Dell Inc, the world's leading personal computer maker, could be hit with multiple lawsuits in China for alleged false advertising of its popular laptop computers, state press reported yesterday.
A Shanghai court is reviewing fraud allegations from 19 Chinese customers who say Dell's laptops are installed with lower quality chips than the one's the US computer assembler advertises, the China Daily said.
The claimants say that Dell installed the Inter T2300E chip, or computer processing unit (CPU), rather than the more expensive T2300 identified on the company's order forms.
Dell says there is no difference between the two chips, although T2300E costs about US$32 less and allegedly does not allow various software upgrades, according to the report.
Angry consumers are demanding the computer maker refund twice the value of the goods and pay all legal costs, the report said. An average Dell laptop costs around US$1,000.
Zhang Min, who was first to file his case in Shanghai, said negotiations with the Texas-based group had proved futile.
"I tried to negotiate with Dell and simply asked them to change the CPU, but they said there was no difference between the two and it was unnecessary to change [it]," Zhang was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
"My lawyer sent them a letter demanding compensation which Dell chose to ignore, so we decided to sue," he said.
Guo Zhongfang, one of the lawyers involved in the cases, said: "Dell has defrauded Chinese consumers and should be fined according to the law."
According to the paper, Dell declined to comment on the case but said it had previously issued apologies for the error and offered refunds to customers
An online bulletin board set up by Dell users in China has registered 500 people so far, which could mean the number of lawsuits against the company will increase.
Dell's China head office in Beijing was not immediately available to comment when contacted on Friday.