Dell: Read the Fine Print

Got a new Dell “home” catalog today… Its as random as ever… a dozen laptops, a dozen desktops. No coherency among product lines. Reading some of the fine print:

Dell’s Return Policy: If you cancel your purchase for any reason within 21 days, we’ll refund your purchase price minus shipping and handling and applicable restocking charges. You are responsible for the cost of shipping your system back to us.

Warranties: You can get a copy of our limited warranties and guarantees by writing Dell USA L.P., Att: Warranties, One Dell Way Round Rock TX 78762. To purchase warranty only or for more information on other service options, please call 1-800-915-3355 or visit

And I thought this was an interesting technical note:

Shared Memory on Select Dell Dimension, Inspiron and XPS systems:
Up to 512MB of system memory may be alocated to support integrated graphics, depending on the system memory size and other factors (Dim. C521 and E521, up to 512MB, Dim E520, XPS, M1210 and 210, Insp. E1405, E1505, and E1705, up to 224MB, Insp. 1501, up to 256MB)

To paraphrase a well-known technical curmudgeon “we read the fine print so you don’t have to”.

1. Dell used to have a 30-day no questions asked return policy. Clearly this has now been reduced to 21 days, and you may end up paying an applicable restocking charge of how much? If you return a machine, I’d be surprised if the return shipping, fees and restocking are less than $100US.

2. They don’t publish their warranties in the catalog, because they are mostly legalize designed to protect the company and the customer be damned.

3. If you think you have 2 gigs of memory in your machine, you may only have 1.5 gigs of “useful” memory, as a chunk of it is going to the video board.

Note that these gems appear on two full pages, A14 and A15 of similar legal ass-covering.

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