Fri, Jul 03, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Dell may face suit over mispricing

By Elizabeth Tchii  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH DPA

While consumers are considering a class-action lawsuit against Dell Inc over a pricing mistake, the Taiwanese branch of the global personal computer vendor said yesterday it would provide NT$1,000 (US$30.50) to NT$3,000 coupons to compensate consumers for their losses.

But the cash rewards are far below the Consumer Protection Commission’s recommendation that Dell honor its mispricing of the Dell E1090W 19-inch monitor, which it quoted at NT$500 per unit.

On Tuesday, the commission ordered Dell to sell the monitors to shoppers at the misquoted price, after the company advertised two sizes of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) monitors at around one-tenth of their normal prices on June 25.

A 19-inch monitor was listed at NT$500, far below its regular price of NT$7,500. Dell later said the prices had been incorrectly advertised.

News of the offer spread quickly via e-mail, blogs and sites like Twitter. In the six hours before Dell corrected the prices on Friday morning, 26,000 Taiwanese had placed orders online for 140,000 LCD monitors.

The regular online discounted retail price for the 19-inch LCD monitor is NT$4,800, which means the company may have to absorb up to NT$602 million in losses, as well as carry out all terms of the original product warranty, if it had to follow the commission’s direction.

The commission, which had received 471 complaints, said in a statement that companies must honor all promises made in their promotional campaigns.

Those who had ordered more than one unit should receive diminishing discounts on the second and succeeding units, the commission said, adding that failure to do so would result in Dell facing a group legal action for violating the Fair Trade Law (公平交易法).

For consumers who opted to cancel their order, the commission requires Dell to reasonably compensate them for their trouble.

However, the compensation must not be lower in value than what was stated in the marketing material, the commission said.

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