help me, I asked for their regional director's name and phone number. When the regional director wouldn't help me, I asked for the CEO's name and number. The CEO's assistant called me back and not only did I get new carpet, but they left the old piece (which I used in another bedroom), and a coupon to use in their store (furniture). I bought a custom made secretary's desk (worth $1700) with that coupon.

I did customer service for a retail store for a while. People at the service level don't always have the authority to fix your type of issue. Stand firm, and ask for the name and number of the next person higher than them, and don't stop until you get to the head of the company. People start to get scared when asked for their boss's name. You usually only have to go up a level or 2 before they fix your problem. I was frankly surprised that I got to the CEO in my case, but the perks I got from getting that high made the calls worth it. Just don't take no for an answer.

And if you can't find anyone in the company to fix your problem, then you start filing complaints with the state agencies, post against them on Angie's List, and make it known to others that this is a lousy company to do business with.
You are very courageous and I think that you'd be a great "consumer advisor"
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsknowme View Post
You are very courageous and I think that you'd be a great "consumer advisor"
My philosophy is simply this: if you don't ask, the answer is always no. I'm not courageous, just very practical (and besides, my mother always used to tell me to "speak up"). A reputable company will always honor the products they sell. If they don't they should go out of business.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
An update: the company has stopped answering my emails but I have contacted the customer protection office and they are helping me file a complaint.
However, in order for my complaint to have some legal weight I need to prove that the computer was defective. So I brought it to a computer repair shop to get a written report of exactly what is wrong. Hopefully they can find something that is clearly defective (although I know it can be hard to tell sometimes what caused a particular damage).
Although everyone I talked to agree that "turning the computer on and off too many times" is not a reason for it to catch fire (duh!) and I have the email conversation to prove that that was the reason why they wont honor their warranty.
post #10 of 11
If it caught fire it should be a no-brainer for the techie who sees it.

Good luck!
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by marie-p View Post
Although everyone I talked to agree that "turning the computer on and off too many times" is not a reason for it to catch fire (duh!) and I have the email conversation to prove that that was the reason why they wont honor their warranty.
at school [work] we are REQUIRED to turn off the computers every night - none of them has EVER caught fire!
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