New York State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Teresi ruled against Dell yesterday, declaring the company had engaged in fraud, false advertising, deceptive business and abusive debt collection practices.

The judge slammed the company for luring customers with ads that offered "no interest" or "no payment" financing options, but its financing arm would charge customers higher rates than those promised.

The company was also slammed for a sustained pattern in which Dell deprived customers of technical support that they bought or were eligible for under warranty. Cited cases included extremely long waits for tech support to answer calls, repeated transfers of calls and frequent disconnections of support calls.

Dell also often failed to provide onsite repairs for customers who bought contracts for such support and often blamed software when hardware was actually the problem, the court found, IDG News Service reports.

In a final flourish, the court also found users who complained of technical problems with their products before the expiration of their free tech support period would then not be offered any succour once their warranties expired.

The courts will now decide just how much Dell will have to pay its customers in compensation, and just how much cash the company must hand over to the State of New York, an amount which must equate to the profits it made through these practices.

That Dell engaged in these dubious acts suggests just how bad a deal consumers in the sub-$1,000 PC segment actually receive.


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