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Dell down under dinged for dodgy display discounts

Promoted bundled monitors are bargains, but actually sold them for above regular prices

Dell’s Australian arm will refund or compensate over 4,250 of its Australian customers, after offering them dud discounts for displays.

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took issue with Dell in November 2022, when it initiated court action for allegedly misleading buyers.

“When a consumer selected a desktop, laptop, or notebook on Dell Australia’s website, they were shown several compatible monitors and offered the option of ‘bundling’ a monitor to the purchase, often at a discounted price,” the Commission explained, adding “The monitor was often shown with a higher strikethrough price, representing a significant saving if purchased with the computer.”

But that was a lie, and the bundled displays were not sold below regular prices.

As a Federal Court decision published on Tuesday found, “In fact, the monitor was available for purchase on the Dell Website on a standalone basis at a cheaper price than it was as an Add-on.”

The ACCC chimed in with a Tuesday statement that blared “Dell Australia admitted that the monitors were not sold for the ‘strikethrough’ price for most of the relevant time and, in some cases, the add-on price shown was more expensive than if the monitor was bought on a stand-alone basis.”

Dell has ‘fessed up to its actions.

“As we acknowledged in November 2022 when the ACCC commenced these proceedings, due to an unrectified error on our part, our web page misrepresented the level of savings consumers could achieve by purchasing a monitor in conjunction with a desktop, laptop or notebook,” reads a statement provided to The Register.

The statement asserts that Dell has cooperated fully with Australia authorities and is “working with impacted customers to provide appropriate refunds plus interest and are taking steps to improve our pricing processes to ensure this sort of error does not happen again.:

Some of those rectifications are required under a Federal Court order, which Dell agreed to. The vendor is also required to appoint a compliance professional to review its practices, devise a plan to ensure Dell stays on the right side of Australian Consumer Law, and then ensure that plan is followed for three years.

The ACCC will check for compliance with that plan. And consumers, hopefully, will realise that in the age of HDMI almost any monitor works with Dell machines and they can therefore choose from a mountain of options for their next display purchase. ®

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