Deceptive Trade Practices Acts

Buyers in Dallas, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Arlington, Irving, Garland, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Burleson, North Richland Hills, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, and any other place in Texas can find themselves being taken advantage of by a company they have purchased a product or service from. It appears that even a well known and respected company like Dell Computers will cheat a consumer and do it in a calculated way when they think they can get away with doing it.
This is illustrated in an article published in The New York Times. The article was published on November 18, 2010, and was written by Ashlee Vance. The title of the article is, “An Unsealed Lawsuit Indicates Dell Hid Faults of Computers.”
The article starts out; “Documents unsealed Thursday in a three-year-old lawsuit against Dell have raised more questions about how the company handled an unprecedented number of faulty computers sold to governments, schools, and corporations from 2003 to 2005.”
A Federal District Court in North Carolina unsealed hundreds of documents linked to a lawsuit filed by Advanced Internet Technologies that had accused Dell of trying to hide defects in its desktop computers from customers.
The article tells of governmental organizations and large well known businesses who had problems with Dell computers.
The documents show how Dell had resisted informing many of its customers about the extent of the problem. Despite widespread reports from the field, Dell salespeople and technicians were encouraged to keep customers in the dark about the known defects that left computers inoperable.
It appears Dell refused to recall systems and did what it called “proactive field replacements” for customers that met certain sales and failure rate thresholds.
As to the problems themselves, they appear to have been problems with the motherboards and capacitor issues. There also appears to have been data loss issues.
Dell says they have fixed the problems and in 2005 Dell took a $300 million charge tied to the cost of fixing and replacing troubled computers.
As for Texas consumers – The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act is a remedy for people and businesses (consumers) who find themselves being wronged by a company like Dell. The Texas DTPA, Section 17.45(4) defines consumers as … “an individual, partnership, corporation, this state, or a subdivision or agency of this state who seeks or acquires by purchase or lease, any goods or services, except that the term does not include a business consumer that has assets of $25 million or more, or that is owned or controlled by a corporation or entity with assets of $25 million or more.”
Most people understand that when they as individuals are taken advantage of they can pursue the business that took advantage of them. Fewer people understand that even if they are a business entity, they also can pursue those who take advange of them, by using the DTPA as long as their assets are less than $25 million.
What is important about being able to pursue a legal remedy by way of the DTPA against a company that is deceptive and or cheats you in a business transaction is that the remedies available by way of the DTPA have more “bite” or strength than normal “breach of contract” claims or “negligence” claims that were available prior to adoption of the DTPA.
Section 17.50(b)(1) allows recovery of mental anguish damages when the illegal acts committed are found to be committed knowingly. If the acts are found to be committed intentionally then the consumer may be awarded up to three times his actual damages and mental anguish damages. Section 17.50(d) orders recovery of court costs and attorneys fees.
Bottom line is that the majority of the time that a consumer is taken advantage of by a company in selling its product or service, there is a remedy availble to the consumer. All one needs to do is seek out an attorney experienced in handling these types of matters.

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