In 2004, Ian Andrews purchased a Dell laptop computer for $1,700. About 2 1/12 years later, the computer began to malfunction, periodically shutting down unexpectedly. Stuck with a problem computer that was past the standard warranty period, Andrews complained to Dell. The computer giant responded that the online contract governing the initial purchase required him to resolve the dispute by arbitration.
Andrews recognized this was not a realistic approach, later stating that as a university student he was not in a financial position to retain counsel to support an arbitration claim. Instead, he chose a different course of action, suing the company as part of a class action lawsuit that brought together thousands of consumers experiencing similar problems.
Dell challenged the class action suit, but as my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes, last month the Ontario Court of Appeal sided with Andrews, ruling that it could proceed.